2. New Journey
I do not own the Kiesha'ra series and am not making any money from this. Strictly for pure fun! Enjoy!
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."-Lao Tzu
Nyrie held her own against the blistering sands of the great desert; the hot desert that took her forever to cross, yet she suspected the heat made the journey seem longer than it actually was.
By the gods, she was so thirsty.
She thought back to her home with its green forests below the floating isles, the puffy white cloud landscape surrounding her city, and the sparkling pearl white marble architecture that decorated the islands.
What she missed most though was dance and music; as a child she had developed a strong passion for singing.
She missed it so much, and now she was so far from home that it almost made her sick.
If she ever saw those lions again, she would roast them alive; them and their damned prince.
She snarled and her eyes flashed to slits as she spat an angry fireball at an unsuspecting sandstone boulder; turning it charcoal black. Snorting, she tossed her head in frustration.
A stinging brought her out of her thoughts; her scabbed forearm had started to bleed profusely again. The deep red blood had metallic flecks shimmering within it; not a good sign.
She was starting to lose her remaining supply of magic; her fire that was created from a catalyst of powdered platinum and her flammable breath.
She carried on, through the pain until she found a tiny oasis and a parched spring.
She settled onto the grass beneath a tree and licked at the running and dried blood; she felt the wound hurt less and less as her saliva fought infection to heal it.
She sank down on her side and curled her head beneath her wing to protect from sand, her tail wrapping at her front to try to keep warmth in the chilly night.
Naturally hot-blooded; Nyrie was not really affected to the point of freezing, but she had definitely been warmer. In her curled form, her sleep was fitful and short. Her dreams were vivid and almost like fever dreams where nothing made sense.
She startled herself awake when a passing jackal came too close to her spot; its nervous chittering bark apologetic as it skittered off.
She rose to all fours and decided to light a fire; gathering dry wood and weeds from her camp into her jaws; she carried them to a sandy spot and blew hot air over it until it started smoking.
When the heat became enough she drew closer to it and curled back up into a ball.
She crooned as she stared into the fire; equivalent to a purring cat who had just found its warm bed.
She eventually fell into a deep sleep warm by her fire.
Morning light reached her as she was still nestled in her ball; the fire long died into simmering embers.
She made a lazy grunt as she raised her eyelids to her surroundings.
I need to find Wyvern's Court…
Rising she stretched; her butt going up in the air and her wings and forearms stretched way out. With a big yawn; she realized that this was the first somewhat normal sleep she had received since her capture; with no worry of being killed the next day.
She smiled in a dragonish way.
She looked at the parched spring; its water sucked up into gnarled roots twisted into dry grey wood. She mentally groaned; she started to dig where some green plants grew up in shoots.
Eventually the dirt got wet and water pooled into the hole, scooping out the muddy water it soon refilled with clearer water safe to drink.
She took big hearty gulps; the water felt good down her parched throat.
When she was done she saw her reflection in the water; her paler than normal scales were almost sickly looking and her eyes were a bit sunken into their sockets; she splashed a foot at the reflection.
She was very, malnourished and it was showing. This would be bad if she ran into any enemies bigger than her; yet she would be fine so long as she avoided unnecessary conflicts.
She craned her neck and tried to see if she could see any prey nearby, being in the Sahel of this land there was bound to be gazelle or something nearby.
She knew a small trick that would take up a bit of power to use, but it would keep her safe from suspicious people and still let her be lethal if she needed to be. The only downside would be how long the form lingered on her magic, blocking her true form until she willed it back.
She let the world go quiet around her as she felt her scales fall away and be replaced by a thick pelt of tawny and black striped spotted fur.
Her height shrunk and her hearing became much better while her snout grew smaller and black streaks formed under her eyes down her nose. She fell onto all four legs and looked around her body to see if the trick had worked.
Sure enough her long tail was tawny with black rings decorating the tip and her paws were feline with semi-retractable claws; her loud purring breathing gave way her last clue. She stalked over to the water she had drank just before, the water gave her the reflection of a King Cheetah.
She let her soul settle into the body of the cheetah, and let her mind start to function like one to the point of appearing and magically feeling as a cheetah shifter to any onlooker.
Her keen vision still remained and she spotted a heard of gazelle grazing a ways away. She quietly used her newfound abilities and stalked through the gold grass until she was within sprinting distance.
The gazelle grazing nearby didn't even look up, in a flash Nyrie burst into action, her tail acted as a counterweight and her feet adeptly grabbed the dirt as the dragon-cheetah lurched into a full blown run.
The gazelle bellowed loudly in fear as they broke out into a run to evade the oncoming cheetah, and several calves clumsily fell over their long legs as they tried to follow their mothers. She swiftly ran between the herd a singled out an overly large buck.
The creature screeched in terror and tried going faster, but going at seventy miles an hour, the force of her pounce knocked it over and she made quick work of ending it.
The rest of the herd barreled past her as they left their dead leader behind, and she sat down to eat. Her tail twitched eagerly at the meat going down her throat and filling her starving tummy. Her ears, a bit keener than her dragon ears, took some getting used to. They caught all kinds of sounds and wouldn't stop moving on their own.
Finally they stopped and her left ear swiveled towards the sound of a laughing hyena. Instinct took over and she bared her long canines in a loud hiss. She crouched low and darted toward the hyena and it swiftly outran her into the thicket of trees. Snorting, she turned and walked back to find a pack of hyena gorging themselves on her kill.
In a feline sound of disbelief, she hunched over on her haunches to watch, knowing there were to many to fight. In a loud chuff, she rose and walked away enjoying the feeling in her full stomach and disappointment at being outsmarted by hyenas.
Her tail remained in a low curl and her head level with her spine as she fluidly walked towards the direction of Wyvern's Court.
Several natural cheetah watched her as she passed silently through their territory, her dark thick spotted fur gave way her stronger disposition than a normal cheetah.
She didn't know how long she had walked, but her legs were beginning to hurt from the knuckles up. She groaned and shifted to her human form, she appeared different from her regular human form, she was a bit tanner and her hair was honey colored, which was a few shades darker than her regular coloring.
She knew taking on the form of a cheetah had not only left an effect on her dragon form, but her humanoid one as well. She seemed and felt like a normal cheetah shifter to other shifters now, but she still felt very foreign to the adopted form.
She became aware as night fell that she no longer was wearing the rags on her form from the dungeons, gasping she unconsciously covered herself with her arms. Looking around her she tried looking for something to cover up with…but no such luck for her today.
She shifted back into her cheetah form and grunted as the stinging on her foreleg signaled more bleeding.
Mentally sighing, she sat and started licking at it, but the bristles on her tongue startled her. It was a weird feeling, but she knew that the wound needed licking, otherwise it would get infected.
When she was done, she could have cried in joy, the festival lights flickered in the darkness signaling a town or village. She could get clothes!
Picking up the pace, the dragon-cheetah almost loped towards the town, but stopped as she neared the town gates. This was much bigger than she thought.
Past the guards were cobble stone roads that led into the main market where the festival seemed to be taking place. The guards wouldn't let her inside like this. She looked around her, her nigh vision was superb and she noticed smaller houses on the outskirts of the walls, some were farms, others just simple houses.
Some had clothing lines strung up.
Nyrie just got an idea. On one of the lines hung what looked like a dancer's garb made of sky blue and silver silk, a scarf with purples, blues, and lavender hung beside it.
She stalked quietly in the darkness, avoiding the vision of the birds sitting in the trees, she felt them to be shifters. And when she was out of sight, she shed the king cheetah and walked naked towards the dancer clothes.
The garb was a two piece outfit with silver lining on the bodice and a deeper blue that lined the bottom of the bodice and skirt. She tied the sash on her hips with the knot laying one her other hip.
She used her fingers to comb through her wavy blonde hair to get the waves going, a little sad she had no eyeshadow or kohl to line her eyes, she walked towards the gates.
The guards had to remind themselves to stay in their position as she passed them into town, the one on the left gripping his fist together hard. She walked until she saw the dais where all of the dancers were either singing or dancing to drums in front of the audience.
Nyrie was awed, she felt so alive watching the dancers and sat so that she got a good view of a dark haired woman dancing with what looked like a wolf-woman with brown hair. The she-wolf's tail and ears were obvious as she danced around the other black haired woman.
She subtly allowed her adopted demi-form to arise and she felt her ears grow into a more feline shape on the top of her head, and she felt her tail swish past her legs.
She didn't notice the number of people gathered around her looking at her curiously, but instead continued to watch the two women perform the Namir-da she later found out.
She started to sing low in her throat as another few couples rose up on the stage a blonde hawk and a black haired man, another black haired man and a redhead, and a falcon man with a dark-haired woman.
She felt a pang in her heart at the notion that these were mates and they were dancing a lover's dance.
She sat calmly as the couples finished and were greeted with food and water from the audience.
She felt someone sit next to her and begin to watch the show, their form stilling.
She glanced over and immediately felt her heart clench. A handsome man with tawny gold eyes looked at her warmly, his silvery blonde hair seemed a bit wild, and in his eyes sat a kind of awe.
He held out his hand and she noticed his nails were sharpened into natural talons, and she noticed the white tail flicking by his boots. A lion tail.
"Would you like to dance?"
She nodded, her heart in her throat.
The man led her to the dais where helping hands lifted them up to reach the top. Her companion pulled her up swiftly with a strong tug and she stood staring at him, like a kitten in front of a bowl of milk.
He bowed low and held out his hand to her, and she grabbed it as reality of what was happening dawned on her.
Snapping to it, she met his eyes squarely, a challenge.
Her dancer spirit entered her once more and she twirled around the lion, her eyes never left his.
He started his move at coming towards her fast, but she twisted backwards from his grasp. She smiled, and he answered back by following her steps almost like a chase. She rose on her toes and leapt past him as if darting away in the opposite direction.
He caught her in mid-leap around the torso and spun them in an elegant heap on the floor of the dais, him breathing hard on top, and she noticed their tail entwined. Catching his gaze once more, she rolled out from under and crouched in a pose, her tail twitching to the drum beat. He smiled and made a dancer's lunge at her as she rose up. They twirled around each other until she got dizzy and almost fell back.
The lion reached out and grabbed her as she leaned back as he hovered over her. The dramatic pause was held and the audience went wild.
He stood Nyrie up and held onto her shoulders in case she decided to keel over. They made their way back to the bench and he let her sit down.
"That was…unexpected," She laughed nearly out of breath.
The lion chuckled himself.
"You surprised me, I haven't had a dance partner so challenging before."
Nyrie sat catching her breath, her shoulders rose hard as she gazed at her partner.
"You are a cheetah, yes?"
Nyrie had to catch herself from saying no, the instinct told her to lie to protect herself, but she felt sad that she couldn't tell him what she was, a betrayal of heritage and the fact he was a lion.
"Yes. And you? I've never seen a white lion."
He let his accent drawl, "Yes, I am a white lion. Many are superstitious of me because of what I am."
"We aren't so different," Nyrie smiled at him, feeling her honest nature fade a bit from the lie. "I am a King Cheetah."
His eyes held knowledge and understanding, she felt bad for lying.
"Yes, little one, I knew that by looking at you."
She stiffened, suddenly wondering if he could sense the dragon aura from her form.
He rested back on his arm and looked back at the stage.
"The way you danced on the stage…and the markings in your hair and on your tail."
He looked back at her before rising and sensing how late it was, bid her adieu and disappeared into the crowd before she could answer.
When her partner had left, she became surrounded by some dancers praising her skill and performance. She was a little nervous and twirled her hair around her finger anxiously.
As soon as the crowd had come, they were dispersed by the couples dancing much earlier, three cobras, the falcon, the hawk, and the wolf. She stilled her anxiety realizing these dancers held a bit more respect.
"Well done, Lady Dancer", the falcon remarked.
"I am Nicias, and this is Hai."
The older of the cobras then answered for the rest.
"I am Diente Zane Cobriana, this is my mate Naga Danica Shardae Cobriana, our daughter Oliza," He gestured to the female cobra who had danced with the wolf. "And her mate Betia, our nephew Salem and his mate Rosalind."
Nyrie couldn't help but notice that all of these family members had very good looks, though the hawk gave her a bit of the chills from the cold facade she wore. So different from the dancing she had done moments before. The daughter...Oliza she believed seemed to be the most down to earth, the cobra hybrid's golden eyes twinkled with something familiar. Dragon magic.
Curious, Nyrie made a mental note to interview her over a meal or shopping trip later.
Zane stopped and looked at Nyrie politely, awaiting a response.
"I am Nyrie…a Cheetah shifter."
Zane seemed unsatisfied, his ruby red gaze chilled Nyrie. Never had she seen red eyes in her life.
"So Nyrie, what brings you to Wyvern's Court? You seem to have skill. Did you dance with the Obsidian Guild?"
Nyrie knew he was worried she might have brought trouble, even her adopted form seemed to be rare in this city. She put on her face and answered with white lies.
"I'm just a passer-through, I've learned my skills as a child and travelled far to perfect the art. I am also talented in singing and I guess hunting."
Zane raised an eyebrow, his ruby red eyes seemed to show relief and he put his arm over Danica who only smiled, her gold eyes guarded by a mask.
The couple said goodbye and left, leaving her with Salem, Oliza, and their mates. She remembered a friend that she had played with on occasion when her friend's family had visited the floating Isles. Her name was Fay. Faye Bluewings...she remembered the other girl saying she was a bluejay avian.
Nyrie smiled at Oliza and Salem, both looking at her curiously.
"Maybe you guys could help me. Does the name Faye Bluewings sound familiar? She is an avian...a bluejay?"
Both had blank stares, but Oliza suddenly smiled and quickly told Nyrie what she knew of Faye. Apparently she lived in the outer district of Wyvern's Court, and she was a writer who often flew to foreign places looking for something new to write about.
Nyrie sighed, that was indeed Faye. Always wanting to have an adventure.
Oliza piped in once more, "If your friend isn't home, ask to stay in the dancer's guild, just ask for A'isha."
Salem nodded and the red-haired woman next to him put her hand on Nyrie's shoulder.
"Good luck, Kitty. It was wonderful watching you dance."
As she turned to retort on the nickname, both cousins were gone.
Nyrie made her way to the outskirts where Oliza had described Faye's house to be, the scenery changed to show houses stretched across the spacious hills, lots of space between each residence.
Faye always did love nature, and all these trees are very beautiful.
The cottage Faye lived in was covered in flowering vines in a grove of trees and fenced by a white and red flagstone wall coved in moss and flowers.
Making her way into the little porch where the wooden arched door was, she knocked loudly to get the bluejay's attention.
A hurried set of footsteps echoed until the door was opened with such force Nyrie had the step back.
"I told you people that I-! Huh? Oh my gosh, Nyrie?!"
The petite bluish-black haired woman couldn't believe what was in front of her. Her best friend from childhood right there in front of her. Her best childhood friend she hadn't seen in years. Her best childhood friend that never wrote her back in years.
Faye got a bit angry.
"Why didn't you write me back? Surely dragons have messengers? Or have you had so many suitors you forgot about little old me, Princess?"
Nyrie had to force her mind to keep up with Faye's fast paced talking.
"Faye! Slow down, you still talk to fast. No, Thrake is my only suitor just like we would tease him for as children, and we've had more issues than I can count lately at home. The Floating Islands are losing magic and are starting to fail. I need your help Faye."
Faye 's eyes widened as she realized what Nyrie was asking.
"Surely the kind townsfolk don't know a dragon walks in their midst? It would give them a heart attack. How are you even off the Islands? You're mother's an overprotective hen."
Nyrie genuinely laughed.
"Oh sweet Lord, I know! She appointed me emissary and representative for her people a few years ago. I get to fly anywhere we are needed."
Faye hugged Nyrie hard and dragged her by the hand inside.
As they walked and Faye poured tea, Nyrie told her story to Faye, about the lions, her capture, her missions, and how life was at home. She told of her escape and as being a cheetah, and the man that had danced with her at Namir-da.
"Oh my! You've been through so much! Though you seem to have a secret admirer, girl! We'll get you settled right away.
For the first time in a long time Nyrie breathed deep; allowing the stress of her secret identity and mission to melt away. She was happy that Faye lived here and that she had a best friend from childhood she could talk too.
Come what will, come what may it seems.
Hi Everyone, sorry for the sudden change in the story. I really felt like the old chapters were unorganized and a bit chaotic to follow. I hope that this new and improved version is much better. I always love when people send me ideas for the story and I love reading the reviews to know where I am going with this story. I know that the fact Nyrie has turned into a cheetah may be weird, but she has the ability to turn back into her dragon self at anytime through just using strong magic and will. Please review and leave me critiques or advice. Thanks!