Dawn was breaking. Rhavek had seen no signs of the lucaja from the other lairs, but he had chosen to stay a good ways away from the regular messaging routes. Their destination was the central mountains to the northwest of the mountains they had called home, and he hoped he would meet up with some of the others there. He could see the mountains in the distance, but they were too far to reach before daylight. He signaled to the others to follow him, hoping they would. They had let him lead so far. With a last flap of his leathery wings, he settled into a glide. He watched for a good place with cover that wasn’t too near any buildings. They had, unfortunately, had to rest on the plains, where farms dotted the landscape, and there were few trees, and even fewer rocky crags to hide behind.
He spotted a copse of trees near a stream and circled over it. The others followed behind him as he watched for any signs of humans or elves. Seeing none, he tilted his wings to descend a little more quickly. It would do no good to hide here if they were seen landing. His clawed feet dug into the ground as he landed. He turned and watched as the others landed around him. They were a good group. He had tried to get all of the others to follow him, but in the end, they had to hurry as their owner had woken. He had only convinced these twelve to follow him. An older male landed. His name was Fhirgich and he knew words and showed the ability to reason, but he did not have a large vocabulary. The young, pregnant female, Zhugani, was next to land. When she was let out of her cage, she had a tendency to follow Rhavek even when she had other orders. She could not speak with words but understood some. Another male landed next. His name was Bhotrev and he was almost as smart as Rhavek, except he had trouble with writing.
The others landed as well. There were seven more males and one other grown female, this one with a four-year-old female child whose wings were too small for flight yet. The child had been carried the whole trip.
He looked around at the group then stated, “We rest here.” He pointed at the stream. “Water. Drink.”
Fhirgich looked at Rhavek with a confused expression. “Mountains?”
“Not yet. Too far. We rest. It is daylight. We rest. We fly at night.” He tried to keep his sentences short enough for Fhirgich to comprehend.
Fhirgich looked around then back at Rhavek. “Food?”
“I will get some. You watch. Keep the others safe.”
“Bhotrev, come with me.”
Bhotrev had already gone to the stream for water. He looked up as though he was disturbed, but he obeyed. He began to follow Rhavek. “Where are we going?”
“To get food. There are many fields nearby. It is just a short walk.”
“We should fly there.”
“No. We will be seen. We must stay on the ground.”
“The dragons don’t know which way we go. They are far behind us now.”
“It is not the dragons I worry about now. It is the humans and the elves.”
“Do you think the stories they tell us about them is true?” Bhotrev asked.
“I would not like to find out. It is better to stay hidden.”
Bhotrev nodded and walked quietly beside Rhavek. They stopped at the edge of the trees and peered out into one of the fields.
“What are they?”
Rhavek was not sure. They were fluffy, white animals, quietly grazing on the grass. While he had delivered messages to the dragons in the far west, he had never had to stop so close to settlements before. The animals were all strange to him. He motioned for Bhotrev to remain silent as he saw something else.
Bhotrev had already seen and was pointing. He whispered, “Is it a human?”
“Yes, or an elf. I cannot tell from this distance.”
They both watched the creature for a moment before Rhavek spoke again, “Come. There is no food here.”
“But the human? Will it stay there?”
“It will go to the structures eventually.”
“But what if it wants to rest? What if it comes to the trees?”
Rhavek shook his head. “It won’t. It is busy with the fluffy creatures. You see how it is watching them?”
Bhotrev looked again, then nodded.
Rhavek pointed another direction, “There is another field this way. We will hurry. The others are hungry.”
He started heading towards the field, glancing back not to look at the human or the strange fluffy creatures, but to look at the mountains in the distance. They would be there soon, where they planned to live the rest of their lives in freedom.