A week ago, I posted the details of my latest pet giveaway for a Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling. Entrants could either submit a short story or draw a picture incorporating my toon, their toon and the pet. I’m pleased to announce Dragonray as the winner of my Let’s Celebrate giveaway. She definitely exceeded my expectations when I asked for a short story but I think you’ll agree the effort was worth it.
I could feel the wrongness in the air; I knew something was not right with the hatchling brood I was the proud caretaker of. Lord Rastior had bestowed this position on me, Dragonray, because of the hours I had spent learning everything there was to learn about the local dragon species, their habits, their likes and dislikes, it was me that had tamed the stunningly luminous blue dragon that now slept with her tail curled around her 7 precious eggs. Had I known Skylar was pregnant when I originally started to befriend her, I may not have continued, but it did make the process easier for me; Skylar was constantly hungry and was willing to eat anything we, in the village, could provide.
Resting my head against the huge beasts side, I continued writing copious notes in my book, recording every detail about this clutch. Although dragons had been part of the wilderness for as long as memory, no one had been able to get close to one before. My excitement was barely contained each day, knowing I no longer had to hike into the mountains and crawl in open fields, to learn more about them. I could curl up with a blanket and some hot drinks next to Skylar and just be part of the moment.
Skylar’s ears started to twitch and she snuffled the air briefly, one massive lidded eye started to open and with a slight movement she nosed the direction of the door. But by the time I had closed my book to look up, Skylar had already closed her eye and settled back down. I watched the doorway into the stables intently to discover who was out there, and briefly considered going to investigate when I noticed the shuffling of tiny little feet peeking around at the edge of the door. I could not stop the small smile that began to spread across my face, but I continued to wait knowing she would not wait very long. If people thought that Dragonray was impatient, they had yet to meet her little sister, Cymre!
Cymre was barely 7 years old when Skylar had started to live in the village and she was completely enamoured of the dragon. She was 8 now and wanted more than anything to be a dragontamer like her sister, she didn’t like being treated like a child except when Dragonray called her mei mei, which she learnt recently means “little sister”, but that made her feel special! Skylar was gentle with her, she allowed her to get close and had even let her touch her long before the clutch had been produced! Now Cymre was here to be close to the eggs and watch them, excitedly hoping to be around when the little baby dragons appeared, but Skylar didn’t like people in the stables and Cymre was too scared to just walk in. Dragonray had told her many times that dragons needed to be used to the smell of a person, especially around their eggs as they get very protective and angry. She didn’t want the dragon to be angry and ruin her chances of being nearby so she waited outside the door hoping Skylar would recognise a friend.
As Skylar started to stretch her wings out, I heard a tiny but audible giggle of excitement and appreciated that my little sister had taken my warnings this morning to heart. I watched the doorway as Cymre’s blue eyes peeked around the edge, her long braid swinging down over her shoulder and her look of wonder making her eyes even larger. Skylar, loving the attention, stretched her wings even further and swung her massive head towards the door looking for Cymre. Painfully slowly Cymre walked into the stables, her shoes kicking up plumes of dust when she walked, her eyes did not leave Skylar during her agonisingly slow approach. This was not their first meeting, but it would be one of the most important, I could sense something was happening which couldn’t be seen but the buzzing in the air was hard to deny. The hairs on my arms started to stand up and a chill ran down my back as I watched the scene unfold before me.
Skylar’s snuffling brought me back to reality; I had been wondering what pattern the universe was weaving for these two, as Cymre could no longer contain her excitement and had started running towards Skylar, a huge smile that lit up her entire face combined with outstretched arms and curling fingers. I knew I was not going to be fast enough to catch her but she had no idea what Skylar would do!
“Stop running!” was all she could get out before Skylar had stood up to her full intimidating height and was ruffling her wings, my notebook and pens went scattering past my head as I was pushed over but all I cared about was protecting mei mei. The scene seemed to continue in slow motion and I could only envision all the danger that was about to unfold; I was not expecting Skylar to suddenly lower her head to the ground, just in time for Cymre to launch herself at the dragon and wrap her tiny arms around her muzzle.
After a few astonished moments I began to crawl closer, uncaring about the tear in my old breeches, or the dirt now covering my hands and face, but I was certain the dragon was crooning to her sister. “Mei Mei, how did you know she wasn’t going to hurt you?” concern finally surfacing as tears welled in my eyes. Cymre turned her head, still resting on the dragon snout, her breathing ruffling her sisters skirts and excitedly blurted, “She told me to come in, but not like when you say things with your mouth she told me in my head and it was soft and silent and sort of fuzzy like the cat. Doesn’t she speak to you like that? Have you talked to her at all? She always talks to me at night, when I can’t sleep. She says you talk like a hiffo…hyffog….the flying birds. She thinks I am old enough to play with her now and help with the babies she has. I like babies! That’s because I am a big girl now and I can help with the babies, sister you like babies t…..why are you laughing at me? ” the longer she spoke the harder it was to keep a straight face. She was hanging about 2ft off the ground and was squeezing Skylar’s muzzle every few moments with excitement. I walked up underneath her and put my arms out and as she dropped down I said, “because you are the best little sister! Would you like to tell me everything again so I can add you into the notebook while we sit and wait for the eggs to hatch? We can call you, dragon speaker, would you like that?”
As it turned out we waited another 3 weeks for the hatching to start. With some rough guidance from our littlest expert, I had started to learn to speak with Skylar and she was able to communicate her needs with us a little better. We had organised a huge selection of meats and berries for the hatchlings as well as old blankets and bed warmers. I had advised the town midwives to be ready with clean towels and sheets if needed and even Lord Rastior had offered his services if needed. The village was buzzing with excitement, 7 dragons would soon be roaming our township, would they stay or leave or become attached and provide protection and friendship?
It was not unexpected then, one sunny afternoon sitting in the stables with Cymre, writing more notes and drawing more sketches, all three of us witnessed an egg move. It was not a movement you could miss, the egg toppled over on its side and rocked back and forth. As I hurriedly walked over to inspect the egg, Skylar watched me intently and snapped when I stretched a hand to touch the egg. “No touch, hatchling touch me first, important!” was spoken in my mind by a firm, but excited mother dragon. It was not often I could understand a mostly formed sentence from the dragon, which told me how important that message was, slowly and carefully I circled around the eggs to the other side of the barn, scooping up Cymre as I went, and sat down on the old haybales. I knew that if Cymre had noticed it she would have run straight over.
Multiple eggs started to topple over and wobble, as my little sister started clapping excitedly Skylar began a deep rumbling croon which sounded like her entire body was creating a soft, soothing beacon for the little hatchlings to head towards. After a few minutes of this the eggs started to crack and start rolling towards the dragon, whose muzzle was lowered to the ground causing little tufts of dirt to billow up in front of her.
Cymre jumped off the hay, “I am going to tell Lord Rastior the babies are coming, I have to be fast so I can see them!”. To her credit she came back with a warm towel and the midwife before a few minutes had even passed, followed by some other villagers and Rastior carrying trays of food and water.
Slowly fragile clawed feet and pointy wing tips were cracking through the egg shells, followed by iridescent heads pushing larger parts of shell away, their not quite open eyes, looking for the sound of the crooning. The little dragonlings were crawling, rolling and wobbling towards Skylar and as they reached her she would nuzzle them, give them a few licks to clean off the sticky muck and wait for the next one to come close.
Skylar slowly turned her head slightly to acknowledge the few watching the hatching and her eyes darted towards the food slowly being gathered at the back of the stables. Cymre ran over to the stockpile and grabbed a handful of dried meats, then looked up at the group of hatchlings and decided her small fist of food would not suffice. She lifted her skirts up and held it out like a basket, piling as much food as her baby hands could scoop. Carefully she waddled up to the dragon, being mindful to walk slowly and watch for any sign Skylar was getting upset. As she got closer, I decided I should help try and hold the skirt full of food for her because she had really filled it and together we started dropping handfuls of meat on the floor as close to the hatchlings and Skylar’s muzzle as we dared.
The hatchlings were ravenous and could smell the meat, but with barely open eyes they had to struggle their way to the food source. Skylar was aiding their feeding by nosing them in the direction of meat and the two of us trying to avoid getting too close we were not doing a very good job of fretting the meat in the right spot. After emptying Cymre’s skirt out, I decided to collect my notebook to write and sketch as much as I could, before I forgot any of it.
Rastior took over my place on the floor feeding the dragonlings and each time one squawked for more food his blue-grey eyes would sparkle and the corners would crease as his smile spread across his face. Not that I was watching him at all, but most of the villagers knew Rastior and I had long held feelings for each other that both of us were too embarrassed to do anything about, and so being in the stable she was able to appreciate the man from a distance and all the things she adored about him without anyone knowing. Rastior turned to look at her and caught her mid daydream, she blushed, dropped her head down to her notebook and continued to draw hurriedly.
“Dragonray, do you think, it would be possible to create one of your toys shaped as a hatchling?” asked Rastior, his smooth deep voice eventually penetrating through my embarrassment. Once again I looked up at him and slowly chewed on the top of my pencil considering their shape, size, length and decided a little mechanical dragonling could certainly be something worth trying.”Why do you ask Lord Rastior, did you want more then 7 little dragons roaming about the village?”, his laugh echoed through the stable as he responded,”No, but these ones will grow up and leave, Skylar may stay after her brood grows – we don’t know, and I am sure Cymre would love to have a permanent dragonling that doesn’t need to be fed but can still be washed, cared for and played with, wouldn’t you Cymre?” at that last part he picked up Cymre and started tickling her wherever he could find an unguarded spot, during the bouts of laughter, she would look over to me and nod emphatically when she could.
I studiously looked down at my drawings and envisioned more detail to this mechanical pet I had been tasked with creating and had not noticed that Cymre was edging towards a little hatchling. Skylar’s grumbling brought my head up only to discover Cymre reaching out and stroking the little dragon with tears starting to well up in her eyes. She gently pushed her fingers under the multi coloured dragonling, which almost fit in the palm of her hand, and slowly raised it off the ground and brought it to her cheek. “I can’t feel him breathing, why isn’t he breathing? He got out of his shell, shouldn’t he be ok now?” as her tears overflowed creating smeared waterlines down her cheeks, Rastior held his hand out to her, “Mei mei, let me teach you how to help this one, come quickly child, hold his head like this”, and he showed her the position to hold the head, “slowly and very gently breathe air into his mouth – be very gentle – because he is so small, you don’t want too much air, do you understand, then stop for a few seconds and do it again?” She nodded in understanding, she had seen this done many times in the village on calves and goats but never been trusted to do this herself and on such a small creature. Slowly and very carefully, she began to breathe for the dragon, his chest rising and falling with every breath she gave him, praying to Ysera the lifegiver for this little boy to survive. A few minutes had passed before Skylar chirruped and the little dragonling took a breath on his own.
I stared at my little sister in awe, she had saved the dragon, she really was needed here today, maybe the weirdness she had been feeling was all over with? Her presence was necessary, so I wondered what this dragon would mean in the future, why was he saved and who would he become? Cymre took the dragon to the stockpile and ripped up food into minuscule pieces for the dragon to eat, I noticed his colours started to settle with some food, as had the others. He was a deep royal blue, with 3 aqua, 1 green and 2 red siblings, all 7 had survived and thankfully Rastior had been here to use his knowledge of foaling to help the little one.
As so it came to be that, Dragonray the Dragontamer also became the Dragonmaker. I made dragonlings with different sizes, shapes and colours, custom made to order and in different metals depending on how much you wanted to spend. Skylar stayed and hatched another 3 broods with them and even her children roost nearby and visit the town daily. Cymre’s little dragon was named “Royal” and never left her side, even through her adventures in Sighf, or on the Ocean of Pamaw, or even rolling down the hills looking for more dragons, but they are stories for another day!
I admit I chuckled when Cymre turned out to be the little sister and couldn’t help think of all those Anne McCaffrey and Melanie Rawn books I read years earlier. Congratulations Dragonray. I’m sure my little dragon will find a very loving home with you.