Fourteen-year-old Cedrik raced over to where his dragon burned a finish line in the grass. In the shadowy forest, he ducked under loose vines and climbed over grey rocks. By the time he reached the burn mark, his dragon friend was half hidden in the late morning sunlight, sitting on the soft green grass. Cedrik sprinted past the finish mark, stopped, gripped his knees, and started panting.
"You always win." He telepathically told him.
“I know the forest by heart, you know. It is impossible to beat me. Plus it helps that I am a lot faster than you.” Grere said back, almost smiling.
Cedrik smiled, then started walking in the direction of home.
"Come on, we need to be home by noon."
His loyal companion followed him, flying over everything in the way. When they got to the house, Grere ran and leapt nimbly to his favorite perch, on a fallen cedar tree, now just a log and brush that used to be branches. Cedrik ran up to the small shack, noticing that his trip wire across the doorway was limp, meaning someone or something was inside.
Grere looked at the attentive Cedrik. His ears perked up, curious.
"Is everything okay?" The dragon asked.
“I think so. I wonder who visited our home in the middle of nowhere. I hope Sucron’s spies aren’t here.” Cedrik said.
Cedrik cautiously stepped up to the wire, then over it. He walked in the room and was startled by an old man.
He was gruffly greeted by the old man, somewhere in his fifties.
"Hello, boy." The man said.
Cedrik ignored the greeting with questions. "Why are you here? Who are you, and where did you come from?" He said, while studying the man. He was dressed as a peasant, but Cedrik knew he wasn't because he was very round. He gasped as he recognized the man that killed his father. The man ignored the three questions with a grunt. “Recognize me, kid? You are the last of the Pennings. You are to come with me now!" Cedrik jumped at the command and ran out of the house. He ran to his dragon, suddenly afraid of the man that was trying to grab him unsuccessfully.
"Let's go Grere! We have to try to get out of here! You see the medal hanging from his neck? He is the man that killed my father!" He said as he climbed awkwardly onto the dragon's back.
The older man stumbled and fell.
"Get him men! He's getting away!" He said as he panted, obviously not used to chasing youngsters.
Grere brought him to the edge of the clearing, then lifted off and then flew in and out between the trees, knowing the fastest way out of the dense, green forest. Suddenly, a loud trumpet blast alerted Cedrik of at least twenty men, all individually riding on what looked like fire dragons.
This is a dream. It has to be! Cedrik thought wildly.
They weaved in and out between the brown trunks of trees, occasionally brushing against branches. Eventually, the fire dragons slowed then stopped one at a time, because the forest was too dense for them to keep up.
"I think we lost them. I wonder why they wanted you." Grere said suspiciously.
My father said as he was dying to go to Ben, my father’s best friend, when Sucron’s forces show up. Well, they did, so I think we should go, right?
“Alright, but next time think it through a little longer. Do you have your father’s sword?” The dragon said.
“Yes. I have it right here.” He said while pointing to his back scabbard. “Let’s go see Ben.”
An hour later…
Grere came to a halt in midair, and then dove downward toward a small clearing in the forest. When he landed, Cedrik climbed down, and then ran to the old farmhouse. He knocked on the door, then waited. He knocked again. He waited impatiently. He tried to open the door. Locked.
“I think I am in big trouble.”
Grere snorted, then said something.
“The fire dragons are about a mile away. We should go soon.”
Cedrik ran over, readjusting his scabbard on his shoulder. He jumped onto Grere, then felt himself elevate as the dragon traveled up.
“How close are they now?” Cedrik asked.
“They are about a minute away, if they go as fast as they can.”
Cedrik relayed that into his brain. I think we have a fight on our hands. Grere crouched, then sprung himself into the air. Cedrik drew his sword, gleaming silver-gold in the afternoon sun. “I have no idea how to use this.”
“Pretend you do, Cedrik.”
Cedrik raised it once the fire dragons came into distinguishable sight. The dragons swept towards Grere, their rider's swords shining.
Grere let loose a fire blast, smacking into the first of the pack. The dragon that was fireballed fell to the ground, screeching the whole way. The rider plunged, his clothes in flames. Cedrik cringed. He did not want to kill anyone. Obviously, his dragon had no problem with it. “Grere, you should just fly away. Can’t we outfly them?”
“What?” Cedrik demanded impatiently.
“Unless there is an opening. They have us surrounded.”
“Perfect.” Cedrik mumbled.
The biggest dragon and his rider flew toward Grere and Cedrik, a fireball plowing the way. Grere dived beneath the bigger, more experienced dragon. Cedrik accidentally scraped his sword against the belly of the bigger dragon, and the dragon screeched.
The dragon's nostrils flared, smoke and sparks coming out. The dragon turned, then let loose a torrent of fire.
Grere dived, climbed, and swerved to avoid the fire. Cedrik held on, not used to such a rollercoaster ride. Suddenly, but not unexpectedly, a fireball grazed Grere's tail, and Grere yelped. Cedrik thought of something horrible.
“We can’t stand a chance, Grere! We have to get out of here before the slower dragons catch up to the others.”
“Cedrik, there is something I haven't told you about me yet. I am a Forest Dragon, as my mother was, but my father was one of the few Speed Dragons.”
Cedrik stared at his friend. A forest dragon was rare enough, but the speed dragon was the rarest of them all, much less the possibility of a Forest/Speed dragon. He then stared even harder. No wonder Grere was able to outrun the other dragons so quickly.
“Okay, get us out of here now.”
Grere threw himself into a screeching dive, faster than anything Cedrik felt before. The other dragons followed them down, not as risk-taking as Grere. Grere folded his wings in and traveled even faster. He arced into a loop when he neared the ground, and Cedrik's dark brown hair blew about wildly.
“Now what? Challenge fifteen dragons more powerful than you or me?"
“No, but I was going to try”.
Cedrik rolled his eyes. Overconfident dragon. He thought.
"I heard that."
He mentally kicked himself. Eavesdropper.
"I heard that too."
A fireball rocketed past them. They swung around then flew to the tree line. Grere landed softly in the forest, and tried to hide himself with his natural green camouflage. Cedrik hid his sword underneath some leaves, not risky enough to have the sun reflecting off of it.
"So this is what you had in mind."
“Yes. They will find us pretty quickly, so stay quiet.”
“I am being quiet.” Cedrik joked.
“You know what I mean.”