Title: A Dragonrider's Ride
Author: Kodisoa
© 2003
All rights reserved. This story is not to be reprinted, or redistributed without the author's permission.
If you wish to use the stories, or anything copyrighted by the author, please E-mail me, and I'll try and forward your request to the author.
Note: Other stories by this author can be found here.

This is my first and I know it's overly verbose and stilted in places. I'd appreciate any feedback or critiques you care to give.

A Dragonrider's Ride
by Kodisoa (formerly Plunge) (vore@mailandnews.com)

The huge bronze dragon loomed over him regally, blocking out most of the sky. D'nel raptly admired the beast's alien grace, his backswept wings and the dormant strength of his claws. He followed the curve of the animal's neck upward to his crested head and powerful jaws. He noticed that the dragon, Kanith, was scanning the sky in an instinctive habit of watchfulness.

Taking in the splendor of this colossal living creature, he could scarcely believe that Kanith was his lifelong partner; being selected as a candidate, and then managing to Impress a dragon, were as rare as winning the lottery. But two years ago, that's exactly what had happened. And despite the fact that D'nel had been one of the youngest candidates (being only fourteen), Kanith had chosen him above all the others!

Daydreaming, he recalled that miraculous day with reverence: He was standing on the hot sands of the Hatching Ground, not even daring to hope as a bronze dragonet waddled up to him. Stopping a mere foot away, the awkward creature gazed up at him and emitted a querying warble. It stood up precariously on its hind legs and leaned both forepaws onto his chest, shoving him off balance. The hatchling looked deep into his eyes and time stopped dead in its tracks. The world he thought he knew turned upside down, shook vigorously, and turned inside out, all in the space of a single breath. His soul was enveloped in a sense of complete welcome and adoration, a security blanket of emotion that wrapped around him and let him know in no uncertain terms that he had no need to be lonely, ever again. A velvety voice, cream and honey flowing in a stately golden river, filled his mind and named itself... "I am Kanith, and you, D'nel, are mine." After a moment of nothing but warmth and friendship, the voice shifted tones. "I am also very hungry. Would you happen to know where I could find something to eat?"

D'nel reminisced about the months that had followed their Impression and how he could often feel the intensity of Kanith's hunger. He had relished hand-feeding chunks of meat to the dragon as a hatchling, marveling at the astonishing quantities he ate. As his friend grew larger, D'nel had begun to experience an odd giddiness and arousal during the beast's predatory feastings. At first he had dismissed this as an empathic response to Kanith's joy. More recently, as the dragon grew into a brilliantly hued adolescent of towering magnificence, D'nel started taking every opportunity to watch intently whenever his lifemate fed. Observing the massive animal enthusiastically tear off a 100 pound chunk of meat, toss it into the back of his maw and casually gulp it down always left him intoxicated with an incomprehensible, passionate longing. Kanith, always so thoroughly preoccupied when feeding, failed to notice his rider's increasingly erotic feelings.

Though mildly embarrassed about this strange fixation, D'nel didn't like hiding anything from his friend. Today, having taken a break from the rigorous routine of the Wyre by flying together to a desolate area, he worked up his courage and blurted out, "Kanith, I just love watching you eat."

Kanith turned to look down at him, his eyes whirling in colors of slight bemusement. "Not nearly as much as I enjoy *doing* it, I expect."

D'nel never stopped being amazed at the affection and esteem he felt flowing into him whenever he was the focus of his friend's attention. It was like a warm saltwater tide that rose up and swirled around him, suspending him in utter serenity. This time there was a note of humor mixed in with the mental voice, so he chuckled and leaned over to embrace the dragon's foreleg. "That's not exactly what I mean. I mean that it excites me, in an almost erotic way."

When Kanith cocked his head in perplexity, D'nel leaned against the dragon's sinewy shoulder and climbed to his feet. Meeting his friend's gaze directly, he felt his face flush with embarrassment. He looked away and began to pace anxiously, considering how he might explain himself without coming across as a lunatic. He wanted dearly to share his feelings and fervently hoped his lifemate would understand them. He looked up into the dragon's eyes again, reassured by the high regard and patience he found therein. "I've fantasized about what it would be like to be a dragon, to fly under my own power," he said as a dreamy, faraway look appeared on his face. "I've also wondered what it would be like to partake in those brutal feeding rampages you call 'dining'. Even weirder, I've found myself curious about what it would be like to be the prey. Isn't that strange?"

Kanith pondered deeply, trying hard to comprehend these fantasies. With the calm methodology that was his hallmark, he constructed what he hoped was an appropriate reply. "I feel a connection to my prey also ... perhaps not unlike what you've felt," he offered hesitantly. "I also understand your attraction to becoming a dragon, since I feel your admiration and pride even now, which, by the way, I much appreciate."

Grateful for Kanith's attempt to understand, D'nel breathed a sigh of relief, his tension slowly evaporating. Feeling more at ease about the subject, he wondered if he could persuade his friend to indulge him in a little experiment. He closed his eyes for a moment, considering the best way to present an idea that had haunted his dreams for months. "Since you've grown to be so large lately, I have a favor to ask, but I don't think you'll like it," he suggested tentatively, peering upward at his friend. "It's something I really want to try, so please, at least consider it."

"I'd do anything to make you happy. What is it?"

D'nel took a deep breath, steeling himself for rejection or disapproval. Cringing at the possibility that he would make a complete fool of himself, he also knew that he might never again have the audacity to ask. So he rushed onward breathlessly, "I'd like to get into your mouth for a short time, so I can feel what it's like to be the prey, completely under your power." He averted his eyes in shame, scarcely believing he had just uttered the words of his most lurid fantasy.

Kanith was taken aback and became nervous. His faceted eyes whirled in alarm and his whole body tensed rigidly. He had meant it when he said he would do anything for D'nel - but this caught him off guard and was beyond anything he expected. He opened his mind to fully explore his friend's feelings, but he found himself unable to comprehend them all. However, he could tell for certain that his lifemate genuinely and passionately wanted this! Kanith intoned, "I think you would find it rather unpleasant in there. It's certainly not a healthy environment," and to drive the point home, he leaned down toward his rider almost touching him with his snout. He opened his jaws enough so that D'nel could see inside, and exhaled gently.

D'nel jumped and his heart skipped a beat as the great beast opened his jaws right in front of him. An electric thrill ran down his spine as the tooth-framed maw expanded to fill his view. Strands of saliva dripped from various places along its length. The long tongue undulated with a life of its own. A hot, humid blast of air blew forth, wrapping him in a damp smell of rotting meat. It left no doubt that this 60-foot animal was a carnivore! Feeling his knees starting to shake, D'nel exclaimed, "Wow! I love it when you do that!" Realizing that Kanith hadn't refused his request outright, he shivered in relief and felt a palpable anticipation growing inside him.

Kanith was hoping for a negative reaction, but any dismay he felt was eclipsed by D'nel's energetic delight. "I'm glad you like it, though I must say I didn't expect you to," he said, retracting his head slightly and closing his jaws.

"So you'll let me?" D'nel urged eagerly.

Lashing his tail in indecision, Kanith wavered and considered carefully. He didn't like the idea of having his teeth anywhere near D'nel. Though he couldn't pinpoint a specific danger, the idea seemed too risky. Once again, he probed his rider's feelings, trying to fathom the reasons behind his odd obsession. Not discovering any new insight, he finally let his desire to please his lifemate outweigh his apprehension. "Since it's so important to you, yes," he said reluctantly. "Please be careful though!"

D'nel beamed happily. "Great! You're the best!" he enthused, projecting a thrill of gratitude to his friend. He reached over to scrub one of the dragon's eye ridges. Feeling an increasing eagerness and excitement, he wanted to try his idea immediately. It was the perfect time since they were both alone in a secluded spot.

Kanith purred as D'nel caressed him. He stilled his tail and tried to force himself to relax. His friend's contagious enthusiasm reverberated within him, seeping into an ancient, animal part of his mind. When he became aware of D'nel's arousal, Kanith felt his own sexual energy flicker faintly - but he found this inexplicable given the subject at hand.

D'nel stepped back and started to remove his jacket and other riding gear in a flurry of nervous energy; he felt a slight queasiness in his gut and he was nearly shivering with expectation. "I'm going to take some of this stuff off. In fact I'm going to take everything off to make this easier on you and also avoid getting my clothes all gooey." He had lost most of his modesty since becoming a dragonrider, having grown accustomed to being naked in the presence of his friend while washing him the lake and on other occasions. Besides, Kanith knew just about everything about him already, including some things that were a little embarrassing.

Kanith's muscled flank and wings trembled as his excitement clashed against his anxiety; both were building in sympathy with his rider's mounting fervor. He wouldn't back out now, but was feverishly thinking of ways to ensure that D'nel wouldn't get hurt or sick from exposure to the hostile environment of his maw.

Buck-naked and grinning ear to ear, D'nel looked up at his friend with unmistakable anticipation. "Okay, I'm ready!" However, he could tell from Kanith's tense posture that he *wasn't* ready. Sensing the dragon's inner turmoil, he tried to confer love and assurance, tempering his own ardor with a promise that everything was going to be okay.

Kanith breathed deeply to try to calm himself. D'nel's love filled him - a soothing balm to his soul. He relaxed his claws, releasing them from gouges they had made in the earth. Unfurling his wingsails slightly to catch the cool breeze, he embraced D'nel's euphoria and allowed it to dispel a mild sense of dread. With a long sigh, he accepted that this was what his friend wanted. He reluctantly shifted position so that he was facing him and lowered his body flat onto the ground. He positioned his head directly in front of his rider, bracing it against the ground to minimize the risk that his teeth would cause any injury.

D'nel saw Kanith visibly relax. As the great beast lay down before him and opened his jaws wide, he was stunned by the realization that his dream was about to be fulfilled. His heart pounded and he was sweating in spite of the cool weather. Feeling his knees threaten to buckle, he collapsed onto them and peered deeply into the dragon's maw.

The hot, mildly putrid air wafted around him, making him sweat even more. As he gazed at the shimmering wet cave in front of him, that queasy feeling in his gut returned with a vengeance, spreading an electric chill throughout him. His breathing became rapid and shallow as he stared wide-eyed at the beast's glossy, 7-inch fangs; he shivered as a vision of them lancing into his own flesh sprang unbidden into his mind. Reminding himself firmly that he was *not* one of the animals he had seen Kanith tear apart, he closed his eyes and focused on his deep trust of his friend, letting the dragon's love chase away his primal fear.

The thought of his Wingleader finding out about this stunt, and both of them getting in big trouble, bothered D'nel briefly - but he brushed it aside: he wasn't about to turn away from an opportunity like this! He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. He leaned forward and reached one hand inside, pressing down on the slimy, quivering flesh within. Gaining confidence, he climbed gingerly over the jagged teeth, putting his entire weight onto Kanith's sultry tongue. He basked in the warm, pervasive humidity as it seeped into his pores. Facing the dark red abyss of the dragon's throat, which glistened and rippled with the beast's breathing and uneasiness, D'nel wondered what it was like for those unlucky animals that Kanith had gulped down whole on occasion. Feeling a bit of vertigo and not wanting to tempt fate, he scooted himself around on the dragon's wet, resilient tongue so that he was facing outward.

Kanith felt D'nel enter his mouth and shift about inside. Having something alive wriggling about on his tongue was tickling and amusing, not unlike one of the larger fish he could sometimes catch in the lake. He tasted the saltiness of his friend's skin and some other flavors that were alien to him. He kept his jaws open and concentrated on lying as still as a statue, though he couldn't help the fact that he was beginning to drool a little. As he felt his lifemate's wonder and fascination, he allowed himself to share in it. After all, if something so easy could make his friend joyful, it couldn't be bad!

D'nel found Kanith's maw to have a startling vitality to it, which he admired and rejoiced in. Marveling at the awe-inspiring architecture, he tentatively ran his fingers along a tooth, fascinated to discover that its inner edge was slightly serrated. Letting his hand fall from the tooth onto the slimy tongue, he noticed it had a bumpy texture. Pressing down on it, he slid his hand backward along its contoured, slippery surface - but when he tried to slide it back toward the front, it resisted with a grating friction like sandpaper. Wondering idly what he tasted like, he turned over onto his back, feeling the tongue's coarseness scrape the flavors from his naked form. He stared wide-eyed at the inside of the upper jaw, admiring its darker colored ridges arching over him like a cathedral. He reached both his hands up to the palate and pressed them against it, letting them slide forward until they met a softer part beyond.

"Don't do that, it tickles!" Kanith chided.

D'nel chuckled but obeyed, not wanting to cause discomfort. He rolled over so that he was once again facedown, sprawling himself out lazily on the supple tongue. The warm saliva beneath him penetrated his skin and thick strands of drool dribbled onto his back and legs. He exulted within the slimy, living cavern and became transfixed by the power of the jaws that surrounded him. He felt the growing need to have those jaws imprison him completely: he wanted urgently to belong to Kanith, body and soul! "Would you close your mouth?" he asked his friend eagerly, feeling his arousal climbing into uncharted territory.

"With you still inside?!"

"Please do, I want to feel what it's like to be completely surrounded by you, trapped and helpless," D'nel implored, with breathless elation.

Kanith was dumbfounded by his lifemate's strange attraction to this bizarre scenario. Yet at the same time, his natural empathy continued to pick up on D'nel's excitement. Thus, he allowed his upper jaw to come down slowly, so as to avoid biting his friend and to ensure he didn't crush him between his palate and tongue.

D'nel's breathing and pulse quickened as he saw Kanith's jaws begin to close, the upper and lower fangs forming a gate through which he saw the landscape disappearing. Sweating profusely, he wrapped his arms underneath the thick tongue in a fearful embrace. When the opening became too small for him to possibly escape through, he felt a thrill tinged with an electrifying primal terror: he was completely captured and under the dragon's control! As the stifling darkness and heat closed in around him, he began to tremble involuntarily: his instincts were howling at him that he should be very frightened about being trapped in the mouth of a carnivore! However, the dominant part of him was wholly seduced and acutely turned on by this sensuous experience.

D'nel's entrancement continued to rise, every fiber of his mind climbing aboard an express train of bliss. Kanith, in turn, felt himself being carried along and suffused by it. At first just a flickering flame, it was soon like a consuming fire. The desires of his rider were intoxicating, crowding out his own consciousness. Normally placid and methodical, he was becoming lost; his own arousal blazing within him as all anxiety was swept away.

Feeling the jaws clamp shut around him and hearing only the gusts of Kanith's breathing, D'nel enfolded himself in the sheltering wings of the dragon's powerful mental presence. He felt exhilarated at being utterly surrounded, heart and mind, by this beast whom he loved. The heat and moisture soaked into him like he was bathing in a sweltering, slimy hot spring. He might be imagining it, but it seemed that the telepathic bond between them was strengthening. He began to actually feel himself becoming Kanith, the mighty predator. He imagined he could feel the prey (himself in this case!) trapped in his jaws, under his complete control. With a shock and a quick intake of breath, he realized that his friend was transmitting these sensations into him. He trembled with renewed vigor as another burst of instinctive terror warned him that the dragon might get carried away and forget who was in his mouth!

Energized by the rising sexual tide within himself, Kanith dug his claws into the rocky soil, clenching, and raised his body off the ground. He unfurled his pinions and stretched luxuriously, ripping deep furrows in the earth with his talons. He discovered that the fires of passion, once kindled, didn't want to go out! His bestial ancestry, much closer to the surface than a human's, was taking over. What was worse, he found himself reveling in it and surrendering!

D'nel felt the acceleration as Kanith stood up on all fours, and a quivering all around him as the great beast stretched. The tongue beneath him pulled inward, abrasively scraping off a thin layer of his skin. The slight pain only stimulated him further - he was loving every second of this! Kanith's mind assaulted him with a frenzy of animal desires, making his own mind reel backward and try to escape - but it couldn't! Increasingly unable to separate his own thoughts from the dragon's, he was nevertheless in such a state of rising exultation that he couldn't bring himself to worry. With an ardent sigh, he clutched the beast's warm tongue and blithely relinquished all control to the massive body and fierce mind surrounding him.

Kanith breached a mental barrier normally only crossed during dragons' mating flights. Millions of years of draconic ancestry overpowered his sentience. Lapsing into a feral state, forgetting his own name, the huge bronze dragon reared up on his hind legs. A maelstrom of yearning filled his mind and searched for an outlet. His primal self immediately seized upon the most obvious one: the small animal pinned tightly in his jaws. Thinking only of his ever-present hunger, the enormous predator tilted his head skyward.

The dragon's mind battered D'nel with waves of primitive craving and hunger, beyond anything he had ever experienced. Breathless, his heart hammering in his chest, he reached forward and gripped some of the enclosing fangs, finding their hardness strangely soothing. He longed only to become one with the beast, in whose jaws and mind he was held utterly captive.

D'nel felt a jarring, upward acceleration as the animal reared up. A few seconds later, he felt a sharp upward motion as the prison enveloping him tilted higher. Being immersed in the chaos of Kanith's mind, he knew exactly what the dragon was about to do - but he couldn't bring himself to care. On the contrary, he yielded to it completely and added his own feeble approval, speaking fervently into the ferocious presence dominating him: "Yes, do it! Take me as your own! Feed!"

The magnificent bronze dragon, gazing lustfully into the sky, savored the salty taste of meat on his tongue. He gloated over the faint fluttering of his captive's frantically beating heart. Curiously, he was receiving an inkling that his quarry wanted to be devoured?! He thought ruthlessly: it was going to get precisely that, whether it wanted it or not! With a quick toss of his head, he gulped hard, ramming the unfortunate prey deep into his throat beyond the point of voluntary control.

The hot, fleshy cage lurched violently around D'nel and the mammoth tongue surged powerfully beneath him. It squeezed him painfully against the slick palate ridges above and partially knocked the wind out of him. Even so, he did not want this to stop! A savage hunger coursed through his veins like a fiery elixir as the tongue (their tongue!) propelled him backward deep into the maw. The ridges digging into his back transitioned into a smooth and elastic surface and he fell backwards in a heap, landing in the animal's expansive pharynx. The walls of the chamber gripped him in a slimy embrace while the base of the commanding tongue thrust him relentlessly downward. The throat opened beneath him and he was squeezed rapidly inside. Still, their minds were as one, and D'nel swallowed in sympathy with the beast. They both gloried in the practiced ease with which they gulped down this slightly oversized chunk of living meat and bone.

Heedless of his rider's thoughts and even those of his former self, the impassioned dragon felt the prey slide down his throat, forming a slight, visible bulge on the outside of his hide. He relished the feeling of the food as it was pulled deeper inside him. The lump passed beyond view into his chest and he continued to track its progress. It was pulled deeper still, finally sliding into his stomach: a gnawing vortex of hunger that continually sought appeasement.

Stunned by the hideous carnal violence of being swallowed, D'nel's instincts assaulted him with visceral fright: they screamed at him that being eaten was a *really* bad thing. Nearly passing out from an overload of terrifying exhilaration, he was sucked bodily down a hot, slick tube. It gripped every inch of him in a crushing intimacy of pulsing muscle. He couldn't breathe, but that was a mere nuisance compared to the sublime realization that he had passed the point of no return - plunging into the mysterious depths of the dragon's interior.

Gravity assisted the peristaltic waves that pulled him inexorably downward. A rhythmic pounding grew in intensity until it vibrated through his bones - D'nel realized with awe that it was Kanith's immense heart. As the heartbeat faded to a whisper, he felt himself being squeezed through a tight opening into what he knew must be the stomach. Shoved through it, he tumbled unceremoniously down a slippery wall into the bottom of the stagnant, squishy chamber. His rapture reached a climax as he experienced a oneness of being with his lifemate that he never imagined possible. Being in the center of Kanith's body, feeling (and feeding!) his hunger filled him with mind-shattering ecstasy. It was further amplified by the encompassing presence of the dragon's feral consciousness, staggering in its keenness.

Sensing the arrival of food, the beast's stomach contracted around him, leaving little room to move around. Pushing against the enclosing walls and trying to stand up and get his bearings, D'nel found that his feet sank deeply into folds in the flesh, which seemed to expand outward to accommodate whatever weight he put on them. What little air there was to breathe was foul, ten times stronger than the comparatively mild aroma in Kanith's mouth. The extreme humidity and heat started to make him feel feverish. To make matters worse, he felt the slick, muscled flesh around him begin to exude a thick, sticky slime that he suspected would unite him permanently with his friend!

These harsh elements of his new environment helped to shock D'nel back to rationality. He thought back with astonishment on the sheer brutality of what it was like to be eaten: pressed between the animal's titanic jaws then effortlessly tossed backward deep into his maw - being crammed mercilessly into his throat and swept down into his belly; all in the name of hunger! Now he knew exactly what those thrashing fish experienced when Kanith slurped them down!

Gagging on the hot, acrid air that stung his lungs, he realized what a mistake it had been to surrender his will to the dragon, who obviously hadn't been in control of himself. And if it was this bad in his regular stomach, he thought with horror, it might be even worse in his other one, which a dragon used to generate a fiery breath attack. If so, it was lucky for him that he had been gulped down as food and not fuel! At least this way there was a slim hope that Kanith would come to his senses before it was too late.

D'nel cringed beneath the dragon's mental ravishment as it continued to rage around him. Against this burdensome weight, he forced himself to reach out frantically to his friend's mind. "Kanith! Are you there? Snap out of it!" he gasped.

Fearing that Kanith was too far-gone to hear him, D'nel felt himself slipping toward a prickly unconsciousness. The warm, pulsing flesh around him continued to envelop him in ooze, but he was too weak to struggle against it. A black despair, matching the suffocating darkness all around him, infected him as he realized the magnitude of what he'd done. It was bad enough that he had committed himself to this fate just to gain the thrill of a lifetime, but he had failed to appreciate the consequences to his dearest friend. Not only would Kanith commit suicide after the death of his rider, his final moments would be spent in terror, blaming himself! Sinking into dizziness and abject misery, D'nel mourned his soul mate, who was so deeply loving and selfless. The beautiful dragon's life would be cut short - lost from the world forever - all because of the folly of his rider!

The lordly bronze dragon roared a short burst of triumph to the heavens and felt some of his hunger abate. A distant, eerily familiar voice called out to him, urging him to do something-or-other. In response, he allowed the fires of his arousal to gradually subside. His sentience began to reassert itself and he slowly became aware of his own name again. He struggled against the enslavement of his body's carnal rapture. Disoriented, he shook his head in frustration to try to clear it. With mounting horror, Kanith deduced what he had done and where D'nel was now. No, he couldn't have! Not that! Mercifully, he could tell that his friend was still alive - but panic assaulted him when he discovered he was unable to speak to him. He must be unconscious!

Kanith fought desperately to think rationally. The furious cyclone of his ancestral mind whirled around him, trying to tear him from the island of sanity to which he clung. He was struck by a critical moment of insight: There was still a chance! He could go *between*. Just him... No: it had never been done before! But he could feel his friend's life fading - there was no time! He must do it now. Wait. If it worked, what would happen to D'nel? He would be left hanging in midair!

Kanith crashed his forelegs to the earth and pressed his entire length to the rocky soil so that D'nel was closer to the ground. Coiled with tension, he snapped his gaze skyward, focusing intently on a spot several hundred yards up. He split off part of his concentration to localize his friend's presence within him. With fierce determination, he willed himself away from that presence and into the sky.

Kanith went *between* and almost in the same instant materialized aloft in a rush of air. He instinctively embraced the wind with his wings and then wheeled about violently, turning to see whether he had achieved deliverance from this terrible nightmare.

D'nel hadn't gone with him. He was still on the ground! With profound relief, Kanith backwinged, landing quickly. Crooning anxiously, he leaned down to examine his rider. D'nel was partially covered by slime and some of his skin was raw and reddish, but at least he was breathing. Kanith forced himself to relax and transmit calm, comforting thoughts. A minute later, his friend coughed and began to awaken.

D'nel felt the world around him take on form and substance again. When his blurred vision finally cleared, he looked up at Kanith with wonder and amazement. His eyes followed the dragon's neck down to the golden hide of his chest and belly. How the heck had he managed to escape from inside there?

Kanith warbled and nuzzled him tenderly, intoning earnestly, "I'm so sorry, D'nel. Something snapped inside me and I lost control. I barely remember eating you, let alone why I did it."

"It wasn't your fault," D'nel replied soothingly, struggling weakly to sit up. "I was completely out of my head. I remember that I actually encouraged you to swallow me! That was sure a stupid thing to do, on top of the fact that it was my foolish idea that got us into this! I know you must have been terrified and I feel awful about that."

D'nel felt the dragon radiate deep relief, trust, and adoration. He could tell that he had been forgiven before he even thought to ask for it. "Kanith, in spite of the danger and the pain I caused you, that ride was the most intensely awesome thing I've ever experienced!" he exclaimed reverently. "Well, not as great as the day I Impressed you," he added sheepishly.

"I could have killed you so easily!" Kanith lamented. "Of course I'm deeply relieved that I didn't, but I'm still surprised you survived that!"

Grinning deliriously, D'nel responded, "It sure was violent. When I catch my breath, I'll try to describe it." Knitting his brows in puzzled disbelief, he asked, "How did you manage to save me?"

"I went *between* without you. I wasn't sure it would work but I'm very glad it did!"

D'nel gawked in surprise and then laughed. With pride and affection he exclaimed, "Amazing idea! I doubt any other dragon would have been smart enough to think of that!" Getting to his feet slowly, he wobbled and lost his equilibrium. He quickly collapsed back onto his hands and knees. Hanging his head, he stared at the ground, wishing it would stop spinning. "Whoa! I think I'm feeling what it's like to be a hatchling. Now I know why they're always tripping and falling on their faces!"

With deep concern in his eyes, Kanith extended a foreleg at the right height for his friend to brace himself on. D'nel grasped the talon gratefully and hauled himself to his feet once again. Trembling in weakness, he was powerfully reminded of his fragile mortality. He stumbled forward a step and threw his arms around the dragon's neck, comforted by the warmth of his hide. "Thank the stars you're always here for me!" he panted, feeling tears of gratitude and exhausted relief flow down his face. Kanith pressed his head against him to return the embrace, treasuring his lifemate's presence and feeling the last of his tension melt away.



Credit for describing D'nel's Impression of Kanith goes to J'van (http://www.angelfire.com/wa2/Mnemaxath/Jvan.html). Boy, I wish I could write like that! Heart-rending Impression scenes like this one induced me to write a happy ending for this story, rather than something more traditional.

I have a new appreciation for all you story authors out there. Now I know how hard you work since it took me an eternity to wring out each paragraph. Any vorish merit this story has is due to your inspiration.

Thanks to Random Dragon for an honest appraisal and for catching a few rough spots; and especially to Rodent, without whom this story would be a pale, sickly shadow of what you see here.