(three days later)
"Have you seen a group of dragons pass through?"
The question had been asked, demanded, and worn down to a pulp as Mac, Sage, and their small group traversed the small, separated shacks of those who dwelled on the mountain.
"Dragons, ye say, laddie?" The mink responded, his mouth cracking into a yellow-toothed grin.
"Yes." Mac nodded impatiently.
"Do ye mean a group with da golden-eyed dragoness? Nasty one, she was, callin' me an' ol', useless lump o' used fur..." The mink spat out the last words with comical fury, his tail fluffed up and bristling.
"Yes! Yes, that one!" Mac interrupted. He couldn't surpress his excitement. Could Golden Eyes of passed through here? What where the odds of seeing a mean, golden-eyed female dragon? "Was there a silver dragoness with her, with light blue eyes, about this tall, with a white vest and navy blue pants?"
The mink scrunched his pink nose in heavy thought. "'Ere, mah gran'daughtah knows, she seen 'em, watched 'em until dey walked outta town. Follow me, lads and lassies, she'll be over 'ere."
Mac followed the white-furred mink through his humble, tumble-down cottage. It was surprisingly sturdy, and almost home-like. Definitely not near as grand as the Jade Palace, though, with the wood sagging slightly and random articles of clothing draped over odds and ends of the ramshackle shack. A meager fire crackled in the fireplace, driving away the cold mist of the frosty mountain.
The old mink gave a firm knock on the door with his calloused paw. "Zuria?" he croaked with a smile. "I've got someon' who wants ta see ye."
"Comin' Gwandaddy," squeaked a childish voice. The door was hefted open, and in the doorway stood a five or six year old mink girl, with snowy white fur and teal eyes, wearing a light green dress that was torn in one place and slightly muddy at the ends.
"Ye're mum's gon' clobber me, Zuria!" the old grandfather gasped mockingly with a twinkle in his soft brown eyes. "Ye went off an' played in the creek 'gain, didn't ye?"
Zuria blushed light pink. "I wouldn't get my dwess dwirty if Mummy let me wear showts instwead of dwesses."
The old mink rolled his eyes and chuckled. "Well, we'll tend to dat later, lass. These folks need ta know about dos' dragons ye gon' an' seen last night. Did ye see a silve' dragoness wid 'em, wid blue eyes?"
Zuria shook her petite head, her aqua blue eyes wide. "Dere was a black an' white one with dawk bwue eyes, an' two gway ones, but no silvew and bwue ones."
Mac shared a look with Sage, shrugging his shoulders. The Maltese tiger bent down on one knee at Zuria's eye-level. "Where there any others?"
The little mink bobbed her head up and down. "Dere was a yellow one, wid black eyes."
A frown crossed Zuria's small snout. "Well...wait a minuwte."
She scurried back in her room, and returned after around thirty seconds with a small honey-golden bear cub bumbling after her. The ursine looked up with big, deep-set chocolate brown eyes.
"Grante, twell dem what you saw." Zuria asked gently.
"Well, there was a big cage they were carrying, with a big white cloth covering all of it. An'...an' I thought I heard someone say sometin' from inside." Grante mumbled.
That was all Mac needed to know to piece everything together. Thanking the old mink and the two cubs, the group walked out of the run-down shack.
"Wait!" cried Zuria's voice. She padded out and grinned at Mac. "Goowd luck, mister bwue tiger." Then she handed him a small purple and white lily and sprinted bashfully back to her house. He smiled after her and gazed down at the flower on his palm. And just that small token was enough to reassure Mac that somehow, everything was going to be alright.