The group has been traveling for about an hour. John notices that Papi is getting fidgety. John says to Kenta “Is Papi alright?”
Kenta says “I…think…so.” as she looks at Papi.
John says to Kenta “are you alright?”
Kenta says “Something is off here. The forest is too quiet.” Kenta palms her sword as if she is getting ready to draw it.
Nasha says “I agree. It’s too quiet” as she reaches for her weapons.
John listens and soon realizes he doesn’t hear the normal sound that he would hear. No birds chirping, No animals moving in the brush. It is like they are scared to make a sound. Like there is a predator in the area. A large predator. A massive predator. An apex predator, one that would consume anything it sees. John's mind is starting to race about what it is like being hunted. He then realizes what’s going on and gives himself a good shake and even verbalizing it.
Both Nasha and Kenta give John a confused look. John says “I think we are sensing the dragon. It must be producing something like an aura of fear or it’s just that our basic instincts are trained to fear it as we would any large predator.”
Kenta and Nasha look at each other. Kenta says “agreed.” Kenta takes a breath and starts trying to focus as if she was in combat. Nasha also takes a breath and focuses on finding a trail for them. John tries to help calm Papi down any way he can.
Another hour has passed when John sees someone step out of the woods and onto the path some distance away from them. John can’t make out much detail of the figure besides that they look like they have a cloak and maybe a tail, but he can see they are pointing a spear at the group. The figure slowly advances towards them, keeping a low stance as they approach. Kenta reaches for her sword. John says “Kenta, don’t move.”
Nasha says “agreed, because we are trapped.” John looks around to find that they are indeed surrounded by a group of half a dozen members with various weapons in hand. John looks one of them over, they have scales on their arms and legs, have a lizard-like tail and their cloak looks to be leathery wings that they have folded close to them. They also seemed to have hair on their heads. They all wear what looks like a wooden mask in the shape of a dragon’s head and barely anything else. He looks back to the one advancing. He can see that they have female traits that he would expect among mammals and dark hair. She also is wearing a wooded dragon mask and very little.
The advancing woman gets about ten feet away then stops. She keeps her spear pointed at John. John says “Hello?”
The woman says “Go away.”
John fights the urge to roll his eyes as he says “We are here to speak to the dragon.”
The woman quickly moves closer to John snapping at him “You dare to speak to our Lord!” as she points the spear at John’s chest while still in a defensive stance.
John can sense Kenta and Nasha both readying to draw their weapons, he can also sense that the others also have tightened their grip on their weapons. He says to the woman “We have traveled far to speak to…your…lord.”
The woman raises her hand in front of John’s face and slow passes in front of his face. She then says “You have a mask with magic that hides who you are. So who are you?”
John says back to her “You also wear a mask to hide who you are. I say again, we wish to speak to your Lord.”
The woman pokes John’s chest again saying “Do you have no fear of our Lord!”
John says “We are not afraid to speak to your Lord.”
Kenta snaps at John “Speak for yourself, Papi is shaking and it feels like she wants to flee this place.”
John looks back to check on Papi. He looks at the woman in front of him then turns and walks up next to Papi. He pets her wing to get her attention and says to her in a calm voice as he strokes her wing “it's okay. I know you’re scared. I am a bit too, but we can face this together.” He knows Papi can’t hear his words, but hopes she can see his emotions and realize what he is trying to do. Papi does calm down. John returns to the woman and says “anyone would be a fool not be afraid, but a wise person knows how to control their fears and push past them.”
The woman looks around at the others in the woods. She then lowers her spear as she stands upright revealing her true height to be about to John's eyes. She lifts her mask to reveal her face, she has scales on her cheeks and small horns on her forehead. She says to John “We will be the judge of if you are a fool or are wise.” She motions to the others and starts walking away. John looks at Nasha and Kenta and starts following the woman.
The group is soon flanked by the warriors as they walk through the woods. John walks between Nasha and Kenta saying “Okay, this is the second time in a row that someone has been able to sneak up you two.”
Kenta says “I swear I didn’t hear a thing.” John can see that Kenta is just as surprised as he is.
Nasha says “I can only feel things when they move.” John agrees that Nasha can’t sense someone if they don’t move.
John moves to get next to the woman leading the group and says to her “are you ‘The children of the dragon’?”
The Woman says “None of us here are, but all have dragon blood in our veins. It is what separates us from our weak ancestors.”
John says “Then what is your kind called?”
She looks at John and says “Dragonewts.”
John sees they are approaching a large deep cave guarded by more Dragonewts. The guards quickly move to block them from coming in. The Woman says to the guards “They wish to speak with our Lord.” The guards look at each other, then let the group pass. The Woman picks up an unlit torch when they get inside. John hears her whispers something akin to “ignite” and the torch is lit. One of the warriors runs ahead and into the darkness. The woman leads the group by torchlight as they go deeper in.
John thinks he sees other Dragonewts flee the torchlight as they near them. He also sees some glowing lanterns on the walls. John says to the woman “We can try to manage if you are more comfortable with lower light levels.”
She says without looking back “It is not for you. It is to let others know we have ‘visitors’.”
John can see some are hastily putting a cloth over openings and that few look like they are wearing nothing on their chest. John then hears a gong in the distance echo through the cave. The woman says “Good the clan leader knows and called the rest of the clan to join us.”
They soon enter a large cavern, John would think it impossibly big if he hadn’t seen the mountain outside. On the far side of the cavern is at first looks like a massive pile of rocks. But John soon realizes that it isn't rocks as they approach. He hears the sound of air moving from it. It is the Dragon sleeping on a platform.
The woman stops them midway to the Dragon and says “Stay here” and walks up to the Dragon. John can hear other Dragonewts entering behind them. He looks around and sees they are gathering near the edges of the cavern.
She climbs up on the platform near the Dragon’s head. She barely reaches the Dragon’s eye when she stands next to it. The woman stands tall and proud next to the back of the Dragon’s head. She then announces in a loud voice “Know you will die where you stand if he is unpleased!” She then turns to the Dragon raising her spear high and pointing at the Dragon. She then plunges the spear behind the Dragon’s ear right where the head and neck meet and yells “Awaken Oh Lord! You have a guest!”