Rain started the following day for me. Raindrops somehow found the way below my wing where they started to build up and splashed constantly on my snout. It didn't pull me out of my sleep immediately, but managed it in the end. I shifted my head a bit while groaning slightly and tried to continue to sleep, but this proved to be an useless task.
The sand was soaked beneath me by the rain and I had sunken in over the night. Not enough to be trapped, but enough to become uncomfortable. A good amount of sand had been carried onto my right wing by the wind, building up a fine layer of it which naturally became heavier as the rain had started. I used my tail to get rid of it, which proofed to be a good idea and the wing was clean of most sand after a few swipes.
The sight that revealed itself to me after I lifted my head, was exactly how I felt at the moment. The beach was covered in a thick layer of fog, while a steady rough wind was blowing over it. The sight was more or less blocked after fifteen or twenty meters, making it difficult to get an idea what was happening in the rest of the camp.
Stefan had retreaded behind the tent of Tanja and Nicks to get cover from the wind and the sand, which he partly managed by sticking his head under the canvas of it. The rest of his body still was mostly covered with a similar layer of sand I had but moments ago. The tents themselves didn't look better. Each tent that stood in the first row had the same thick layer of sand on it, while the second row was only slightly covered.
I knew that the forest started up the hill and decided to use its cover, hoping to get away from the wind, the rain and the sand. It proofed to be more difficult than I had anticipated, as I had to maneuver around several tents, griffin and hippogryphs on my way up. I even sneaked past Marko who, like I previously, was covered in sand.
I reached the treeline after a few minutes and sighed in relieve as the constant bombardment of sand and rain slowly stopped. The fog too lifted slightly and allowed a far better sight than I had down the beach. What I hadn't expected to see was a big group of unicorns, which were laying between the trees. Some stood a bit apart and were chatting with each other.
They were around the size Stefan was, with a few bigger ones and few being smaller. But all had the classical white fur and naturally the horn they were famous for. Each of them had different features, which went from a larger mane to a thicker tail. The ground was quite muddy and I spotted several places where some must have slept over the night and it surprised me that non of them had mud on their fur, not even a drop.
My arrival too didn't go unnoticed as several of them were looking towards me. I weighed my options, but eventually decided not to go to them. I still was a bit sleepy and I didn't wanted to speak with anyone in my momentary mood. They watched me as I walked past their classmates and continued to talk with each other afterwards. In the meantime I searched for a good place to lay down again, which I found between two trees. I curled myself up between the roots of the larger tree and fell back into sleep but moments later.
The dream I had continued where the last one had stopped and I was grateful for that. It contained only two things, the sky and me. The ability to fly was inspiring for me and I enjoyed every second of it. Every thought was meaningless here and it smoothed the experience I had yesterday, at least it felt as it would.
This went on until a small dark cloud emerged out of the background. It grew until it filled the whole horizon behind me and lightning bolts started to appear around it. I hurried and flew as fast as I could, but the cloud came nearer and nearer, furiously throwing lightning bolts here and there. Eventually it got me and the cloud seemed to form a mouth that opened before I was engulfed, screaming but a single loud word.
"ROB!" It screamed and I was awake in seconds. I was so startled that I jumped up and backed up behind the nearest tree
"Rob?" A voice said next to me, which revealed to be from one of the unicorns.
Most of them had gotten up by now and were making their way down towards the beach, which was no longer shrouded by the thick fog. Even the wind and the rain had stopped by now, replaced by the warmth of the rising sun.
"Are you alright?" The unicorn asked again.
"Yes, yes I am. At least I hope." I replied as I looked down to him.
"Who are you if I may ask? And how do you know my name?" I asked him.
"I'm Carson and the other dragon said it to me. He didn't wanted you to miss the meeting." Carson answered.
"Hm. Nice to meet you. But which meeting? Wasn't aware that there would be one." I replied.
"The rectors announced it as the returned from the tower earlier. The silver dragon sent me, as I happened to stand next to him. Made me a bit nervous to be ordered to wake a dragon up." Carson said, while tipping his left hoof onto the earth repeatedly.
"I don't bite." I chuckled as I began to walk towards the beach.
"Then lets go, the meeting isn't waiting for us." I added.
We made our way down towards the beach and joined a few unicorns on our way. Most of them were talking about their lives before the change, while a few were talking about us dragons and the other myth. The beach and the sea were filled with myths from every species. Two of which I hadn't seen before. Namely nagas and mantikors.
The nagas stayed in the water with the leviathans, only a few were out of it and in the crowd. They had a long snake like tail, which ended in a more or less humanoid body. Their heads resembled snakes in every aspect, fitting fangs and slitted eyes included. Their arms, hands and torso were the only thing that looked human, except for the claws they had at their tips of their fingers. With their upper bodies up, they were almost as large as the half dragons and their tails went on for another two or three meters.
The mantikors on the other hand accompanied the unicorns, while chatting eagerly with each other.
They had, like the griffins, the body of a lion but the whole body except for the tail. The tail was that of an scorpion and had a nasty looking stinger at the end. Another thing that differed from the griffins were the wings they had. Those resembled the wings of bats, but looked to small and weak to support them for more than long jumps or gliding about short distances. They were as big as the griffin but looked a lot more bulkier, which made sense considering their incapability to fly.
Carson and I went towards the crowd. Though Carson soon left and joined his group, while I returned to the group of half dragons, including Tanja and Stefan. Linh and Frank still tried to break down their tents. All of them worked carefully not to grab to firm, as their claws would surely rip through the tent if they did. So did Nick and the other werewolves who worked on their tents and they seemed to have the same problem.
"Good morning you all." I said as we arrived.
"Good morning Rob." They all replied, though not with their usual enthusiasm. Stefan simply nodded
"Where have you been?" Tanja asked.
"Was trying to get a bit more sleep in the forest." I answered, while stretching my neck a bit.
"Did I miss anything besides the announcement of the meeting?"
"No you didn't. We asked Jim about it and he believes it has something to do with yesterday" Monica replied.
"Isn't it a bit crowded for one without equipment?" I asked, examining the closer area.
"Oh, I forgot to tell. There was a small misunderstanding with that. It was meant for the teachers not for us, but somehow got mixed up." Monica answered.
"Great." I replied, a bit annoyed that they woke me up for nothing.
"When do they start?" I asked.
"They're already on it. Marko and Jim left after they send someone to search for you, while we should prepare for later." Tanja jumped in.
"Which reminds me about the saddles which are waiting next to our bags." She snickered, which was answered by a huff of me and Stefan.
"I begin to regret it, that I didn't choose to be a half dragon." I said to myself as we three headed towards Nick, which caused Tanja to snicker a bit.
Nick had finished his task by now and was putting the tent back in one of the saddlebags of mine, as we arrived by him. Both, Tanja and Nick, then started to put the saddles on our backs and secured them like their teacher had showed them yesterday. Both checked the saddles of Stefan and me two times and finished their work by putting the saddlebags onto my back. This took its time, in which the teachers had finished their meeting and returned to their classes. Jim went to his half dragons, while Marko joined our little group. He had a small shoulder bag with him, which he handed over to Tanja as he arrived
"Ah the lost dragon again. Good morning Rob." He said, while taking a quick look onto Stefan.
"And you're already saddled." Marko added.
"Good morning. Yeah we are." I huffed in reply, which made Marko smile.
"So. I bet you want to know what the meeting was about. Am I right?" Marko asked.
"Yes you are." Nick answered, to which we all nodded.
"In short form. The same we told you in the tower. Find you crystal and come back. Now for the new part. There are different species on this earth, than we have on our, as you might have noticed yesterday." Marko began.
"The shoulder bag contains two books with known species and plants in this dimension. It naturally doesn't contain everything and which it does is very incomplete. They decided that it would be a good idea to let you fill in a few things you may find on your way."
"Do we have to write something in it? Just in case we don't come across anything that doesn't stand in it." Tanja asked, while looking into one of the books.
"No. The books should help you a bit, but they aren't the main point of the travel. Your crystal is." Marko answered.
"As for your search. Your crystal is around one and a half day in flight time away from here. Your necklaces while guide you to it and back here again after that."
"Anything else we should know?" I asked.
"If you aren't sure about plants or animals, don't get close. Watch the weather and avoid unnecessary risks." Marko replied, while looking to several other groups which were already leaving.
"Take your time, don't rush in the direction your necklace is pointing. Should something happen break it in half." Marko advised.
"That will tell us if anything is wrong and we'll come to your aid."
"We'll do." Nick said in response, to which we all nodded, as he climbed onto my back and fixed himself on the saddle, while Tanja did the same on Stefan.
"Until we see us again." I said to Marko, while opening my wings slightly
"Yes and keep something to eat for us." Nick added as I jumped into the air, flapping my wings as strong as I could.
Stefan followed next and together we rose high above the camp, while Tanja took her necklace out of her bag. I was a good distance away, but still able to see a bit of it. It had a round disk in it that moved the whole time, while markings on it spun around wildly. The middle had a small blue stone in it, which flashed from time to time. It wasn't very large, roughly the size a normal compass would have had.
Tanja looked clueless at first, until we began to circle around, were she figured out how the necklace worked and then pointed to what must be the north east. Stefan and I changed towards this direction and we began to fly over the forest, which was filled with noises of hoofs and occasional howls.
It took a while to cross the forest in this direction, where it switched with open plains that were spotted with a few trees here and there. We saw several groups of unicorns and werewolves who were traveling in various directions, a few in the same we were flying. But all soon vanished out of our sight, as they were traveling at a much slower pace.
The landscape was beautiful to watch with its flocks running over it, or birds who completely ignored our presence. Birds guided us from updraft to updraft until we figured out how to spot them ourselves, which made the whole trip much more pleasant. Though it increased the time we would need to arrive at our target location, as we had to circle again to stay in the updraft until we were high enough to switch to the next one, but decreased the stress Stefan and I had to endure.
That went on for a good hour or two, until Stefan began to decline with Tanja pointing towards something. I followed them as they began to search the area for something, which first revealed to be a large flock of cow like animals and later a larger tree. It stood a bit aside of a forest and looked like an apple tree. Almost. A closer look revealed it to be something different but nothing we could name. On arrival we landed next to it and waited until Tanja and Nick were down from our backs, looking at each other.
"Why did we stop?" Nick asked a bit confused.
"We hadn't had anything for breakfast and I'm quite hungry. And I bet I'm not the only one." Tanja replied while taking the book out of her bag that Marko had given to her.
I had to agree with that and the look of Nick and Stefan said the same, though I hadn't that much of a hunger to stop right now. Tanja in the meantime was examining the book until she stopped on one page that had a painting on it, which vaguely resembled the tree we were standing at. She smiled as she had red through the short description and put the book back into the bag.
"The fruits aren't poisonous." She grinned a bit.
"No hunt for today!"
"Not for you. I somehow doubt that I want to eat those." I replied a bit confused.
I was a bit hungry, but those 'Apples' didn't arouse my appetite one bit. They were dampening it actually. Nick had climbed up into the tree by now and began to throw some of them down to Tanja.
"Why that?" Tanja asked confused as she laid some in front of Stefan, who began to eat a few.
"I don't know but they don't look eatable to me." I answered.
"Looks like I have to hunt again...."
"You really don't want to try them?" Tanja asked and showed me one of the apples again to which gave me a stomach-churning feeling.
"Yeah pretty sure." I replied while turning my head away.
"I'll fly back to the flock we saw earlier and pick you up afterwards."
"Well ok. Enjoy your meal then." Tanja said a bit sad
"You too." I replied before I jumped into the air and began to return where we had seen the flock.
Stefan joined me, much to my surprise, and both of us held a lookout for said flock. We only had to search for a short time as it came into sight quickly. They hadn't spotted us by now or didn't mind. Both cases made it easier for us to catch two of them, after we decided if we should do it. The actual kill was easier than yesterday and frightened me somehow, being able to end ones life so quickly. Stefan too had this troubled look in his eyes as he ripped a chunk of meat out of his prey and we both silently finished what we started.
It took a while to finish but we were done eventually, with me licking away the blood from snout and claws and Stefan who cleaned his beak and claws in the grass. We returned towards the tree we had left Tanja and Nick, satisfied but with the bitter taste of guilt in it.
The tree came into sight after mere minutes, but there was no sign of Tanja and Nick. Not even the bag of Tanja was into sight as we landed next to the tree. Both of us looked around confused as a yell from the tree got our attention.
"Fly! You must fly! NOW!" Nicks voice yelled with some kind of panic.
Now we were completely confused. Why should we fly, nothing dangerous was around. It was a very silent noise from my side that saved me. The ground was moving, or to be more precise looked like it would. Movement that came from the side the noise originated from got my attention and something jumped past my neck with only millimeters to spare. Stefan and I were hovering in the air but moments later, while examining the ground as good as we could.
The whole tree and the places we stood were surrounded by what looked like small wolves, with tentacles on their backs that ended in claws. They almost perfectly matched the color of the ground and grass. Only the places where we had stood or the base of the tree revealed them enough to be seen.
With us out of their reach, they began to try to climb on the tree with little success. Tanja and Nick had climbed to its peak by now and were waving at us. Stefan tried to land on a thicker branch of the tree but almost crashed down. I didn't even try it, being larger and heavier than him.
With landing out of the option as the tree and wolves prevented it, I tried something new. I grabbed Nick and Tanja as I had grapped the cow yesterday and was successful after the second try. Though I didn't grab them as hard as I did the cow out of obvious reasons.
I mentioned Stefan to follow and we made our way across the forest and onto the plain on its opposite side. I dropped Tanja and Nick a good way away from the forest, as we were closer to the ground and we landed moments later.
"Are you ok?" I asked.
"Yeah mostly. Got a few scratches as they attacked the first time." Nick replied.
"I'm ok. I had the luck to be a better climber than Nick." Tanja answered.
"What were those things anyway." She asked
"Looked like small wolves with tentacles to me. And many on top of that." I replied.
"We should move further. Only the forest it between us and them and I want to be as far away as possible should they come through." Tanja suggested, as a muffled howl came out of the forest.
"And we should do it fast." Nick added, while pulling himself onto my back.
Tanja had sat down on Stefans back, as the grass in front of the forest began to move and the the wave it made was coming closer fast. Stefan didn't wait for Tanja to finish her preparations and started as he was sure that she was safe enough to hold one. I followed shortly after, with Nick watching the grass the whole time.
Those wolves were fast, alarmingly fast. We landed around half a kilometer away from the treeline and by the time we heard the howl and started, they had made half the way towards us. The place we had started from was swarmed but moments later. Not from the ones of the forest, but from others that had come from another side! And they still were following us as the waves on the grass indicated. It was outright frightened to watch how this wave was following us.
The only good thing was, that we were out of reach for them as long as we were flying. The weather was good and the wind was still in our back, which allowed us to conserve energy and hopefully outrun those things. A thought about the other students that couldn't fly occurred to me slightly, but I pushed it aside for now. We were chased and not them, hopefully. But why did they chase us and how could they track us while flying?
Nick poked me and pointed downwards, which revealed that the wave had split. Now it were two, but one returned towards the forest they came out, while the other wave continued to chase us. It was only half as big now, but still very large for so small wolves.
'The pack must be enormous, for them being able to form that large wave.' I thought to myself.
The chase went on for hours in which the wave changed course slightly, sometimes to intercept other animals which simply vanished from sight as they were hit by it.
It was long past midday as we arrived in a rockier area, where said wolves lost a good amount of their cover. Which didn't stop them from chasing us, switching the wave against a cloud of dust that trailed along behind them. The long chase took its toll as Stefan began to get exhausted and we were searching for a safe place to land since a good hour.
'Those wolves weren't that great at climbing a tree, a big step rock should be enough to keep them at bay for some time.' I though while examining the area.
It proofed to be difficult to find one. Most of the rocks were either to small or to easy to climb on. Another hour went past until I spotted one that fitted our needs, large and difficult to climb without hands. I signaled Stefan to land on it and followed as he went for it. The rock reminded me a bit of the ones in Monument Valley in America. Not as big but close enough.
We both had enough place to land on it without problems and I too noticed my exhaustion by now, perhaps not as strong as Stefan but exhausted nonetheless. Stefan though was breathing heavily by now, barely able to stand, while Nick and Tanja jumped down from our back. Nick began to build a makeshift roof above Stefan out of material he found in our bags while Tanja and I kept watch that non of the wolves could come up to us.
The wave had reached us but moments after we landed and had the rock surrounded by now. A few tried to climb up, but non made more that two or three meters before falling down again. We continued to watch them for a while but eventually laid down ourselves to get some rest. If possible, as the pack down there made such noise that sleep was hardly possible.
The roof above Stefan was standing by now and Nick used his farm knowledge to help him a bit. Tanja had grabbed the book again and was writing about this wolves. How they looked and how they hunted. I myself tried to take a nap in the warm sun. It was relaxing, but I would have enjoyed it more if I could actually sleep and not only close my eyes because of the noise.
The pause though did help a lot, especially for Stefan. He was exhausted enough to be able to sleep for a short time, while Nick and Tanja were discussing about our pursuers.
"I tell you it makes no sense that they hunt with their noses. We leave no trail they could sniff out while we fly." Nick said, a bit annoyed by now.
"How about seeing us? We always were in plain sight." Tanja suggested further.
"I don't know, its a possibility. But it doesn't explain why they hunt us through half of the land. Predators have their area as far as I know and the area of those wolves can't possibly span the whole land here." Nick replied sighing.
"But what causes them to hunt a target over their natural border?"
"You could back track what you did before you met them the first time." I suggested.
"What we did before they met? Hm." Tanja said more to herself as to us.
"Well we landed near that tree. Nick climbed on it an threw a few apples down and then joined me shortly after."
"And after four or five minutes we were suddenly attacked by a few of them. We climbed up on to the tree again and waited for you." Nick finished the list.
"Nothing else?" I asked curiously.
"Well we took a few apples with us for later ." Nick added after a few minutes of thinking
"Oh can I have one? I'm a bit hungry again." Tanja asked which Nick nodded to and grabbed for on in his bag.
The moment Nick took one of those 'apples' out of his bag did send the wolves below into overdrive. All of them howled as if there would be no tomorrow and a lot more furiously tried to climb onto the rock. Nick kept the 'apple' in his hand and we all were looking at each other in understanding. One of the fruits was thrown down the rock and those wolves jumped on it, causing several injuries to themselves in the following brawl.
"Wake Stefan up we leave the apples here and switch to the other rock over there." I said and pointed towards the next rock, which was more easily to climb on. Nick in the meantime started to breakdown the roof above Stefan
"Are you sure about that? I mean what if they hunt us after they have those apples?" Nick asked while Tanja began to shake Stefan slightly.
"They want the apples first and they can't come up here. The theory is that we can fly away without them noticing, as long as they are concentrated on said apples. We can return on this rock if I'm wrong and call for help." I explained.
"Sounds like a plan. Tanja put every apple out of our bags and prepare to leave." Nick said to Tanja, who had managed to wake Stefan up.
It still took a while to be ready, while the wolves continually tried to climb up onto our rock. We choose the side where the density of them wasn't as big and glided towards the other rock. A few of them spotted us, but immediately changed their attention back towards the rock the apples were on. It confirmed the suspicion we had and all of us were relieved as we landed on the new rock without a single wolf following.
We watched them for a time and used the it to rest. This time without their howls and managed to get a bit of sleep, while one stayed awake to warn us should something change. It surely was a great help to take a nap for an hour and it helped Stefan a lot, who still looked quite exhausted as we landed.
We waited there for a long time, with the sun nearing the horizon by now, and used it to be sure that we still flew towards the right direction, which proved to be right. The ´ring in the necklace was glowing by now and was filled to a good third in the direction we were heading.
"It seems that we get closer to our crystal." Nick said while examining the necklace Tanja was holding.
"At least one good thing today, aside from the weather." Tanja replied, while stretching a bit.
"Would be a shame should it change."
"Yeah it would. Lets hope the wind stays in our back for now. Would hate it to fly against it." I yawned, while poking Stefan.
"Lets continue for now. The sun doesn't stay up for all time and we must find a place to sleep safely."
"I get your point. Lets look for one on our way." Nick replied as he checked the saddle of Stefan, while Tanja was checking mine.
The flight continued without greater problems and we all kept looking for a suitable shelter for the night. We flew past a few which proved to be useless on closer examination, or being inhabited.
One cave in a hill, a short way away, looked promising and we flew towards it until a sudden noise made us stop in midair.
Said noise sounded similar to thunder, but much more intense. We spotted an enormous cloud that had appeared far behind us and moved towards us with an increasing velocity. The cloud reached as far as we could see and looked a lot like the one that had pulled us into this dimension. It was, in a matter of fact, a great motivator to get us towards the cave to seek shelter and we reached it just in time as heavy rain and wind started. We rushed in it as fast as we could and searched for a suitable spot to stay.
Everyone except me, thanks for my scales, was soaked of water after the short encounter we had with the rain. Tanja was nagging around, while Stefan and Nick shook their water off. I, in the meantime, went a bit deeper in the cave and around a corner. It was big enough so I hadn't have to keep my head down and wide enough to grant enough space for everyone. The other thing about it was, that the cave was lit the whole way down to were I was by now. I got pulled out out of exploring when I heard yells from behind me, calling my name.
"ROB? Where are you?" Nick yelled.
"Down the cave! It's big enough for all of us and strangely well lit on top of that." I replied, yelling back myself.
I began to walk back and saw Nick as he walked around the corner were he stopped abruptly. So did Tanja and Stefan that followed shortly after. I in the meantime was coming closer myself and stopped only ten or twelve meters before them in plain sight.
"Are you kidding me? It's pitch black after the corner." He yelled again, completely ignoring the fact that I stood in front of him.
"I'm standing right in front of you. No need to yell that loud." I replied normally.
"You do? I see nothing." Tanja asked confused, to which I stepped slightly forwards.
"I think I saw something move." Nick said while gazing towards me.
"Are you that Rob?" He asked to which I, once again, did a further step forwards, now only six meters in distance.
"Yeah, that's me. You sure you don't see anything? It's like bright daylight for me in here." I answered.
"Lucky you. I can hardly see you. How far are you away from us?" Tanja asked curiously.
"Six meters at max." I replied to which she gasped.
"Well we don't see you. Only small movement here and there, but not you directly." Nick said.
"That's interesting." I said, more to myself, as I moved forward and stopped as I went past them.
It was like the time I fought the dragons in my dreams, but now I was said dragon and the others were in my place, not knowing where I was in the dark. It caused me to smile a bit.
"Rob?" Tanja asked, seeing my smile, while Nick and Stefan looked a bit confused
"I thought about the situation I'm in at the moment. I had the same problems in my dream before I changed." I answered, pushing the thought aside.
"But back to the cave. It's empty as far as I can tell and has enough space for all of us."
"Yeah, but still to dark for us, even with our new eyes. You may see perfectly, but we can't. Heck it's difficult to tell whats past three meters in there." Nick replied.
"Not much. No steps or rocks. You should be fine if you stay with me." I said, while turning towards them.
"Or we stay here, just behind the corner." Tanja answered, while gazing into the darkness
"Or that." I replied.
"Suit yourselves. I'll search for a place to sleep myself further down the cave. Let's hope the storm is over tomorrow."
"Lets first remove your saddle and the bags, shall we?" Tanja asked, to which I nodded.
The removal of the saddle and bags were routine by now and didn't take as long for both of us. Stefan silent as he was, nodded towards me and searched for a plain spot on which he laid down, while Nick and Tanja prepared their sleeping place with things out of our bags. I went deeper into the cave and found a nice spot after some time, after saying good night to one another. A swift sweep with my tail cleaned it of most small rocks and I curled myself up after that and asleep shortly after.