Diamedes, a fair leader, held out green-scaled claw, silencing the impatient dragon. Her golden eyes, so dazzling with her emerald and magenta colored scales, sought to see the human hiding behind Daelyn of the Shadow clan. She was a beautiful dragon with three horns pointing forward on top of her large head. Her belly was pure white and in the sun, her scales caught the light like living green crystals. At one hundred, she was younger than the Elders, but wise beyond her years. Her mother, the last matriarch, was known for her gentle, fair ways. Although Diamedes had many of those same attributes, she was also notoriously swift in delivering punishment to those who broke Dragon Law.
“Silence, Bruntar, I would hear Baylor’s story,” she commanded, “Baylor, bring her to me and let me hear your side with no interruptions.”
Shooting an deadly glare at Bruntar, Baylor stepped forward, motioning for Starlyn to come with him. Not shy in the least, Starlyn smiled her dazzling smile and skipped forward, her enthusiasm widening the dragon’s eyes.
“Starlyn, be respectful,” Baylor growled at her under his breath.
She nodded, slowing the skip down to a bouncy walk, much to Diamedes amusement.
“Hello,” Starlyn greeted the large green dragon before her, “Can I touch your scales?”
Diamedes looked up at Baylor in shock, for the child seemed to fear nothing.
“What is your name, little one?” she asked, “Why do you want to touch me?”
“My name is Starlyn,” the little girl said in her high voice, “Dae gave me that name cause it means ‘Star-child’. I love Dae because he gave me a pretty name. you are a very pretty dragon and I want to touch your scales because they sparkle and I like things that sparkle, don’t you? What’s your name?”
As with all who met Starlyn for the very first time, Diamedes was charmed by her waif-like features and forthright personality. Fascinated by the bright-red mound of curls tumbling over the girl’s shoulders, the rosebud mouth and her stunning, bright green eyes, Diamedes gave the small human a toothy smile worthy of a dragon.
“Well. Well, now,” the elder dragon exclaimed, “You’re a very pretty child and charming as well, I’ll give you that. How long have you been with dragons, my dear?”
“Always,” Starlyn answered, “That dragon over there,” she pointed at Saphira, “is my mommy, and
that dragon right here,” She hugged Baylor’s leg, “is my daddy. I love them.”
“Is that what they told you to say?” Diamedes asked, wondering if she had been coached.
“Oh, no,” Starlyn shook her head vehemently, “no one told me. They just are. Can I look at your eyes?”
Diamedes lowered her head indulgently whereas the child walked right up and with her tiny hands on either side of the female dragon’s muzzle, pulled the matriarch’s head down closer. She peered into each golden eye and satisfied, kissed the end of Diamedes nose, leaving the matriarch’s heart melting with pleasure at her gentle, feather-like touch.
Baylor explained how they came to find the child and how they couldn’t leave her to wild animals and the elements to die. He was honest and his words were full of emotion as he pulled Starlyn close to the him protectively. Diamedes could see the bond between the Shadow clan and the child and it intrigued her. The little human was very likable and adorable, but did she belong with dragons? On the other hand, what could it hurt? She was one orphaned human. No one was looking for her, no humans would come. Dragon law was certainly not written in stone. With that in mind, Diamedes made her decision. What turned her around was the fact that it was the Atranoch who killed her human parents. Detestable creatures, she hated them with every fiber of her being.
“I’ve listened to both sides and have taken into account the all the facts,” she announced to the gathering, loud enough for all to hear, “This child is an orphan, no humans will come with weapons to harm us. My proposal is this: We will carry on with gathering activities as normal. In the meantime, the child, Starlyn, with mingle among you, but you are NOT to harm her. On the contrary, you will introduce yourselves and get to know her. If by the end of the gathering you feel like you still want to exile her, we’ll take a vote. For now, let the festivities begin!”
Turning to Baylor and Bruntar, she said, “I hope that my decision is to both of your liking?”
“Personally, If I were leader, there would have been no talking about it or voting. She’s human, she doesn’t belong with dragons!” he snarled nastily.
“That’s exactly why you’re not a leader, Bruntar,” Diamedes shot back, “You have no mercy; not a good trait in a leader. You’d do best to pick your battles, my dear.”
Head down, but seething inside, Bruntar stalked away and melted into the crowd. This wasn’t over, he thought angrily.
Sarconian Sea Caves
The noise was deafening as the Atranoch fought over scraps of meat and bone, snarling and slashing at each other. There was no order in the caves, only chaos and the din of a hundred Atranoch within the chambers. Their food supply was almost depleted as they hunted the area to scarcity, leaving nothing living for miles. It was time. With their numbers up considerably over the past three years, the Atranoch gathered on Great Bear rock led by their leader, Rafa. As darkening clouds tumbled quickly overhead, the wind kicked up large white caps and waves that pummeled the rocks below, making the creatures talk louder to be heard over the sea. Finally, the multitudes quieting, Rafa spoke.
“Brethren!” he shouted gruffly, “As you know, we are running out of fresh game and need to find other hunting grounds! Our food supply has vanished and we must move on!”
The crowd of Atranoch loudly agreed, stomping their feet on the ground.
“It’s time we stopped hiding and take back what’s ours!” he bellowed, “The dragons in Kilacomb have cast us aside to live in squalor like cave rats! They’ve taken our land, our food and what is rightfully ours! Its time to show the residents of Kilacomb what we are really made of!”
The crowd exploded in a cacophony of grunts, snarls and more stomping of feet.
“We’ve waited three long years for this moment,” he continued, “and I don’t know about you, but a fresh, fat human sounds delicious right about now.”
With more hoots and growls, the crowd of Atranoch salivated at the mention of human flesh. Rafa looked over the sea of stomping, snarling brethren, raised his arms and howled to the stormy skies. As the other’s joined in, the caves echoed with the howls of an Atranochian army ready for battle.
The time had come to take back the land and slaughter any who stood in their way.
Starlyn watched a small green frog emerge from the waters of Lost Pond with barely a ripple. Its yellow eyes, like marbles dipped in snail slime, blinked once as it puffed up its light green throat, making a high-pitched ‘croak croak’ sound. Laying on her belly at the edge of the pond, she watched as the frog eyed a beautifully colored dragon fly flitting from lily pad to lily pad. Flying too close to the yellow-eyed amphibian, the dragon fly met its demise as a lightening fast tongue snatched it out of the air. Swallowing, the frog let out one last ‘croak’ before disappearing beneath surface.
Clapping her hands at the show, she stood, remembering why she was sent out to begin with. Her mother needed Dandelion root for daddy’s stomach ache. Not wanting to leave the peaceful pond and its inhabitants, she stood for several more minutes looking for the gel-like masses of frog’s eggs near the over-hanging bank of the pond. Suddenly she felt uneasy, as if she were being watched. She knew the dangers of going out alone and never stayed by herself for too long. Her skin prickling with goose-bumps, Starlyn looked around the perimeter of the small pond, trying to peer between the trees for movement. A noise from behind her made her whirl in fear just in time to see an ugly, muscular creature bounding straight for her. Letting out an ear-splitting shriek, Starlyn turned to run, taking only a few short steps before the monster’s talons dug into the soft flesh of her backside. Then, a swift movement from her left and the pain subsided as she was released. On her hands and knees, she spun around to see Daelyn’s jaws at the throat of the most horrible looking creature she’d ever seen. As bristly as a wild boar, with huge claws on the end of long, big-knuckled fingers, its head sloped back revealing three, long incredibly sharp horns. It snarled and growled, struggling wildly to keep Daelyn’s teeth from crushing his esophagus. Starlyn hid behind a large boulder, her shoulder and back aching with a fiery pain as she watched the battle. Daelyn towered over the monster. With his wing joints he battered the Atranoch about the head, confusing it. At the right moment, he darted his head in, tearing out the creature’s throat in a gush of blood.
“Daelyn!” Starlyn screamed, “What was that thing?”
The powerful dragon ran to the small girl, lowering his big head down to her level.
“Are you hurt, Star?” he asked, his face a mask of concern, “By the Elders, you’re bleeding!”
He turned her around and gasped at the wounds on her back. Her peaches and cream complected skin was marred by four, deep gashes oozing blood down the back of her legs. Panicked, he picked up the child and carried her next to his breast as he flew back to the Crystal caves. His heart beat furiously, fearing for her well being. Not only that, if there was one Atranoch , there would be more. Atranoch traveled in packs or pairs, never alone. He had to tell his father immediately. Unbeknownst to him, a pair of yellow, reptilian eyes watched first with horror as his companion was brutally slaughtered, then in interest when one of the biggest dragons he’d ever seen rescue the human pup. They knew each other, that much was certain. The concern in the dragon’s voice was unmistakable. The way the human called out to him, too…’Daelyn’ she called him. This was something Rafa must know about. Ark melted back into the forest unseen, eager to report back to Rafa about what he’d witnessed.
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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