“Mother! Father! Come quick!” Daelon called out to his parents from outside of the caves, “It’s Star! She’s been hurt!”
Daelon sat Star on a flat rock just outside of the cave entrance as Shapira and Baylor rushed outside, gasping at the sight of blood.
“By the Elders! What happened!” Shapira roared, “Who did this to her?”
“A monster did, mommy!” Starlyn cried, “It came out of the woods and tried to take me away!”
“Daelyn?” Baylor looked over at his son noting the panicked expression on his face. “Is this true?”
“It was an Atranoch, father,” he answered angrily, “and it’s true. It tried to take Star! I killed it, but now we must be prepared.”
Starlyn didn’t have many clothes, preferring instead to be as naked as she was born. What she did have was traded with a local human who traded for dragon scales which he ground to a powder, steeped in alcohol and sold as healing potions.
“Daelyn, please get some of Star’s garments and the bowl of ground Yarrow in the apothecary chamber,” Shapira requested, “Oh, and also a bowl of Cat’s Claw, please and hurry!”
Daelyn did as he was told, leaving Star in the care of his mother. If anyone could help her, his mother could. She was well known for her healing abilities and medicinal knowledge of plants and herbs. At the yearly gathering, Shapira and others like her enjoyed sharing newly discovered plants and their properties. On occasion, even the humans came to her for advice and counseling. When Daelyn returned, she first washed the child’s face with her long, black tongue, not only washing away her tears, but comforting her, as well. Wrapping small arms around Shapira’s neck, she hugged the dragon she called ‘mother’.
As Shapira ripped one of Starlyn’s shirts into strips of cloth, she sang a song to her daughter like she did when Starlyn first arrived.
It’s time to rest, my little one,
it’s time to close thine eyes.
It’s time for Moon to stop
bright Sun from shining in the sky.
Spring lambs lay down upon the hay,
the crickets sings them songs,
the stars above are twinkling
till Moon lets in the dawn.
After Shapira made the strips, she chewed the leaves of the Yarrow making a poultice. Spreading the mixture gently on Starlyn’s wounds, she then bound them with the strips of cloth.
“Will the monsters come back, mommy?” Starlyn asked tearfully.
“Yes, daughter,” she answered, “and many more. We must prepare for their coming. I’m going to send you away for while, Star, somewhere safe.”
“No, mommy!” Starlyn protested, “You can’t! I don’t want to go anywhere!”
“It’s for the best, my child. I’m going to take you to some humans, just like you.”
“Please let me stay, mother,” Starlyn begged, “I’ll be so good, I promise!”
Shapira heart was heavy at her little daughter’s words, but she knew it was for her safety. She would take her to the little village of Shandria, just over the grassy hills of Kilacomb. She knew a woman who owed her a debt and would gladly take Star until it was safe for her to come home. They needed to leave quickly, though, time was running out.
The village of Shandria had about fifty residents, give or take a few. Quiet and peaceful, its residents went about their daily activities, eking a living off of the land. The Shandrian people’s diet consisted mainly of fish, nuts, berries and grains, spending the day socializing with friends and family as they fished and gathered by the river. A hoot of warning from the watcher’s alerted them of approaching visitors.
Five-year-old Jasha peeked out of his hut just in time to see a beautiful green dragon and a small child his own age walk by. Soft, honey brown eyes observed the other child’s attachment to the dragon and felt envious. He wished he had a dragon. Watching them, he saw them stop in front of Tala the Healer’s hut and a glimpse of the child’s wounded back told him why. He recognized the green dragon, she’d been here before. But never with a child. Running down to the creek, he found his best friends, Faran and Gavril and told them what he saw. The three boys, tanned as brown summer acorns, ran up the path and hid just inside the line of trees out of sight. They saw the beautiful dragon come out and walk back the way she came, taking flight at the edge of the village.
“Are you SURE you saw a little girl, Jasha?” Faran asked, doubtful as they walked to Tala’s hut.
“I swear I did!” Jasha said, his eyes telling the truth, “She had a wound on her back! She’s in there, I tell you!”
“We should just go in and find out, you guys,” Gavril suggested, “Come on!”
The boys gathered around the small hut talking quietly among themselves. They heard the healer talking to someone and then silence. Leaning closer to the door, they put their ears near it to see if they could find out who it was. Suddenly the door opened and Tala was standing there with her arms crossed looking faintly angry. Children were well loved and rarely disciplined in Shandria. Though a bit mischievous, they grew to be happy, confident young men and women.
“And what are you boys doing eavesdropping?” she said crossly, “is there something you’re hoping to hear in here?”
“Auntie Tala, I saw a child come in,” Jasha burst out, “She came with the big dragon! I saw her!”
“Oh, you did, did you?” Tala chuckled. She loved her sister’s child, he was a good boy. Curious and full of the Dark One, but a good boy. “Alright then, come in if you must. Her name is Starlyn and she’s here to seek shelter. She has known no other human since her mother but for a very short time. She’s been injured by ‘The Ones Whose Name We Do Not Speak’.”
The boys eyes became is large as the sun after hearing she was attacked by “The Ones Whose Names We Do Not Speak”, and were wildly curious about the small girl. Tala let them pass, chuckling at what could prove to be a very interesting meeting. It was hard to believe the child had never laid eyes on another human before. Unlike most human children her age, Starlyn was not afraid. She had the most unusual coloring with her wild, red tangles and astonishing green eyes. She wondered what human clan she was born to.
Starlyn stared in wonder at the three boys who mirrored her own wide-eyed gaze, in particular, at Jasha. Starlyn never saw such magnificent hair! Spirals of black, soft curls framed his head, offset by eyes the color of a clear blue sky. While her skin was white, his was honey-colored. The other two boys were also darker than her with warm, light brown eyes. She reached out a hand to touch Jasha’s curls, pulling one and letting go, watching with delight as the curl sprang back into place.
“Did you really almost get eaten by the monster?” Jasha asked, his blue eyes wide and inquiring.
Starlyn nodded somberly, showing them the deep wounds on her back. They gathered around her and studied the bandages seeped with her blood, more than a little envious of the brave girl.
“By the Elders! You were very lucky!” Jasha exclaimed, “What did it look like? Was it big? Hairy?”
“Yes!” she breathed, excited to tell her tale to the boys. “It had hair like a pig, and claws this long!” She held out her hands, showing them. “and its teeth were so, so big!”
Tala smiled softly to herself. There was nothing better for bringing out the child than another child. Her nephew was a good boy, a kind boy. If anyone could make Starlyn feel at home, it was he. The girl would be just fine here and the debt to Shapira paid with gratitude. She remembered the day the large female dragon rescued her son from certain death from the jaws of Dagon, the river monster. Her son still had the scars on his leg to this day from where the horrible river creature clamped his jaws down on his tender flesh. Hearing the boy’s shrill screams prompted Shapira to crush Dagon with her own powerful jaws just seconds before the creature did its death roll. It was on that day the dragons and humans formed a pact. They would live together in peace.
The Killacomb Dragons
Baylor and Daelon flew west to the river clan of Fire Dragons in Pippenwich, just beyond the waterfalls of Ashbrire. The quicker they could beseech other clans for help, the better. While the Atranoch had the numbers, one dragon could kill as many as four Atranoch, but if overpowered, the beasts could also gain the upper hand by sheer numbers alone. They needed to band with other clans to beat these creatures. The moonlight guided them as they flew upriver to where the water spilled over the falls.
The Fire Dragons lived in the caves behind the falls. They were unique with their multi-chromatic scales and fiery orange eyes. Like giant chameleons, the dragons were able to blend into their surroundings, making them deadly hunters. The size of a war horse, their fierceness made up for their smaller stature. They had short, thick limbs with three splayed digits on each foot that ended in very short, but razor sharp claws. A bony plate started at the top of their skulls, running down the length of their spine to the blade-like tips of their tails. Thin, needle sharp horns ran down the plate in rows of three, protecting the back and sides. Their best defense; fire breath. They could ignite the air in a short burst of flame, scorching their enemies faces with fire, thereby blinding them. Baylor and Shapira explained to the smaller dragons the situation, inciting them to join the battle and rid Kilacomb of the Atranoch once and for all.
“We are asking for your assistance,” Baylor entreated Grindle, the leader of the clan, “not only for us, but for the safety of all.”
The young males, always ready for battle, agreed with enthusiasm, especially when it came to killing Atranoch.
“We will fly with you to the desert and gather the Deathtails,” Grindle offered, “They’re always looking for a good fight.”
Grindle turned to the seven oldest juveniles, telling them to prepare to fly and fight. Jubilant, the seven youngsters, strong and fast, stretched out their powerful wings and gnashed their teeth with happiness. This was their chance to prove their strength and prowess.
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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