(This story contains G/T and suspense. If you don’t like that…THEN TOUGH BANANAS!!! Nah, just don’t read it. Won’t offend me. )
Her big, pointy ears pinned back as the wind howled loudly over her tiny form. Being a brownie meant that everything seemed “too whatever” from her perspective. Such as this house that towered before her. It was too big. It was like a castle to her. Also, the wind was too loud and she was too high off the ground by sitting on the fence that separated the house from the other house. With a frown, she shuttered and held her thin material of clothes closer to her body. Although she was covered in fuzzy tan fur, the fur was too short and thin to protect her from the chilling night air.
“Hey, Cherry! I’m shocked you came here before us!”
The brownie jolted at the call of her name and turned to the one to shout with a worried glance. “Be quiet. You don’t want anyone to come out here, do you?”
Three other brownies climbed across to sit or stand beside her as they looked at the house before them. The one close to her rubbed the top of her short black haired head, sneering confidently, “Oh, come on. Lighten up and learn to be a brownie, girl.”
There are certain things people should know about brownies. They looked like two-inch human-like beings with the exception of their fur and ears, yet they did not like humans. In fact, they didn’t like any creature bigger than them. So they would play pranks or be mean to taller folk at any given chance to show how brave and fearless they were. It was important for a brownie to never show fear. If one did, the others would have little to do with such a brownie. They would kick it out of their tribe eventually if it didn’t prove to be brave.
Cherry was such a brownie.
She worriedly stared at the house as she said, “So…he’s in there?”
The one standing over her nodded, saying, “Yep, and you can’t back out if you want to stay in the tribe. I doubt you’d last long on your own.”
He snorted afterwards to which Cherry flinched. She knew he was right. She wasn’t a fighter or tough like the others. Cherry would end up eaten by a wild animal or die by one of the big folk on accident if left on her own. It didn’t help that she was only sixteen and knew very little about this new world the brownies went to; this Earth. She needed to be in the company of brownies for her safety. She needed to do whatever these three told her to do.
Her red eyes turned to the other as he spoke, “Now, all you gotta do is go in there and draw on the dragon-man’s face. Draw something funny even, so that you can laugh about it later. We’ll wait out here for you, but you gotta go in by yourself. If you come out without marking him…” His voice got more screechy and harsh, while she leaned away. “…we’ll throw you back in there tied up, understand? It’ll be the nicest thing to do to a fearful brownie.”
Cherry’s bottom lip quivered and she had to look away from him. One handed her a big black marker and snapped angrily, “Now, get moving and don’t keep us waiting or else we’ll leave your sorry self here.”
The brownie immediately jumped down from the fence and ran to the bush beneath a slightly cracked window. Tucking the marker under her arm, she climbed up and through the bush until she became level with the windowsill. With a hop, she landed on the sill and then turned to look at the three brownies that watched her with frowns. Cherry could guess they were thinking she wouldn’t be able to go through with this. Especially with there being a dragon-man…or, commonly known, as a drakenum in the house!
She fought back crying at her bleak situation of possibly getting caught by the huge creature and climbed under the cracked window. Carefully and quietly, the girl jumped down and then scurried across the floor to the staircase. As she understood, the creature was up the stairs and should be asleep. Cherry let out a groan at the sight of so many steps to get to her target, but she figured that this was nothing to worry about compared to the part where she’d mark his face. She hated the idea of what would happen then.
The brownie scaled the steps as quickly as she could, but it was tiring to do such. Sometimes she’d drop the marker and have to go back down a step. It was so frustrating. With a grim smirk, she finally reached the top after fifteen minutes. She slumped down on the floor a moment to take in some deep breaths. Her heart was beating so fast and it wasn’t only because she went through an intense task of climbing. There was so much fear in her she might faint or burst into tears any second.
Cherry eventually calmed down enough to get up and walk up to the slightly open door to the dragon-man’s room. She was glad she was small since it meant her movements and scent would be hard for him to detect. Or at least…that’s what she hoped. The girl ran across the floor to the bed and grabbed the blanket that was halfway on the bed yet touching the ground. It was easy to ascend; yet she paused as soon as she reached the top of the bed. Seeing her target made her even more frightened.
The dragon-man looked human, but she knew he was far from it from what the others told her. He might have been a Warrior of the Heart but he was also a carnivore. She gulped inaudibly as she shook and stood up on the mattress. He was so big compared to her! Dang, she wished they had targeted a child for a prank at least. That wouldn’t have been scary…or as scary.
Cherry walked across the bed, keeping her red gaze on his form constantly. He was lean and muscular like most of his kind that were from a high class. If she weren’t so scared, she would have taken in how handsome his form was. She was glad he was clothed in shorts and a t-shirt so that she could climb on him easily. The brownie stared in awe and horror at his face that was fortunately directed at the ceiling. It seemed as though he was very much so at peace and his lips were shut. That was a relief. She didn’t want to see the inside of this giant creature’s mouth.
The girl hoisted up on his shoulder by grabbing hold of his shirt and then mounted on top of his chest. She tried to move slowly enough to not rouse him, which she fortunately hadn’t as she climbed up on his chin. Carefully, Cherry sat on his chin with her legs straddling it. She felt so silly doing this. Why were brownies such pranksters and troublemakers, her thoughts shouted. With a gulp, the girl pulled out the marker from under her arm and released a sigh. Here was where things would change she knew. Either for better or worse.
She tugged the cap off.
Immediately, her eyes widened.
The scent of the marker was strong!
It made her eyes water and made her want to cough, but that was not her main concern.
The dragon-man shifted beneath her with a frown forming on his once undisturbed face.
Cherry figured to just quickly mark him and then run before the scent woke him up even more. She started to press it to his cheek.
As she drew a curve, a sense buzzed in the back of her brain that there was something TERRIBLY wrong. She glanced up higher on his face.
His eyes had opened and his violet stare was on her.
The two watched each other with unwavering gazes and didn’t move. Her mouth was wide open and her body was trembling lightly. She couldn’t move her arms that held the marker, but she figured it wasn’t worth continuing to mark his face. She was as good as dead.
He finally spoke and it sounded soft yet growling. “Hey there, dear?”
Moisture built up at the corners of her eyes followed by her breathing to become sharp and rapid. Dropping the marker, she scurried off his face and leapt on the mattress. Cherry was glad he didn’t move that much as she leapt off the bed and then headed for the door in a sprint. He was either slowly reacting because he was half-awake or because he didn’t care. Either answer was fine with her. Little did she know he was simply watching her with a curious gaze.
Ajarhmi, the drakenum or dragon-man, as the brownies referred to him, let her run out to the hallway and then to the steps before he got out of bed. He ran his sharp-nailed fingers through his brown hair as he walked to the steps muttering, “At least it’s not a stupid human. First time a small creature broke into my house…at least one that can communicate with and understand me.”
Meanwhile, Cherry was too frantic in her running and jumping down the steps to look back at him. She heard him mutter, but didn’t care to figure out what was said. Her natural brownie abilities allowed her to be able to jump down from heights less than four feet without dealing with any painful consequences. She was thankful for that as she continued leaping, but she had miscalculated a jump though.
As she landed, one of her feet didn’t plant just right. It twisted beneath her and she felt an intense pain shoot through her ankle into her calf. Cherry yelped and tumbled down the remaining step. The brownie got up from her crash, but as soon as she went to run toward the window, the biting sting of her ankle made it nearly impossible to run. With one leg slightly off the ground, she hobbled across the floor until she got right under the window.
It was then she realized how despairing her situation was. There was no way she could jump back up there with a messed up ankle. Even if she managed to get out of the house, the brownies would be disappointed that she barely marked his face. They would not allow her into the tribe.
Cherry sunk to her knees and for the first time that night allowed her emotions to take full control. The tiny creature sobbed loudly while placing her hands over her leaking face. She was about to die and the brownies she tried to be like wouldn’t even care. They’d most likely call her too weak and then go on about their lives. Knowing all of this made her weep more to the point she laid out in a bow under the window.
Her crying stopped though as she heard some movement behind her. Cherry glanced back in time to see Ajarhmi crouch down to her level and reach for her. Immediately, she turned away from him and scrunched her body inward as she trembled. What was he going to do? Claw her to even tinier pieces? Pick her up and then put her in his mouth? All of the ideas that popped in her head made her shiver even more. However, she calmed as he did something she wouldn’t ever expect from a dragon-man.
He stroked his fingers down her side and back.
The girl froze and her eyes opened wide.
Ajarhmi continued to run his fingers and nails over her small form. She refused to look up at him though as he stroked her and even as he spoke softly, “Calm down. You’re alright.”
His nice words continued, but it didn’t calm her down really. She was more so confused than relieved he hadn’t harmed her…yet. The brownie figured he was deceiving her by acting nice so that she would drop her guard and she’d end up dead for his amusement. Tears welled up in her eyes again at the thought and she went into softly crying.
She couldn’t resist choking out a plea at least, “D-don’t kill me. I’m sorry I disturbed y-you.”
Ajarhmi ceased his petting and stared down at her thoughtfully and quietly a moment. Her sniffling and trembling started once again followed by hushed begs for her life and apologies. It was so saddening to watch and listen. The drakenum just wanted to pick her up and hold her close to his chest to calm her down, but he figured she would just wail loudly if he were to even lift her an inch from the floor. Dang, it was tough being the bigger creature in a situation where the tiny was terrified of you.
He then glanced out the window to three small creatures that were standing on the fence. The brownies had been watching intently what they could see and hear was going on, but jolted and scurried off the fence when Ajarhmi finally regarded them. The drakenum gave a sigh and glanced down at the broken brownie below him. “I’m sorry, but I think I just scared your friends away, darling. Although, they weren’t that great of friends to let you come in here by yourself, huh?”
Cherry stopped moving and her noises at the question, yet gradually looked back at him. She blinked her misty gaze before asking, “Y-you don’t eat m-my kind? I th-thought you would kill me for coming in here. Wh-why are…” She didn’t have the heart to continue the question and watched his expression in case he would lie to or tease her.
Ajarhmi’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not going to eat you, darling.” He wasn’t going to completely answer her since he knew that would frighten her. “So tell me your name and why you came in here. The name is Ajarhmi of the East, by the way.”
Nervously, she sat up while replying, “I’m Ch-cherry of the Oak. I was trying to prove to the other brownies that I could be brave and prank a taller creature, so that I would stay in the…” The brownie choked up and looked down. “…in the tribe and not be by myself. B-but now I…” She went into her sobbing once again.
Ajarhmi could guess what all was going on from what he knew about these creatures. She was as good as dead to her kind and, he could assume by how she reacted, she was a rarity in her kind that wasn’t a fighter nor arrogantly cocky like the others. She was defenseless and timid. He put a sharp nail beneath her chin and forced her to look up at him. “Please don’t cry, darling. There is nothing to be ashamed of for not being like the rest of your kind.”
Cherry shook her head and wept, “B-but that’s easy for you to say. You’re a dragon-man and even the weak ones of your kind can survive a long while without the help of others. A brownie needs others around her size or else it’ll die within a day or two.” She moaned as she curled into herself again. “It would be better if I were dead.”
“Be careful of what you say.”
She flinched and looked at him once again.
“I am a drakenum after all and you are a brownie…with a delicious name.” He then smirked to show his canines and chuckled lightly, “But I would feel bad if I were to harm you or scare you in anyway, so don’t worry about it. You might be tempting, but not THAT tempting. You’re safe with me. In fact…” He cupped a hand beneath her, to which she jolted and worriedly shifted in his grasp. Ajarhmi lifted her up to his face as he finished, “…I am much safer to have around than a bunch of conceited brownies. They honestly picked out the best house and drakenum for you to prank. So cheer up. Try to give me a smile, darling.”
Cherry was unable to comply at first with the corner of her lip twitching. Her smile was weak and uneasy, but at least she was able to eventually give him a smile. He gave her a soft smirk of his own that made her smile more easily and her tight frame to loosen. This drakenum was nothing like she imagined after all. Well…except for the meat-eating part but he was too kind to her to be a villainous monster like her tribe painted him to be. “Such a nice smile. You should do that more often.” He glanced down at her ankle and touched it with the tip of his nail. She made a slight whine, but he ignored it to say cheerfully, “Well, good news is that it’s not broken. I think just sleeping with it not in a funny angle will help. You brownies heal quickly too as I remember, so it’ll be back to normal in the morning.
He stood up being cautious not to move her around too much, to which she asked, “Wh-why are you being nice to me?”
Ajarhmi sucked his fanged teeth. “I’m assuming drakenums are meant to be mindless monsters, huh? Well, I hope I’m proving otherwise just as you’re proving that not all of your kind are arrogantly stupid.” He cleared his throat as he answered, “Well, for one, I’m a follower of the Way and I’m meant to put others before my own intentions…as difficult as that can be. Doesn’t mean if an idiot does something wrong I’d let him not end up on the menu. Nature is nature after all. But sometimes compassion and mercy should over-rule nature, don’t you think?”
The brownie noticed that he spoke with a slight purr mixed with a growl when he was speaking in a kind way. It sounded interesting, but his statement took her off guard. “Y-yeah. It should.” She glanced down while he ascended the steps, sighing, “But the nature of a brownie has to be performed or else you get kicked out and die.”
“Is it worth it?” His question was sharp, to which she jolted. He couldn’t resist smirking at her jumpiness to every time he did something. “Is it worth being abandoned by your own kind to die for doing what is right? I had to ask myself that question when the East Drakenums decided to go against the Way. They were setting up king drakenums as gods, to which I left them.” As they reached the top of the stairs he sighed, “Cherry…this is the time in your life where you desperately need to decide what you’re living your life for. I follow the best code ever delivered through the Way, but you have to make a wise decision of what to follow. You just told me it’s not the brownie way. Are you going to live for yourself? That’s selfish if you say so, don’t you think?”
Cherry had a concerned expression on her face, unaware that the drakenum had walked them back into the bedroom and had sat down on the bed. Finally, she answered, “I…I don’t know. I’d say family, but that won’t do me any good since they think the same way as the other brownies. Friends…no. I really don’t have any.” She gave a nervous smile to him as she asked, “I hope you don’t think I’m stupid, but…what is the Way? It might be right for me too since it seems to be doing right for you.”
Ajarhmi lay her on the mattress to which she squeaked in alarm at them suddenly being here again. She was beginning to shake, but he rubbed a finger over her back to which she gave her chattering purr that was similar to a guinea pig’s. Quite cute and adorable, but Ajarhmi resisted telling her that. Instead, he said, “I’ll tell you about the Way in the morning. Plus, we’ll need a head start tomorrow. I should find you a place to stay…unless you want to live here with me?”
Cherry’s cheeks turned red…well, they would’ve shown to him if it weren’t for her fuzz. She answered with a stammer, “Uh…but you’re a male and a…carnivore. You might get the idea of…”
That made the drakenum chuckle. “No. You’re not my taste…as in of the type of woman I want. I’ve had a mate before, may I mind you, and I will not disgrace her memory by using any girl that comes in my home by using it for pleasure. Even if it’s tempting. I’ll wait ‘til I get with another mate to do any foolishness you’re thinking of.” The girl shyly smirked at even suggesting that, but she wasn’t sure about him yet. “Also, as for the carnivore bit…I don’t eat people I like. Sure I might taste. That’s usually fun.” He gave a smile at the thoughts of Vic. “Unless you want me to eat you, darling. I am able to manipulate my venom and acid to keep you safe.”
His violet gaze landed on her, but she was giggling, “Oh, you. Quit joking.” She then stared into his face and gulped at his non-joking look. “You mean, you’d swallow someone and keep them safe in you if they allowed? B-but what kind of person would allow that?! What if you lost control?”
Ajarhmi snorted. “I never lose control and East Drakenums do that a lot when we have to protect our young from the cold. Our very own babies trusted us, but with your kind…I can see why the idea is foreign.” He lifted her gently off the bed and set her on his chest with a hand slightly cupped over her. “Now, no more questions until the morning, alright? We both need sleep, so…” He stroked steadily over her tense body until she relaxed on him and nuzzled. “…sleep well, darling.”
It didn’t take long for Ajarhmi to fall asleep, but Cherry stared up at him. She could mainly see his jawline and throat, but she imagined looking at his face again. It was intimidating sometimes, but there was that sensation she never had with the other brownies. Safety. She felt safe with him rather than thousands of her own kind. The brownie curled her body into herself and closed her eyes. Ajarhmi’s heart was beneath her and it made her purr with each beat. It was so lovely.
She didn’t care that she had lost her tribe that day. Neither did she care at the moment that she was in the house of a giant meat-eater man.
Cherry was content with feeling the way she did right then. Safe. Loved. Appreciated. So many words, this drakenum fulfilled. It was something she wanted for the rest of her life.
Those were her last thoughts as she drifted to sleep. For a horrible night it started out to be, it definitely ended beautifully for our Cherry, don’t you think?