Fael wanted to run, but where could he go? Back to the Farris Academy of Botanical Arts? He could, but he had no idea where Green Eyes had hoarded him for the last few days, and he doubted that the academy population would be pleased by a dragon-like beast screaming as it burst through the stone walls. Due to having maelin blood, Fael could survive out in the wild by eating plant life, but he’d soon become desperate for interaction and wander. What if people killed him on sight?
He had no choice but to stay with Green Eyes.
Fael dipped his head and lowered his tongue into the broth, scooping it into his mouth, and shivered at its warmth and rich taste. The meat was tender to the point of practically melting on his tongue and the vegetables were cooked to perfection. What is this? he asked as he ladled more soup into his mouth and chewed.
Green Eyes packed his books and parchments into a purse, which was then strapped to a harness. “The meat comes from a creature that looks like a mix between a deer and a goat. I just call the soup ‘broth’. Or just soup.”
Where are we going?
“There is a clump of mountain ranges to the west of the continent that are divided into five districts. Your destination is Redwood, also known as Abun, which is down southwest. It’ll take at least three months to get there.”
Fael nearly choked. You’re taking me away? He wanted to scream again, this time in sorrow and fury. You stole my future, and now you’re stealing me from my friends and family?
Green Eyes made a clicking noise and Arona padded over to him, allowing him to strap the harness to her body. The mottled beast stood as tall as a draft horse. “A job is a job, and my boss happens to…dislike failure. I’ve seen it firsthand.” He paused in what he was doing and his eyes clouded over. Green Eyes shuddered. “He doesn’t give second chances. He doesn’t even give the ‘you’ve disappointed me’ lecture before he deals his punishment! It’s just…yeah.”
He’s not someone I want to serve under! A deep rumble vibrated in Fael’s body and he bared his teeth. Arona pinned her ears again and hissed.
The man shook his head. “Abun is under the control of someone who is kinder. But don’t worry about that,” he added as he tightened the last straps of the saddle. “Hurry up and eat! The seasons will change by the time you’re halfway finished!”
Fael snorted and lapped at the broth. What’s your name? I should get that much from you, if I’m to travel the continent with my kidnapper.
He chuckled, walking around his mount. “I guess I do owe you that much. Call me Zono.” Zono bowed.
“That’s the name of your previous body. You have a new body, and thus you need a new name. It’s tradition amongst the dragonries, going back nearly three thousand years.”
The dragonry stared at him, appalled. His indigo fur spiked. I don’t want to throw away my name!
“Whether by your doing or someone else’s,” warned Zono, standing tall, “you will get a new name. It’d best be by your own choice.”
Fael dropped his gaze, the sting of tears assaulting his eyes. He shut them and pursed his lips. I don’t want to do this, Zono, he whined, his words heavy with sadness. Why did it have to be me? Days ago, before he woke up here, Fael chose to walk through the courtyard of the academy instead of grabbing a snack from the cafeteria and taking a nap. How could such a decision change his life so much? Why are you taking me away from everything I’ve known?
“Soon you will know new things and people.” Zono’s voice was soft. “Isn’t that what life is about—change? Like I said, you were at the right place at the wrong time.”
He shook his long, purple head, desperate to change the subject. Do I need to pick a new name now?
“You have until we reach Abun.”