Chapter Seventeen: Mal
Are We There Yet?
They'd made it as far as Darwin on the first leg of their journey. They arrived mid-morning and decided to spend the night, allowing Nidhogg to rest before they continued. Darwin, the gateway to Asia was the last point of call in Australia before the crossed the ocean. Both he and Kaden were sweltering in their jackets, gloves, and long pants when they'd landed. Darwin was fucking hot and sticky. Mal didn't know how people could live like that. After only half a day and a night, he and Kaden were ready to get the fuck out of dodge.
They lost the massive jackets for the next leg of the journey, although it was still cool flying through the air, they were traversing the tropics, Mal didn't expect it to get colder again until they crossed the equator and possibly even the Tropic of Cancer.
They were able to stay at Guild hangers on every leg of their journey. The difference in the hangers between countries was incredible to Mal. Some looked like nothing more than an old-fashioned barn. Others were opulent and lavish with all the bells and whistles.
Kaden tapped Mal on the shoulder. Mal turned his head to look over his shoulder at his companion. Kaden grinned at him. "Are we there yet?" he said in the whiniest voice he could.
Mal laughed. Kaden had been a trooper this entire trip. For a man who had never stepped foot near a dragon before, he'd now been on one for nearly a week straight. Mal curbed his laughter as he pulled out his GPS tracker. If it weren't for this thing, he'd have no idea where he was going. Mal had never been to Europe before and couldn't have directed himself to Switzerland if his life had depended on it. Not without landing every hour or so and seeing if he was going in the right direction.
"Another hour or two I believe and we'll be there." Kaden nodded, as a shiver racked his body. The weather here was a darn site different to the weather they had left back home.
Snow capped peaks littered the landscape in the distance. The view of the ground was also massively different from that at home. Crossing Australia you had vast nothingness. Just dirt and the occasional tree, with small towns scattered here and there every few hundred kilometers of so. Here, though, Everything was green and lush, thatched roofed cottages speckled the landscape, with houses and thin winding roads. There were small towns and settlements everywhere. The scene was picturesque, to say the least.
Mal had heard Kaden oohing and ahhing behind him. He took his bearings again on the GPS, corrected Nidhogg slightly and settled into the last leg of their journey. Mal couldn't believe they were almost there. He hadn't let himself think about what would happen once they arrived. To tell the truth, he kept expecting to get a caught and turned around, forced to go back home.
Hank had really come through for him.
The last couple of hours had flown by and before Mal knew it they were descending to land at the largest guild hanger in Zurich.
Nidhogg touched down lightly, furling his wings in against his body once they were safely on the ground again. Mal leaned forward and patted his friend's neck. "Thank you, boy, you've done me proud. Now you can rest up for a bit." Mal reached down and undid the straps on his and Kaden's legs.
Men stood off to the side waiting for Mal and Kaden to climb down. Mal understood their reluctance. Although Diver's weren't the most feared of the dragon breeds, they were well known for their agility and quick-mindedness. They were the chosen dragon of Rangers all over the world for a reason.
Mal climbed down, then helped Kaden. He spent a moment of two petting and reassuring Nidhogg before he finally turned to greet the people waiting for him.
"Hello." The man replied in very heavily accented English. "Name?"
Mal smiled. "My name is Captain Malcolm Demire. From Melbourne, Australia."
The man glanced down at a tablet in front of him, tapped at the surface a few times before he glanced up and smiled. "Yes, yes. Here you are."
Mal was momentarily taken aback by that; he wasn't expecting them to know he was coming. Hank must have made the booking. Mal would have to take his friend back the biggest box of Swiss chocolate to say thanks when this was all over.
"Beast name?" The man asked.
Mal frowned slightly; he didn't like anyone calling Nidhogg a beast, but he had to remember he was in a different country, and things ran differently here.
"Nidhogg." The man obviously liked his answer as he quickly spoke to the younger man beside him in a language Mal couldn't understand.
"We have you in with other Divers. That okay?" Mal took a second to answer, not realising the man was once again talking to him.
"That's great, if you could show me the way, I'd like to get Nidhogg bedded down, it's been a long journey."
Mal had made sure not to push Nidhogg's limits. The last thing he needed was to be stranded in a foreign country with an injured or sick dragon.
The man nodded and motioned for his companion to show Mal the way. The man looked down at his tablet again and then back up at the sky. Mal saw another dragon flying overhead, looking to be coming in to land. A Firedrake if he wasn't mistaken.
"Follow me." the young man said, Mal nodded, took a firm grip on the reins and the three of them followed the young man into the massive Hanger. The scent reminded Mal of home and went a long way to easing the tension in his body.
Their guide remained silent as they made their way to the Divers nesting area, there he spoke with another attendant who nodded and set about opening up the cage to allow Mal, Kaden and Nidhogg inside. Mal didn't like the fact they nesting area's looked like massive cages. Back home they were more stalls, this metal crossbars shit didn't sit well with him. Mal kept his thought to himself.
A couple of the younger Diver's stuck their heads around the corner at the entrance, investigating the new guy, but they didn't give them any trouble. They must have sensed Nidhogg wouldn't stand for it; they were led two more stalls down to a single nest and left to attend to Nidhogg
"Thank you," he said as he and Kaden set about removing their bags and untacking Nidhogg. There were shelves to the left where he could store the saddle and tack. Kaden had become a deft hand at helping him over the last week. He'd only needed to be shown once how to do something, Mal was very grateful for the help, dragon accessories weighed a fucking ton.
Mal had just finished removing the last of the equipment from Nidhogg, who'd settled down on his bed, eyes closing when a commotion caught his attention.
He stepped outside his stall and looked back the way they'd just come. Those same younger Divers that were looking at Nidhogg earlier were now at the cage entrance growling and spitting at the group on the other side. A couple of older Divers quickly joined the younger ones.
Mal could see the attendants in the nest area standing back, looking unsure. He shook his head unable to comprehend them not understanding what they needed to do. Mal glanced back at the group in the corridor. What he saw, made his blood boil. A young man and a young lady cowered behind a fledgling Firedrake. The Firedrake was doing it's best to protect them from the fire the Divers were spitting at them.
Before Mal could even think, he turned to Kaden. "Stay here, whatever you do, don't let Nidhogg out. I'll be back in a minute." Mal heard Kaden close the gate to their stall after he stepped outside.
Just then a loud noise sounded, and the lights flickered off. Mal ran to join the commotion yelling at the attendants standing there, hoping to snap them into action. "Somebody open the bloody cages in back, lure them out!"
"How?" one of the attendants asked him. Mal wanted the hit him. They were dealing with Dragons for fuck's sake, how else did you lure a dragon but with meat? Surely they should know this!
"Use whatever prey you have, you bloody idiots!" Mal wasn't about to sugar-coat his words; he didn't care if he offended someone with the way he spoke to them.
"Nora! Calm down, sweetie," someone said.
The Firedrake banged up against the nest. Hissing and clawing at the Divers on the other side.
"Stay back! I'll get her!" Mal said. He doubted any of the others were actually going to make a move to help the Firedrake, but just to be safe. Mal used the small side entrance for humans and quickly made his way to the dragon. He took hold of the reins and swiftly tugged the animal's head around to meet his.