Heror looked at the dragon for a few seconds. Claire was proving to be a smart girl. Smart enough to know that he'd lied about what the dragon had said. He looked back at Claire and smiled.
"My name's Heror," he said, picking a twig from the fire. "And I couldn't tell you the dragon's name anyway. He hasn't told me either."
"Well it's okay if the dragon doesn't want to tell. I just thought it'd be nice to call him something besides 'the dragon'." Claire pulled all her hair to one side over her shoulder, brushing her fingers through it. "You know my name...It's Claire."
"Of course," Heror said. "Everyone knows your name. Your the princess."
He broke the twig in half, and tossed one half into the fire, then started fiddling with the other half.
"The good thing is, not everyone knows what you look like. So if Galvas offers a reward for your capture, bounty hunters won't know who to look for."
"Plus anyone who has seen me only saw me in my royal atire and makeup." Claire mumbled, looking down. "So it shouldn't be hard, dressed as a peasant -excuse my use of the term-, to hide right under someone's nose."
"I don't normally take offense to those kinds of terms," Heror said, being careful how he worded this. "Anyway, when it comes to odds, us and Galvas are even. But we shouldn't hide under people's noses. Even that's too risky."
"I know." Claire mumbled. "I've been taught the proper protocall for these kind of situations. I know what I must do, who I must trust, and I know how to fight, even if I've only done it in training."
"That's good," Heror said. "You may have to use your training." He glanced at the dragon, and then at the nighttime rain outside. "We should get some sleep," he said. "We're going to have a long day tomorrow."
"Sleep? Here? On the cold rock floor?" Claire was not at all happy with that idea. "Even if I did get any sleep, I'd be so sore in the morning it wouldn't matter."
"Well, if you're going to get any sleep, it'll have to be in here. Unless you'd rather wake up in a puddle of mud." Heror moved over to a spot near the wall and lay down on his back. "Just one day and we'll be in Halquest, and we won't have to sleep in a cave." With that, Heror closed his eyes, waiting to fall asleep.
"But it's cold. And I'm sad. And if I try to sleep now I'll have nightmares." Claire protested, wincing at how childish she sounded.
Heror smiled a bit, though Claire couldn't see since he was facing the wall. He glanced over his shoulder and smirked. She reminded him of himself when he was a little boy.
"Well, I don't know any bedtime stories," he said. "What could you possibly have nightmares about?"
"I watched the life drain from my father and brother." Claire said flatly. "I stood under the threat that Galvas would keep me as a personal plaything after he took my power. I watched my mother being dragged away, sobbing and screaming, with the knowledge that those guards had permission to do whatever they wanted with her when Galvas was done with her. I have plenty for nightmares to build on."
Heror's smile faded quickly. His upper body sunk back to the cave floor, and his eyes returned to the stone wall in front of him. He didn't want to sound selfish, but his eyelids were drooping and he didn't want to stay awake any longer before he got cranky.
"Nightmares can't hurt you," he said simply, hoping it was the truth. "I'm going to sleep. You don't have to if you don't want to."
And with that, Heror once again closed his eyes, hoping he would fall asleep before Claire made her decision.
Claire whimpered, tears starting to stream. "They can, just not the kind of hurt that draws blood..." She whispered shakily, trying not to break down completely.
Heror's hidden expression turned to sadness and sorrow. Claire was genuinely worried about going to sleep. He glanced over his shoulder again and yawned casually, trying to calm Claire down.
"Want me to stay up with you?" He asked.
Claire shook her head, sniffling and looking away. "No, you're my protector. You need your rest. I'll be fine." She was sure she wouldn't be fine.
Heror glanced over at her worriedly, then turned back onto his side again. "If you say so," he said, facing the wall.
He wasn't going to sleep now. He didn't want her to suffer any nightmares, and frankly, the stress of all those scouts for Galvas made him wide awake, so he pretended to sleep, but stayed awake.
Claire waited a while, until she thought she was sure he was asleep. She let out a tiny sob and curled up on the cold hard floor of tbe cave, allowing her emotions to flow freely.
Heror heard her sob, and closed his eyes tighter, remembering to sell the sleeping act, when suddenly, he heard a voice in his head. It was the dragon.
Neither of you will sleep? The dragon asked. Nightmares should be less intense for humans.
Heror was about to answer aloud when he remembered Claire. Silently in his mind, he spoke with the dragon.
What do you mean? Nightmares less intense? He asked.
For dragons, the reality of the nightmare is dependant on the nature of the species. Us dragons are hated by the humans and others, and so our nature becomes dark and loathsome, intersecting with our dreams. Your nightmares are a reflection of your past.
Heror raised an eyebrow in confusion, even though no one could see it.
That's confusing, he answered.
I know, the dragon replied. I'm not even sure I understand it.
Claire didn't have a clue. She remained in her misery, unable to sleep.