Zenith found her in the Heartsong meadow, just as his ancestors had found the others in years past. Even from his vantage point, dodging in and out of the low hanging clouds, he could see that she was scanning the skies, as if searching for him. She cannot see them, of course, being blindfolded as was the ritual, but at his present attitude it would have been nearly impossible to spot him had she been able to see. Zenith flew on over the mountains known by all in Elmoonda as the Dragon’s Fang Mountains. Descending quickly to the level of the forest treetops before approaching the meadow from the rear, Zenith swooped low, brushing the tips of the trees before settling down near, yet behind, the frame that had been built in the middle of the meadow. As the Dragon landed, the girl turned her head to the side, an indication that she could hear him approaching. She was gagged and blindfolded, as the ritual dictated, but Zenith could never understand why it was necessary. To Zenith, it took away from what he assumed would be a beautiful face. The Cartthornien villages and Cydnothien Tribes always picked the beautiful ones to test, another part of the ritual that he couldn't understand, since Dragon Magic could fix any physical deformity. In truth the only thing that mattered was the compatibility of the sacrifice to the Dragon. He often thought that his ancestors must have been vain in that respect when the ritual was created, or at least lazy. Zenith slowly lumbered toward the girl, taking his time to admire the well formed, if not a little buxom, body twisting in a vain attempt to gain some freedom from her bonds. The girl was spread-eagle in the middle of the stone frame shaped like a doorway, her feet were spread uncomfortably, it seemed, though only slightly, and secured like her arms by a bolt, hook, and a couple turns of chain around her ankles and wrists. Zenith immediately noticed bruises on her ankles that marred her smooth white skin, and wondered how long the girl had been left there, miles away from the nearest village. The girls wrists were also bruised from her struggles and a small trickle of dried blood ran down one of her arms. The girl stopped her attempts to get free as the Dragon got within a few feet of the frame. She stood shivering, her breath causing her nostrils to flare with each exhale. As he moved closer, she froze to the spot, moving her head to stare at him. Even with a blindfold Zenith had the strong impression that she could see him, a feeling that was a little unsettling, but understandable under the circumstances. The Dragon examined the bruises on the girl’s wrists a little more closely, before gently licking the trail of dried blood. The girl shivered and tried to pull away. Zenith merely waited a moment, before continuing, until he had cleaned the blood away. He nudged the chains of the hook freeing the bolt securing her arms, allowing them to drop in front of her. “You may remove your blindfold.” The girl jumped, not expecting the Dragon to speak, then moaned as her movements aggravated her bruised ankles. She slowly raised her hands, more out of exhaustion then the weight of the chains still connecting her wrists, and tugged at her blindfold. The strap, a piece of work flexible leather, was attached very tightly making her wince as the strap came away from her head, freeing her vision. She dropped the blindfold on the ground before opening her eyes. The girl cried out once more as the daylight blinded her painfully. Keeping her head down, shielded her eyes further with her hair. Zenith took that moment to examine her hair; it was the color of winter chestnuts, but the sunlight brought out a color that was closer to the coppery edging of his own wings, a mark that singled her out. “And that gag my dear girl.” The girl brought her hands up, before remembering that her wrists were still bound together. She gave a little strangled scream as cold chain pressed against her throat. Once the girl had regained her composure, she tried again, this time moving the chain overhead first, freeing her hands to work on the knot securing the gag. After a few moments, it fell away from her mouth taking its place on the ground next to the blindfold. With the gag gone the girl brought her hands back over her head to rub her eyes, trying to make them work again. Zenith waited for to stop, lowering his head to eye level with her before she could open her eyes. They opened, revealing light green almost gray eyes that seem to be able to see into a person's soul. The girl smirked as she looked into the dragon’s deep green and blue eyes. Her stare was intriguing and more than a little disturbing. “Hello.” Said Zenith. “How are you feeling?” The girl dropped her head and shivered for a few moments, before answering. “How do you think I'm feeling? I've been tied here for Kyle knows how long. My shoulders are killing me and my wrists and ankles are bleeding, not to mention the reason I'm here in the first place, so I can't say I'm doing well. Thanks for asking…. I'm ready I guess.” The girl finished with a sigh. “Ready for what?” The girl raised her head meeting the Dragon’s gaze with a confused expression on her face. “Don't you know? I mean this is kinda your thing. I'm just here because I was told my blood was the only one to mix successfully with yours, making me the sacrifice.” She shrugged her shoulders and returned her gaze to the ground. She looked awkward in such a submissive position, her posture held pride that at that moment was not otherwise obvious. Zenith reached forward with a claw and raised her chin up. Her light green almost gray eyes, unusual for a Cartthornien woman, were wide open. Not in fear but in surprise, something more unusual than the color of her eyes. Her wide eyes had the effect of making the girl look very vulnerable and even more beautiful. “And do you understand what being the sacrifice means?” “I know enough. I know what the wise men of the Temple told me, once I was chosen.” said the girl as she pulled her face out of Zenith's grasp. There were questions there, just under the surface. They welled up and looked as if they would burst forth. This was not a girl who was used to keeping her mind to herself and it was evident that she was using all her will to refrain from speaking up now. “And what did they tell you?” Zenith was amused by the idea that the supposed wise men of the temples of Kyle could possibly understand a ritual as complex as this, and even more amused by the thought that they could explain it to this girl when they have never witnessed it. The girl stared into Zenith’s eyes, as if trying to understand why he was asking so many questions. “I…” The girl hesitated, her face taking on an expression of someone who was just remembering something told to them long ago and only now understanding. There was sadness in this understanding, a silent and useless refusal to believe even as the truth slapped them in the face. “I am to be your sacrifice. I am to die so that my people may live. I am to give myself to you willingly so that my people will not suffer your wrath.” It was said not in the tone of a girl of 18, but in the slow determined speech of a full-grown adult. The tone of blind obedience to an ancient custom, followed for reasons long misunderstood. It sounded prepared, not fully accepted. The Dragon nodded slowly. It was as he had expected. “And did they also tell you exactly what will happen to you, once I accept you as my sacrifice?” The question shocked the girl noticeably. Zenith knew they hadn’t. The knowledge had been lost centuries ago. Most believe Dragon sacrifices died, which was far from the truth. The Dragon reached down with a claw trailing it down the girl's leg to the chain around her ankle, causing the girl to shiver and wince. His claw left a faint red line down her leg as a remembrance. Slipping his claw into a link of the chain, he shattered it easily. Humming quietly Zenith repeated the process on the girls other leg. The girl stood silent, watching and waiting. “You haven't answered my question yet. Did the wise men tell you what will happen to you, once I accept you as my sacrifice?” The girl looked down at her now freed feet, then back up into the Dragon's face. Her own face was a mixed mask of confusion, fear, pain, and... curiosity. “No… They did not. However, what is there to tell? You accept me and I die. That is how sacrifices go, is it not?” There was more than an edge of curiosity in her voice, and that glimmer of question in her eyes was now a flame.“No my sweet. In this case that is not how sacrifices go.”“What… What happens then?" She leaned eagerly in and seemed to have completely lost track of her situation. Zenith turned, taking a couple steps away from the girl before he spoke again."The ritual dictates that I can't tell you that." Yet another thing about the ritual Zenith could not understand, but like all Dragons of Elmoonda he followed the rules set by the ancients."Why not? That's not fair I…” With a look from Zenith the girl changed tack midsentence. "… Guess I've got plenty of time to figure it out.” Zenith turned back to face the girl where she stood. She was freed from her bonds, and yet she made no attempt to escape. Perhaps it was because she knew the futility of an attempt. Perhaps it was because his last comment intrigued her enough that she wanted to stay. The last seemed the most likely reason. She seemed almost eager, even knowing nothing of what the future would hold for her. The Dragon lumbered back towards the girl, and hooked his claw in the chain running between her wrists. He raised his claw, pulling the girl's arms upward over her head. He didn't stop until her feet were nearly raised off the ground.“It is time.”The girl showed a look of confusion again. “Time… Time for what?""You claim you." The girl shivered visibly at these words, but did not move otherwise, nor did she lower her head. "And what exactly does that entail my Lord Dragon?""Put your arms around my neck, and find out." Zenith lowered his head and started nudging his muzzle between the girl's arms. She winced as she felt his rough hide rubbing against her arms as he worked to get his head the entire way through the ring of her bound arms. Finally, zenith succeeded, the girl's arms slipped down around his neck, which had the effect of pulling her tight against him."Are you ready, my dear?""As ready as I'll ever be.""Good…" Without any warning, Zenith unfolded his wings, leaping into the air. With a single flap, he and the girl were airborne. The girl gave a small squeal as she tried to cling to the Dragon's chest, looking for somewhere to put her dangling feet. She closed her eyes as they climbed higher into the sky, feeling only the wind on her skin, and the rhythmic undulations of the Dragon's body against hers.Soon she could feel a warmth and hardness between her dangling legs, as the Dragon unsheathed himself, settling himself against her groin. The girl gasped trying in vain to move herself away from it, but without any real leverage her struggling only served to lodge the Dragon deeper. As Zenith flew higher and higher, the motion of his wings caused his shaft to rub back and forth. The sensation soon made the girl give up working against zenith, as the warmth she was experiencing spread outwards from the core of her being taking control of her emotions. She moaned gently as she was taken higher, both in altitude, and in arousal.Zenith soon reached a sufficient height gliding in circles as he caught the air drafts radiating from the treetops far below. With the change in his motion, the girl was able to find footholds on the tops of the Dragon's legs. She clung to him as tightly as possible, her eyes closed against the wind that still buffeted her body, whipping at her garments, tossing her hair about as if it had a life of its own.The Dragon bent his head down next to hers and whispered in her ear. "If I give you my heart, will you let me keep you?” Then he dove. Faster and faster the pair fell through the skies. Zenith folded his wings against his back picking up speed. The wind screamed around them as they plummeted. The girl shivered uncontrollably, as the force of the wind pressed her harder on top of the Dragon's shaft. Although she could not see it, the girl could sense the Earth rapidly approaching beneath them, threatening to dash them to pieces. She clung to the Dragon even more, waiting for the end to come, hoping that it would be mercifully short… Then Zenith swooped.Spreading his wings, Zenith pulled them out of the dive, arching within meters of the ground, before soaring skyward once more. Bucking his lower half forward, thrusting deeply into the girl, Zenith completed his entry with the next wing stroke. With each preceding stroke the girl fell further into her hormonal daze, screaming aloud with pleasure. Flying into the clouds Zenith leveled off his ascent flying towards the ancestral mating cave. The Dragon's motions in flapping his wings served to consummate his union with the girl. The girl’s screams slowly died away, to be replaced with a choked sob as Zenith’s aerial maneuvering altered the pattern of penetration, speed, angle, and depth.Landing swiftly in the ancestral mating cave, located in the crags of Mount Thulium, the mountain of thorns, Zenith curled his wings around the girl still keeping her mounted on him. She lay shuddering against him as the feel of the same warmth that she felt before grew inside her once more, before her mind was shattered by the Dragon's final claiming of her as his lover. She involuntarily moved against him, his scaly skin rubbing against her own flesh somehow felt stimulating. She moved slowly at first, but as she fell more and more under the spell of this rekindled arousal, her movement became more pronounced. Instead of working against the Dragon she worked with him to build upon the pleasure they both shared. The girl gasped as the tattered remnants of her gown moved away exposing her breasts. The Dragon watched as the girl’s arousal built, adding fuel to the fire by gently raking his claws down her back, hard enough to leave a mark, but not enough to break the sensitive skin. The girl arched her back as her moans of pleasure filled the cave with their echoes. Within minutes the girl worked herself into a frenzy, riding the Dragon like a tavern wench with some extra gold. Zenith raked his claws down the girl’s back again as his pleasure reached nearly to the brink. The girl screamed with wanting as she rubbed around the Dragon's shaft. Her screams rivaling the roar of the Dragon has with one last thrust their orgasms hit. The girl fell forward, her screams choked off by her own body as she tried to rub as much of her body as she could against the Dragon, riding the waves of pleasure coursing through her. At last, the orgasms faded. She lay curled up on the Dragon's belly, her breathing coming in short gasps. Zenith pulled her up towards his chest allowing himself to slip out of her. As she lay on his chest in the first stages of a light doze Zenith bent his head to whisper gently in her ear."You have shared the love of the Dragon. We are now a part of each other. I claim you as my love and my rider. Together, we shall spend our days in the skies. I awaken your name of power. You are Raven. I give you, my sweet Raven, my protection, my devotion, my life, and my true name Zenith. By our names we are thus bound; to lives, one's soul. Now rest Raven, for tomorrow we ride."A low purring rumble coming from Raven answered Zenith’s speech. Her chest rose and fell gently, like that of someone deep in slumber. Zenith smiled and laid his head next to his sleeping Raven. Upon sweet thoughts, Zenith slept holding his rider safe.