The air was still this night, and the sounds carried far and wide.

Stepping softly, so as not to arouse the guards, Rachel slipped between two pillars, hiding from the flickering torches. When the patrol pair had passed, she slipped back out, to one of the little wicker gates, the one she knew wasn’t guarded. It looked old, and rusted, but she’d been here earlier, with a can of lamp oil, so when she carefully undid the latch and pulled it open, the hinges were noiseless.

Immediately upon getting out of the keep grounds, her shoulder was occupied by a dragonlings, whose dark scales blended in with the night. Rachel reached up and scratched his head.

“Time for a little adventure.” She whispered.

Rather than going through town, she hopped over a couple of the back fences, and took to the darker countryside. Another couple of dragonlings, the ones with the darker hides, joined her and provided her with an escort.

The night air was still, only broken by the occasional flap of tiny wings near her. The sounds of the night slow and lazy as she continued to jog to her destination.

A half hour later, the reached the edge of the forest, and the light from the stars and the moon was cut off as they passed into the trees. Pagon, the dragonling in her shoulder, let out a trill, and a wave of eyes opened outward where they were standing, as dragonlings that had gathered from all over opened their eyes, rustled their wings, and trilled back in greeting.

“Shush, shush. Yes I’m glad to see you too.” Rachel calmed them as she walked through the forest, going even deeper in, her path lit up by the avenue of dragonling eyes.

It wasn’t a clearing that she came to, more of a large gap between the trees, where the larger dragon was sitting.

He raised his muzzle and looked down at her as she approached, and in return she bowed her head.

There was a pressure on her mind, she resisted instinctively, until the dragonling on her shoulder buffeted her with his wing and she stopped.

‘Rachel?’ She heard a voice in her head.

“Yes, I am Rachel.” She answered out loud.

The dragon lowered his muzzle until it gently touched her forehead, so he could smell her, and then exhaled, blowing her hair around her face. ‘Well met. I Ryuu. Night has come. Are you ready?’

Rachel nodded. “As ready as I’ll ever be.”

Ryuu crouched down even further, offering his front claw out to her. Rachel stepped up onto the leg, and them swung her other leg over his back, finding a natural seat at the bottom of his neck. He swung his head round to check she was seated, and when she nodded at him, spread his wings and jumped.

The rush of air was cold, but thrilling, and they were soon high up in the night sky. The keep and town were tiny, with the streets merely little lines of light in the dark. Above them the stars glittering and the moon was but a sliver, and around them tiny draconic bodies beat their small wings furiously to try and keep up, although Pagon was still seated on her shoulder, chirping in her ear.

‘We go.’

Ryuu beat his wings even faster, and they shot off. Going to a destination further than Rachel had ever been before.