Such beautiful weather, makes me want to take to the hills!  Think this old story about a Dragon flight round Glentrool will be as close as I’ll get today!


Sunset in Glen Trool


They were riding flat out, Aithne clutching tightly to Keir’s waist and giving her full trust for her safety into his hands.  His reactions were far beyond human and he took every twist and turn on the little country road at speeds that would seem like madness for a human rider. It was wildly exhilarating to see the road rush up towards her on every corner knowing that Keir was in total control.
Steep hills were rising either side of the road, with tightly packed pines filling any space in between.  They were heading deep into the Galloway Forest, looking for a well secluded spot.  Keir spotted a passing place and slid the bike to a halt smoothly at the side of the road.  He jumped off the bike and swept her from the pillion seat and into his arms in one fluid motion.  As the now familiar warmth of his body enveloped hers, he kissed her, leaving her breathless and tingling.  Mildly annoyed with him for toying with her, she let her power flow into him, knowing exactly how that would affect him.  He groaned and let go.
“You said there was something you wanted me to see,” she reminded him when he gave her a chastened look.
“We need to go up there,” he replied, pointing to the peak of a nearby hill.  It looked like quite a long climb up the steep sides to the top.
“You want me to climb all the way up there?” Aithne asked him, giving the zig-zaging path to the top a sceptical look.
“I thought you were a country girl, Aithne,” he chided her lightly, smirking.
“I’m an island girl.  My idea of a strenuous walk involves a long, flat beach,” she retorted.
“I’ll carry you if you get tired,” he offered, his smirk broadening and putting a bit of sparkle in his eyes.  He knew that would prick her pride and get her going, and he wasn’t disappointed.  She set her jaw and made off towards the hill without waiting for him.  He plucked the keys from the ignition on his bike and followed her.
The ground was still hard with frost as they wound their way slowly up hill, and their breath froze on the air.  In spite of this, Aithne was actually glad to be moving since it had been bitterly cold on the back of the bike.  But by the time they were halfway up the hill the biking leathers that had seemed insufficient protection from the cold on the bike had become stiflingly warm, so she undid the jacket and tied it’s arms around her waist.  She still had a jumper on underneath.  Keir seemed neither exerted by the climb nor affected by the cold.  He wore his leather jacket open the whole way up, showing the white t-shirt that was the only other clothing he wore.
They got to the cairn that sat perched on the top eventually, and as Aithne stood catching her breath and taking in the view, Keir came up behind her and closed his arms around her.  She snuggled back against him, letting his warmth  take the edge away from the icy breeze that was sweeping the brow of the hill.  The same breeze caught in her hair and made it stream behind them.
The view at their feet was spectacular, with hills rolling for miles down towards the silvery line of the Solway Firth, carpeted in a patchwork of blue-green pines, fields of winter bleached grass and the dark, flinty blue of the lochs and rivers that dotted the landscape.  The pale winter sun sparkled everywhere, on the surface of the lochs and on the patches of snow sitting stranded on the higher hillsides.  The only sign of the presence of humanity was the occasional farm house that could be picked out from this distance and the odd grey ribbon of road cutting through the browns and muted greens between the hills.
“This is amazing,” Aithne said once she had her breath back. 
“It is,” Keir agreed, “But it isn’t what I came up here to show you,”
“What is it then?” she asked, turning in his arms to look at him.  She saw genuine excitement simmering in those very dark eyes.  It gave her butterflies in her stomach.
“Watch,” he said mysteriously, before letting go of her and starting to take off his jacket.  He handed it to her, not meeting her puzzled stare, and began to pull his t-shirt off. 
“You brought me up here for an extreme strip tease?” she asked him, her eyes glued to the sight of his smooth chest, all of her interest in the view beyond him gone suddenly.  He smiled at her as he handed her his t-shirt, but infuriatingly he didn’t say anything, just started to kick off his boots and roll down his socks.  When he started to unbuckle his belt she found herself unable to take his silence any more.
“What are you doing Keir?” she demanded.  He glanced up at her from peeling the leather trousers from his legs.  He wasn’t wearing anything else, and coupled with the fire that was now burning in his eyes, sending flecks of red through the black of his irises, Aithne found it very hard to hold onto her irritation.  She licked her lips, finding them suddenly very dry.  He handed over his jeans.
There wasn’t a single sign of how cold it was any where on his naked skin.  It was still as smooth and pale as always.  Without thinking she moved closer to him, drawn by a sudden longing to run her hands all over him and feel that cool, silken flesh.  He put up a hand to stop her.
“You’ll need to stand back,” he warned her.
He couldn’t help but laugh when she pouted, but she moved back a pace or two, her arms full of his clothes.  When he was happy that she was far enough away, he closed his eyes and began to draw his power up inside.  He felt a little giddy again at the surge of it in it’s new, blood enhanced state, but he let that wash through him as he used it to reach into a part of himself that his own self-inflicted weakness had barred him from touching.  His excitement grew into a rush as he felt his true form begin to unfold inside.  As it grew, getting ready to burst out of him, he became incredibly aware of his link to Aithne and to how her power was rising in response to his.  He had to fight the urge to reach out to her and let his power join with hers. 
His eyes flew open, blazing with ruby red light in the instant before his true form burst out of him.  He had just long enough to see Aithne’s eyes wide with surprise, and the world shattered as his body exploded.
She stared open mouthed at the transition.  His body disappeared into what could only be  described as a cloud of black light.  The cloud expanded, while it’s colour grew deeper and more intense.  Suddenly it shot through with scarlet lights like shards of lightning and it began to take shape, forming a long sinuous line from tail-tip to nose and stretching out into wide, swept back wings that were raised high above the body.  As the light began to coalesce into solid matter she saw the long lean body and the glossy black scales that were shot through with veins of red .  His head was long and tapered like a slim arrow-head, with tendrils of red and black forming an intricate mane that swept back from his face.  The scar scoring through his left eyelid was a harsh white line against the deep black of his scales.  She could feel Keir’s presence radiating from his changed body far more powerfully that it had ever done in his human form.  Maybe that was partly his size, because he was nearly double her hight at his shoulder and probably as much as twenty five feet from nose to tail.  She wondered how large his wings would be when he stretched them right out.
When he was completely solid, he opened his eyes and turned them on her.  They were like two glorious, multi-faceted rubies shot through with veins of obsidian.  The light inside them was mesmerising.
“You’re beautiful,” she breathed, staring up at him.  His eyes seemed to shimmer and whirl.  He flexed his wings.
Let’s go fly, he said, his voice appearing in her mind.  She could feel the longing in him.
“How?” she asked, still awestruck.
With these of course, he told her, amusement rippling through him as he flapped his wings.  They seemed massive and the draft whipped her hair about her face. 
“I mean how do I get to fly with you?” she explained, somehow managing to articulate herself for him.
He crouched down and lifted a wing out of the way to give her the space to scramble up onto his back. Hastily she put his clothes in a pile by the cairn. When she reached out a hand to touch him, the warmth of their connection flowed into her.  His scales were smooth and slick to the touch, and cool but not cold.  Somehow though, she could sense the immense heat of his fire underneath those scales. Tentatively she put a foot on his outstretched leg and reached up to grasp at his shoulder.
You won’t hurt me, he told her when she hesitated for a second.
She swung herself up onto his back , then looked around for something to hold onto while they were flying.
I don’t have reins like a horse, he said, punctuating it with a derisive snort.  She could feel he wasn’t genuinely annoyed, but it still made her feel a little guilty.
“Sorry, I just thought it might be safer to have something to hold onto,” she explained, feeling sheepish.
You don’t need to hold on.  I won’t let you fall, he assured her, then added impatiently, Let’s go.
She felt the incredible coiled power of his muscles bunching as he crouched to spring.  Her heart leapt up into her mouth as he leapt into the air.  They rose with Keir pumping his wings to generate lift.  His magic was pouring into those powerful muscles and she could feel it as it moved through his blood just as clearly as she could feel the shifting of his flight muscles between her thighs as she straddled him.  He caught a thermal riding over the top of the hill and soared higher, gliding over the shrinking valley below.  The wind blew through her hair, streaming it out in an auburn curtain .  He span on a wing-tip, turning back towards the distant line of the sea.  She gasped and felt a thrill of exhilaration that made being on the back of the bike seem tame.  She let her power rise to join and twine with his, laying herself low along his neck so that she had as much of her body pressed against his as possible.  She closed her eyes and allowed herself to feel what he felt, to join in the sheer delight of his flight.
With her power flowing through him and augmenting his, he grew more confident.  He twisted and span in the air, as agile as a swallow in spite of his size.  The rush of wind and the sense of total freedom filled him with joy.  There weren’t words in any language to describe how much he had missed the sensation.  He soared upwards again, bursting through a bank of cloud and into the exclusive heights of commercial Dirigible space.  She saw an Airship flying slowly  southwards in the distance, twinkling like a star in the bright sunlight.  The oxygen was thin here, but with magic she could draw in plenty for breathing.  She felt laughter dancing through him as he suddenly closed his wings in tight and dropped into a headlong dive.  The speed was insane, faster by magnitudes than anything he could force out of the bike, but the excitement of it was so intense she found herself laughing with him.  They plummeted downwards, with the long, sinuous  shape of Loch Trool rushing up towards them at suicidal speed.  It took a large burst of magic to pull them up short, and then as they both caught their breath he glided the length of the loch, trailing his claws lazily along the water’s surface.
“What if someone sees you?” she asked, pointing at the houses among the trees and the cars parked along the edges of the water. 
They won’t believe what they are seeing. Even people with the Old Blood don’t believe there are Dragons still. So long as I am gone before they take a second look they probably won’t think about it again, he explained.
They came to the head of the loch and began climbing with the hills, terrifying a flock of sheep.  She felt him stamp on the urge to chase them, and the sudden spike of blood lust that went with it.
“I thought dragons only took human blood,” she said, curious.
Only human blood in human form.  It’s part of the curse put on us because of Edan.  In this form, any blood will do, but humans get angry about us stealing their animals, he explained.
“You’re afraid of humans?” she was surprised.
When they gang up on us and hunt down our lairs, of course.  A full dragon can sleep very, very heavily, and there aren’t many of us left now, he replied.
They did a loop-the-loop at the top of the tallest hill and then Keir sped down the north slope, keeping close to the ground.  Aithne let out a squeal as he dodged an old abandoned shepherd’s hut at the very last second by pulling sharply back up into the sky.
“Damn, that nearly gave me a heart attack,” she gasped as he levelled out and hovered a few hundred feet above the hut.  Somewhere in the distance  there was the roar of an approaching Raptor class Ornithopter.  They trained all over the Scottish wilderness, using the forests as practice for manouevers they wouldn’t actually risk against the Spanish over the rain forests in the Americas.
Sorry, he apologised simply.
“It’s OK now,” she retorted, her blood singing with adrenaline.  A second later the world went mad. There was a confusion of sleek black scale and dull grey-blue feathered steel, a roar that made her head feel as if it was exploding and then an equally sudden disconcerting silence accompanied with a sense of wide open space and the sensation of falling.  Air began rushing away from her, stealing itself from her lungs, while her bones ached agonisingly with the cold.  Her mind was simply refusing to work, although one part was telling her in an insistent voice about the rapidly rising ground below.  Blackness filled her vision unexpectedly, followed by the sensation of impact against something firm, but definitely not the ground.  When the warmth of their bond wrapped itself back around her, driving out the bone deep cold, she knew that she was safe, lying on Keir’s broad back.
“Don’t even say sorry,” she gasped as she felt his guilt pouring over her, “You saved me!”
I should have remembered about the Raptors.  I got carried away, he told her, refusing to excuse himself.
“God, so did I, Keir.  This is incredible,” she told him, her relief at being alive still turning back into full blown exhilaration, “You are incredible,” she added, managing to make herself sit up so that she could look at him.  His head was turned to look at her, his serpentine neck twisted fully round.  His eyes were whirling again, and small wisps of smoke were curling from his nostrils.  She could practically taste his concern. 
“Did you get hurt?” she asked him, trying to deflect his worry back to himself.
It didn’t touch me, but I turned so sharply I couldn’t hold on to you as well, he explained.
“And then you caught me.  You really are incredible,” she told him, forcefully radiating her gratitude to him.  If he’d done anything else they would probably both be dead.  She felt his guilt recede, so she asked the question that was nagging at her now.
“Can you really breath fire?” She felt silly and childish asking it, especially after such a near miss, but she just had to.  As an answer she felt a deep rumble inside him and a spike of magic that culminated in a huge gout of dark flame issuing from his long snout.  Even from behind she could feel the intensity of the heat of his flame, but she saw immediately that it was more like raw magic than actual flame.  She could feel how much it cost him in power to produce it.
“That’s not something you would do often,” she observed after her initial exclamation of delight.  It was rather impressive.
Not here in the Middle World anyway, he replied, I think we’d better head back to the bike now.  That was too close a shave and the Raptors will be back, he added.
“Did the pilot see you?” she asked, swallowing her disappointment. He was right.
He saw something, but he didn’t know what.  I heard him making a call about it. 
Keir started banking towards the ground, coming in to land by the cairn.   Aithne found herself going over his words in her mind.  The noise of the engines had been far too loud for her to think through, let alone hope to hear the pilot talking.  It had her wondering again at the powerful magic he contained, and the lesson in it that flying with him had been. 
She was still thinking about it as they pulled away on his bike.  She was still thinking about it when she lay in the dark beside him that night, listening to his breathing and letting the soft thrum of his sleeping power wash over her.
If Keir was so immensely powerful, what on earth was Edan like in Dragon form?  The thought finally articulated itself in her mind as she lay there.  She didn’t sleep that night.

If you enjoyed this story, you can find more at my dedicated site for this book series, Tapestries of the Veils .


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