Daelyn, standing just outside of the main chamber, stepped inside with the bundle around his neck. Saphira walked up to her son, nuzzling his face with hers. Baylor and Daelyn both watched her leap aside in shock when the infant made a soft cooing sound.
“What in the world?” she looked towards her mate, “Baylor?”
“The Chimarian village was destroyed, Saphira,” he explained, “All peoples dead, except for this one child. How could I, in all good conscious, leave it to die in the elements or get eaten alive by scavengers?”
Eyes wide, she nodded, taking the bundle of squirming baby from around her son’s neck and placing it on the floor of the cave. The three of them stood around it, staring with wonder at the small face peering up at them. Saphira, having never before seen a human baby this close, wondered the same thing her mate and son did; how did humans ever survive? She looked at the tiny, pink talon-less fingers and the rose-bud mouth without a single tooth and she wondered how this fragile creature could live and grow to an adult. Gently, she pulled the fabric down from its body, exhaling gently so as not to scare it. Smaller than a wolf pup, the baby’s reddish hair sat in small, soft curls around its tiny head. Its eyes were the color stormy seas and stared back up her without fear. Turning the baby over, she noticed how it barely had the strength to lift its own head. She turned it back over, startled when the baby smiled and cooed at her. Immediately she felt a familiar tingling in her breast, something she hadn’t felt since Daelyn was born. Looking at Daelyn and Baylor, she saw their shocked faces and smiled a dragon’s toothy smile.
“I think she’s hungry,” she announced, though she didn’t need to. As the cool air touched the baby’s impossibly soft skin, she opened her mouth and let out a wail, startling the three of them. Kicking and waving her little clenched fists in protest, her face grew red as she screamed.
“What’s wrong with it, mother?” Daelon asked, alarmed, “is it sick?”
“No, and ‘its’ a female,” Saphira told him, “most likely she’s cold and hungry. Where did you find her?”
“I heard a sound and went to check it out,” he told her, ” and found her laying under her dead mother.”
“Oh! The poor thing!” Saphira gasped, “What a way to begin life!”
“Now the big question,” Baylor said, “is what do we do with her?”
The three dragons stood around the crying human baby beside themselves with questions. It was unheard of for a dragon to have anything to do with humans except to try and stay out of their sight. They were fearful, superstitious creatures that shot useless arrows that bounced off of the dragon’s thick scales. Unfortunately there were some rebellious juveniles that taunted and sometimes killed the humans, but they were swiftly and justly punished for their deeds. Such merciless killing of any creature, unless it was for food, was strictly forbidden by dragon laws. Several decades ago, after the Great War between humans and the Dark Elves of Grendle Kill, dragons intervened on the behalf of the humans, costing them the life of their eldest sons. Poisoning the tips of their spears and arrows, the Dark Elves aimed for the dragon’s eyes, telling them with a single arrow. The humans, outraged at such unfair tactics, slaughtered the Dark Elves as they slept. In retaliation, the remaining elves called upon the Atranochs in the land of Darkmoon, casting a spell on them to kill on their behalf. It was then the dragons stepped in and stopped the senseless slaughter of humans, at the cost of Atechi’s son’s life. Once the Atranochs were subdued, the dragons of banished them to the Lost Caves in the outer sanctum of Kilacomb. A desolate, remote area, the Atranochs thrived there for decades, until now.
“Saphira, I need to know what to tell the Elders,” Baylor told her, “a human child will be difficult to hide.”
“Well, we obviously can’t abandon her,” Saphira said, “She’ll die.”
Saphira wondered why that was important that the child not die. it was just a human child, no worth to them at all. But as the sound of the infant’s crying filled the cave, she felt a fierce conviction to protect the human baby. Dragons have always been mesmerized by the human voice. Especially a female voice in song. There was something so calming, so soothing about the sound, it was hypnotic. As they stood listening to the infant’s cry, another sound reached their ears. The bell-like sounds of the crystals being struck. They weren’t the only ones listening.
“Baylor, tell the elders what you’ve found,” Saphire instructed, “and tell them I’ve decided to foster her until other arrangements are made.”
“I don’t think they’ll be in agreement with you, my dear,” Baylor warned,
“Then I will go with you and persuade them,” she said determinedly.
To Daelyn, she added, “bring the infant, but stay out of sight until I call you.”
Daelyn sulked, grumbling under his breath. He didn’t want to pick up the crying human again, but when he did, the crying stopped instantly. Looking down, he was met by the gaze of the infant’s sparkling green eyes and a smile as wide as the sea itself. Saphira immediately noticed the difference and looked at her son with surprise.
“Well, it looks like you’ve charmed her,” she teased, “I always knew you’d have a way with the ladies, just like your father.”
Baylor and Saphira entered the lower chamber where the elders were waiting patiently. A small fire was burning in the fire pit as was common during their gatherings. The light shimmering off the crystals made the cave dance with fiery rainbows and shadows. It gave the cave a mystical ambiance. Bowing low, Saphira greeted them.
“Father, Uncle, Aunt, I trust your slumber was good?” she asked, head bowed low.
“Not as good as we’d hoped, daughter,’ Astor answered, “We heard strange sounds in your living space and would like an explanation as to why it sounds strangely human?”
“That’s because it is a human child, father,” Saphira confirmed, “When Daelyn and Baylor went to investigate the Chimarian ruins, an infant was the only survivor.”
“And it is here. Why?” Xyandran demanded, “Do you not know the rules about remaining invisible to humans?”
“Yes, Aunt and it’s for this reason I am here with Baylor,” Saphira explained, “I feel a strange bond with the child. Her strength and fearless nature is unusual for a human yet, she is quite helpless. Baylor felt uneasy leaving it to die under her own mother.”
“What do you know of human nature, Saphira, that you would know this one?” Atechi asked, stepping forward.
“I don’t presume to know human nature, Uncle,” she protested, “I only know what I can see before me. The fact that a living creature was still alive in the face of such misfortune.”
“What did you find at the village, Baylor?” Astor asked, “What did you find out?”
“The Atranochs have taken residence in the caves of the Sargonian Sea,” Baylor answered, “My guess is they’ve grown in numbers, as well.”
Baylor recounted the creature’s footprints that told the tale in the bloody soil. The unpretentious bodies of innocents lying broken and burned while they slept.
Xyandran roared in anger causing the crystals to hum in a low tone at the sound. How dare they return to her beloved land! The small, bony horns that ran in three rows down her back stood up tall and sharp. Puffing her smaller body up, fangs bared, she looked dangerous.
“Who gave them permission to leave Darkmoon?” she growled, “We must confront them at once!”
“Now, Xyandran,” Astor crooned, “First things first. We need to find out why they left Darkmoon and what brings them to this area. Let’s remain calm until we get all the details. ”
She nodded in acquiescence, stepping back, but her horns still stood at attention. Her hatred of them never failed to spark a reaction. They listened as Baylor told of the carnage and wanton slaughter of sleeping Chimerians, right up to the point where Daelyn discovered the infant.
“I would see this human child now, Baylor,” Astor commanded.
“Daelyn? Bring out the baby,” Baylor called to his son.
Daelyn stepped out from around the corner carrying the swaddled baby, placing it on the floor of the chamber in front of the elders. She was quiet as she looked up at the large faces staring down at her, reaching up with her tiny pink hands curiously. Shapira was correct in the fact that the infant was fearless, Xyandran thought. More than one adult human had run screaming in terror at the sight of a dragon. She could see the child was studying her closely, its eyes taking in the beauty of Xyandran’s opalescent scales as they shimmered and danced by the light of the fire. Eyes glittering like the purest of emeralds, were wide open with wonder, her mouth a perfect rosebud. Xyandran marveled at the child’s fiery auburn curls and touched her muzzle to them as softly as a butterfly’s kiss. Breathing in, she was pleasantly surprised at the delightful odor of the child. Sweet as honey, fragrant as chamomile. The infant giggled, grabbing a horn with a firm grip. Raising herself slightly, she tried to suckle on the horn, her lips smacking when her tongue touched it. Xyandran gently eased herself away, trying to hide her soft expression from the others. She understood now the attraction her niece had to the child. She was enchanting.
© 2016, RissRyker518. All rights reserved.
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