Cover by Fenrir Lunaris
This story and the artist's account contain adult content.
18+ YEARS OLD ONLY PLEASE.
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A stranger rode into the sleepy town of San Trapino. He caught the eye of the locals since not many scaled creatures visited, nor did anyone ride on anything other than a horse. This fellow rode in on a dragon. He carried no gun, said very little, and sported an unusual shape. It almost looked like he was an expectant mother with the size of a stomach he carried. When he asked about possibly finding temporary work, the locals didn't seem terribly receptive. This was a town that was fearful of strangers. One young lady didn't seem all that shy about asking for help, but then she was something of an unusual case herself.
Walking Serpent and Flying River is a western, a genre I've never written about before. It also happens to be about a cowboy who is pregnant. Bet you've never heard of that before. And if you have, I'd like to know what circles you travel in through the internet. I just might like to do some exploring. This story also breaks a general rule I try to keep: never sell a story using someone else's character or your own persona. This here's a special case. After all, rules are meant to be broken. I wrote a whole series of stories all about that!
Dragon, Rabbit, Dog, Cougar, Wolf, Various Species, Male Pregnancy, Pregnancy, Non-Anthro, Vore (soft), Endosomatophilia, Unbirthing, Drama, Violence, Blood
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Chapter 1 - San Trapino's warm welcome
The sun was beating down in its usual harsh fashion. The earth baked underfoot as the birds complained for a meal, seeking some unfortunate creature unlucky enough to have passed away in the open. The wind blew hot and dry, kicking up dust across the parched prairie. The summer had been a harsh one, and autumn was proving to be similarly unforgiving. It wasn't unusual for travelers to be out on the plains during such a time of day, but they were still few and far between. Especially in this place.
The town of San Trapino had once flourished, promising to become a bastion of commerce, having been on a prime trade route for a time. Some believed the route shifted to more forgiving climes. Others thought it had just been something of a homesteading boom that was over now that the land wasn't receiving the same life-giving waters from the river and rains as it used to. Whatever the case was, the sleepy little town offered little in the way of hospitality as a lone rider entered the main drag.
He was covered in scales, mostly green but showing yellow running down his neck into the collar of his shirt. His wide-brimmed hat shielded his eyes from the unforgiving sun. There wasn't really anything terribly remarkable about him except for the fact that he wasn't the usual species found in these parts. Nor was the creature whose back he rode upon. His 'steed' was a similarly scaled creature, though he walked on all fours and stood as tall as a typical horse. He was blue and grey rather than sharing the green of the rider. He seemed to not mind the weight of his passenger or the various packs and satchels strapped to him, few though there were.
The rider slowly cast his gaze back and forth from one side of the street to the other, taking note of the odd reactions he was getting from the townsfolk. Either they didn't get many visitors like him, or they just didn't get many visitors in general. He concluded it was likely a mix of the two. He was clearly out of place. Everyone he saw so far was covered in a rich pelt rather than scales of any sort. A few here and there were feathered, but not many. The green rider's ears twitched, poking up through the brim of his hat, as he picked up traces of whispers, unable to make out what was being said, but easily able to detect. The people staring at him as he guided his ride down the main street certainly had some thoughts to share with one another.
There wasn't any point in speaking or greeting any of them. They were all already too spooked to be of much use in a conversation. Chances were good the rider would just frighten them off. This was one reason why he kept to himself most of the time.
A careful twitch of the reins saw the blue drake he rode turn towards a nearby trough in front of the local saloon. He eased his ride up to the wooden water basin and began climbing down once stopped. It wasn't difficult getting down off his dragon, but then he had practice. Once the green figure was on his own bare feet, he could feel the searing heat of the dried soil below. It was tolerable, but he didn't care for it. He preferred the soft, welcoming grass of the plains to the south and the cooler, more forgiving loam of the woods to the northwest. There was much about the woods he enjoyed. So did his dragon. Like the shade it offered from the sun.
The blue beast dipped his head down towards the trough and let his muzzle break the surface of the water it held. It was stale, stagnant, having been there for a couple of days. It was clear the dragon wasn't terribly pleased with what was available to him, but it was the only real source of water they'd encountered for quite a while. It quickly became clear few people bothered to visit this place, even the locals, from far enough away to merit riding anything. Not one to turn up a drink when it was scarce, the blue drake began to lap away at the offering in a measured pace.
"I know it's not much, Smokey. Probably hasn't been changed out in a while," said the green rider, "But it's better than nothing. You stay put."
The rider offered his mount a firm, open palmed pat on the shoulder and turned to walk around the trough and step up onto the wooden boardwalk. He didn't seem at all hindered or out of breath. He didn't even seem unbalanced. The sound of steps mixed with the noise of a gentle breeze passing through the quiet town, giving him pause. It was eerie. He could feel the eyes of at least a dozen people on him, and those were just the ones in the street. He was sure there was at least a dozen more looking at him from behind windows, blinds, and around the edges of drawn shades. The fact that he had stopped caused his drake to lift his head back out of the trough and gaze at him in muted concern.
The two had been around one another so much that it was easy for one to read the other's body language. The rider slowly turned his head this way and that, taking a long, slow look at the various people staring him down. He wouldn't be staying long. That much he was sure of.
"S'alright, Smokey. They're just spooked, that's all. They don't know we mean'em no harm. We'll do our business and be on our way. No sense in makin' everyone nervous." The green rider said.
The drake exhaled noisily through his nostrils. It wasn't quite a snort, but it was a vocalization the rider had come to learn to mean something to the effect of 'okay' or 'I understand'. The blue dragon dipped his head back down to drink more of the brackish water. No telling how long they'd be staying, but there was no point in passing up the chance to re-hydrate. The dragon strongly disliked this arid climate.
The rider knew that. He had resolved to make sure they would be visiting a large body of water soon. Fresh water too, deep enough for the drake to walk right into and sink in underneath completely just to soak up the cool, clean goodness.
The green newcomer lifted his hands and pushed the swinging saloon doors open as he stepped into the shade of the interior. It was dusty, and the air inside was just as stale as the water his dragon was drinking. A handful of locals sat at the tables in the middle of the dimly lit room, all of them appearing to be either asleep or too drunk to care about their posture. The scent of alcohol wafting from them as well as the gentle sounds of snores confirmed it was in fact both. Beyond the smell of booze, the air was heavy with a musty, long un-cleaned aroma, suggesting that the staff had probably given up trying to keep the place in good repair.
The floorboards creaked as the rider crossed from the door to the bar. It caused one of the sleeping drunkards to snort and adjust his seat before slipping back into his stupor. The old crow behind the counter had kept his back on the door until now. As soon as the floorboards gave away that someone was on top of them, he slowly turned around, still deeply invested in the one glass he was cleaning with a damp rag.
"What'll ya have--" the old crow paused as soon as he realized he didn't recognize this creature, then appended his question with the appropriate term, "--stranger?"
The green visitor eased onto a stool at the bar, forced to sit back a good distance. His thighs spread as he sat, accommodating a heavy burden that he appeared to carry without difficulty. He hunched forward to rest his arms atop the wooden surface. It was nicely polished, but dusty.
"Whatdaya got that doesn't have alcohol in it?" The rider asked.
The old crow raised an eyebrow at the odd question, but simply shrugged.
"I've got some sodas, sarsaparilla, ginger ale'n the like. Not much left though. Not much call fer it here. 'Course, if yer desperate, you can always go dunk yer head in the trough with that blue critter'a yers out there."
"Sarsaparilla'll be fine." The rider said, his voice low and calm. Best to keep things like that so he wouldn't spook anyone any further by raising his voice.
"Alright, one sarsaparilla comin' up. That'll be two bits." The old crow said.
The rider nodded his head, dipping the rim of his hat in respect as he reached into his pocket to retrieve payment. Before he could get them onto the counter, the bartender was back with a bottle of fizzy, sweet-smelling drink usually reserved for those not old enough to drink the hard stuff. He put the dark glass vessel on the wooden counter with a clunk and pushed his hands out on either side for lazy support.
By now, the avian was looking the newcomer directly in the face. He was going to ask the question that had no doubt been passing through the other townsfolk like wildfire.
"What's with the gut there, sonny?" The dark bird asked.
The rider placed his palm on the counter gently, sliding it away to reveal the two bits needed to pay for the drink. He was sure his large, round stomach would have been part of why so many people were so uneasy about him. It was incongruous with the rest of him. His arms and legs suggested a build more slender than his abdomen provided. His shirt, while it covered it completely, couldn't make the huge swell shrink out of sight into the svelte form he had once possessed. He then collected the bottle and took a sip, ignoring the question.
"I'm lookin' for a job. Nothin' permanent, just quick work to get quick cash. I'm just passin' through." The rider said.
"That better be all yer lookin' fer, stranger." said a new voice from behind.
The rider froze the minute the new voice joined in, but didn't tense up. Whoever this was had managed to get in past the swinging doors and the noisy floorboards without alerting him to their presence. That suggested this person knew the saloon well enough to be able to avoid drawing attention until he wanted to. The rider's tall, pointed ears swiveled in the holes cut into his hat, pointing back at the source to hear better.
"S'not terribly fair sneakin' up behind a man who's just tryin' ta quench his thirst." The rider said, not turning to look behind him.
"Fair ain't somethin' I'm terribly interested in. What's yer business here, stranger?" Said the voice.
"Like I told the barkeep, I'm just lookin' for work, a quick job or two, then I'm gone. I don't want no trouble." The rider said.
"That's good, 'cause I don't wanna hafta give you none," The voice said as its owner approached and settled on the adjacent stool, "I'll have a sarsaparilla too, Malachi."
The old crow nodded and stepped back off to collect another bottle, returning in short order and presenting it to the bobcat dressed in respectable clothing. He had a long brown coat, pale but not quite white shirt, and thick, dark brown trousers. A shiny star was pinned to the left breast of the tan vest covering much of his shirt.
"You greet everyone who passes through like that?" The rider asked.
"I greet anyone who comes into my town how I see fit. If'n they spook the locals, then it's my business ta find out if there's reason ta be, then un-spook'em. The name's Jacob Milton, sheriff of the fine town of San Trapino. What's yers, stranger?"
The rider took another sip of his fizzy drink, setting the bottle back on the countertop gently, careful not to look at all threatening or aggressive. These frontier mammal types were often skittish around reptiles, dragons especially.
"And a fine town it is, sheriff. I can assure you I mean no trouble ta you'er yer fine folks," The green drake said, "The name's Degyn."
"And what draws a curious feller like yerself ta these parts, if'n ya don't mind?" The sheriff asked.
"Nothin' special," Degyn said, "I tend ta wander place ta place, lookin' fer jobs wherever I can get'em."
"Well I'm truly sorry ta tell ya that ya won't find none 'round here. Most folks keep ta themselves an' don't really have much call fer strangers lookin' ta stick a nose where it don't belong." The bobcat said, perhaps insinuating a bit more malice than he intended.
"I'm not lookin' fer anythin' steady. Just somethin' I can do fer the day fer a few bucks. Then I'll be outta yer fur." Degyn replied, keeping his composure. It wasn't the first time he'd run into resistance like this before.
"Even so," The sheriff continued, "Most folks 'round here've got themselves pretty well taken care of. Dun think yer gonna find anythin', even just fer a day's labor."
Degyn put his bottle down, noticing that the sheriff hadn't even touched his drink yet. His hackles were just beginning to rise when a new voice cut in.
"I could use a pair'a hands mendin' a fence." A lady said.
She stood down at the far end of the bar, wearing a simple shirt, pants, suspenders, and a wide brimmed hat not unlike the green dragon's. The hare looked hard down at the sheriff and stranger; a gaze that told anyone caught in it that she wasn't about to back down.
Degyn and Jacob shared a brief look before turning to meet the rabbit's gaze. The sheriff sighed quietly, returning her stare in frustration, but he said nothing. The green drake on the other hand was far more willing to speak.
"What's the pay?" The rider asked.
"Five dollars." The lady said.
"Annie--" The sheriff spoke up.
"Ain't none'a yer business who I hire ta help me. I got a fence need mendin' and I can't do it all by my lonesome. If'n he's lookin' fer work, I got some fer'em. Ain't nothin' against the law 'bout hirin' a hand fer a day." The hare shot back quickly, interrupting him.
The bobcat blew out a breath and lifted his hands in a surrendering gesture, breaking his gaze with the willful rabbit. He stood and collected the bottle the bartender had provided him with, turning to leave.
"Put it on my tab, Malachi. I got business elsewhere ta tend to. I ain't needed here." Jacob said.
The crow bobbed his head softly before the green drake put his hand on the counter once more, dropping another two coins before removing his palm.
"It's on me, sheriff," Degyn said, "Just so there ain't no hard feelin's."
The gesture didn't go unnoticed by the bobcat. He dipped the rim of his hat slightly towards the drake.
"That's mighty kind'a ya, stranger. But it ain't feelin's ya gotta be worryin' about. I ain'tcher pappy, and I certainly ain't hers. If she wants ta hire ya, and yer willin', ain't no reason fer me ta stop the two'a ya." The sheriff said.
Degyn dipped his hat in return before turning back to look at the hare at the end of the bar. He heard the sheriff leave this time, the feline not caring about what boards he stepped on. He had been purposefully stealthy earlier, and the drake locked that information away for later. The rider climbed down off his stool, leaning back a bit once he was back on his feet before standing upright. The weight in his middle did seem to have an effect on him, but not much of one. He approached the lady who had offered the job and pushed the front of his hat up with a finger.
"So yer lookin' ta get a fence mended... Miss--" He trailed off, hoping the hare would complete the sentence.
"Lane. Annie Lane. And yeah, I got a fence need mendin'. Five dollars is my offer. If'n ya don't like it, then you can just find someone else ta work fer." The lady said, a stern tone to her voice. She wasn't much for negotiating.
That was just fine with the rider.
"Five dollars'll do just fine, Miss Lane. Name's Degyn Sefer." The drake said.
"Well Mr. Sefer, daylight's burnin' so I'd better get. I'm hitched up in the back. You got yerself a ride?" Annie asked.
"Yes'um, I surely do. Just out front. I'll swing 'round back'n meetcha behind." Degyn replied.
"Well be quick about it. I ain't payin' ya by the day." Annie said before turning on a heel and walking briskly towards the back door.
"Annie," the bartender croaked, "Yer business here?"
"It can wait 'til I get back. Prob'ly tomorrow." The hare tossed over her shoulder. It satisfied the crow and he went back to polishing his glass.
Degyn paid this back and forth no mind as he took his leave out the front. The blue dragon waiting for him lifted his head out of the trough, having drunk most of what was there. The green rider allowed himself a subtle smirk, suppressing a chuckle, as he realized his 'steed' had likely been drinking the whole time he was inside.
"C'mon Smokey. We got a job. Well, I got a job. Hopefully she's got better water fer ya." Degyn said as he climbed up atop the blue beast. He hadn't even tied the reins to the hitching post. That baffled the locals. He had trusted his ride to stay put as ordered, and he had.
The blue dragon offered a quiet grunt of acknowledgement as his rider beckoned him to back away from the saloon just far enough to turn and aim down the side alley. The shade cast into the artificial valley between buildings was welcome relief for the azure beast, but it was short lived. He was used to such punishment in the day out this far west. He still didn't like it.
As they rounded the corner, Degyn spotted the hare from inside as she checked the straps of her saddle, making sure it was snug and secure on her horse. The brown equine swung its head slowly towards the approaching dragons and swiveled its ears backwards. It didn't like what it saw.
"Easy now, Smokey. We don't wanna spook the lady's ride. Best keep yer distance." Degyn said, leaning forward as far as his stomach would let him to speak to the blue under him.
Smokey snorted softly in acknowledgement and annoyance.
"That's yer ride?" Annie asked as soon as she got a look at the blue dragon. It had been less tactful than she had wanted to be.
"He may look a might odd compared ta what you folks're used ta seein', but he's everythin' I could ask fer in a travelin' partner and more. If'n yer worried 'bout how fast he is, don't you worry none. He'll be able ta keep up easy. I just hope you got cleaner water fer him ta drink when we get where we're goin'." Degyn explained.
Annie seemed to shrug off the oddity of a dragon riding a dragon fairly easily and unfastened her horse's reins from the post. She climbed onto the russet beast's back and took command, turning him about to face the stranger that had just blown into town like a gentle breeze. With little reason, she'd stepped up and showed enough trust in this unknown visitor to pay him for work, especially when it seemed that no one else wanted to. Degyn wouldn't forget that.
"Well c'mon then," Annie said, "Farm's a ways out. Best be gettin' on. And I hope yer right about him keepin' up. Jericho here ain't exactly asleep on his hooves."
"After you, ma'am." Degyn said, dipping his head a bit.
Annie liked how polite this green creature had been so far. He was showing respect, which was something she didn't necessarily get just a whole lot of these days. The hare turned her horse about and urged him into a trot to head out of town. The rider gave his blue ride a light tap with his heels, more to let Smokey know he was ready and holding on than anything else, and they set off after her.