Clopping toward her on steel gray hooves, Daenor rode a beast that was part war-horse, part dragon. Its face was long and narrow, small slitted nostrils snorting sulphur-scented steam into the already humid air. Three flexible whiskers protruded from each side of the beast’s head, as if the trunks of six elephants had been attached to a lizard skull. The monster was covered in silver scales from the tip of its nose to the tip of its serpentine tail, but from withers to hooves it wore fur. Two knobby bumps resembling unformed wings protruded from its back, and half of its serpentine tail was covered in needle-thin spikes. As they approached, Rie stood and craned her neck. The creature’s back rose above her head, its face higher still.
Shoulders tense, Rie struggled against her impulse to flee. She clenched her jaw, frozen in position. The dragon-horse snorted at her, and one of the shorter whiskers near its mouth reached out to touch her shoulder. The whisker slid along her arm, curling around her forearm with the softest of squeezes, then drifted away, almost like a handshake for a creature that didn’t have hands.
Daenor’s deep chuckle startled her out of astonishment. “He likes you.” He slid off the dragon-horse’s back and landed with a graceful thud. “Rie, may I introduce you to Turant. He is a longma of the line of Lúroch.”
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