Elissiv swayed up and down as the wind disturbed his perch, but didn't bother to open his eyes. Today was a good day, bright and full of his favorite thing. Inhaling deeply, Elissiv let out a contented trill as the scent of roses washed over him. Yes, it was a very good day.
"Ah, a lizard in the roses?"
Eyes snapping open, Elissiv saw only a dazzling array of white petals for a moment, then he looked up at the wide-eyed face staring down at him. Wide, bright blue eyes ringed in the center with a touch of emerald.
Oh, that was interesting. He sat up straighter and spread his wings, and the pretty eyes jumped back in alarm.
"Ai! A dragon!"
Well, obviously. What else would he be? Elissiv snorted and took a good look. The pretty eyes belonged to a man with dusky brown skin and-
Elissiv launched himself from the branch and dove at the man's headcovering. Although the man yelped and raised his hands, Elissiv was able to sink his claws into it and yank the offending item off.
Oh, yes. Elissiv landed on a branch and admired the spill of pure white curls that tumbled down and around the human's face. Very nice. He wondered if the man tasted as good as he looked.
"Little dragon, you should not be in the Master's roses. He will be displeased."
Oh, looked like the pretty had found his voice.
And, apparently, his curiosity, for he leaned in closer. "I thought dragons were... bigger."
Elissiv snorted. He was small because he wished to be small, and because he got arrows shot at him when he was big. But the pretty did have a point. Elissiv launched himself off his branch, shifting in mid-air and knocking the pretty human to the ground with a startled squeak.
That was all the pretty had time for before Elissiv sampled the flavor of his lips, purring in pleasure. Yes, he tasted just as good as he looked.
But there was something off; the pretty had gone perfectly still beneath him, and that was not the normal reaction at all. Either random pounce-ees attempted to escape or kissed him back. Not... this.
Elissiv pulled back, licking his lips and frowning. "Did I hurt you?" The pretty was looking awfully pale for a man of his dark coloring.
The pretty flinched. Elissiv's frown deepened.
"M-master will not be happy, d-dragon man."
"But you are pretty," Elissiv pointed out rationally. "Pretty things should be kissed."
The pretty flinched again. "Master does not like other people touching his property."
Elissiv blinked, then leaned in close, taking a deep sniff. Fear, pain, sex, old bruising... and roses.
"You are a slave," Elissiv said sagely.
The pretty flushed and looked away. Elissiv waited.
"I... tend the garden."
Elissiv arched a brow. "And get kissed?"
There was no reply, which, really, was reply enough. Elissiv got up and sat back on his heels, looking thoughtfully at the pretty.
"Where did you come from, pretty?"
The pretty sat up slowly, eying him with uncertainty. "Iftakandar."
Elissiv blinked. "You're a long way from home, pretty. What are you doing here?"
The pretty looked down. "I was a peace offering, so that the Master would not destroy my homeland."
Oh. Human politics. How boring. Elissiv examined a nail. "So, if this 'master' of yours was dead, you could go home?"
The pretty's eyes widened. "You couldn't. He is a powerful warlord. He would kill you."
Elissiv smirked. "I am a dragon." And that was better than any human.
A pink tongue darted out, then the pretty bit his lip. "But you are free... why would you risk your life?"
Humans were so dense sometimes.
"There are roses, in Iftakandar?"
The pretty blinked. "Uh, yes, my garden-"
"I like roses," Elissiv interrupted. "This castle had ugly gardens until you came. So, you make pretty roses. I will take you home and admire your roses."
The pretty stared at him as though he was speaking nonsense. Really, there was nothing to be confused about. It made perfect sense to Elissiv.
"Wait here, pretty, and I will find this master of yours and then we will go."
The pretty blinked. "But-"
Elissiv ignored him, shifting and winging his way across the tops of the rose bushes and flying up until he found an open window. There was no one in sight, so he flew in and landed on the floor near the doorway. A quick look revealed that the coast was clear, so off he went.
Three hallways, twenty-two rooms, and one staircase later, he found what he was looking for.
King Goriknak wasn't unattractive, but he was ruthless. He'd murdered the old king, raised an army, and conquered a number of kingdoms. Elissiv had stopped counting after number five.
And while none of that was particularly unforgivable, he was also making unhappy a very pretty treasure who smelled like roses.
Elissiv liked roses.
He shifted in the hallway and walked into the room, drawing all attention to himself and halting Goriknak's current activities.
"Who the hell are you? Where are my guards?"
"Hello," Elissiv greeted politely. "My name is Elissiv and I want your gardener."
The king stared at him. So did his interrupted entertainment. Elissiv wondered if he should have used smaller words, but he couldn't think of any.
"You know, about this tall, pretty white curls, tends the flowers?" he supplied helpfully.
Goriknak's expression turned thunderous. "You would dare challenge me?" He stood, shoving aside his bed toy and grabbing a sword from nearby. Jerking it out of its scabbard, he stalked toward Elissiv.
"Is that a no?" Elissiv inquired.
The furious king swung, but his blade met only air as Elissiv adopted his tiny form. A moment later he shifted again, but this time into his True Form.
Elissiv calmly bit his head off.
The man didn't taste too bad, really. A little chewy, but not bad. Elissiv finished him off and licked his talons clean, then shifted to his little form and winged his way back out of the castle. The pretty was right where Elissiv had left him, though he was looking a bit anxious.
Probably because of all the screaming.
"Hello, pretty," Elissiv greeted when he was close enough to shift. "Can we go see your roses now?"
The pretty stared at him. Elissiv wondered if he needed to repeat his question.
"But- you- how-"
Elissiv shrugged. "He said no, so I ate him."
The pretty blinked. "Ate him?"
"Yes." Elissiv nodded. "Would you like me to be more specific?"
The color drained from the pretty's face. "Ah, no."
Elissiv beamed. "So can we go now?"
"I..." The pretty blinked a little, looking around. After a moment his shoulders squared and he straightened. Elissiv wanted to lick him. "Yes, yes we can."
Elissiv beamed. Lots of roses to play in. "Alright, pretty, get on." He shifted to his True Form, posing artfully so that the sun glittered on his deep green scales.
The pretty took a step back, then straightened again, and scrambled up onto Elissiv's back with a minimum of fuss. Elissiv braced himself and spread his wings, launching them up into the sky.
It was a good day for a flight.
"By the way," the pretty said a few minutes later, "My name is Yusue."
Elissiv grinned. Of course it was. But he liked Pretty better.
Together, they flew toward the horizon.