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Meganeea | Book 1 | Chapter 8

An Old World Dream

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During their courtship, Faahvrigüo and Tekneea traveled through almost all of Meganeea, perhaps missing the odd spot here or there, given that the more time they spent together, the less they cared about the landscape or the elves. But there came one morning when Tekneea asked, “Have you been to the land below this one?” and Faahvrigüo said “The what?” and so Tekneea took him there, terribly pleased as she always was to know of something that he somehow didn’t (which invariably made Faahvrigüo slightly disgruntled, for, as you might have gathered, he was rather vain.)

This “Land Below” was quite large, so Tekneea and Faahvrigüo spent a considerable amount of time traveling through it, and I cannot tell you where exactly they went or what they saw, because this book is about the Land Above, and none of the elves in that realm knew of any other place, so for the time being, we all have to pretend we don’t know anything either, since it is neither here nor there.

So I will take you somewhere else in Meganeea, somewhere that Faahvrigüo and Tekneea had not in their travels yet visited.

This was not a small city, but Meganeea was so, so very big, that it should not be all that surprising that the two had not yet come upon the area, especially as it was rather well hidden. This was Lion-Elf City, and other than the odd traveling merchant or entertainer, lion-elves were all that lived within its walls, for they kept to themselves.

Now, lion-elves, they were peculiar among all other Meganeean elves. They knew that they were, too. It was said among them that a very long time ago, when the Earth Dragon had been a hatchling, lion-elves had been her first intelligent creation, and she always tried to recreate this race in its original form whenever she made a new world.

They were not perfect creatures. They were, you could even say, quite ugly compared to other elven species. They had big bulbous noses, thick eyebrows, very furry feet and hands, and lion tails. They were very tall, among the tallest elves in Meganeea, though I suppose average sized in your own world. Their height did not make them more handsome, as they were rather oddly proportioned. They could not shape-shift into lions. But from the very beginning, they’d had a connection with the Earth Dragon that other elves didn’t have. And just between you and I, this connection, while real, was a complete fluke.

There was a lot about her creation that the Earth Dragon couldn’t control or do on purpose —most things, actually. But elves (and other sentient creatures) have a tendency to look for meaning in anything and everything, especially if they can use it to give themselves any level of self-importance over their peers. And no elven species ever thought more of itself than lion-elves.

There was one particular little lion-elf boy living in this city with his mother, who, while good hearted, thought about as much of himself, or more, as most other lion elves did of themselves. Which is: highly, and destined to great things.

His name was Gideon.

Gideon had visions, but this, in and of itself, was nothing so remarkable. You see, the dreams of lion-elves were quite particular, in that they could show the past, or a glimpse into one of the Earth Dragon’s own dreams. This is how lion-elves knew that they’d existed in other worlds that the Earth Dragon had made before Meganeea. They could try to understand the feelings and emotions of the Earth Dragon by some of these visions, or what she feared might happen, or had happened, by her nightmares. Sometimes they were right, and they generally ignored most of the times when things did not come to pass or make sense as expected, since this was an inconvenience.

When thoughts or dreams from the Earth Dragon’s mind bled into a lion-elf’s dream, the result could be as foggy and incomprehensible as any dream of yours or mine, or very vivid, but generally, it was the former. It could be from the point of view of any elf that had lived in an Old World. Or it could be from the point of view of the Earth Dragon herself. Or it could be a figment of that elf’s imagination altogether, a regular dream. There was no way to know, so lion-elves were compelled to write them all down and take them to the Elders and Eldresses at the temple, who would then look for patterns, and record them. Some elves only had a few in their whole lives, and others had them more often.

But Gideon was unusual: he had them every single night.

He had very vivid dreams, with images and events that he couldn’t understand. He would dream of one specific Old World, dreams which were so clear, that they felt as though he were living through them. Sometimes he would laugh in his sleep while he dreamed, or he would punch the air, and very often he would cry, or wake up screaming. And, to be sure, this was distressing, but above all, Gideon was proud in spite of his distress. No one else he knew —none of the elders, seers or priests, none of his friends— had visions like he had. Among an already blessed race, he, Gideon, was special.

Gideon had been five years old when his mother first took him to the temple to see the Head Seer. He told the Head Seer of a dream in which he broke free from a dark place, where he had been hungry and dirty for months, with iron digging into his flesh, chained to a cold wall, and of how he shifted into his animal form and ran, with energy that he didn’t know he had, and ran, and ran, with the body of a rat in his jaws, until they’d both got away.

He told of how later he was standing on something long, very long, and black, something like an enormous metal snake that shook and rattled, and that ran like the wind, faster than any elf or animal could go, and giving off a great smoke and a roar. And the rat was with him too, and also a lady, a very pretty young lady, whom he held in his arms and kissed. And they both laughed and laughed, because they were free. That was one of the good Old World dreams, and Gideon had it often, at first, and every time he told it a little better.

At first, the Head Seer and the elders who worked in the temple were interested. They told Gideon to come see them at the temple whenever he had a new vision, so they could write it down and try to put the history of the Before Times together with them.

The problem, you see, is that Gideon did just that.

So three years later, on a day on which dawn had barely broken and the streets were still fogged in cold, white mist, the fervent little rap that began on the Lion-Elves’ temple door was not welcome by the elders who were still at their studies. The call reverberated on the temple’s cavernous insides, and one could not ignore its persistent echoing. They all sighed at well-known sign of their nearly-daily visitor.

Rap, rap, rap.

“Eldress Aghummin, Elder Erkestenne,” a little voice called. Like the knocking, it was small, but insistent.

Rap, rap, rap, rap.

“Eldress Aghummin, I saw the candle from the window, I know you are all awake. Please, open the doors.”

“How did he reach the windowsill?” one of the elders hissed at the aforementioned lady Aghummin. The latter shrugged helplessly.

Rap, rap, rap. RAP, RAP.

“I had a vision again, Eldress Aghummin. You’re there, aren’t you? Pray open the door, and hear me. I want to study with you.”

Every eye in the room was glaring heavily upon Eldress Aghummin, who had stood up. She had a soft spot for the little voice’s persistent owner.

“Oh, let the child speak,” she said in a tired tone, “We all need our rest, so let him speak and then we can retire for a few hours. Our duties include hearing all visions.”

“It’s all very well to hear visions,” said one of the elders to the others, “but I have no patience nor interest in an infant’s tall tales.”

The iron lock echoed as Eldress Aghummin unlocked it. Promptly, a small child ran in, nearly tripping over his own big feet. He had a spectacular, messy mop of orange hair, and big, blue eyes. His red robe came up to his ankles, unlike the longer, trailing ones that the adults present wore, and he had a little green hood. A leather and blue stone pendant hung at his neck, and his a thick golden cord tied around his stout belly held his robe in place. He was the son of a prominent member of the lion-elf community, and looked it.

“May the Earth Dragon dream of you, Eldress Aghummin,” said the little boy in greeting, with a well-practiced bow.

“And of you, Gideon. Why don’t you come inside?” said the eldress. There was a pointed tone to this, no doubt due to the fact that the little boy had practically burst through the doors.

“Thank you, I am inside,” said he, already walking toward the gathered seers.

“Yes, indeed you are,” said she, with a mix of weariness and amusement. She closed the heavy door behind them.

“Good morning, elders,” said Gideon approaching the wide table where all the elders congregated, among books, scrolls, and many empty cups of coffee. He repeated his little bow, blissfully unaware of the irritation this added to his visit. “May the Earth Dragon —”

“Yes, yes,” one of the elders interrupted, “Forgive us for doing away with pleasantries, but dreaming is something all of us want to be doing soon. So tell your little made-up story, and then be on your way.”

“Oh, Elder Erkestenne, do be kind.”

“It’s not made up,” the little lion-elf said passionately, for it was a sore subject.

“Listen, boy,” said another of the elders, not unkindly, “We don’t know why you are tormented by so many very special visions and dreams, but we cannot hear them all. You have too many, we have not the time, and frankly, we are not sure if they are visions, or figments of your overactive little mind. Listen,” he repeated firmly, raising his hand to silence Gideon’s impending outburst, for his little chest had heaved and his mouth become a perfect circle of indignation, obviously preceding an aggrieved retort. “We shall give you one of our blank volumes —a real record keeping tome. You can write it all there, and once a month, you can come, for two hours and not a minute more, to discuss your records with the Council.”

Gideon did not seem at all delighted at this suggestion, but it was what it was. He was thus given a very heavy volume with thick leather covers, all blank inside, and unceremoniously deposited on the other side of the door.

The book was really quite a fancy thing, and I think he would have been delighted to have it, were it not for the drawback of the situation. It was just like the ones that the elders themselves used to write down their understanding of the Before Times, and their guesses about the Future Times. It was very thick, and an effort for a small child to carry. Gideon sat on the temple steps, with the huge book covering his small lap, and he put his head down on it, and cried. You might think crying about it was a bit much, but, you must remember that Gideon was barely eight years old, and he’d just been told that the one thing he most looked forward to every day was no longer allowed, so he was really rather put off.

But such infantile outbursts are rarely long-lasting. He was soon wiping his nose on his sleeve and admiring the thick leather covers, running his handpaw over them with awe. Then, with newfound determination, he got to his feet and made for home.

He had to stop quite a few times on the way because the book was so heavy. He did not consider this a great inconvenience, as it earned him looks from both adults as well as the similarly aged peers he encountered, filling the little lion-elf with such feelings of importance that he could have burst from the pleasure. So he would wipe his sweat with a very exaggerated flourish and grunt even louder as he picked up his heavy burden once more.

Once home and in his own private chambers, Gideon brought the book to his little desk by the window. It hit the surface with a hard thud, being too bulky for Gideon to put it down with the care it merited. The morning sun was well on its way up now and streaming down the window, and little flecks of white dust displaced by the book danced in the warm rays.

Gideon climbed up his chair, and, having opened the blank volume, took out his ink-pot and quill, ready to write down his last vision, which he had been so keen to share to the Council of Seers earlier. It had been a very unusual vision, because —Gideon knew this instinctively— he’d seen it from different eyes. Simply put, it wasn’t the same viewpoint of all his other visions to date. With it still fresh in his mind, he put pen to paper, slowly at first, but increasing to a frantic pace as he went on:

Gideon, who was remembering details as he wrote, found that his handpaw was trembling. This hadn’t been a good dream. It had filled him with awe, but all throughout he’d felt very afraid. Now, as he remembered, pearls of sweat dotted his forehead and he felt a little sick to his stomach. But he wrote on.

The little boy put down his quill with trembling handpaw. His visions did, quite often, distress him. His mother would tell him that they were not real, they were things that had happened long ago, to someone else, and couldn’t hurt him, so he wasn’t afraid of having them. But once in a while, they were intense enough to make him feel ill. Yet the more deeply emotional or shaken they caused him to feel, the greater his feeling of importance once he’d recovered. And her eyes —he’d seen the Earth Dragon’s eyes! No one he knew had seen them in Meganeea, or at least her eye color had never been written down by anyone. It was terribly exciting, and very frustrating that he wouldn’t be able to share this with the Council for an entire month. But perhaps he’d have had an even more important dream or vision by that time.

Gideon looked down at the pages. Though his writing was on the large side, not even a full page had been filled. He sighed. Would it be okay to write his past dreams? Maybe not. After all, the Council had written those down already.

The day dragged on slowly, endlessly, but finally the sun went down. Gideon went to bed early, eager for his next vision. He lay the book by his side, over the blanket, right in his little bed, “for safekeeping” as he put it, or “in case he wanted to write a vision as soon as it happened” (although his mother refused to allow him to have the quill and ink-pot on his nightstand). In reality, he simply wanted it near, and not long after he’d fallen asleep, his arms were wrapped around it, not unlike the way a less-precocious child would have held on to a teddy bear.

The break of morning found Gideon bleary-eyed after a frustratingly dreamless night. He shut his eyes tightly as he heard his mother moving about in the kitchen, and shut them tighter still when the sun tickled his eyelids, trying his hardest to catch a few more winks of sleep that might grant him a special dream to write about. But no dreams or visions visited him, and so, hungry and annoyed, he washed his face, had his breakfast (the precious, mostly blank volume on a chair next to his own, as his mother would not allow the enormous book at the table) and went to school, book and all.

At school, Gideon hardly heard his lessons. During the midday break, he sat under a tree, with the massive open book resting heavily on his small knees, quill in hand, brow furrowed, desperate for something of value to come to him, something he could write.
But nothing came to him.

As the days passed, his schoolmates tried unsuccessfully to coax him into joining their play, but Gideon, stewing with as frustration and with even more self-importance than was the norm for him, brushed them off rather rudely. Couldn’t they see he had serious work to do? Didn’t the book make it obvious? He’d sigh heavily to show his discontent at the interruptions, and soon everyone left him quite alone.

Two weeks went by, and three, and then an entire month. It came time to visit the Council of Seers to share any new dreams or visions he might have had, so, though chagrined by the recent lack of progress, Gideon went.

Eldress Aghummin let him in. Gideon took in the empty chamber with surprise.

“No one’s here,” he said to Eldress Aghummin in a somewhat wounded tone. He realized he had been had, so to speak.

Eldress Aghummin opened her mouth, perhaps about to share some prepared explanation for the absence of the entire council. Her expression softened, and she shook her head. “I’m sorry, Gideon,” she said to him as she shut the door, “Duty aside, I suppose the Council doesn’t have much patience for a little boy. I have no idea where they all decided to go, but my guess is that each one of them found something different to occupy themselves with today.”

Gideon’s face showed his contempt for this behavior quite clearly. But he sighed, and sat at the large table usually occupied by the conspicuously absent council. Carefully and with difficulty he lay his heavy book upon it, and nodded when Eldress Aghummin placed a cup of tea in front of him.

“I care about what you have to say, Gideon,” said she, joining him at the table with a cup of her own, “I know you take everything, including yourself, perhaps more seriously than you ought, but I know your visions have value and I want to hear about them.”

Gideon shifted on his seat, uncharacteristically quiet. He was still quite upset, and in spite of Eldress Aghummin’s words, he could not quite shake the feeling that she was humoring him in the way an old woman does with a very small child, rather than as another lion-elf with genuine value to the council.

“Did you write anything in your book?” Eldress Aghummin prompted him, so kindly, that Gideon cringed inwardly and felt even more annoyed. But he opened the book to his first recorded vision, the one in which he’d seen the Earth Dragon’s open eyes, and carefully moved the book towards the Eldress. He didn’t say anything and maintained what he thought was a serious and dour expression, but really, he was just a little boy, and so it came off as nothing but pouting.

Eldress Aghummin was quiet for some time as she read the few paragraphs that Gideon had put to paper. In spite of himself, Gideon stole a curious look towards her face, trying to catch a glimpse of her reaction. To his surprise, she didn’t appear shocked as he had expected. Quite the contrary. She nodded, sighed, and then closed the volume.

“So, you could fly in this dream, I see,” she observed. Gideon nodded. He felt suddenly uncomfortable. “And you saw the Earth Dragon’s eyes, something which no one in the history of this land has yet recorded.”

“I did too see them,” Gideon said. He could not help his defensive tone. He swallowed hard.

Eldress Aghummin stroked his head. “Gideon,” she said, “interpreting visions is very difficult. Sometimes, it’s hard for even us grown-ups to know what is a simple dream and what is a vision of the past. That is why we convene to study different noteworthy visions and decide which have that potential.”

Gideon was quiet, a hard lump at his throat.

“In my experience,” continued Eldress Aghummin, running her handpaw over the tome’s leather cover, “real visions come rarely, often visiting lion-elves who have never had them, who are not necessarily learned or studious, and who do not generally dwell constantly about having them.”

I did too see them, I did too see them! Gideon repeated to himself, feeling hot tears at the corners of his eyes.

“I don’t think you are telling any lies, my dear child,” said the Eldress, “in fact, I don’t think anyone in the Council actually thinks that.”

“Elder Erkestenne does,” mumbled Gideon. He felt absolutely miserable.

Eldress Aghummin waved this comment off, though not unkindly. “He’s just a grumpy old elf, don’t mind him. Listen, Gideon. I fear that, in your zeal, you’re causing yourself to have certain dreams, very vivid dreams, upsetting dreams, that are only that. And we are all very busy. We cannot continually analyze a little boy’s daily dreams. That is not what we do here.”

“Elder Erkestenne said I could have two hours every month, with the whole council,” Gideon protested, but feebly. He was trying so hard not to cry.

“I am a member of the council,” said Eldress Aghummin, “and I am giving you my valuable time. But I do not think this…” Here she trailed off, waving her hand over the tome. “Well, I’m not certain of whether this benefits you. I’m not sure giving you this book was a very good idea, but —here she held up a handpaw to stop Gideon’s tearful protest, as he had raised his head in anguished alarm— I shall not take it from you. However, I think you need to think about other things for a while. Write your dreams if it pleases you, and study them on your own if you must. But please, do try to spend time with your little friends, play outside, take in some sun. You are far too young to be upsetting yourself so much with nightmares. Growing little boys need to be well-rested, and this obsession may come to do you harm if it gets in the way of your a restful night’s sleep. You don’t want to worry your parents, now, do you?”

Gideon was beyond arguing. He mumbled something in agreement and took his book back. He walked towards the door, and Eldress Aghummin, with a concerned look on her face, opened it for him.

“Don’t be so glum, little one,” she said, “I’m sure someday you will be a part of this council yourself —an important part, even. You’re a very precocious child, but you must enjoy being a child while you can.”

As the slumped pair of little shoulders and the wild-haired red head descended the front steps in utter dejection, Eldress Aghummin felt only compassion for the boy. She could not know how prophetic her words of comfort would be.

And, alas, neither could Gideon.

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🌈 100 Days Of Warm-Ups [091 – Caroline] 🌈

✨ Here’s warm-up 91 of 100! ✨ This one is for Nazznikonanuke.

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🌈 100 Days Of Warm-Ups [076 – Blue Moon] 🌈

✨ Here’s warm-up 76 of 100! ✨ This one is for Swimmingintheinkwell.

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Horus’ Pleading Face 🥺

The last wonderful trade I received is from PukoPop (Cody)! Doesn’t Horus look adorable. You can view the original here: https://www.furaffinity.net/view/41946594/

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The Tale Of Horus | Chapter 3

The Dragg’n Catchin’ Pit

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All night long the little dragon tossed and turned, and time and time again a snapping branch or far-off growl caused him to start whenever sheer exhaustion overcame him. Shortly before daybreak, Horus all but gave up on trying to sleep. He was sore, worn out, profoundly irritated and most of all, ravenous.

Finding a stick lying on the ground nearby, Horus picked it up and gave the sleeping human child a few tentative, if rather ungentle, pokes.

“Wake up already,” he said to Nib, “I’m hungry.”

“So am I,” said Nib after a pleasant stretch. She was accustomed to sleeping rough, and was well rested. “Let’s start walking, then, and maybe we’ll find something on the way, if we’re lucky.”

“Maybe?” Horus repeated dismally.

“Or maybe something will find us,” said Nib with unsettling cheerfulness. “You never know.”

“Something? Like my parents?”

“Maybe your parents. Or maybe a bear. A lot of things are hungry in the morning and looking for breakfast, just as we are.”

Horus walked faster.

After they’d been trudging along for a while, with Horus apparently leading the way, Nib said, “You seem quite sure of which road to take. Exactly where do you live?”

“In the mountains,” replied Horus, who knew that much.

“That’s all very well,” said Nib dubiously, “but where in the mountains? They go on and on and on, you know. Just like this forest.”

This information unsettled Horus. But he could see part of the mountain range ahead of them, through the tree-tops.

“There,” he said, pointing his fat little finger in its direction, “I live over there.”

Nib squinted her eyes.

“Where?”

“There! Right there! Are you blind? It doesn’t matter anyway—all you have to do is follow me. So don’t be a pest. Remember, I haven’t had my breakfast yet!”

“Neither have I,” said Nib mildly, “and I didn’t have any dinner last night, either.”

She did not say it in a whiny or complaining tone, but it irked Horus nonetheless. Humans were such a hindrance!

Noon came. Horus was so hungry that he was letting out little frustrated sobs without even realizing it. These got more pronounced until he sat down on the ground, and would have thrown a tantrum out of habit. But then he remembered the human child standing behind him, and he covered his face with his paws. He could not, however, stifle his whimpers completely.

Nib knelt by the hatchling’s side and put a hand on his shoulder.

“You know,” she said, “If you can at least tell me what the outside of your lair looks like, maybe I could help you get home.”

“No, you couldn’t,” said Horus. “You have been lost here your whole life and I will be, too!”

“I have not been lost here my whole life,” said Nib, just a little bit defensively, “But I have been lost for a few months at a time. I always find my way home eventually.”

Horus sniffled.

“You won’t lose anything by telling me,” Nib encouraged him.

“I can’t,” Horus murmured, ashamed. “I don’t know what it looks like. I’ve never even been outside before. I don’t know how I came to be outside. I woke up and I was in the woods. I don’t know what happened.”

“Listen,” said Nib, “Don’t cry.”

“But I’m hungry!”

“Crying won’t fix that.”

“It always does for me,” mumbled Horus. He was beginning to regret his outburst. Now the bothersome little human knew that he didn’t actually hunt dinner for his parents every night, and would fear him even less.

“Well, it won’t do you any good here,” retorted Nib pulling Horus up as she, too, got on her feet. “We’d better keep walking toward the mountains and hope we find something to eat. Your parents are probably looking for you, and will spot you from above or smell you out soon enough.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Probably,” answered Nib, “although I don’t know that it will bode very well for me if they do.”

“Why not?”

“They might assume I’m the one who took you away, and—hello, what’s this?”

Nib had stopped walking, and was looking down at the ground.

“What’s what?”

“Tracks,” said the girl, pointing down at the dirt, “Look.”

Horus sniffed the small footprints, and Nib knelt down to study them more closely.

“Three toes,” Nib observed, “That’s a cyclops.”

“Oh,” said Horus faintly. Cyclopes liked to hunt dragons. A horde of them would even dare attack an adult dragon, especially one that had been grounded by some accident or misfortune. And Horus was only a baby. What would a cyclops to do him?

With growing dread the hatchling imagined his small bones being sucked clean by a foul-smelling, hairy brute with a single glowering eye. He saw his own small, red knotted horn hanging from a string tied around the cyclops’ fat neck as a makeshift pendant, and his blue, red-stripped hide stretched on a rack to dry—oh! Horus let out a pitiful whimper at the thought of these ghastly possibilities.

“It’s okay,” Nib reassured him. She had taken a small, rusty dagger from a little pouch on the side of her remaining boot. “I’ll take care of it. I’m not scared of any cyclopes —and it looks like this is only a little one, by the size of its tracks.”

“Aren’t even little cyclopes dangerous?” asked Horus. He was trailing behind Nib now, meekly.

“Well, yes,” answered Nib, but I’m going to be a squire one day, and later on a knight, and knights can’t ever be cowards.”

“I’ve eaten knights,” Horus observed after a thoughtful pause.

“And cyclopes eat little dragons,” said Nib, just as thoughtfully, “That’s how the world goes.”

Horus did not bring up the subject of eating knights any more that day.

Not far from where they had first come upon the cyclops’ footprints, the trail came to an abrupt end. This made Nib uneasy.

“Watch where you step,” she warned Horus, “Cyclopes are known to dig—”

Then there was a swish, and Nib disappeared. Horus froze on the spot, terrified by how suddenly he found himself alone again, and certain that a tribe of whooping cyclopes would descend upon him at any moment. He dared not move a muscle, or blink, or breathe.

Down in the pit just a few steps ahead of Horus, Nib was quiet as a mouse, too. Watchful as she knew herself to be, she had missed the trap, even as she was warning the hatchling to look out for them. The hole was deep, but the same brush and twigs that had hidden the pit from her view had provided her with a relatively soft landing, so Nib was only a little bruised. Now she lay as she had fallen, careful not to move and wondering what she should do next.

Above, Horus was wondering the same thing. Since nothing awful had immediately happened, he was breathing again. He had begun to inch forward ever so slightly in the direction of the spot where his human companion had disappeared, when something sharp poked him in the back and a voice cried all in one breath, “Whoyou?”

Well, Horus gave a magnificent jump accompanied by a fittingly shrill shriek of terror, and in his fright he managed to trip and fall into the same pit where Nib was trapped (to Nib’s great discomfort).

Now a small head was looking down at them from above the hole. It had one enormous copper-colored eye that stared at them without blinking. A short blunt horn poked out of its forehead among a few tufts of straw-like yellow hair, and a single tooth protruded over its lower lip.

“Whoyou?” he demanded. His face was expressionless, but there was a clear note of annoyance in the question, which became more pronounced when he proceeded to answer it for them. “Mizz’rubul lookin’, no-good prey. You ruin Saffron’s good dragg’n catchin’ pit. Get out of it.”

He spoke clumsily, but quickly. Cyclopes were very intelligent, speaking the language of multiple other creatures in the Deep Dark Woods. Even this little one could speak well enough in the Common Tongue, if a little brokenly still.

“We can’t,” answered Nib, who had understood the last request, at least. “Isn’t that the point of a trap?”

The little cyclops looked at her hard, frowned with his single eye, and disappeared from view, though he could be heard grumbling to himself.

It was not long before a vine was thrown into the pit. Horus followed Nib’s instruction to take hold of it, since he was the stronger and heavier of the two, and, after losing his grip and falling back into the pit twice, he finally surfaced, with his bruised human companion clinging to his back.

Upon emerging from the hole, they saw that the other end of the vine had been tied to the thick trunk of a nearby tree, and a very small, harassed-looking cyclops stood beside it, spear in hand, waiting for them. He wore a sort of loincloth made of some animal’s furry pelt as his only garment, and there were little bones as well as colorful beads and feathers hanging from the handle of his weapon and around his neck. There was even one going through his nose. All around, he looked extraordinarily fierce for such a small creature.

“We’re, um… Sorry we ruined your trap,” ventured Nib.

“Sorry!” cried an outraged Horus, “Maybe you are! I am all black and blue, was frightened out of my wits, and got my back nearly torn open by this… This little one-eyed freak’s stick, and for no reason at all! Sorry! I like that!”

“Hush!” Nib hissed. She spoke again to the cyclops as politely as she knew how. “Please don’t listen to him, um, um…,” she struggled to remember the creature’s name.

“Saffron,” said the little cyclops, giving himself a firm thump on the chest with his fist.

“Right. Are you all alone here in the woods, Saffron?”

“Nevva alone in The Woods,” was the sober reply, “Prey all ‘round. Big things out huntin’ all day ’n all night long.”
“That’s true enough,” said Nib, uncomfortably.

“Me too. Imma huntin’,” added Saffron. “My first dragg’n hunt.”

Horus felt the his heart sink to his feet, despite the fact that Saffron was slightly shorter than himself. He shot Nib a desperate look, which did not escape the young cyclops’ eye.

“Notta worry,” he said to Nib, “This dragg’n too little. Baby. Tribe laff at me. Li’l dragg’n no good for first hunt. Is “ha-ha” prey. Not “whoa-lookit-that” prey. You, same thing. Stringy and puny like worm. Not worth my time.”

“Ha-ha prey?!” shouted Horus, whose vanity and lack of courage were in such equal measure so as to overlap regularly.

“Will you be quiet!” Nib scolded him in a whisper. Then she asked Saffron, “You must be very brave, to be out hunting for dragons all by yourself.”

To her surprise, the little cyclops gave the dirt a kick and seemed embarrassed. He tried to hide the faintest hint of a smile.

“Not really. Cyclopes hunt anythin’. ‘Fraid of nuttin’.”

It was true. The Cyclops tribes were feared especially because they would hunt and eat anything and everything except for their own kind. They were known for wasting nothing and running away from no prey regardless of the odds of becoming prey themselves. It was their nature, rather than bravery. They were born fearless and raised to stay fearless —or so it was said.

“I’m not ha-ha prey,” Horus mumbled bitterly.

He was pouting. Nib gave him a black look.

“Anyone ought to be proud of hunting down a rare beast like me, with so fine a hide and such a bright red knotted horn!”

“Horus!”

The little cyclops scratched an itch behind his ear with the tip of his spear. He looked puzzled.

“I kill’n roast baby dragg’n, if he wants me to,” he offered helpfully.

“He doesn’t!” Nib hurried to assure him. But now Saffron was eyeing Horus more carefully.

“Is nice ’n fat. I can make good breakfast of him. Give you a leg.”

Nib politely declined, and the little cyclops shrugged. But then all of a sudden his face lighted up, and he exclaimed, “I hassa better idea! Little baby dragg’n makes good bait for great big dragg’n. Maybe even two come for him!”

He clapped his hands and danced around a little, very pleased with himself.

“I should like to see you try to poke my Momma with that stick,” said Horus indignantly. “She’ll use it to pick your fat off her teeth when she’s done with you!”

The little cyclops became sober at once and glared at Horus with his intense yellow eye.

“I’m notta ‘fraid,” he said darkly, as he began to walk toward the hatchling, spear at the ready. “Call your momma.”

Horus felt sick with fear to see the pointed weapon so close to his soft belly, but for once he was ashamed to cry for his mother, who was unlikely to hear him anyway.

“I’m… I’m… I’m not afraid, either!”

Nib came between them.

“He is too afraid,” she said to Saffron, “Do spare him, please—he is so little.”

“I’m li’l, too, but notta chick’n,” was Saffron’s ruthless answer. “Call your momma,” he said again to Horus, this time punctuating the command with a sharp poke of the spear. Horus let out a squeal and broke down in tears, all pretense of bravery gone.

“Whatta chick’n,” scoffed the little cyclops, “I thought all dragg’ns brave, even li’l ones. If cyclops is chick’n, he get kicked outta tribe. You get kicked out, li’l dragg’n?”

Horus felt his heart drop. He had never considered this. Could his Momma and Poppa have kicked him out of the nest for being so lazy and eating all of their food?

Nib was glancing at him sideways. Horus swallowed, feeling his face grow hot.

“No,” he quavered, “No—I… I don’t know…”

The idea that his parents may not be out looking for him, may not even want him back home, was more frightening than anything Horus had experienced so far. He forgot all about Nib and the cyclops, and about being hungry, or tired, or bruised. He stood still and stared down at his talons.

He made such a pitiful picture that, although cyclopes were renowned for their seeming inability to feel compassion for anything which could be considered viable prey, this one lowered his spear with a gesture of confusion and appeared very uncomfortable.

“Go,” he said to Nib with a shrug, “Take li’l dragg’n with you. He too salty from boohoo’ing to eat now, anyway.”

Nib did not wait to be told twice. She thanked Saffron profusely and grabbed Horus by the paw, hurriedly pulling him along the path.

She had not gone far, however, when a thought occurred to her.

“Wait here,” she said to Horus before running back to where the young cyclops still stood watching them. But Horus was too sad and stunned to pay any attention to her.

“Do you know,” Nib asked Saffron once she had reached him, “the way to the dragon nesting grounds?”

“Uppa mountain,” said Saffron, pointing in said direction with his spear.

“Yes, but do you know how to get there?”

The little cyclops nodded.

“I know.”

“Could you… Well, could you guide us there? Please? If you are hunting for dragons, you’re probably going that way anyhow, aren’t you?”

“Maybe,” said Saffron. “What you gimme?”

“Oh,” said Nib, taken aback, “I—well, I have this knife.”

And she presented her little dagger, which she treasured. But the little cyclops shook his head.

“Blunt ’n puny, like you. No good,” he said, not unkindly, but decidedly.

“I don’t have anything else,” said Nib.

Suddenly Horus, who had been listening, spoke up. “I’ll give you my bearskin,” he said in a strangled voice.

“What bearskin?”

“It’s in my lair,” said Horus. “On my bed. My Momma hunted the bear down, and my Poppa skinned it. They used it to wrap the egg I was inside of. I’ve had it since the day I was hatched.”

He thought of his nest, and how good the blanket smelled, of fur and of home.

“It’s… It’s very warm and thick,” he added softly. “It’s a good bearskin blanket.”

The little cyclops considered the offer. The bears that lived in the Deep Dark Woods were very big, bigger than any bear you’ve ever seen or heard of. The pelt from one of them was a good, useful thing to have.

“The bearskin,” he said, “and your horn.”

Horus’ hands flew up to the aforementioned appendage.

“My what!”

“Your knotta-horn. Makes good drinkin’ cup.”

“But—but—it’s stuck to my head!”

“I chop it off.”

“Won’t that hurt a lot?”

“Dunno. Maybe,” was the phlegmatic reply.

“Oh, oh,” moaned Horus, with his hands still protectively over his horn. “What kind of knotted-horn dragon will I be, with no knotted horn on my head?”

Both Nib and Saffron were looking intently at him, waiting. Nib seemed concerned, but she did not say anything that helped Horus. The poor hatchling heaved one deep, shuddering sigh, and grimly nodded his head.

“Horus, are you sure?” said Nib.

“I will give you my knotted-horn, and my bearskin blanket too,” said Horus to the little cyclops, “but you won’t get my horn until after you get me home!”

“Notta worry,” Saffron assured him cheerfully, “I no chop off horn until then. You havva deal.”

He held out his grubby, callused little hand for Horus to shake. And Horus did.

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The Tale Of Horus | Chapter 2

What Happened The Next Morning

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Baby dragons were never left home alone. Their parents knew better: it would have been unwise to the safety of the family’s dwelling, given an energetic hatchling’s destructive tendencies, and certainly unwise to the safety of the hatchling itself, since most baby dragons could hardly wait to go out into the world to wreak some havoc. And the world, as you may suspect, does not always take kindly to little dragons wreaking havoc upon it.

Had Horus been a normal, havoc-wreaking dragon hatchling, he would not have been left home alone that morning, and he would not have rolled out of his nest and down the mountainside in his sleep. His father would have caught him in time and tucked him in again, all safe and snug in his bearskin blanket as if nothing had happened, and there would be no story to tell.

But Horus’ father had no fear of his hatchling going meandering into the woods or setting the family lair on fire. So when Horus did roll out of his nest in his sleep and go bumpety-bump down the rocky mountain, there was no one there to stop it from happening.

The morning after our story began, Pop was left home alone with his napping son. His wife had flown off in a fury to hunt a young squire who, after accidentally stumbling upon her hidden treasure, had made off with her favorite golden goblet.

Horus’s father looked in the larder for something to fix his breakfast with, but found no leftovers of the smoked-leg-of-knight they had had for dinner the night before. No matter; he told himself, it was too dry anyhow. So he checked the attic, hoping to find some pickled sheep or rams there, but these were all gone too. There was not a single crumb or morsel of food to be found anywhere in the dragons’ lair.

Pop looked at his snoring hatchling, and thought there could be no harm in flying off for just a little while to catch a wayward goat or two, or perhaps even a tender young goatherd if he got lucky. He knew his wife would not approve of leaving the baby alone, but given the fact that Horus would soon wake up and start wailing for his breakfast, he felt the short excursion would be justified. Besides, after having thought of it, he’d begun to really crave some goatherd. So off he flew, and little Horus was left all by himself.

Now, not many things can wake a dragon that is very deeply asleep, especially a dragon hatchling such as Horus, but even he would have been awoken by a violent descent down the mountain. And yet, as you will see, he did not wake up, and that is because he had done a very naughty thing the night before.

While his Momma and Pop were soundly asleep themselves, Horus had gotten out of his nest, climbed on top of his mother’s head, and then clambered laboriously all the way up her long neck up to the tallest spike on her spiked back. From this elevated position he hopped inside the larder, which had been left open. Then he ate every bit of leftover smoked-leg-of-knight that he found there, and when he was done, he slid back down his mother’s back and tail, and went back to sleep in his nest.

So this is the reason why the next morning Horus was so very deeply asleep and in no kind of hurry to eat breakfast. In fact, as a result of his midnight snack, he now felt such painful pangs in his round little belly that he tried to roll over on his tummy as he slept (something you’ve probably done too when you’ve had a bellyache.) This, alas, would not make him more comfortable, at least not in the short term, but would rather have the opposite effect:

Horus slid off his nest with a swish of straw and a squishy bump on the lair’s rocky floor, and because the level of the ground was on a descending angle in that part of the mountain and also owing to the fact that Horus was so round,

he rolled

and bounced

and rolled some more,

and bumped and and bounced all the way down the rocky, thorny, hard mountainside, and he did not stop bumping and bouncing and rolling until he reached the foot of the mountain, and from there he went right on rolling until he was well into the Deep Dark Woods, the same woods that were home to Very Big Bears, and Cyclopes, and Other Creatures of a Generally Unpleasant Nature. And there, on a little glade, he finally came to a stop, but so profound was his slumber that even this bruising trip down the mountain had not been enough to rouse him.

It was not until twilight that Horus’ protesting belly finally caused him to stir. He found upon awakening that he no longer had a bellyache; however, he was bruised from head to tail and had a big, nasty bump on the tip of his snout. Such disagreeables discoveries, in addition to a very empty stomach and the fact that he found himself in a dark, cold place which he did not recognize in the least, prompted Horus to do the one thing that invariably resulted in the removal or correction of any unpleasantness present: he broke out in ear-splitting screeches.

Horus howled and wailed and bawled for the better part of an hour. He threw a full tantrum, with much sobbing and kicking and pounding of the mossy ground with his little fists and tail. When he finally stopped to catch his breath, night had fallen, and the dark woods had grown even darker than before.

One would think Horus to be used to darkness, what with spending most of the time asleep beneath his thick bearskin blanket, but there is a marked difference between the darkness of your own warm, safe lair, and the darkness of the Deep Dark Woods, especially if you had never been in them before and you suddenly found yourself in them all by yourself.

So now Horus was frightened in addition to hungry and bruised. He took a deep breath in preparation to a louder howling fit that he hoped his parents would hear, when a twig cracked in the brush ahead.

The little dragon froze, his breath held all up inside of his chest, because he was afraid to let it out and make a sound that could betray his presence to something Big and Hungry. It was of course too late to worry about that, after his earlier outburst. But luckily for Horus, he was not to meet any such danger just yet.

Instead, from among the bushes appeared a pencil-thin human child, of about ten or eleven years old. A reddish-brown head of hair grazed their shoulders and framed their pale face, which was full of freckles. The child’s arms and legs were long and scrawny, as was the rest of them. All in rags and sporting only one shoe, the young human looked anything but threatening.

However, Horus had never before seen a human that his father or mother hadn’t already hunted and roasted or baked for his dinner, and he knew that the right kind of human could be very dangerous to a baby dragon who met such a creature all alone.

As for the child, a young girl, she was no coward, but had more to fear from such an encounter than Horus did. So it is not surprising that her face should become the very picture of dismay and consternation the moment her eyes fell upon the dragon hatchling.

“Oh, no,” she moaned under her breath, “Oh, what rotten luck.”

Having looked quickly up to the darkening skies for any sign of the hatchling’s parents, she took a careful step back, and then another, keeping a watchful eye on Horus (who had by now been holding his breath for so long that even the blood-red stripes on his cheeks were beginning to turn blue.)

“It’s alright,” coaxed the girl, as she cautiously made her way back to the bushes, “It’s okay. I’m going away, see? No need to call your mama, I won’t hurt you.”

And she would have continued to step backward into the brush had she not happened to step on a sharp little pebble with the heel of her naked foot. Now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you just how much stepping on a sharp little pebble can hurt, even if you’re wearing socks, and particularly if you step on it with the heel of your naked foot. Which explains why our freckled, pencil-thin gangly girl gave a yell of a pitch that could easily have rivaled Horus’ own banshee-like howls, and then proceeded to hop about on her healthy foot, putting on such an alarming display that Horus forgot all about holding his breath anymore.

“Help! Oh, help!” wailed the terrified hatchling, “Oh, Momma! Poppa! Help me! Save me!”

He ran back and forth in no particular direction, changing course whenever he tripped or bumped into the occasional boulder or thorny bush, and so did not get very far at all.

Meanwhile, Horus’ loud outburst made the girl forget all about her sore foot, prompting her to run off into the thicket at top speed, for she was sure the hatchling’s furious parents must not be far away, and would be hot on her heels at any given moment (she was courageous, but prudent.) However, when no such fearsome beasts appeared and the baby’s wails continued loud and sorrowful, the girl slackened her pace, and waited a little (just to be sure) before walking back to the glade.

There sat Horus, hiccuping and exhausted. He scrambled to his feet in alarm when he saw the human child reenter the glade, but stood frozen on the spot, too frightened to run.

“Easy there,” said the girl in a friendly manner while she approached the little dragon with as much caution as she had earlier endeavored to distance herself from it. “You have nothing to fear from me. Don’t be scared.”

But while Horus had stopped crying, he was not at all reassured. He stood trembling on the spot with his large red eyes fixed on the young human. His chest heaved rapidly up and down.

“Are you alone?” ventured the girl.

Horus bristled defensively at the question. He curled his lips in a tiny snarl despite his fear.

“I don’t have to tell you!” he growled, “Go away and leave me be, or I’ll… I’ll eat you!”

To mark this threatening little speech Horus took a brave step forward and bared his teeth even further. He was greatly surprised when the girl jumped back, showing genuine alarm.

“I-it’s alright, really!” she entreated, “I’m alone too. You’re lost, aren’t you? So am I, you see—”

“Be quiet!” Horus barked. He was feeling bolder. If the small human showed fear, that meant it was weak enough to be his prey. And Horus was very, very hungry.

“I’m Nib,” said the girl, “What’s your name?”

“I don’t have to tell you,” Horus answered gruffly. But he conceded to add, “I’m Horus.”

“Nice to meet you,” ventured Nib.

Horus didn’t want to make friends with this human. It is a known fact that if you get too chummy with your dinner, you will most likely end up not eating it, or else feeling guilty while you do it, which can result in an upset stomach.

Horus’ belly growled a long, gurgling growl.

“Are you hungry?” asked Nib.

“That’s right,” answered the hatchling, “and it’s you I’m going to eat.”

“Oh,” faltered Nib. And for a short, uncomfortable moment neither of them spoke or moved.

Horus knew he had to do something. He was the predator, the dragon, the hunter. He was supposed to make the first move. But he was too young to ever have accompanied his parents on a hunt, and had never been particularly interested in learning more about it by asking them directly. He needed to catch and kill the boy before he could eat it, and he had no idea how to accomplish this.

As if reading his thoughts, Nib asked, “Have you ever hunted your own food before?”

“Of course I have!” Horus retorted. “Lots ‘n lots of times! Sometimes, I hunt enough for me and my Poppa and Momma to eat for days. S-sometimes.”

It seemed to Horus that a wave of relief flickered the young human’s pale, freckled face for a moment.

“You know,” said Nib, “I have a pouch full of berries right here, and they won’t keep. Wouldn’t you rather eat my berries for now, and save me for later? I’ll keep just fine, and perhaps I can help you find your way back, in the meantime.”

“I can get home very well by myself!” Horus said defensively. And he really thought he could. He did not know how lost he was.

“Well then, if you can find your way out of the woods so easily, mind if I tag along anyway?” said Nib, “I’ve been lost for an awful long time, myself. Not that it’s anything out of the ordinary for me,” she added with a shrug, “Seems I spend most of the year lost in these woods.”

“Then you must be a perfect blockhead,” said Horus pitilessly. “If you’ve been here so many times, how can you not know your way around?”

“It’s a very big forest,” explained Nib, “It looks the same all over, and yet it’s always changing.”

They could not travel at night, Nib said. They could not see where they were going and the night was pitch black, with no stars to guide them. She suggested that she and Horus camp under the curling roots of an enormous tree. It was a little damp there, but the moss was soft and the evening air was warm and pleasant. It was a beautiful spring night.

Horus ate the berries Nib gave him in one big bite, swallowing a chunk of the leather pouch along with them. Nib didn’t eat anything—as there was nothing else to eat—but she did not complain. She seemed glad enough not to be part of Horus’ dinner.

After this, they settled down to sleep. Nib slept soundly, for she was used to the forest and its noises, and knew which ones were dangerous and which ones one need not worry about.

But Horus didn’t know these things and for the first time in his life the little dragon experienced a sleepless night.

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The Tale Of Horus | Chapter 1

The Dragon Hatchling

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This story happened long, long ago in human years, but not quite so long ago in The Grand Scheme of Things, and it starts deep in a cozy cave situated on the western side of a long mountain range, where it was far too high for any human soul to dare venture. In it lived a dragon husband and wife with a little dragon hatchling, and the hatchling’s name was Horus.

Horus belonged to a race of knotted-horn dragons. He had a stubby red horn in the center of his forehead, which was wound up in a single tight knot. It was a soft, blunt-tipped horn, because Horus was still so young. It would grow longer and wind up into more knots as he grew older.

Knotted-horn dragons are long extinct nowadays, but back when they did exist, they had instead of scales a very thick leathery hide which was very coveted by men of the time for its strength and beauty, and which few weapons could pierce, or even scratch for that matter. This hide was sometimes spotted, sometimes plain, but most commonly striped, not unlike a tiger’s. Horus’s own hide was cobalt blue, and streaked with blood-red stripes which gave him a rather gruesome appearance when the light hit him in the right way.

But Horus’s hide did not often see daylight. He was always in his parents’ cave, always asleep on his nest, wrapped in a snug bearskin blanket.

Horus wasn’t the only young dragon living on that mountain range with his Momma and Pop. Those were ancient dragon nesting grounds, so Horus lived in a sort of dragon neighborhood. The mountains were peppered with caves, caverns and grottoes that made good lairs for dragons to lay their eggs in, and every hundred and fifty years or so, they came in droves to do precisely that. Every hatching season the mountain range became noisy and busy with the happy squeals and growls of the baby dragons that played in and out of the depths of every warm lair, under the watchful eye of their parents.

But Horus did not care to play with them. He would cover his head with his bearskin blanket and go right on sleeping.

This was a good era for dragons, for there were few humans about in the world and not very many had gotten up to being knights just yet. Generally, the most dragons had to fear was other dragons stealing their hoards of gold and jewels.

A little dragon, however, would have plenty to worry about if it had left its nest all by itself. Young dragons had no treasures that could be stolen from them, but on the eastern side of the mountain range roamed Giants, and at the forest that went all around the foot of the mountains lived Cyclopes, and Very Big Bears, and all of these creatures might catch and kill a little baby dragon for its meat, its hide or its horns, if it were brave or stupid enough to risk the terrible wrath of the hatchling’s mother and father.

Because of these dangers, all dragons made sure that their offspring were well warned to stay inside their lairs and not go wandering the mountainside or the woods while their parents were out hunting or checking on their year-round dwellings, where the stores of precious metals and stones were left, unguarded, during the breeding season.

But Horus’ Momma and Pop never had to worry about their son running off in search of adventure.

“We’re lucky that we needn’t watch our good little Horus all the time,” Horus’ Pop would sometimes say to his wife complacently, “he is such a good little boy, always sleeping the hours away.”

“Yes, I suppose we are,” his wife would sigh in response, with a glance at her round, plump baby, sleeping belly-up on the nest and snoring mightily with his mouth wide open. A little cloud of gray smoke came regularly from somewhere deep within his throat with each breath he let out.

“And we’re lucky that he isn’t flying all over the place knocking all the books and candles off the shelves with his tail,” said Pop, who like many dragons enjoyed a good read, and heard many horror stories from his older acquaintances about little dragons wreaking havoc in their homes the moment they began to get about on their own.

“Why, we’re lucky that he isn’t spitting fire on the curtains and setting them ablaze, too,” added Pop after a moment’s contemplation (though he was really thinking about his books and not the curtains.)

“Oh, you’re only thinking about your books,” said his wife with some irritation, “I frankly wish he would fly about, and knock everything off the shelves, and make a bonfire of your library.”

“Mercy, my dear!”

“Well, look at him! Here, just look at him!”

Momma was dangling Horus by his short, thick tail, and swaying him back and forth like a pendulum, which elicited no reaction whatsoever from the sleeping hatchling.

“All babies spend a great deal of time sleeping, my pet,” said Pop, while giving his wife’s back a reassuring caress with his tail, “Don’t worry about it. He’ll wake up and start wreaking havoc too soon, you’ll see.”

Horus was put back into his nest and lovingly tucked in by his mother, who I must tell you loved him very much indeed, and was proud of him, even though he did nothing but sleep and eat, and sometimes eat in his sleep.

“How can I not worry,” she said, “when the my baby’s horn already has one complete knot, and yet he doesn’t crawl, let alone walk, and his little stubs of wings always hang limp? How will I ever teach him to hunt so he can bring home dinner for his own brood one day, or go out and get a treasure of his very own to sit on? He only wakes up when he’s hungry, and then screeches like a banshee.”

And Pop was quiet, because sometime he worried about these things, too.

“My dearest husband, I am sorry to say this, but as much as I love our son, you have to admit that he is a fat, lazy hatchling, who may never grow up to be a Proper Dragon who can take care of himself. I fear he will never be a dragon that is Fierce and Feared and Respected. And I simply don’t know what to do with him.”

Horus’s Pop was quiet and thoughtful, and both dragons embraced each other with their tails as they watched their beloved (but fat and lazy) little dragon sleep, feeling much helpless and concerned about what should become of him. They had no way of knowing that their baby would have a very rude awakening the following morning, and they would not see him again for many a day to come.

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Meganeea | Book 1 | Chapter 7

Faahvrigüo and Tekneea

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Faahvrigüo grew older and bigger. He grew until he was all done growing. But even though he was an adult, he was still much smaller than his mother. This was a good thing, for the world in which he lived was not very vast for a fully grown dragon. Nevertheless, having crossed the Meganeean skies far too many times to count, he grew very bored, and became taciturn too. With little to do and only Uricchin to confide in, the Dragon Prince slept. He was especially fond of napping underwater, where he was least likely to be bothered. And in this manner, sometimes decades would pass without elven eyes getting as much as a glimpse of him.

There was an occasion in which Faahvrigüo took an especially long nap. He slept for years and years, decades, maybe a whole century. I don’t think noise could have waken him easily, so who knows just how long he might have slept have it not been for the light, and for her.

Underwater, down in the deepest of depths, it’s very dark. Faahvrigüo had gone as deep down as it was possible for him to go. Down in those darkest corners there was only the dull, tremulous echo of the shifting waters above and around. Very little life stirred there. Surrounded by the water’s rushing noise and enveloped by the pitch black darkness, the Dragon Prince slept soundly.

Being fast asleep, Faahvrigüo did not notice the glow as it drew closer to where he lay. He did not notice it until it had spread to the point that it reached his sleeping place and grown so blindingly bright that everything surrounding him became white, even with his eyes closed —then he was startled awake! But the same bright light forced him to shut his eyes again, for it was too strong, and so he remained, motionless and temporarily blind, but awake. He was, truth be told, considerably frightened. He waited for his eyes to accustom themselves so this assault so that he may open them again.

It must be mentioned that this blinding light was more like a gentle, all-enveloping glow. But try and sleep a few decades in the darkest, most pitch black corner of the world and then have a lantern shone right in your face; you might be momentarily blinded and rightly scared out of your wits too.

The water all around Faahvrigüo was aglow. The Dragon Prince blinked several times, taking in the landscape. In any direction he looked, he could see everything. It was as if the water itself and everything in it —the fish, the reefs and the dancing algae; down to the sandy soil at the bottom of the lake— everything glowed in soft, bright colors, showing its beauty in a way that made it brand new.

Faahvrigüo knew instinctively that he was not alone, that a foreign creature was causing this, and that it could not be his mother’s doing or some other natural phenomena. He supposed it must be a large creature, perhaps bigger than he was, and felt terribly defenseless at the thought. He curled up on the lake floor like a frightened hatchling.

Yet instantly he was ashamed of his own cowardice. Without moving from the spot he let out what he meant to be a roar, but as it came out, it sounded like more of a bubbly bark, muffled by the water. Still, breaking the silence emboldened him, and he roared a second time —a true, long roar that reverberated for some time.

All the light went out as soon as that second, fiercer roar began, snuffed out like a candle. Faahvrigüo began to swim upward with careful, calculated strokes that became more rapid and powerful the closer they brought him to the surface, until he broke out of the calm waters and into the cold night air.

On the surface, all was dark and still, except for the crashing of the waves that Faahvrigüo’s body created upon emerging, and for some time after the waves had calmed themselves, the only visible light was that of the stars and the moon. But then, out of the corner of his eye, Faahvrigüo spotted a glow shining behind the peak of a small rocky island not far from where he was. He began to swim toward it, but as he got closer the glow faded until it was hardly there at all. The faintest hint of it remained, sharpening the rock’s edges with its presence. Faahvrigüo paused his approach and huffed, frustrated. But he wasn’t afraid anymore.

“If you are bold enough to swim in my waters, come forth and let me see you!” he called out. “I will not hurt you.”
“I see you. I am not afraid of you,” a voice answered, timid, but clear. It betrayed no fear, nor hold hint of any threat. “Here I am.”

The glow shone brighter, and, as it moved from behind the rocky peak, it began to spread and fill out into a solid body. Light spilled into its every feature and extremity until a definite shape stood out sharply against the night sky, creating a display that was arresting to behold.

It was another dragon. Faahvrigüo knew this from the moment he laid eyes upon her, even though she did not look very much like himself or his mother. Instead of two horns curving inward, like he and his mother had, she had one sharp long horn on the center of her brow, and another at the tip of her long tail. Faahvrigüo was puzzled most of all by her ethereal, luminous body. Had he ever seen a ghost, he might have taken her for one. It transfixed him.
Now she was approaching him, and Faahvrigüo’s boldness left him almost completely. He was rooted to the spot. She stopped a short distance from him, and watched him with curiosity.

“What a wonderful country this is,” she said, looking up at the stars, “I came here hungry, and not long after I landed, my hunger is sated.” She looked full at him. “I don’t understand it. Is this your doing?”

Faahvrigüo opened his mouth but found his voice strangely difficult to summon. So he closed it again and only shook his head.

“What is this place?”

“This is my mother’s land,” answered Faahvrigüo, somehow managing to find his voice, “She must have funneled her energy into you when you were landing so you wouldn’t rampage her precious little… Well, this —this planet’s lifeforms. She’s rather overly fond of them.”

“Oh?” there was a hint of amusement in the other dragon’s voice. She slid closer to him, though still keeping some distance. “I take it you are not?”

“Not as much.”

“Why is that?”

Faahvrigüo huffed. “They maim and kill and burn the land and each other. There is no peace to be had around them.”

“I see. So you hide underwater. Is it peaceful down there?”

“I just want to be left alone,” answered Faahvrigüo defensively. He couldn’t meet her inquisitive gaze. Dawn was now breaking. He rested his eyes on the sun rays that flickered on the water, glad to have something else to look at. There was something in the way she looked at him which made him feel terribly self-conscious.

“Very well then. Good-bye.”

Her words startled him into looking up.

“Wait!” he cried, but too late. The brightness of the sun rising behind her swallowed her luminous body until it no longer seemed to be there, leaving Faahvrigüo to struggle with an odd combination of relief and regret.


After this encounter, Faahvrigüo found that he was quite done with sleeping for the time being, and took to the skies. He coursed above the clouds, at first with poorly feigned nonchalance, then becoming increasingly annoyed with himself each time that a ray of sun bouncing off a cloud, or a gleam of moonlight peeking through the edge of another, caused him to start, heart at his throat, thinking that he had found her at last.

After several fruitless seasons of searching while trying his best to appear bored and aloof, he grudgingly made himself fly under the cloud cover, hoping to extend his search while attracting as little attention as possible. He’d been flying over the great lake, and to his dismay, no sooner did he make himself visible that one of the contraptions he had first come upon on that awful day (Uricchin called them “ships”) greeted his eyes. Of all the luck!

A groan of dislike left his throat before he could help it, and tiny screeching creatures scattered in all directions at the sound. It was a fishing vessel, manned by humble, particularly simple elves, and they were terrified. Some, stupid in their fright, jumped overboard; others ran on deck aimlessly, and a few brave ones brandished whatever was handy and stood ready to defend their weaker companions and their ship.

Faahvrigüo had not seen any elves in many a year, and, jarred by the unpleasant discovery and irritated by the threatening, unfriendly ways he had known from them before, he let out a disgusted roar to leave no doubt that the feelings were mutual before taking for higher skies once again, until he could no longer see them.

There he flew in long, fast circles, up and down, round and round, like an angry, pacing cat, riling up the clouds and wind while his body rained down below in a hard, heavy, pounding stream. He was trying to let off some steam, only half aware that the rainstorm must be affecting the fishing vessel. He found that he did not really care very much. He might have gone on to cause a small tornado and sent the hapless elves to the bottom of the lake (though, granted, not on purpose) had she not spoken just then in her clear, resolute voice, barely audible over the storm.

“How cruel you are,” she said, “How heartless. Stop! Stop this instant.”

Faahvrigüo’s attention was instantly and wholly redirected. The storm he had riled up stopped so suddenly that the elves below were even more confused, but regardless lost no time in getting away from there, and a few changed professions thereafter.

“Whatever do you mean by scaring them so?” she reproached him, her shining face spying him between the remaining clouds. She did not come nearer to him. “I was looking all the while, and they did you no harm, no harm at all. Why?”

“I took no notice of them,” Faahvrigüo said shortly, angry with himself because she sounded so disappointed in him. “I needed to pour down rain and make the wind scream. I can’t watch my every step and breath for their sake. Why should I?”

“Why are you angry?” she asked more kindly after a moment’s pause.

“I couldn’t —” he began, then snapped, “You hid yourself from me!”

“I don’t go into hiding,” she answered, laughing, “That is something you are fond of doing, as I recall, but not me.”

“You must have hid,” grumbled Faahvrigüo stubbornly, “I flew from one end of the land to the other for I know not how many days and nights. You were nowhere to be seen.”

He had perched upon one of the mountain peaks that rose at the center of the lake, worn out by his tantrum.

“This is my territory,” he said sullenly, with his back to her, “If you won’t share in my company, then go home! Wherever that is.”

He instantly regretted his words and turned round, but she did not seem inclined to leave him this time. Faahvrigüo’s claws dug into the rock when he saw her drawing near —very near. She did not perch beside him, however. For one, there was no room. Had there been, she might not have done it anyway, for her ethereal form appeared to be all but weightless. Faahvrigüo felt all the more awkward with his great hulking, constantly dripping body. His claws dug deeper into the mountain —he felt the need to steady himself— and the water coursed faster through his body, making furious little waves down his back and filling his ears with a rushing noise.

“All this time you’ve sought me over the clouds, while I’ve been beneath them, seeing your world up close. You rule over a beautiful land.”

“I wouldn’t know,” said Faahvrigüo, “It’s overrun by little pests —my mother’s creatures. I don’t rule the land. I only live in it.”

“They are interesting, your mother’s creatures,” said she, ignoring his bitter tone, “I’ve seen life in other dragons’ planets before, briefly, but it is always so… primitive. No one ever lets it grow too much between feedings. It doesn’t talk or walk on two legs. They are just dumb animals, as one might say.”

“Dumb animals are much better company than my mother’s pets,” he interrupted her, “You don’t really know them. They haven’t spent hundreds of years ruining your peace and even their own. They certainly have never done me a bit of good, have never done a thing that did not being me irritation or grief. Love them if you want to, and be as my mother, but to me they always have and will always be nothing but scurrying, vile little vermin.”

With that last savage retort Faahvrigüo looked away, because he’d been struck by his own biting remark and felt rather ashamed.

“You speak cruel words with such ease,” she said. Her tone was more wondering than reproachful, and Faahvrigüo felt doubly mortified.

“It’s awfully lonely,” he said without looking at her, “to grow up in such a vast land as this one, with a mother who must always sleep for the sake of a people to whom you cannot even speak, and who are terrified of your approach. I was not born feeling animosity toward my mother’s creation.”

And here he stopped himself again, because his tone had become spiteful as before. He sighed heavily, and turned to face her.

“I’ve grown up surrounded by the things, and have never seen them do any good, to the land, to themselves, to my mother or to myself. And yet for their sake, I must be always alone, and I must always watch my step.”

“Well… I am here, now, too, if you will allow me to remain. And I think that, while you sought me so tirelessly, I’ve perhaps seen things from up close, and notice that which you have not noticed before.”

“So maybe you have. Maybe not. I don’t want to talk about them anymore,” said Faahvrigüo. “What is your name?”

She smiled.

“I’m Tekneea. I have no world of my own. I grew too big for the planet I hatched in, so I left it.”

“I am Faahvrigüo,” returned he, with a nod of the head he hoped made him appear gallant, even if the opportunity for a good impression was long past. “That mountain range over there is, as you already know, my mother. She’s an Earth Dragon. I am a Rain Dragon. I suppose my father must have been one also, but I don’t know. Mother and I have never spoken much, and she’s never talked to me about where she lived before she came to this planet to build her nest.”

“You mean, you’ve never seen any other worlds but this one?”

“No,” answered he. “Have you?”

“Yes —well,” she smiled sheepishly, “Not quite like this one, I’m afraid. This is a very peculiar world. It’s so… peaceful.”

“Peaceful!” exclaimed Faahvrigüo. He shook his head. She didn’t know any better, clearly. “Well, that shows what you know, but you can’t be blamed. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen, I assume. I might show you, if you want, but you won’t like it.”

“Perhaps I might show you some things, as well?”

Faahvrigüo found this a little impertinent —this was his land, after all— but he was charmed by her. He couldn’t help it. “Show me my own domain?” he said with a smile.

“I think some things have changed,” she hastened to add, “I mean, while you were sleeping. I’ve been traveling ever since my arrival. I’ve seen some things that you might want to look at, too.”

“Very well, then,” said he, “I’ve got nothing to do, so lead the way.”

Her face lit up with pleasure, and with a quick bound she took to the skies. Faahvrigüo followed close behind.

He was in awe and delight of her body. It was so unlike anything he’d ever seen. When the sun shone upon her skin, if it could be called that, it sparkled back in luminous colors, as if her scales were made of paper-thin opal, that let you see through her, except when her glow became too bright, which seemed to depend on how intense her mood was. At the tip of her horn, and on her talons and her tail, there was a different sort of glow, that never looked the same either —sometimes white, sometimes bluish, sometimes with a violet tinge to it. “It’s like the color of lightening,” Faahvrigüo thought to himself. The constant flicker of it reminded him of that, too. But most of all, he thought she was beautiful, and he’d never thought that about anyone before.

After flying for some time Faahvrigüo’s attention began to drift to the ground below them. It was not as he remembered it.
“The land has changed somewhat,” he observed. “I guess I’ve been away a long time.”

“What is different?”

“It’s all —I don’t know, rather yellow. Dry looking. I flew over the land many seasons before I took my nap. I guess the earth got used to me raining on it.”

“Ah, that would explain some things,” said she. “I’ve seen little dwellings surrounded by yellow-brown fields that seem to be all but baking in the sun, and sometimes when taking a closer look, I’ve noticed the poor little people standing by their thresholds, looking up at the sky. Perhaps they are looking for you?”

Faahvrigüo snorted. “Hardly. They’ve ran for cover whenever they’ve spotted me.”

They flew in silence for a while, until Tekneea said, “These creatures, they don’t live very long, do they, compared to us? I suspect any creature alive today has never laid an eye upon you, other than the ones that you recently scared witless. Maybe they’re not the same way that they were when you fell asleep.”

“In all likelihood they are much worse,” answered Faahvrigüo curtly. She gave him an exasperated look and flew ahead of him. He quickly caught up. She would not look at him.

“I’m sorry,” he said meekly, “What do you want me to do? I can’t help the way I feel.”

Tekneea let her eyes meet his again, and her look had softened. “Come with me down to the earth,” she said to him. “Let me show you the things I’ve seen. And —perhaps you might let some of your rain fall as we go.”

“Very well. Though I can’t understand why you care so much.”

Tekneea didn’t say any more. Instead she guided Faahvrigüo to one of the fields she’d mentioned, where a miserable, weather-grayed little farmhouse stood, and on the way there Faahvrigüo rained and rained, not in a torrential manner, but with a cold, heavy rain that had been held beneath his scales for a long, long while, as his body soaked deep underwater. A dusty smell rose up to meet them as they flew.

Their approach —or more likely Faahvrigüo’s downpour— brought forth a large number of children. They tumbled out of the house’s threshold followed by their parents, all jumping and screeching and throwing little hats in the air. They appeared thin, and so fragile and small; Faahvrigüo could have held several of them in one clawed paw. He let his talons touch the ground as gently as he could.

The taller elves froze on the spot. One of them fell to his knees. The children stopped for a moment, and then approached the Dragon Prince full of awe.

Only later would Faahvrigüo learn the significance of this moment. He knew not that, while he slumbered, stories had been passed down of the Dragon Prince that, though fearsome, had once soared the Meganeean skies and nourished their crops with the rain that fell wherever he flew.

One child, a little girl, dared approach closer than all the others. No one stopped her. She brought a curious, small hand up and touched with it the rippling surface of Faahvrigüo’s body. The water parted along her fingers and she laughed. She sunk both hands inside his skin, and Faahvrigüo, though startled, managed to keep his composure by an encouraging glance from Tekneea, who had alighted beside him.

The little girl then did something astonishing to all. She brought water cupped in her hands up to her mouth and drank it. She smiled up at Faahvrigüo, a smile that was full of innocence and delight. She blabbed words at him which he did not understand, and trotted back to her parents.

The other children were not so bold. The family huddled together and watched the dragons, parents still kneeling in reverence.

“There are other places to visit,” said Tekneea. And so they flew away from there, with Faahvrigüo following behind her, his heart aching strangely, and full of things which he could not have put into words.

In the time that followed, Tekneea and Faahvrigüo would make some of their happiest memories together. They would show each other the world, and they would let themselves be seen by everyone. So, while some elves certainly did doubt whether the Earth Dragon was real, or if she was, whether she was still alive, no one had any doubts that these two creatures were part of their world, and more and more, they were seen with a fearful benevolence. And very, very slowly, as he no longer hid himself, Faahvrigüo began to develop —I would not say a fondness, exactly, but rather a tolerance for the elves, at least for some of them. He did not seek to interact with them as Tekneea would however, vastly preferring when it was just the two of them in their favorite haunts, ignoring anything and anyone else.

Faahvrigüo came to discover that when he and Tekneea flew together in a frenzy, they would create some pretty fierce thunderstorms. To him, it was intoxicating, and so it was for her, but she worried about frightening the elves, and often cut these events short. But these were the best times —high enough not to see any elves below, twisting and turning this and that way among the clouds, flashes of white all around them, wind whistling, and a rain so strong that the two were but a blur within it— the two would become almost drunk with one another. Sometimes, something in the make of Tekneea’s body would shock Faahvrigüo, sending a painful punch all throughout his liquid body, but it would be over in a second, and he would then chase her, his desire for some sort of retribution mixed with his desperate desire to touch her again, driving him wild. He was never sure whether she did it on purpose or it was an accident. Sometimes she laughed at him and sometimes she seemed completely unaware that it had happened. But it didn’t matter to him.

He was happy.

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Meganeea | Book 1 | Chapter 6

Animosity

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For many a year Faahvrigüo flew, and he wanted nothing to do with elves. He was angry with them for being there, and angry with his mother because she had left him alone for their sake. At least that is how things felt to him.

So he watched them from afar with a scornful sort of curiosity, perched on mountain peaks or between holes in the clouds over which he flew. They looked to him not unlike ants would look to you, and what he could see from his lofty vantage point rarely encouraged him to take a closer look. He watched a few times as they swarmed forming tight little packs of angry black dots, shrinking and expanding until they collided violently with one another in an explosion of noise and confusion that almost invariably left the trampled fields dark with blood. This happened often, and he soon grew bored and repulsed by the spectacle.

When many years had gone by, and the Earth Dragon’s sleep become deeper, Faahvrigüo felt bold enough to occasionally express his disgust at them by flying over their fields, bringing such heavy rains along with him that battlegrounds invariably became too muddy to walk, let alone battle on. He would fly frighteningly low, casting an enormous shadow over them, blocking out the sun and sending them scattering in terror, leaving their killing sticks strewn over the fields or awkwardly stuck at odd angles on the muddy ground.

But Meganeea, as the elves called the land, was still a wild, young place, and vast stretches of it were still peaceful havens for the Dragon Prince to find quiet refuge in.

The wildlife put him at ease. Sometimes he would lie perfectly still for hours, and wait for the animals to approach him. They had no fear of him, just as they did not fear the Earth Dragon. It was as though they innately knew better, unlike the elves. So they would get quite close, and even dip their muzzles and snouts into the cool, gentle flowing waters that made Faahvrigüo’s body, and drink from it, and he was greatly soothed by their company.

There was one incident, however, that changed this forever.

One afternoon found the Dragon Prince comfortably wedged inside a gorge. A wooded mountainside rose around him, and he lazily watched small creatures —an eagle, a bear, some mountain goats— go about their business on it. It was very pleasant, and sometimes he would doze off. One such time, a loud rustling noise woke him with a start. Something about it was too careless to have been caused by an animal. He looked up in annoyance, careful not to raise his head, and saw that it was an elf, as he had suspected. Perhaps taking the constant watery rush and the glints caused by the sun as mere signs of a river running through the gorge, it did not notice Faahvrigüo or as much as glance in his direction. But the Dragon Prince was watching it —and he was full of apprehension.

It was a very young female, a child, long-snouted, with thin limbs and clumsy, trampling feet. Her plain, dirty dress ended at her knees, and a little green hood covered her shoulders. She carried a little basket and was foraging for something. Mushrooms perhaps, or berries.

Faahvrigüo watched as another elven child appeared behind her, screeching noisily, snatching the basket and provoking the other child into giving chase. They drew closer to the edge of the gorge, filling the air with their shrill little cries. Faahvrigüo was annoyed. Go away already, he thought to himself. He did not like small elves any more than he did big ones.

The children had come up to the edge now, and the second one, a boy, had picked up a stone to throw down the gorge. Looking down into it he then froze, with the stone in his raised hand, trying to comprehend the picture that presented itself in front of him. For you must realize, Faahvrigüo was almost incomprehensibly large for a child of this size to process. While not as big as his mother, who was so big as to actually escape notice because she was part of the landscape, Faahvrigüo was somewhere in between —large enough that you wouldn’t immediately notice he was a living creature himself, especially if you were right next to him, but once you realized it, you might have been a little alarmed.

The little girl now approached her companion, who remained comically frozen, his eyes locked into Faahvrigüo’s, and she too froze, her face white with dread. She grabbed the boy’s shoulder and began to drag him back from the edge. And then something happened, something that to Faahvrigüo was terribly disturbing. In front of his eyes the boy suddenly melted into a completely different shape, that of a fawn, which remained on the spot with the same terrified expression for a split second before bounding away toward the forest at high speed.

Faahvrigüo forgot all about being inconspicuous. He jumped to his feet, greatly alarmed by this turn of events, and as was usually the result, alarmed every other creature in the vicinity in the resulting commotion. Birds scattered noisily away from the trees, squirrels scampered from branch to branch in a panic, and deer —real deer, as he would later think of them— sprinted away disoriented, eyes rolling in their sockets and nostrils flaring. The little girl screamed and then she, too, morphed into a small fawn, and, picking up the basket with her teeth, took off into the woods as clumsily and noisily as before, leaving Faahvrigüo staring after her in dread and disbelief.


“Can all of them do that?”

A sullen, troubled Faahvrigüo posed this question to the flickering little light in the night that was Uricchin.

“As far as Uricchin knows,” answered the shy little voice.

Faahvrigüo shifted his weight. He was lying across the mountain range that was the sleeping Earth Dragon’s back. It was the only way he knew to talk to Uricchin, but the older and bigger he grew, the more self-conscious he felt about it. He wasn’t a little hatchling anymore, and he feared disturbing her sleep. For these reasons, as time passed he visited his only confidante less and less. This time he had been prompted to do so by worry.

“How can I tell which is an elf and which is a, a… decent, honest to goodness animal?”

“There is no sure way, Master. Why, even they cannot always tell for sure if they run into one of their own that has shape-shifted in the wild. Makes for unfortunate hunting accidents, Uricchin hears.”

Faahvrigüo shook his head gravely. “Then I may not trust the animals either. Not if even one of them could turn out to be one of those… those creatures in such treacherous disguise.”

“Dear, grieved Master, they are not so bad, these elves. They too are children of Master’s venerable mother. They are— ”

“Silence! To think that you would put me on equal terms with such murderous, wicked little…” Faahvrigüo noticed that Uricchin was hiding his face behind his blobby hands, and his flame was flickering as though it might go out at any moment.

“Listen — they are not like me. So don’t, please. It makes me ill.”

Uricchin peeked thru his fingers.

“Oh, Master…”

“It’s alright. If I must make do with only my own company for the sake of my peace of mind, so be it. Besides,” he added, “Animals live such short lives, anyway. I can’t exactly develop any strong attachments.”

And so saying he departed.

But the truth is that he grew a great deal more lonely, and only disliked the elves more for taking yet another thing from him, as he felt it.

And thus passed the years.

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Meganeea | Book 1 | Chapter 5

Faahvrigüo and His Mother

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Dragons are not creatures given to long discourse, not even among each other. They think long and deeply, then act decisively, although young dragons are perhaps prone to less thinking and more rash actions.

Faahvrigüo’s mother had never properly spoken to him until that day. Strange as it might seem to you, there had been no need.

After flying all through the night, the young dragon landed on the tip of his mother’s snout and sat there quietly at first, staring at his talons. But when he heard her open her eyes (for when a dragon the size of a mountain range as much as blinks, it makes a sound, believe me) he looked up with defiance, ready to defend his actions.

He relaxed somewhat upon noticing that the look in her eyes had softened. Her gentle booming voice filled his head, though the earthen lips never parted or moved.

“My son,” she said to him, “tell me what happened.”

Faahvrigüo shifted uncomfortably. He was not sure where to begin, and was himself quite confused by his recent experience.

“I… I wanted to see what the land was like,” he began reluctantly, “I only wanted a look. Uricchin told me to stay away from them, and I—”

“Uricchin?”

“Yes… I met him one night when I couldn’t sleep,” answered Faahvrigüo, “Near… my nest.”

(He couldn’t quite bring himself to say, “inside your ear.”)

“He’s all drippy and moves a bit like a slug, and he’s got a little bunch of yellow light growing on top of his head.”

“I know Uricchin well,” answered the gentle, booming voice inside Faahvrigüo’s head. There was a hint of amusement in the Earth Dragon’s soft amber eyes. “What did he say to you?”

“He said to avoid the elves as much as I could,” answered Faahvrigüo sullenly, “I DID.”

“I see.” There was a faint rumble as the Earth Dragon slowly blinked. “What else did he say?”

“He… He said not to frighten or hurt them, but—”

“Then, why did you attack them?”

The voice inside Faahvrigüo’s head had grown stern.

“I didn’t hurt them!”

“They were terrified.”

“I was too! I scared them so they would stop killing each other. They made the water of the lake I was playing in all bloody.”

His voice cracked slightly at the end of this outburst. He felt his motive sounded petty, and he couldn’t find the right words to say what he meant.

“Their blood was in me while I was in the water,” he choked, “It got all mixed up with me.”

“My dear, you cannot scare them into not killing each other. It doesn’t work that way.”

Faahvrigüo sniffled and lay down on his mother’s mossy snout.

“Why do they do that, mother?”

“That is not easily explained, my hatchling, But as you saw, they do themselves enough harm without outside help.”

“But—”

“You must never, EVER raise your talons against them again.”

“But they attacked me first!”

“They can do you no real harm.”

The young dragon prince got on his feet excitedly. “I will not sit there while they fling their spears at me and do nothing, even if they don’t hurt me!”

“Indeed you should not. This time, and any other, you should have flown away from there.”

Faahvrigüo stared, speechless in his consternation.

“I’ve… I’ve got just as much right,” he began weakly. “Mother, they are everywhere! Uricchin said so. What shall I do?”

“Keep your distance, dear, as best as you can.”

Faahvrigüo sat in silence for a while, deeply troubled. “Why?” he asked finally.

“Faahvrigüo,” answered the Earth Dragon tenderly, “My beloved child, please forgive your mother’s unfairness. You are quite right —you have just as much right— but humor me on my whim. You may understand my motives better when you are older, or you may come to resent me for them, but I must implore you to try to do as I bid you.”

There was sorrow in her eyes, and a bitter lump in Faahvrigüo’s throat. He swallowed it and asked his mother, “Why do you care about them so much?”

“They are my children, just as much as you are.”

A pang of childish jealously stung the dragon prince’s heart.

“Whom do you care for the most?”

The Earth Dragon gazed at him for a silent moment. The enormous earthen lids dropped and rose once with a faint crunch as the Dragon blinked.

“Whom do you love best, then? Mother!”

“I love you the same.”

Faahvrigüo caught his breath and stiffened.

“I don’t understand. Are they not like the grass, or the trees? They are so small. They all look alike. They are noisy and mean-spirited. There are so many of them —or so Uricchin tells me. There is but one of me. How can we matter the same to you?”

“I don’t expect you to understand, little one. You are so very young, and have seen so very little of the world, and of them… Although (and here a grimace flickered across her face) I’m afraid you’ve seen too much of some things, too early. Perhaps…” She seemed to hesitate. “Perhaps you should go forth then, and see more. Go and see the world and let the world see you.”

She sighed —the first sound to come from her lips. Her breath shook the treetops on the valley below her snout.

“They might as well get used to you, and it’s not like I can prevent it for very much longer.”

“I don’t want to!” cried Faahvrigüo, lashing his tail against the ground and making it splash. He felt deeply contrary. He would rather they all went away, and not have to look at them or be looked at.

“Heed me, my beloved hatchling, and pray do not be obstinate,” said the Earth Dragon, soothingly, “Do you not realize how much you’ve grown since the last time I’ve been awake? My son, too soon you will outgrow this part of the land, and me. You cannot nest on mother’s back forever.”

A great sorrow filled the young Dragon Prince’s heart upon hearing these words, and tears filled his eyes. Gaze downcast, he asked in a low, tremulous whisper, “But I don’t have to leave yet, do I? We can still be together for a while longer, can’t we, Mother?”

The great amber eyes were shut. As the minutes passed with no forthcoming reply, Faahvrigüo began to fear that there would be none. But then, with a crumble, the eyes opened and the loving, familiar gaze fell upon him once again.

“Have you wondered yet, my child, why Mother must sleep season after season, for years, so seldom waking while you grow and explore and play all on your own?”

Faahvrigüo lifted his head. He realized that he had wondered this, and for a long time, too. But, as she’d never been awake to ask when the question crossed his mind, he would forget for a while, until some night when he felt rather lonesome and wanted for her.

The gentle booming voice droned on.

“As a species, we dragons are self-sustaining. Some of us, such as myself, can create a world from nothing. Others, such as your Father, can nurture that life and make it grow. The life we create becomes our own source of sustenance. We must feed from it in order to stay alive. However, I could never do that. I grow too fond of it. So I sleep. So long as I sleep, and conserve and regenerate my energy, I’ve found that I can stay alive and life can go on undisturbed. In this manner, I keep you alive as well. If I did not sleep, both you and I would grow weak and hungry. You do not need to eat as long as I stay alive.

I would die first rather than harming this world to keep myself alive, but I could not ask the same of you, and neither could I bear to see you kill to appease your hunger. So I must sleep. I must sleep deep and always, for during my every waking moment, I grow weaker, and so would the land in time grow weaker, since our energy flows as one.”

“I don’t understand,” Faahvrigüo said softly.

“My little prince, I must sleep so deeply, that I could not talk to you for hundreds of years. You would grow lonesome here, long before you grew so big that you could no longer find a nesting place on my back.”

“Oh,” was all that Faahvrigüo said. But something felt broken in his throat, and he struggled not to cry. You must remember that he was, after all, only a little dragon, not much older than a hatchling, and needed his mother very much still.

The Earth Dragon’s eyes had closed again, but her voice still filled Faahvrigüo’s mind, loving and soothing.

“Go out into the world, my love, see it, and let it see you. Though they may not look like you, your brothers and sisters fill this land. Know them, harm them not, and I’m sure that in time you will come to treasure their existence as much as I do. And remember —though I may sleep, I dream of you. I am always with you, and you may count on Uricchin to guide you.”

The Earth Dragon did not speak again.

Faahvrigüo curled up into a tight ball and stayed on her snout a while longer. Then he dried his tears and flew away from there.

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