"His face came into view and I realized he was sleeping, but that's not what caught me off guard."

"He had beautiful protrusions resembling shale shards jutting out of his long hair, right where someone's ears should be. Or was it a decoration covering his ears...?"

"Bursting from the water was a large serpent-like dragon with a translucent ridge down its back."

"It flapped its wing-like fins, head extending beyond the shore."

"I grit my teeth, searching for a weak point, but kept my distance."

"Tightening my grasp on my sword, I looked the dragon directly in the eye."

I shuffled over to him until we were shoulder to shoulder and adjusted the blanket so it draped over both of us.

Auralee "It's not that cold out?"

Ilmari "Not really, it feels nice."

Ilmari "Because your culture is fascinating!"

Auralee "Huh?"

Ilmari "Everything the heavenkind do is amazing! You can create things I've never seen before! And, look, you can do this."

He wiggled his thumbs and fingers.

Ilmari "They're so dexterous."

"A few men that had gotten back up were now second-guessing themselves, while the more stubborn ones tried a round two."

"As I was engaged in another swordfight, I stepped back and felt my shoulders bump into someone."

"I glanced up in the heat of battle and spotted Kerr, who looked down at me."

"The heat of battle? That reminded me..."

Kerr "What is that?"

Auralee "It's a pastry. My dad owns a bakery- er, you probably wouldn't understand that. It's basically a treat with apple filling, and I think some apricot jam."

Kerr sniffed it warily. It must have been agreeable enough, since he soon accepted the pastry.

Auralee "... You're welcome."

As soon as he started nibbling on it, he must have realized how famished he really was, because he quickly devoured the entire tart.

I took a step forward and extended my hands, letting him see my movements since this was a rather close position.

I reached up and gripped the ends of his ears lightly. The thin skin felt delicate between my fingers, while the other parts were like cartilage.

They twitched slightly depending on where I grazed.

Auralee "Aw, they're adorable. They *are* like a fluttering butterfly."