Astor watched the exchange between the human infant and the others and observed how soft the dragon’s eyes looked. It was as if the child had bewitched them. Nodding at Atechi, they both stepped up to investigate the human child’s affect on the others. Her eyes widened at the sight of them, but not in fear, Astor noticed. As green and clear as Peridot gems, they peered up at the dragons with unwavering fascination. Reaching up, the baby touched both of their faces softly, like the touch of a living feather.
Astor cleared the tightening in his throat, convinced the infant had bewitching powers, but also felt a surge of protectiveness. It made him wonder if that was a part of a human child’s survival
“Well, it certainly can’t be left to die out in the elements,” Astor said gruffly, “in the meantime, we’ll keep her secluded for safety purposes.”
Tearing himself away from the child, he wondered what they would feed a human child.
“Concerning the Atranochs,” he continued, “I think we need to find out exactly how many we’re dealing with. If need be, we’ll entreat our cousins, the fire dragons to help. I know that two of their females have birthed recently, too, Saphira. You might want to enlist the help of one of them to as far as feeding the human child. If I heard correctly, one of their hatchlings died. Just tell the mother that your son is in need of milk because he is sickly, she may be willing to help.”
Saphira nodded gratefully, picked up the infant who smiled at the familiar dragon. Xyandran motioned to Saphira to bring the child to her one more time.
“I’m intrigued by this human child,” she confessed, “I’d like to be kept updated on her, and if you would, Saphira, bring her to visit me.”
“Of course, Aunt!” Saphira assured the elder. “I must confess, I wasn’t very happy to see what the boys brought home, but I myself was oddly attracted to the child. She has a way about her, do you not agree?”
“Saphira, I just want to warn you,” the older dragon said, “There will be others that won’t be as welcoming as the Shadow dragon clan. I just hope you’re aware.”
Frowning, Saphire looked down at the smiling child in her care. “What is it about her that is threatening, Aunt? She is but a child. A fragile one at that.”
“Dragons live by the law, child,” Xyandran explained, “it’s how we’ve survived for so long. You’d do best not to mention her to anyone just yet.”
Saphira nodded and turned away to leave, wondering if she was doing the right thing.
“Saphira!” Xyandran called out, “Does she have a name?”
“Yes,” she answered, “Her name is Starlyn.”
The coastline of the Sargonian Sea was an unwelcoming sight with it’s jagged, dark cliffs lying in ribbons and folds. There were no sandy white beaches, only more jagged, barnacled rocks fallen from the cliffs over eons of time. White-capped crests of crashing waves tried to outdo the sound of gulls as they dipped and soared, searching for a meal. A sharp breeze kicked up sea spray from the choppy waves and with it, a foul, gamy smell akin to rotting meat. The Atranoch made their temporary home within the shallow caves found in the upper part of the cliffs. Filled with bones, sinew and excrement, the caves served their purpose for the time being. The gulls flocked from miles around to scavenge bits of rotting morsels, picking the bones clean of every last bit of flesh and tendon.
Stocky, the Atranoch stood on two powerful legs ending in three-toed, taloned feet. Dark bristles covered their muscular bodies like that of a wild boar and their helmet-like heads sloped back into three backward horns protecting the back of their necks. Like wild boar, the Atranoch’s skin was tough and nearly impenetrable by tooth or claw. Their jaws were muzzle-like, filled with rows of curved, bone- crushing teeth, easily able to rip through the toughest of hides. What the Atranoch lacked in intelligence, they made up for in brute strength, agility and hatred for all living things. Wherever they went they left behind a trail of death and destruction. Feared, hated and exiled by the residents of Kilacomb, the Atranoch vowed to kill every living thing that walked there. But a plan must be in the making, a plan that would succeed in annihilating every last resident of Kilacomb.
Daelyn walked softly through the night forest with Staryn’s legs tucked neat and warm behind his folded wings. Giggling softly, she rode atop her best friend/big brother, her hair flowing like a fiery halo around her shoulders.
“Go faster, Dae!” she commanded through her laughter, “Star wants faster!”
Happily obliging the young child, Daelyn smiled at her squeals of joy. At four-years-old, the human child was denied nothing from her dragon family knowing only love and gentle discipline. She was astonishingly intelligent, surprising her surrogate parents everyday by passing milestones far more advanced by other human children of her age. Fiercely protective of his charge, Daelyn’s eyes were constantly surveying the area and listening for sounds out of place in the forest.
“Dae?” Starlyn asked after her wild ride, “When will I grow a tail?”
“I think I told you before, Star, humans don’t grow tails, my sweet,” he answered patiently, “You won’t have big teeth, or claws on your feet and you cannot make dragon’s breath.”
Sliding down the broad expanse of his back, she stamped her tiny foot on the soft, forest floor, sulking prettily.
“It’s not fair!” she whined, “Why do you get all of those things but not Star?”
“I told you, my sweet, you’re not a dragon. Only dragons get to look like dragons,You are a human, so you will look like a human,” he explained, “Now, come on, let’s keep moving. Darius and Olaf are waiting to play with you.”
She sniffed, but walked eagerly forward, happy to be traveling with Daelyn. Every now and then she rooted carefully around the base of trees to find truffles for her mother. She knew they were a delicacy among the dragons and she wanted to surprise her with the creamy-colored fungi. Starlyn loved the forest, especially when she was with her Daelyn. From the moment she laid eyes on him as an baby, he was her hero, mentor and the young dragon made sure she wanted for nothing. It was the kind of friendship that starts from a seed, maturing in the warm soil of life, to the grandeur of a tall tree with many ups and downs without spoiling the beauty and brilliance of the tree. An unlikely pair, the two were never seen apart. Accepted by the Shadow dragon clan as one of their own, Starlyn was well loved and incredibly spoiled.
But not all of the dragons loved Starlyn. Daelyn remembered the dragon’s gathering last year when Star was only three-years-old. One dragon in particular, Bruntar of the fire dragons, was adamant in his hatred of humans. He warned the Shadow clan not to let the child out of their sight, making an instant enemy of her young protector. The clan gathering, occurring once a year in Kilacomb Valley, was a happy time for resident dragons. Even the snake-like Wym who were hardly ever seen and the very small dragons called Dragonlets. It was here the Shadow clan introduced their ward for the first time. Daelyn remembered the collective gasp that went through the dragon community when Starlyn stepped out from behind his wing. Snorting sparks of angry fire, Bruntar came forward in a rush, causing Daelyn to push Starlyn behind him protectively. Shapira and Baylor also stepped forward, daring the young, angry dragon to try and harm her in any way.
“You dare bring a human to our gathering, Daelyn?” he accused, “it should not be here! This is what I call blatant disrespect for Dragon Law!”
There were over one hundred dragons from all over the land of Kilacomb and all looked at the Shadow clan with accusatory stares.
“Why is she here, Baylor?” roared Diamedes, the matriarch of all dragons, “She is a human! Bruntar is correct in his accusations.”
Baylor stepped forward, his face a mask of calmness. He knew this would happen and was prepared for the moment.
“Your Highness,” he implored the elder dragon, “There are circumstances involved in how we came to have a human in our midst if you’d be so kind as to let me explain.”
“There is no explaining this, Baylor!” Bruntar growled, “Kill the human child before more humans come looking!”
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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