It seems that coming to a halt when you're running at a gazillion miles an hour is not quite as easy as reaching that speed in the first place.
He dug his claws into the ground instantly, and he felt the soil being torn and the screech of a rock every now and then being shredded by the razor sharp talons. The heat of friction trespassed through the thick scaly hide, and it was almost as uncomfortable as the sensation of being dug deeper into the earth with every inch that he continued attempting to stop.
After what felt like a small eternity, they were no longer moving, still several yards away from the wall.
Derrick was panting, that braking effort had taken more out of him than having run there the whole way. His body hurt in plenty of places, and he was pretty sure it was more than just soreness. The only good thing seemed to be that the burning had dissipated quickly, but that was it.
"Hey, are you ok?" the voice was unfamiliar, and it wasn't that far away.
The dragon quickly turned his head to look at the source, and found a young man hurrying near to Rie. Who now lay on the floor a dozen yards behind Derrick, panting for air and all covered in bruises and scratches.
"Never been better." the girl growled while sitting down. Her hands were shacking madly, and she seemed to have lost more than a couple tones of color. She was looking at Derrick with a gaze that could have killed a human.
"I'm a medic, please avoid moving." the young man approached so that Rie would be between him and the dragon, and was careful enough to keep a watchful eye on the silver beast.
A couple of spells were chanted, and a greenish glow surrounded Rie for a couple of seconds.
Derrick just undug his legs and turned to look carefully, feeling of guilt that had not fully taken over since the adrenaline was still flowing through his veins.
"You were lucky you didn't break any bones, nor get a concussion." the doctor said after the glow had dissipated. "Your gear stopped most of the damage, but you still got some bruises and scratches. But that should finish healing in a couple hours." he paused for a second, eyeing Derrick now a bit more relaxed. "What were you trying to do? Break the height climbing record?"
"No, I'm new to this." Rie finally spoke while holding her hands nervously, her face still rather pale. "We were heading for the cafeteria, but he had been locked up for so long he just lost it."
"You're the crazy girl that befriended a Silver-Fang?" the guy let out a short laugh while eyeing Derrick a second time. "Everyone's talking about it, I wouldn't be surprised if you became the most popular trainee within the next two days."
Rie didn't say anything, but her gaze towards the dragon said more than enough about what she thought about this whole situation.
<I'm sorry?> Derrick tried to make amends, though it seemed to be a waste of effort.
"If you were going to the cafeteria, you missed it by a couple hundred yards." the doctor stated while helping Rie to her feet, pointing at a building that was at the distance. "I'd take you there, but I've got important things to do." he turned back and grabbed a large black bag that he had left on the floor before going to help Rie. "Well, pleasure meeting you, miss Rie. If you ever need medical help, you can ask for doctor Ignis."
With that said, he hurried his way towards the nearest structure. It almost seemed as if he was late for something.
<So...> Derrick interrupted the silence after almost a full minute of neither of them moving. <Want me to take you to the cafeteria?>
Rie fulminated him with just one stare. "No." was all she said. "Even if it takes me the whole day, I'd rather go on foot."
Turning around towards the building the man had pointed out, she began walking on her own as she ignored Derrick all together.
<C'mon, I didn't want to hurt you.> the ex-human caught up easily and began walking beside her. <It just... it just felt so... freeing.> he felt like trying to define the sensation with words would almost be insulting. <I've never felt something like that before.>
"You're like a hatchling, you know nothing." the ex-dragon retorted. "Is your mind so weak that you can't keep yourself from loosing control?" she snorted and then let out a loud laugh. "Oh, sorry for asking, you are only a human after all. I should have been expecting this from the start."
Derrick felt like replying to that comment, but went silent instead. He knew that at least most of her words were true, and arguing wouldn't fix anything. Plus, he was feeling like hell because of what he did, and because his whole body still ached somewhat.
Taking the opportunity to their not talking, Derrick's attention went towards the building that had been denominated as cafeteria.
It only had three stories in height, but it was still quite large.
The first floor had half its walls missing, and the roof was almost thirty feet from the ground. There were not as many columns as one would expect, and those that were there were quite thick, at least six or seven feet each one.
Even at this distance, Derrick's eyes could see quite clearly the large tables meant for at least a dozen people each, and the unoccupied areas surrounded by a tiny fence obviously meant for the casual dragon that would stop by. His senses were even picking up many scents from where he stood thanks to the direction of the wind, most didn't seem to make much sense, but there was one that just screamed for his attention.
Deliciously raw and bloody meat.
The feeling registered in his mind, and the human part of him felt repulsed for quite a while, the thought of eating raw meat just like that hadn't been something he felt tempted to do. And unlike when he had been running, this new instinct was forceful, raw and extremely hard to ignore.
It was as if his body was asking him to grab the nearest living thing and shred it and boggle it whole.
Every one of his senses were slowly getting more acute and he wasn't sure why. His eyes could notice the glimmer of heat that Rie was giving off. His ears could hear her heart still beating fast in her chest. His nose easily picked up the adrenaline and fear she still had fresh covering her body, it had almost like a narcotic kind of effect on him.
It would be so easy. She was so weak while he was powerful. It would only take one bite. One scratch from one of his fangs and she'd...
"Snap out of it." Rie slapped her hand against Derrick's muzzle with extreme precision, hitting the dragon just in the right place to leave it stunned for just an instant. "It might seem like a good idea now, but remember that killing me will end both our lives."
<How...?> Derrick was a bit confused to her statement. <I didn't....>
"I might look like a frail human, but remember that I'm still a dragon." she snapped. "Only a human wouldn't notice a dragon getting ready to hunt." hitting the dragon in the snout a second time, she frowned. "It seems I'll have to teach you properly how to control yourself before you get the both of us killed."
<I can handle it!> the complaint didn't seem that strong. <I just need to be more aware of these instincts so I can control them.>
Rie didn't answer, rather, she started laughing quite some. So hard actually, that she had to stop to catch her breath. "Don't fool yourself." she said between chuckles. "Humans barely have instincts that guide them, and those that're strong enough to be heard make even the strongest of mind loose control eventually." she pointed an incriminating finger at the ex-human. "Don't you dare think for even a second that the instincts of a dragon are something to be taken lightly and survive. That kind of attitude will only make you loose control faster."
<Are you implying it's impossible for me to control my instincts?> Derrick snarled the words out, though not quite as intentionally as he wanted.
"Even for a dragon it's impossible to control them." her words came out cold and calculated. "The longer you deny them, the stronger they will become, until they finally take over you and turn your brain into nothing more than that of a beast until it's need is sated." she added while glaring at him. "Our only way to avoid this is to sate the instincts in a controlled manner rather than avoid them from gaining strength."
<You make it sound as if it's a curse of some sort.> he commented while trying to figure out her expression, though it didn't quite seem readable.
"I've seen those that think of it that way." was all she answered before completely turning towards the cafeteria, which was now not more than a couple dozen yards away. "You'll have to explain to me how this works. And also about human food, I doubt I can eat the same things that when I was in my original form."
<Just make sure not to ask for any raw meat.> Derrick hurried to say. <Also, so long as you eat a bit of everything, there shouldn't be much of a problem. Vegetables included.>
"Vegetables?" she eyed Derrick. "As in plants?" she shuddered for a second. "This will be harder than I thought."
<What about me?> he asked. <Any suggestions?>
"Just make sure to stay focused only on your meal until you're finished." she retorted with a grin. "So long as you keep that in mind, you shouldn't have much trouble."
<But I thought...> Derrick began to complain, but got a whiff of that bloody scent and had to stop talking to will himself from entering that strange hunting kind of mentality. Closely following Rie while trying to focus on not letting go.
They both stepped into the building through the large open area meant fro dragons, and those that were there immediately turned to the both of them while silence fell on them.
"Please, take your dragon this way." a middle aged woman quickly hurried their way followed by three men wearing uniforms. "We'll bring his food here shortly."
They led the both of them to a corner of the building. Rie sat down on one of the few small tables that were there near the pen where Derrick would eat.
The staff had insisted on putting the Silver-Fang inside a barred cage (even though it was a large one) to avoid the other people from becoming overly nervous.
Once Rie was handed a menu, they hastily left to prepare the dragon's meal while the woman stayed behind.
"We don't mind having dragons here eating, but please refrain from coming here without warning us first." she instructed. "Also, we've been told of your situation, so for the time being, and until your dragon's passed the proper tests, don't let him walk around without a proper leash or seal."
"And where can I get those?" Rie eyed Derrick with amusement. "I wasn't given any of those, and I don't know this place enough to be certain as to what to do."
"We're bringing you one of each right now, so you don't have to worry about that." the woman relaxed a bit, seeing the situation had been caused only due to lack of information. "Also, tomorrow you'll be given special classes along with the other new recruits about safety protocols and procedures." pausing for a second, she saw one of the guards from earlier come back and hand her a piece of paper. She immediately handed it to Rie. "Those are the rules you'll have to follow on the cafeteria, make sure to remember them or else you'll have to eat at your living quarters."
"Thank you." Rie politely took the pamphlet and folded it into her pocket. "I'll make sure to know them all by the next time I come here."
The woman smiled at this for a second, appearing pleased with the reaction. "Very well." she said. "A waiter will come to bring the dragon's meal." it was a statement. "You can ask then for your meal."
The guard and the lady turned and left without further words to tell them.
"Hey, Derrick, your plan has a problem." Rie said once she was certain there was no one within earshot range.
<What is it?> he approached her as much as he could from within the cage.
"I can't read."