Emerald and Zoltar moved silently through the undergrowth. Strange sounds filled the air as the day wore on. Mist started to float through the forest, twisting and winding around the trees like serpents. The light filtering though the canopy started to fade as the sun sank further and further down the sky. The shadows grow longer, creeping along the ground like the ominous feeling sliding along Zoltar’s scales.
“How far are we from your village?” Zoltar said, looking at Emerald, who was walking next to him. Her ears twitched with every sound and her tail was lashing from side to side ready to whip anything that dared to attack them.
“It's only about half an hours walk away. I'll help you back to your cave tomorrow,” Emerald replied, scanning the forest for signs of movement.
Zoltar swore that he saw slender shapes darting from shadow to shadow following them as they crept through trees. They never came close enough for him to see what they were, but they were always there, watching and waiting.
“We’re nearly there,” Emerald whispered, scanning the canopy above them.
Zoltar followed Emerald’s gaze and his eyes fell on a long wooden bridge. Green shafts of light shone through the trees leafy branches, lighting up the moss and brightly coloured fungi on the bridge. The walk way was hoisted about nine dragons high in the trees and was two dragons wide. It looked old and had wooden planks missing in parts.
“You can follow this to the village,” Emerald explained, walking away from Zoltar.
“Wait. What do you mean?” Zoltar asked, looking around with a sinking feeling. The forest around him suddenly seemed to have got a lot darker and he was sure he could see glowing yellow eyes staring out at him through the gloom.
“I have to go and gather a bit more food. Just tell the wisp talons that Emerald sent you. We don't get a lot of visitors so they should let you in. They will show you a hut for the night. I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” Emerald darted up a tree trunk and disappeared.
Zoltar stood there staring at the tree for a few seconds. He really didn't want to be out here alone, especially now that night was closing in around him. The sky had faded from turquoise to a dark cobalt and the birds were singing their last song for the day. Their shrill notes echoed through misty air. Crickets were starting play their chorus of squeaks and chirps.
After a few minutes Zoltar got up and stared at the wooden bridge above. With a sigh he started to trudge through the trees. It was getting dark and he had to keep his eyes trained on the bridge for fear of losing it in the dark. He did have good eye sight at night, but the winding path blended in with the forest very well.
The moon was just showing it shining face above the mountains, bathing the forest in eerie silver light. The shadows were long and twisted under the trees. Owls blinked their large eyes at Zoltar as he walked past causing him to shiver in fear. He was so busy watching the bridge that he didn’t pay much attention to where he was going or what was happening around him. He didn’t see the glowing eyes in the shadows or hear the hissing growls that belonged to them.
A pack of snarling raptors suddenly jumped out from behind some far off trees. Their scaly green hide glowed silver in the shallow moon light and the bony yellow crests on their heads shielded their unblinking yellow eyes from him. They slowly advanced, cocking their ugly heads. Zoltar growled back, trying to hide the fear in his voice.
He knew that the raptors could rip an injured dragon like him to shreds given the chance. They were busy sizing him up. Considering whether or not he was easy prey. They were scavengers for the most part and would leave him alone if he put up a big enough fight.
Zoltar roared as loud as he could as he charging towards the hissing beasts. The leaves crunched under his pounding paws as he rushed at the raptors. Pain zigzagged up and down his back. Stars swam in his eyes. Brushing it aside Zoltar bared his teeth and thundered a ferocious roar and spread his wings to full height blotting out the moons light.
The raptors cringed as Zoltar’s dark shadow fell across the ground and his thumping feet beat the ground. Seeing them flinch, Zoltar gained confidence and increased his speed, throwing caution to the wind. The raptors turned and fled all except for one. Its crest was bright red and flashed in the moon light. Its scales were deep forest green with splashes of burgundy red. It pawed the ground and displayed his fangs, a mad glint shone in its eyes as it glared at Zoltar.
Zoltar knew that if he slowed and backed down the other raptors would be back. They wouldn’t withdraw so easily next time.
Zoltar lashed his tail, kicking up leaves and dirt. The raptor roared and dashed head down towards the rapidly advancing Zoltar.
'It’s now or never,' Zoltar thought. He arched his tail like a scorpion and with one swift movement brought it down on the raptors crest. Zoltar swerved to the left as the raptor howled, its bright red crown dissolving into a black, hole riddled lump. Zoltar skidded to a halt a few meters away. He looked back at the shrieking creature.
He hadn’t done serious damage, but it was enough to send the raptor reeling.
He shot a look of daggers straight at the creature and growled. The raptor yelped and crashed back into the forest.
Zoltar breathed a sigh of relief and winced as the pain came flooding back to him. After taking one last look in the direction of the raptor he slow started to walk back towards the wisp talon village.