The beast’s head was distinctly dragon. It was black in color with tiny smooth scales like those on its tail. Its main came up over the top of the head and dumped a fluff of currently sweat soaked feathers between his emerald green eyes.
“Thank you Farloft,” the thing said. “I am Timenall of the Neeland Gryphons.”
“But, you’re not a gryphon,” Farloft stated the obvious. There was no beak. And yet, he wasn’t a dragon either.
“No, you are quite observant,” Timenall complimented what he now could see was a very young dragon. “I am a half-breed or hybrid - my mother a dragon, my father a gryphon.”
“Is that even possible?” Farloft asked.
Timenall raised a brow, “Obviously so.” He sat down on his haunches and started chewing at the bindings on the boots encasing his feet. He was having a hard time. The angle was all wrong.
“Thank you,” Timenall said and extended his front foot toward Farloft. It quivered as he held it up.
“I won’t hurt you,” Farloft reassured him.
“I’m not afraid you will, my friend. It’s just that it is terribly heavy,” Timenall said. “They have lead soles.”
It was Farloft’s turn to raise a brow in a questioning glance. He leaned over and snapped through the leather thong that held it in place.
Timenall lowered his leg and pulled his foot gently from the boot. His foot looked like a cat’s paw, but it was matted with blood. He lifted it to his mouth and tenderly licked at it.
“That looks painful,” Farloft said, the words catching in his throat.
“They ripped out my claws before they shoved the weighted boots on,” Timenall said between licks.
“Who did this to you?” Farloft asked. It seem unthinkably cruel to the young dragon. He sat down and studied the hybrid as he cleaned the fur on his paw.
“They are called the Varda and they are a tribe of humans in this land.” Timenall set his clean paw gingerly down on the ground. Farloft could tell it greatly pained him. “Could you release the other?” he asked the dragon and offered the other booted front foot to Farloft.
Farloft bite through the binding. This boot fell off with a thud as it hit the ground. Timenall grit his teeth to keep from crying out as the blood soaked fur that had been stuck to the boot ripped loss.
Farloft waited a moment for the hybrid to master his emotions. Tears leaked out of the corners of his eyes as he brought the paw to his mouth and started to clean.
“You want me to take the other two off?” Farloft asked.
“That would be kind of you,” Timenall answered as he stretched out the back foot closest to the young dragon. The half-breed had the flexibility of a cat. The leg he reached out extended much further than Farloft could have stretched his bulky hind quarter. Farloft nipped off that boot and then went around to bite through the last.
Timenall shook both of them off. “They didn’t remove the claws on the back. I guess they figured there was no need.”
Farloft lifted one of the discarded boots in his paw. “Heavy,” he commented.
“Supposed to keep me on the ground, but it didn’t work,” Timenall growled around the cleaning of his paw. “My wings are very strong because of my dragon blood. If they had been smarter they should have tied a belt around my middle over them. As it was, they were just scared of my teeth and claws.”
“Why?” Farloft asked. “Why would anyone be so cruel?” Farloft was young and came from a land where the humans and dragons lived in harmony, often helping one another. His father had warned him before he left the clan that it was not the same everywhere, but this kind of cruelty he could not understand. Timenall was obviously a predator. His teeth and his claws made that evident. How would he hunt now without his claws to grasp and bring down the prey?