She grunted as she heaved the carcass over the tall roots of a large tree. Not for the first time she wished she had kept her mule. But times were hard and she had needed the money.
She shifted the quiver of arrows on her back and readjusted the bow before giving a particularly strong jerk on the rope in her hands. The dead deer crashed to the ground, and she winced as its head bounced, twisting at an unnatural angle.
Shaking her head she continued, leather clad hands cramping as she kept a tight grip on the rope. Her cheeks billowed as she let out a huff, sweat trailing down her temples. She gritted her teeth and continued to put one foot in front of the other until she reached a large cave.
The area in front of it was blackened, cleared of any foliage that had once made its home there. Scorch marks licked the roots of some of the furthest trees, but had yet to consume them.
She kicked a few loose stones as she walked, pausing as they clattered noisily across the bare stretch of rock in front of her. She was rewarded with a blast of flame mostly blue in colour. It stretched out, so hot that she had to step back, though she was already a few feet away. She placed a gloved hand in front of her brow as she stood there, sweating, waiting for it to end.
Finally it abated and smoke began to curl from inside the cave, dark clouds of moodiness.
“I get it,” she called out, “I’m sorry it’s late. But you burned my best bow. I had to do with this shoddy one.”
A low growl resounded, echoing warningly from the walls. She started forward again, panting as she pulled. She made her way into the mouth of the cave, maneuvering around protruding rocks with practiced steps.
Finally she gave one final tug and stepped back. “There,” she kicked it with a foot. “Big enough for you?”
A low croon sounded from the creature that brought its head forward to sniff at it. In the meager light its scales glinted a mixture of blue and green. Almost dainty, the head sloped gently around large eyes that shimmered a moonlight silver.
It chirruped and bit easily through the thick fur into the flesh underneath. Blood dribbled down its thin neck as it gorged itself. Claws, deceivingly sharp, tore fine lines that split the skin and bared the cooling meat.
Barely twice the woman’s size, it still managed to devour the whole animal with relative ease. It settled down afterwards, eyelids lowering slightly as it rested its large head on her lap. She leaned against the cave wall as she gently scratched the delicate leather patch under its eye.
“You’re so spoiled,” she murmured fondly.
Its body vibrated as a rumble emerged. She found herself closing her eyes as well, her tired muscles finally relaxing.