He sat staring into the dying fire, his face calm as the light from the flames flickered across his cheeks. He stared at the fire as if it were an old friend, comforting and more welcome than the food. The girl cleared her throat. He looked up at her, shaking off the dazed expression and raising an eyebrow. “What?”
She fidgeted with her food, turning the half-eaten vegetable in her hands. “I still don’t know your name, nor you mine.”
He grunted and tossed the stick from his last roasted vegetable into the fire. The sparks floated up, but the stick didn’t do much in the way of feeding the blaze. “I don’t care much for human names.”
Her brow furrowed as she stared at him. “You speak as if you weren’t human yourself.”
“I’m not.” He held his hand closer to the fire, feeling the heat flow around his skin.
“Then what are you?”
He glanced over at her, gauging whether it was wise to tell her the truth. In the end it really didn’t matter. She was just a silly human girl, and nobody would believe her anyway. “I’m a dragon.”
She smiled and bent her head, taking a bite of food and chewing slowly. She swallowed and looked at him from beneath her eyelashes. He didn’t look very happy with her reaction. He looked angry. She wiped the smile off her face. “So, do you have a name then?”
He stood and scuffed dirt over the fire, smothering the coals and stamping them out. “Forget it.”
She scrambled to her feet as he started to walk away, grabbing up her bundle of roots and berries and carrying the vegetable she hadn’t finished eating yet. “I have to call you something!”
“Fine,” he called over his shoulder, “your people call me Night Shadow. Or, if you prefer, the dwarves refer to me as the Bane of the Eight Tribes. The elves, fluffy dreamers that they are, credit me as the Bringer of Eternal Darkness. I am known by all these names.”
The girl laughed. “You mean to tell me… you think you’re the terrible black dragon of legend? The one from the stories of my childhood?”
He glared back at her, but didn’t say a word.
“You must have a name. Surely there’s something your family once called you? Maybe something your friends know you as?”
He stopped suddenly and she nearly ran into him. When he turned around, the look on his face chilled her. It reminded her of pain, and rage, and horrible guilt. He stared at her for a moment and the look faded into the annoyed expression she was more familiar with. His voice was little more than a whisper. “My name is Rojensyrahae.”
She swallowed and nodded slightly. “Rojensir- Rojensara-“
He sighed and rolled his eyes, turning and starting to walk again.
She hurried to catch up. “Do you mind if I call you Rojen?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Call me whatever you wish, I don’t care.”
She smiled and stepped up so she was walking nearly beside him. “And my name is Coralyn, but everyone calls me Cora.”
“Good for you.” He avoided her gaze, keeping his eyes on the shadowy trees ahead. The woods were quiet except for the occasional birdcall or tattering squirrel. As he walked, he mentally kicked himself for taking the human along. The death of one more of them wouldn’t have bothered him in the slightest. He didn’t know what had possessed him when he agreed to let her come.