Ghareen Meets A Water Dragon
The buzzing of an airplane’s prop engine overhead interrupted Ghareen’s morning swim mid stroke. With a gentle movement of arms and tail, Ghareen rolled over onto her back tracking the small dot with her eyes as she floated slowly with the gentle current of the river that ran between her village. All at once, the single dot became two dots. Strangely the dot she had decided was a plane continued to move away while the dot that had broken away from the plane began to grow larger. Ghareen soon lost interest in the plane, but the dot that was beginning to grow larger held her interest. Quickly Ghareen rolled back onto her stomach and swam for the banks of the river. With one mighty push from the bottom, Ghareen rocketed out of the water and landed with a light wet thwap on the sandy river bank.
Anyone who might have been observing Ghareen as she launched herself from the water would have seen quite an interesting sight for a tribe who’s fur colors consisted mostly of browns and blacks. Standing five foot seven inches in the noon day sun, Ghareen’s fur had been dyed the most beautiful shade of blue. Her moderately sized breasts and hermaphrodite genitals were hidden by what appeared to be a cheetah patterned bathing suit, though whether the fabric was actually a pelt or something artificially made was not readily identifiable. Another oddity of Ghareen’s make up was that she did not look like either of the species that called the village home. Despite her mother being from the clan of river otters that lived to the east side of the river, and her father being one of the hyena’s who called the west side home, Ghareen looked quite different. Her body maintained all the strength of a hyena, but at the same time was sleek like her otter kin. Ghareen’s face possessed the same short muzzle of an otter, but her ears were a sight longer than an otter’s. The only thing that Ghareen did possess that her hyena lineage did not was the otter’s strong tail.
Ghareen gave a bit of a stretch of her tail and body shortly after landing. Once again she turned her attention to the sky. In the time it took to spring from the water and stretch the black spot had grown larger, and far less black. As Ghareen watched the growing thing she began to wonder if this person was ever going to open up a parachute, or extend some sort of wings. Due to this thinking Ghareen was astonished to see the spot, which had now began to take the form of a slender dragon, or snake of some sort, start to sway back and forth. The objects rate of decent seemed to be slowing as it swirled back and forth. All the while the object grew in size as well as in its nearness to the ground. Before long, Ghareen could make out some of the features of the creature that was slowly spiraling its way towards earth.
From what she could see, the creature was defiantly a scaled animal of some sort. The vast majority of the scales that covered the creatures body where an icy blue color that Ghareen quite enjoyed the site of. As it neared, Ghareen could see that the belly of the beast, as it were, was a soft white color, if she had to guess Ghareen would have called it an eggshell white. Moments before the creature landed in the center of her village, Ghareen could see that the scaled one had a flowing blond fur that ran from its head all the way to its tail tip, which blossomed into quite an interesting ploom of fur. All of these observations were made on the run, however, as Ghareen moved quickly towards the creature that had landed in the center of the village. As the head warrior priestess’ daughter it was her responsibility to protect the village from any danger. To that end, Ghareen passed the armory on her way towards the creature that had landed.
With a creature the size of the one that had landed, Ghareen was worried the assembled warriors would not be able to stop it if it really wanted to destroy their village. These fears were laid to rest the moment she was within earshot of the creature. As Ghareen neared it she overheard the creature muttering something to itself.
“I swear… you try to entertain the farm animals in the back of an airplane with fire tricks…. Then a hole magically appears in the side of the airplane and all of a sudden the humans are screaming and panicking… and kicking me out of a moving airplane…”
The creature continued to grumble in this vain, lightly dusting itself off, paying little attention to where it had landed for the time being. The grumbling stopped, however, when Ghareen moved in closer, her spear tip pointed towards the ground to show she meant no aggression, but at the same time was willing to defend herself.
“Umm… Excuse me….” Ghareen said, jabbing the spear point into the ground. “Who might you be?” At once the creature seemed to become totally aware of its surroundings. Rather than become defensive, the creature’s expression became quite quizzical. Within moments the creature had traversed the gap that lay between it and Ghareen. All at once a scaly forepaw was thrust outwardly as a greeting. “Hello there, my name is Sarieu. It is a pleasure to meet you.” Based on the pitch of the creature’s voice it was obviously female. Ghareen reached her paw out and lightly shook the female’s forepaw. “What uh… what exactly are you Sarieu?” Ghareen asked as she walked around the female curiously inspecting her. “Well I’m a water dragon of course. You silly creature I should be asking you the same question.” Sarieu said with a playful smile. All around her the gathering otters and hyenas were beginning to whisper amongst themselves. “I see many otters and many hyenas, but very few of whatever you might be.” Sarieu said. While the comment could have been taken as an insult the way in which the dragon said it made it obvious to all gathered that she meant it as a joke.
“Those of us who were born of otter and hyena parents are called hyters.” Ghareen explained. She looked at Sarieu a little closer and smiled “I really like the color of your scales.” To which Sarieu replied, “Thank you very much; they help me blend in with the water if I need to.” Ghareen nodded lightly before she asked “Did I over hear you say you were kicked out of an airplane?” Sarieu nodded a bit before she sat back on her hind legs and placed her front paws between her hind paws. “Yeah… I was trying to entertain my… traveling companions and I guess things got a bit out of hand because before I knew what was happening there was a hole in the side of the plane the size of your head.” Sarieu said as she pointed at a hyena with an oversized head. “Oh well, I was getting tired of traveling with those humans anyway. They were always trying pet and touch me, saying something about me being lucky or some nonsense like that.” Ghareen just continued to nod as Sarieu spoke. Before Sarieu could say anything more Ghareen interrupted her. “That’s all well and good… but how on earth did you manage to not splatter from a fall of that height?”
“Oh that? Well I can fly…” Sarieu said as a matter of fact before raising a forepaw to inspect the claws on it as if for the first time. “How… how is that possible?” Ghareen asked as she looked at Sarieu closely, looking for any sort of wings or maybe a jetpack. “Can’t you fly?” she asked Ghareen curiously. “Only in a plane like the humans.” Ghareen shook her head as she replied simply.
As they talked the elders of the village were slowly making their way towards the two talking furs. The elders were comprised of Ghareen’s parents and four other couples of mixed mating. “So,” Ghareen’s father began “I see my daughter is making friends once again.” His tone was quite friendly and affectionate. He stepped towards Sarieu and offered his paw “Hello my name is Derk, I am one of the village elders.” Sarieu gladly took the outstretched paw and shook it. “It is a pleasure to meet you Derk, how may I help you?” Sarieu said with a warm smile spread across her features. Derk just smiled and shook his head “I ask nothing of you, I only wished to greet you and on behalf of the other elders welcome you to our village. We call this place Largo. It is named after the founding member of the otter tribe who first found this river.” Sarieu looked a bit shocked at this comment and said “This defiantly is a change of pace. Anytime someone introduces themselves to me, with the exception of your curious daughter, they have wanted something from me.” The smile she had given Derk before only broadened as she finished speaking. “The only thing we ask of our visitors is that they come in peace, other than that we allow them to come and go as they please. You will find that our village is quite welcoming. Many of our citizens will gladly share with you any knowledge they have on whatever subject you may ask about.” Derk said, his arm lightly draped around Ghareen, who was lightly nuzzling up into her father. “I can see why your daughter is as curious as she is. This village appears to nurture intellectual growth along with strong family values.” Sarieu said frankly as she stood back upon her four legs, her tail swaying a little as she looked around her.
Sarieu shifted her weight a bit and stood upon her hind legs and gave a deep bow “People of Largo, I thank all of you for your hospitality and your friendship.” With that Sarieu stood up to her full height and let loose a ploom of blue flame into the air. Those who surrounded her began to clap and cheer officially welcoming the water dragon to their village in on mighty bark. It took an hour and a half for the assembled otters and hyenas to greet and welcome Sarieu to their village and to inform her of the things that they were knowledgeable in so that if she wished she could seek out any information there was to be had within the village.
Once the amassed crowd had finally dispersed, Ghareen said to Sarieu “You must be hungry, how about I make you some food and we can continue our conversation from earlier.” Sarieu smiled and nodded before she replied “That sounds wonderful, I am a bit hungry.” Ghareen offered Sarieu her paw, which was gently taken, then let go of due to Sarieu’s need to use it to walk. Blushing slightly, Ghareen gave a soft giggle feeling somewhat silly for trying to lead Sarieu the same way she would lead a two legged creature. “Urm.. Follow me.” She said, her nervous comment was quickly brushed aside as Sarieu smiled and said “Do not worry about it Ghareen, most forget these things.” With that, the two ventured towards Ghareen’s home. Every once in a while the two stopped to talk with a fur or two who had missed out on first meeting Sarieu. Most of which were the night guardsmen who were just now waking up.
It took the duo a good thirty minutes before they finally reached Ghareen’s home. Like most of the village’s houses, Ghareen’s home was constructed out of the red clay that was found about a mile south of the village. Once the clay was harvested, it was dampened until it became pliable enough to spread against the grass thatching that had been woven around the circular building. At the apex of the thatched roof the building stood ten feet tall, and at its lowest it stood roughly eight feet tall. The entrance to Ghareen’s home was covered by some strange combination of leather and woven cloth. With a wide smile, Ghareen pulled the cloth aside and motioned for Sarieu to enter. Upon doing so, Sarieu’s senses were filled with the soft scents of burning woods and of leather. To her left, Sarieu could see a pile of furs and pillows that she assumed were what Ghareen used as a bed. To the right a small table and three wooden chairs rested. In the very center of the home a small rock fire pit had been dug out, over it hung a metal spit where meat could be prepared, or a pot could be hung. Despite there being no readily seen light source the room was bathed in a soft amber light that Sarieu’s eyes adjusted to almost immediately.
Once Sarieu had moved fully into Ghareen’s home she moved to the right and curled herself up a bit next to the small table. Ghareen was quick to follow her new friend. “It feels nice to be able to lie down. My feet still kind of tingle from my landing earlier.” Sarieu said to Ghareen as she watched the hybrid move to the back of the hut to gather ingredients for lunch. “It’s always hard to judge my speed those last few feet before I land. I’ve bounced off the ground a few times more then I wish to admit due to that fact.” Sarieu grinned as she finished speaking. Ghareen gave a soft laugh as she carried a moderate size pot to the spit and hung it from a small loop in the metal. A few moments passed as Ghareen walked back and forth placing various dry ingredients into the pot. “Give me just one moment.” Ghareen said before disappearing from the shake with a bucket in her paws. While she was gone, Sarieu began to look around the walls of the hut. All around her arcane symbols and drawings decorated the walls. Most of the designs seemed to be painted on the thatching with a fine edged brush and black dye. While inspecting the walls Sarieu made a mental note to ask Ghareen what they all meant.
Five minutes passed before Ghareen returned carrying a now full bucket. Very slowly, so as not to spill any water on the floor, Ghareen poured the water into the pot. While the ingredients she had placed in the pot began to soak and release their flavors into the clean river water, Ghareen began to chop potatoes. While Ghareen did this, Sarieu said “While you were gone, I was looking at the walls of your hut and noticed a large amount of symbols and other such things painted onto your walls. I was curious as to their meaning, or are they just for decoration?” Between the soft thump, thump of the knife cutting through potatoes and hitting the cutting board underneath Ghareen replied “A few are runes of protection, others are for luck. My mother is one of the head priestess so she taught me several of the runes they use within the temple for various things, and I decided to paint them on my walls. Both as a reminder of our ways, and because honestly I think some of them are quite interesting to look at.” Ghareen turned back from the small kitchen area she had been working in and walked towards the pot with the cutting board covered in chopped potato chunks. With a swipe of her knife Ghareen added the potatoes to the pot.
Shortly after adding the chopped potatoes to the pot, Ghareen squatted with flint and a striker to start a fire to begin cooking the soup. It took several strikes but soon a fire was blazing under the pot. While the water warmed Ghareen returned to the small kitchen to retrieve a small amount of meat drippings from a previous meal, which she added to the pot to add more flavors. Once that was done, Ghareen moved to the table and sat down in front of Sarieu. “So my friend, how long are you going to be able to visit with us?” Ghareen asked as she curled her toes a bit causing them to pop. “Well,” Sarieu said as she rubbed her chin a bit “I don’t think I will be able to stay very long, I need to be on my way back home before too long. I am expected to be at a sort of fund raiser my people are putting on to help some group of humans who were displaced by a large wild fire that happened a few months ago.” Ghareen eyed Sarieu a little “You didn’t start it with the same sort of fire trick you were showing the farm animals on that plane did you?” “Well… I er…” Sarieu trailed off, grinning mischievously. “By fund raiser I mean community service…” Ghareen’s face was blank for a moment, and then all at once, she began to laugh uncontrollably.
Several seconds went by before Ghareen was finally able to control her laughter. “You’d think after the first few fires the woodland critters wouldn’t be so interested in my tricks, but they come to my home in the middle of the night and pester me until I show them…” Sarieu said matter of factly. Still with a wide grin on her face, Ghareen stood to check on the soup she was fixing. Slowly Ghareen stirred the contents of the pot, smiling as she watched the water turn to a soft yellowy white color. “They are going to have me draw things and then sell them to try to help the cleanup effort…” Sarieu said as she looked at the walls of Ghareen’s hut. “Would it be alright if I added some of these runes to what I draw? Some of them are quite artistic and would look very good hanging in someone’s home.” Ghareen thought a moment as she continued to stir the soup “I don’t see why not, I’m sure my mother would be more than happy to give you their proper meanings, especially if it will help you out of a jam, either now or in the future. In fact, once we finish eating we can go see my mother and the other priestesses.” As the two spoke, the room filled with the earthy scent of cooking potatoes and herbs.
Several times during their wait, the hut was filled by the gurgling sound of hungry tummies, which was quickly followed by bouts of uncontrollable giggling from the two. They spent the next few hours eating and chatting about this and that. It was nearly three in the afternoon before the two finally decided to leave Ghareen’s comfortable hut, and walk the short distance to the temple. Standing before the temple Ghareen made a broad sweeping motion with her arm and said with a grin “Welcome to my home away from home.”
Before them stood what appeared to be the only stone structure in the entire village. Unlike most temples in the region, the Largon temple resided over the river that split their village. On either side of the river Sarieu could see a short flight of stairs leading to a set of entrances. Due to the nature of the building the entrances lacked any sort of door or cloth that could potentially bar the way into the temple. Rather than stopping the flow of the river it appeared that an arch had been built through the center of the building that allowed the river to continue its natural course. Intrigued by this, Sarieu made the short walk up the stairs and entered the temple proper. Upon entering the temple Sarieu’s eyes were greeted by a soft blue glow that filled the entire room. At the same time, the room was filled by the sound of water constantly running. All around her, Sarieu could see otter and hyena alike lounging on soft pillows. Some were sitting with their legs crossed, others had propped themselves up against a wall.
Regardless of how they sat, all those residing within the temple had their eyes closed and were softly humming to themselves. It was almost as if they were humming to the rhythm of the flowing water itself. As the two walked further into the temple, Ghareen moved them nearer to the center of the room, affording Sarieu a better look at the water that flowed through the temple. As she looked, Sarieu could see small globes resting on the bottom of the river, she assumed that these globes were what giving off the light that was helping to bathe the building in the soft blue glow. Despite how segregated the whole affair seemed to be, there were several arching bridges that allowed otter and hyena to mingle as they meditated. At the far end of the temple stood a raised platform upon which sat various priestesses. All of which were lounging in much the same way as those on the floor in front of them were. The deeper into the temple the two ventured the greater the sense of peace that washed over Sarieu, and her expression began to mirror the peaceful feeling she felt deep within her body.
Ghareen had noticed the subtle change in her friend’s demeanor and commented “The globes that rest at the bottom of the river emit some sort of psychic wave that helps those who come to meditate relax and forget about their day to day problems and focus fully upon their meditation. I honestly do not understand how my mother, or the other priestesses for that matter, can spend so much time in here without falling into some sort of coma.”
“That is why we are trained before we become full priestesses my dear daughter.” Ghareen’s mother said in a warm inviting tone as she walked up behind the two. As they turned, they were greeted by outstretched arms. Without saying a word, Ghareen moved to hug her mother, smiling happy as she nuzzled into her neck. As Ghareen nuzzled into her mother’s warm embrace, her mother spoke to Sarieu. “Hello Sarieu as you may have guessed I am Ghareen’s mother, my name is Mallory.” Once Ghareen finally let go of her mother, Sarieu could fully inspect the otter that stood before her. Mallory stood almost six feet tall, her body covered in runes, much like those that adorned Ghareen’s home. Upon closer inspection, Sarieu could see that the runes had been dyed into Mallory’s fur in the same shade of aqua blue that Ghareen had chosen to dye all of her fur in. The ceremonial robes that Mallory wore did nothing to hide the modest sized breasts that adorned her chest. Neither did it do a very good job of hiding the strong yet lean frame that helped to support Mallory.
“Please you two, come sit with us.” Mallory said as she led them up onto the platform where the other priestesses were lounging. “So what brings the two of you here to the temple on such a beautiful day as this?” Mallory asked as she settled herself into a pile of pillows and furs. “We came by to ask if you’d teach Sarieu about the runes so that she may use them in her art.” Ghareen said as she took up a seat to her mother’s left. Due to her size Sarieu felt more comfortable curling herself up in front of the two. As she did so, Sarieu found her tail dangling off of the platform into the cool running water of the river. “More specifically, the runes for protection and good fortune… I would like to add them to paintings so that people may find good luck in their lives, or use them to ward off any ill will anyone may harbor towards them.” Sarieu said as a shiver ran up her spine from the contact with the water.
“I see no reason why we couldn’t help you Sarieu. Our runes are meant to help, and that sounds exactly like what you wish to do with them.” Mallory said with a smile before turning to one of the priestesses sitting near her and said softly to her “Please retrieve the holy scripts so that I may properly teach Sarieu about the runes she wishes to use.” With a nod, the otter stood and walked towards the back of the temple, disappearing through a covered doorway. Several moments passed before the priestess returned with a leather bound book held in her arms. “Thank you Jeza.” Mallory said as she took the book from the priestess, who gave a shallow bow before returning to her seat. “Now, let us begin.” Sarieu scooted closer to Mallory so that she could see and hear better.
Over the next three hours Mallory taught Sarieu how to correctly draw the runes, as well as the correct words to use to give the runes their power, because without the proper incantation the runes were nothing more than symbols. During that time, Ghareen found herself called off by one of the priestesses to help prepare dinner for those who were meant to stay overnight in the temple. Once the dinner had been prepared, Ghareen returned to her mother and Sarieu, bowls of fish stew in paw. As the three ate, Sarieu told Mallory about what brought her to the village and why she would soon have to leave.
Once she had finished eating, Sarieu said, “I thank you all for your hospitality, but I unfortunately have to go, otherwise I will not be able to return with enough time to do what needs to be done.” Mallory nodded and said “Before you go Sarieu, I have a gift for you.” With a wave of her paw Mallory sent Jeza back to the room she had retrieved the sacred texts from. Before long, Jeza returned carrying a small leather bound book very similar to the one she had retrieved for Mallory before, only this one was about half the size. With a smile Mallory accepted the book and presented it to Sarieu. “While we were eating I had one of our sisters apply pen to paper and write down the runes and their incantations into this book for you, just in case you ever need to refresh yourself on what needs to be said.” Mallory said as she presented the book to Sarieu
The moment Sarieu touched the book a small blue gem on it began to glow. “Now you are the only one who may open this text. We have placed a binding spell upon it that will prevent anyone but you from opening it. While we are willing to share our wisdom with others, we also understand that used incorrectly these runes can be used for evil. I speak for all of us here in the temple when I say we will always see you as one of us from this day forward. At the same time I wish to tell you that you are always welcome in our village, you may visit us any time you wish. I am sure my daughter would enjoy that. She seems quite pleased to have made a new friend.” Ghareen was smiling as her mother spoke, her tail twitching about as Sarieu looked at her and smiled in return.
“I thank you from the bottom of my hearts Mallory. You’re village has shown me nothing but kindness from the moment I arrived here. Every one of you will have a special place in my memories, and I do wish to return here at some point down the road. Hopefully next time it won’t involve me being kicked out of an airplane though.” Sarieu grinned wide at the thought. Though soon Sarieu’s smile faded as she said, “Sadly, I must leave now…” she trailed off before saying once more “Ghareen will you accompany me out?” Ghareen nodded and stood, following her out through the temple. “As a gift for you for all your kindness and your friendship, I will paint you something special and find a way to send it to you so that you may add it to the wall of your hut.” Ghareen smiled brightly and hugged Sarieu tightly around the neck. “I will never forget you my friend.” Ghareen said as she finally loosened the hug realizing she had hugged Sarieu a little too tightly making it hard for the dragon to breath.
With a nod and a smile Sarieu said, “Good bye my friend, I shall see you sooner or later.” With that Sarieu gave a gentle hop and began to float, Sarieu’s blue form making quite the contrast against the black starry night. Slowly Sarieu’s body twisted this way and that as she gained altitude. Before long Ghareen could no longer see Sarieu’s form, with a sense of satisfaction with having made a new friend, Ghareen ventured back to her hut to go to bed and bring a close to a wonderful day.