BUT I'VE POSTED DAMMIT!
Donnya wondered if anyone heard her at all. Of course there was no one around that could but her mind reeled at the possibilities of someone arriving at that moment. Taking a deep breath, she tightened her grip until Jatter hissed at her. With a soft, "Sorry," she let go and moved her hands.
"It's okay," he whispered gently. "Just try to relax." Nodding once, she did her best to take slow and steady breaths. Her heart was beating louder than a drum and she thought it was going to shake that tiny cave down on top of them if it didn't stop. She had tried to hold her breath before but when she let it out it seemed so very loud. Breathing regularly was a better idea even though it seemed so loud echoing off the rocks above them.
Jatter let out a large sigh and nearly collapsed, his arms trembled to keep him up. Taking several large breaths, he shifted to lean on one arm while running a hand through his hair.
"It's okay," Donnya whispered. "We'll get out of this alive." In the dark, he smiled weakly and nodded.
Donnya was remarkably graceful for a woman with her girth and Jatter was having a hard time concentrating on the rubble by his feet. She wasn't graceful like a deer or a fawn as many women tried to portray themselves but more like a cougar; strong and predatory. Donnya moved quickly from one column to another along the edges. In the middle of the large cavern was the dragon.
Although it was asleep flames still danced out of its nostrils, smoke drifting up towards the ceiling. With each breath the beast took pebbles danced on the floor from vibrations. Sometimes the dragon would hold its breath in its sleep and Jatter would do the same thing until it let out a sigh, flames jumping higher for a brief moment. Donnya was crouched behind a stalagmite and Jatter had just slipped behind a column when the dragon's horde on the opposite side of the cavern shifted. Gold coins slid down one another in a glittering avalanche, making a fair amount of noise and waking the dragon. Raising it's head, it looked about menacingly for any sign of an intruder. Realizing what the disturbance was, it nosed it's horde back where it belonged, took stock of its cavern, and returned pointing its nose to the crevice in the back wall where Jatter and Donnya had been hiding. Its tongue made a hissing sound as it flicked in and out to take in their scent. Jatter was pinned to the column, taking deep and steady breaths while occasionally glimpsing Donnya. She was peeking around the stalagmite carefully to see the beast, moving smoothly and slowly. Eventually the dragon settled back down, its scales hissing as it rested its head on its claws, confident they were still in there.
Jatter stayed put, waiting for Donnya's signal to move. She had made it clear if this didn't go well that she would distract it and he would run for it. After what seemed like forever, Donnya stuck her head out from behind her hiding spot and took a good look at the dragon. It was asleep again. Nodding at him, she headed for the mouth of the cave.
The last part was the hardest. There was no cover and a great deal of broken rocks to trip on. Despite how much they wanted to run, they walked. Fighting instinct, Jatter watched where he was stepping and followed Donnya over boulders, around rocks and away from the remains of rotten corpses.
A few times he stopped to look back to make sure the monster wasn't awake and following them but Donnya grabbed his hand and squeezed it to get his attention. She shook her head no and he stopped. Eventually they reached the mouth of the cave, a cold sun hung in the sky. For as littered as the inside of the cavern was, the ravine outside of it was worse. There were corpses of cattle, deer, bears and other animals that had been snatched to sate the dragon's appetite. The ground was charred, adding a burnt stench to the already rotting flesh smell but the worst part was the dragon dung. It was worse than burnt, rotting flesh and Jatter began to feel ill.
Clasping his hand to his mouth as they moved from the mouth of the cave, he tried to think of anything else to keep what few contents he had in his stomach. Donnya grasped his free hand, her supple fingers intertwining with his long, narrow ones. They were just as warm as her smile when he looked at her.
The dragon's lair was in a ravine high on the steep face of Stump Mountain. Donnya led Jatter down a narrow and steep trail that curved and dropped down the face of the mountain. They rested for a moment by a stunted shrub where the trail doubled back on itself. Donnya drank from a water skin then handed it to Jatter. As he drank from it, she stood and went around the bush.
"What are you doing?"
"Stay there!" She squatted down.
"I have to pee!" Jatter suddenly took interest in the land far below. The land was green with brown and grey dots of boulders and dead trees and silver slivers from streams and rivers. In the far distance, on the other side of a large plain dotted with tiny villages, lone houses with large barns and strips of brown roads, he could see the very shape of Dalldas mountain where, at the southern foot of it, was his home.
"That's so much better." Donnya kept her voice low. "I don't know what made me want to run more: the dragon or the need to pee." Her way of talking was very blunt.
"Where do we go from here?" he asked.
"This is a mountain goat trail," she pointed at the rocks under their feet. "It's narrow, steep and dangerous but it's better than climbing straight down or going down head over heels. There's also plenty of cracks and crevices to hide in should the dragon come. Do you know what mountain goat droppings look like?"
"I... I can't say I'm familiar with them." Jatter confessed.
"You're standing in some now." Looking down, he was rather surprised to see the he was indeed standing in dung. "There's a track there. You'll lose the path every now and again so just look for these signals. The trail double backs and you'll pass over a stream four times before you reach the tree line. From there follow a creek that has green rocks and you'll eventually reach a road."
"Wait, you're not coming?"
"No," Donnya pointed at the landscape before them. "You see that large boulder that looks like
an ogre's head?"
"That sliver from a river bend with a group of dead trees next to it?"
"Not too far from there is my father's estates. I'm going back to kill the dragon."
"What?" Jatter stammered. "But, you ca-"
"I am." Donnya stated firmly. "When the dragon realizes you're gone the first thing it'll torch is my father's estates. Then it'll burn all land between my home and yours."
Jatter made to argue but the firm set of her jaw made him believe he wasn't going to get her to change her mind. "You get down the mountain safely, you get to my father's estates and you get him to rally the Knights of Divine Order incase I fail."
"Donnya," Jatter said softly. "Please don't."
"Your majesty," Donnya argued. "Don't argue with me." Although her arms were crossed aggressively, her voice was gentle. "I have a plan, I just need you to get down the mountain and alert the others. Can you do that?"
"I can," he said sulkily.
"Don't want to get your hands dirty?" she prodded gently. He smiled a little. Since her arrival to rescue him she had made fun of his social status. With a step towards her, he caught her face and kissed her tenderly. He had kissed women before, on the cheek or the hand but not on the lips like he did now. It was quick and timid and Donnya found herself smiling at how childish he seemed about it, but she enjoyed it none the less.
"I'll see you again," he whispered.
"You will. Now get going." Donnya ordered. They faced the same direction but went seperate ways, she back up the mountain to kill the dragon, he down it to rally the Knights of Divine Order.