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Blood of the Egg Snatchers

The Legend of the Unseeing Dragon Mother

By R. J. RaniPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 10 min read

Have you ever heard the sound of leaves rustling in the wind? The next time you do, close your eyes and listen carefully. If you hear a distant rattling, you can be sure she’s there, in the middle of her finding. You might even hear her voice’s keening whistle and feel the breeze shiver over your skin as she moves. If you’re lucky, she’ll pass by. If you’re not… well…

She’s Praathi, the unseeing dragon mother, and her search has lasted for ten thousand years. We can only hope that it does not last ten thousand more. Harken to the telling of the Nagiar Kin so that you, too, may be wary.


Back before the breaking of the World Pact, even before the Stealing of the Great Descendent, Praathi took her only surviving hatchling to play hide and seek in the sea of moss and billowing mushrooms that grew in vast clumps beneath groves of mountain trees.

The young one hadn’t yet learned to change the color of his baby pink scales, and so didn’t have a name, as was the custom of the ancient Rogonelle dragons. But in her heart, Praathi called him Habib. Her most precious treasure.

That day, in the grand tradition of hide and seek, Praathi was ‘it.’ She turned her mighty gold-flecked snout toward the rising sun, and, closing her eyes, began to count.

“1… 2…”

The sun’s rays streamed through the tall canopy and glinted off her shimmering yellow-green scales. Thin whiskers gently twirled and swayed, framing her serpentine features. The tip of her tail curled and uncurled. She heard Habib rustle in the undergrowth somewhere behind her and resisted the urge to see if he had yet figured out how to camouflage himself. Would today be the day?

With every breath and every count, she failed to keep her heart from fluttering with anxiety.

“11… 12…”

Habib was the oldest hatchling without a name and the only one who still lived in the hatchery. If he didn’t learn how to control his scales in the few days that remained before the coming of the cold season, the council might elect to cast him out as a danger to their settlement. Dragons had to perfect the ability to melt into the forests and mountains behind them to keep the egg snatchers, thieves, and filthy meat-eaters from finding them.

“19… 20…”

Behind her, the rustling paused, picked up again for a moment, then settled down. Praathi smiled. She found comfort in the thought that her son, her Habib, was becoming better at hiding.

“Ready or not, here I come!” she called, pitching her sing-song voice so that it would carry to her son’s ears. Curiosity tingled along her long, powerful neck. But she didn’t want to find Habib too fast and ruin the game. Even if he didn’t learn how to change the colors of his scales, today, he would at least exhaust himself before they went back to the hatchery for the day’s sleep.

So, she snaked her neck this way and that, putting on a show for him in case he was watching her, before pointedly walking away from where she’d last heard the rustling.

“Here I come, little one. I’m coming to find you!”

As she walked, her serpentine tongue slipped in and out, tasting the air. Even though the guards had swept the forest before she and Habib had entered, she still felt nervous being this far south of the hatchery. You see, there had been more and more reports of egg snatchers. The red-furred two-legged vermin were growing brave as they crowded up the mountains, hunting their prey.

The thought made her nose wrinkle and bile rise as she wove through the flora. Dead leaves and twigs snapped beneath her weight as she stepped on them deliberately to give away her position to her little one.

“Aha!” she called, pouncing toward the closest cluster of evergreen trees. Despite all the noise she made, she moved deftly without disturbing any stalks or tops of the tender mushroom and moss. Squeezing her snout beneath the low-hanging branches, she shook her head, dislodging a rain of needles that slid down her polished scales.

“Oh? Not here? Clever little one!” Praathi pulled her head back and moved on to the next clump of trees. That’s when she saw him.

Habib’s purple frilled snout stuck out from behind the tree trunks. He’d covered his eyes with the claws of his forelegs. Good hiding indeed, Praathi chuckled as she shook her head. Her smile soon fell at the thought that the little one still hadn’t found his camouflage. But, she hid her disappointment, deciding to give him a little longer to practice. She took a few steps away from him, resuming her noisy search when she froze, her leg still in the air.

If Habib was behind the tree over here, what had made the rustling there?

Panic swelled in Praathi’s breast. Her frill lay flat against her neck, and she melted into her surroundings as color bled from each of her scales.

Habib,” she sent her son the message with her thoughts, “stay where you are! I’ll come to find you.

Cautiously, she moved toward where the rustling had been. There. Praathi’s eyes narrowed as she saw that something had recently broken bits off the mushrooms in one spot. And the moss looked disturbed too. Egg snatchers? Thieves? Nest robbers?

Her tongue tasted the air. Nothing.

Silently, she slithered forward, moving faster than a dragon of her size should have been able to. Within heartbeats, she was poised in front of a moss-covered pile. With her extended claws, she quietly moved the curtain of moss aside and blinked.

She’d been expecting red fur and hisses to come charging out at her the moment she exposed the hiding place, but all she saw was a little soft-looking bundle curled up under a mushroom. It was about the size of a sand wyrmling’s freshly laid egg, smaller than the vile predators she feared. As she watched, the tiny creature turned over and propped itself into a sitting position. It blinked up at her with sleep-laden blue eyes. Unruly dark hair fell over its forehead, and in one hand, it held something that reflected the sun and rattled when it moved.

Praathi’s eyes widened as she recognized where she’d seen the likes of the tiny creature: in the memories of the song masters of old.

The cub of a man? But they hadn’t been seen for several millennia. What was one doing here? And why now?

If she hadn’t been frozen in memory and thought, Praathi might have seen what came next. But she didn’t. She felt more than saw the blur of pink and purple and scales close in and charge at the man-cub.

“Wait!” Praathi yelled, flooding her scales with color. But she was far too late. Habib lay in a pile on the floor in front of the tiny creature, his nose resting under the rattle it held in its soft paw. The other paw rested on her son’s snout, and for the second time that day, Praathi blinked in surprise.

Habib’s colors were undulating, each scale a swirl of rainbows. As he lay there, his tail nearly wagging with joy, color bled in and out of his scales. Her son, her Habib, was playing with invisibility, and Praathi could have burst with pride.

Mother!” she heard her son’s childish voice in her mind for the first time. To her, it sounded like the opening of flowers at dawn. “Mother, my name is Shaandeen.”

“Shaandeen! My son! Shaandeen!” Praathi called, joy overflowing and heart swelling with relief. They would be safe in the coming seasons. She bowed her enormous head low with gratitude as she regarded the man-cub who had brought the magic to awaken her son’s redemption.

Habib, no, Shaandeen, bowed low, too, before beckoning to his new playmate. Both of them bounded and tumbled and laughed under Praathi’s watchful eye. Together they ate, napped, and played more as the sun rose to its peak and began its journey back down. In the darkness of dusk, the forest began to fill with the light of glow worms, fireflies, and fluorescent flowers that threw glittering pollen up to ride the breeze of the night. Still, Praathi, Shaandeen, and the man-cub played until the light of the moon peeked through the trees.

Only when they were utterly worn out did they curl up and sleep. That night, when Praathi looked at the man-cub, she named him in her heart. From then on, he was Mirza, the prince of men. Her two-legged son.


For nearly a year, they lived on the outskirts of the hatchery. The dragons of the settlement had long since withdrawn for the changing seasons, leaving the three behind. To them, Shaandeen was not good enough at losing his colors, and Mirza, a man-cub, was an even greater danger.

Praathi didn’t mind the shunning. She had all the family she needed right there under the forest canopy. Shaandeen practiced hiding, getting better at blending into his surroundings. Mirza grew taller and stronger as he learned to move as deftly as a dragon. The woods rang with the sound of laughter and the rattling of his silver toy as the three grew ever closer.

They would have stayed that way, happy and together for decades if it weren’t for one fateful night when everything changed.

In the darkest hour, the forest erupted with red-furred, stinking egg snatchers. In their paws, they held living flame, charring the mushrooms and burning the barks of the tall trees. Ahead of them ran blood-scenting hounds, baying, slobbering, and yapping. The noise was deafening.

The meat-eaters rushed toward her little family, making her skin crawl as though she’d been in a nest of ants. There were so many of them that Praathi did not have time to panic. She turned to scoop her children into her arms but was too slow. Clinging to her, Shaandeen let the colors flee from his scales, blending into the night. But Mirza, the egg snatchers grabbed him, curling hands and claws under his shoulders and dragging him away.

Praathi lunged toward them when a blood-chilling scream froze her in place. It had sounded in her mind.

As though in a dream, she turned to see her son, her Shaandeen, her Habib, slump over. Red gushed from his wounds, running down to stain the ground beneath his feet. He had not been good enough at losing his colors.

The last thing Praathi saw was egg snatchers pulling bloodied sticks from Shaandeen’s limp body. Then, even as her rage blinded her, the colors leaked from her scales, leaving her one with the forest. She reared onto her hind legs, raised her head, and howled into the night with such aching pain that they say the sound was heard all the way up the coast in the city of Deverelle.

Praathi fell on the egg snatchers then, swallowing the flame they brought and throwing it back, searing all that breathed in the woods that night. She didn’t stop, couldn’t stop, until her claws fell on a tiny object and she heard its familiar rattle.

They say that since then, Praathi has been roaming the lands, looking for her lost man-cub. She combs the woods in her finding, turning over moss and mushroom. In her heart, she hears him calling still.

So beware of the rustling of the leaves, the howling of the wind, and the rattling of woods. If you hear those, you can be sure that the unseeing dragon mother is near. And whatever you do, don’t be caught outdoors wearing red, for they say that the only color she now sees matches the blood of the egg snatchers.

FantasyShort StoryFable

About the Creator

R. J. Rani

Hi there, thanks for reading my words! Here, you'll find fiction & poetry inspired by my life, travels, and imagination. If you like something I've written, please say so 🤗I love to hear from you.

Find me on Instagram, Ockelwog, and Amazon.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (3)

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  • SC Wells4 months ago

    This was beautifully written. There was an ideal amount of exposition which allowed for wonderful world-building and the descriptions were fantastic. I really enjoyed reading this and would love to see more!

  • Kit Tomlinson4 months ago

    Amazing world building! I love the narrating voice throughout 😊

  • J. Scott Tanner4 months ago

    Love this story! Her rage is palpable.

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