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When the Flames Subside

By K.H. ObergfollPublished 2 years ago 8 min read
Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash

“Lizard?!” the small boy cooed between his two thumbs.

“What’s he talking about?” Darby moaned.

“Yes, lizards,” Enid said, smiling and tickling the small boys feet as she gave Darby a slight nudge.

“But we’re not…” Darby had barely said the words when Enid walloped her upside the head.

“Let the boy think what he wants,” Enid hissed. “They’re only so young and innocent once.” The boy let out a series of bubbling giggles, his laughter warming even the coldest heart.

“I guess, I just don’t see the point in lying to him, it’s wrong.”

Enid’s eyes closed with an obvious air of annoyance—“it’s not like he would understand yet anyways. Besides, I’m doing him a favor. That way, if he can be returned to the humans before he knows too much—no harm, no foul and we can move on as though nothing happened.”

Her shrug hadn’t done enough to persuade Darby. “Oh yeah, and what’s your big plan if it isn’t that easy, what if he isn’t returned… what if he stays; have you thought about that?”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there Darby…geez; always a buzz-kill, always.”

“I just can’t help but to think this is starting to become a pattern. You know to stay out of that part of the forest. Just let the humans do whatever it is they’re doing. The less we know the better—besides, if you hadn’t picked him up this wouldn’t have even happened, it wouldn’t even be our problem.”

“Our problem? I’m glad you said that. I wasn’t expecting you to take any responsibility for this. Besides, it isn’t that easy for me to walk away Darby and you know that. He was all alone, his humans abandoned him. Left him there in his little carrier—which is my opinion is very strange if I might add. At least the last two just wandered out too far, he isn’t even old enough to crawl…”

Enid’s curiosity had gotten the better of her or so it would seem, she watched the child playing with his feet, chewing eagerly on his toes—“do those taste good, are they tasty?” Enid babbled mirroring the sounds the baby made.

“What are you doing,” Darby hissed, “do you have to talk like that, it’s embarrassing…someone might hear us, what happens if anyone hears you doing that…”

“He understands me, it figures you wouldn’t,” Enid replied snappily, “and who cares if anyone hears me. You worry too much.”

“You want to be like them so bad. You would do anything to fit in with their ways.”

Darby had done it now.

“That’s not true,” Enid roared, turning around with such a quickness she almost tipped the toddler’s carrier over. A wailing explosion came from the upturned carrier seat.

“Look what you almost made me do, if you don’t like it so much than why are you even here,” Enid continued, not caring how she looked or sounded at this point as she unbuckled the small child, scooping him up into her arms as she gently tapped him and rocked around; her wings fluttering with glee as she sang sweet lullabies to the screaming handful.

“It’s alright, don’t cry. You are in good hands now, don’t listen to what that mean old dragon is saying…she’s just jealous.”

“Pffffft! Are you serious, you think I’m jealous of you? That’s it; you’ve lost your mind!” Darby screeched, tears forming giant rivers in her eyes. “I’m just trying to help you but if you can’t see it than there is nothing more for me to say…”

“Fine, the baby and I will be quite alright on our own. You can leave, go back home where you are safe and unbothered by my ways.”

Enid didn’t have to say it twice—Darby stomped off back down the trail towards their shared nest—huffing and puffing the whole way.

“She just doesn’t know what she’s messing with. I tried to warn her but no…Enid knows everything. Watch, she will see…just wait. Pretty soon she’s going to miss me, she’s going to need my help and I won’t be there…”


A few hours’ time passed by like nothing and Darby sat, nervous unspent energy sending her heart into a flurry. “She should have been back by now,” Darby whispered, checking the hourglass for the umpteenth time. She had already flipped it four times which meant at least two hours had come and gone and still nothing, no crying, fussy baby; no singing Enid, no bounding laughter, nothing.

The woods were just as quiet as ever, maybe even more so.

“Give her some time, you two always bicker like old hags,” Darby’s husband Elron mused, looking up over his newfangled glasses. Lensed contraptions Enid had acquired—or rather—stole from another set of humans.

“You wouldn’t get it… you’re just happy you can finally see,” Darby continued, her leg shaking furiously.

“Darby…you keep doing that and the nest is going to take off flying, if you’re so worried why don’t you go look for her…put all that nervous energy to good use.”

“Yes, that’s it, might as well go and see what trouble they got into…” Darby added a hint of reluctance in her voice as she pulled on an oversized coat—another thing Enid had acquired from a rather portly older woman, a human that smelled like wild-honeysuckle and boiled jasmine.

“Elron dear, if I don’t come back within a half-hour, send the troops,” Darby whispered, her attempt at humor failing as she fastened the ties around her neck. If she wasn’t outright saying it—it was clear Darby was worried about her sister and she had every right to be.


Darby set off into the darkening woods unsure of what might await her as she inched even closer to where she had last spotted her sister, rounding the bend at the sleeping pine tree near where the path forked. She stopped just short—“it’s just woods Darby…it’s just woods…nothing abnormal or different. You’ve walked these paths before…just one foot in front of the other.”

All the small talk in the world couldn’t calm her down. She felt a twinge in her belly she couldn’t explain. From where she stood she was about fifty yards from the human’s encampment. It was a minor miracle how the two could co-exist so closely without ever knowing the other existed. Well, all would be fine if the humans just kept to their patch of land, but as it were, they seemed to be a rowdy, explorative bunch and their little village grew with each passing month. It was only a matter of time before they realized the dragons were there and not all of the humans would be so accommodating to think they were a gaggle of oversized lizards. They weren’t as easy to fool as the small child had been.

“What will I do if one spots me, what will I do,” Darby muttered. Each snap of a twig, rustling leaves and bending branch overhead sent her into a tail-spin. She was sure it was a human.

“I’m going to end up the next thing over one of their fire-places; my lumpy purple head will be stuffed and fitted on a plaque of some sort like a trophy…” Darby shuddered to think of what could happen to her. She almost turned around to go back home.

“No, I have to find Enid; I have to find her…” Darby whispered, shaking off the growing feeling of dread. Something slimy slinked over the tops of her feet causing her to nearly come out of her skin.

Darby looked down, peeking out from behind her clinched hands, whatever it was felt quite heavy. She did a double take, a snake? Not just any snake—a Tangled-Elderworm snake—fat, bulbous, ugly things that were covered in grimy film. They were the leaches of the forest, annoying buggers.

“Come on, go-on, shoo…”

The thing didn’t budge. It sprawled across her pointy toes as though somehow asleep. Darby wondered if the thing was dead, she nudged her feet—still nothing. “Enough…” Darby hissed, kicking the monstrous snake off into a nearby tree with a thudding splat. She had had enough.

Off in the distance she heard a familiar sound, crying. The cry wasn’t from the baby, it sounded like it was coming from Enid. That was the last thing she needed to hear at a time like this.

Darby fluttered with all her might, her worn out, ill-used wings doing their best to keep her upright as she chugged along—straining every muscle in her body to keep her in the air. “I’m coming Enid…” Darby huffed.

Moments later she came to a clearing in the woods—the human’s most recent work—it looked as though they were carving way for a river. Sure enough, off to the side sat a dejected, baby-less Enid.

Enid didn’t look up; she already knew Darby was there.

“I smelled you coming a mile away—all that perfume. You would think it would have washed away when you rolled in the mud…but no…alas, you smell like an old lady,” Enid began, her head hung in shame. She was covered in splotchy tomatoes. There wasn’t a smile to be had on her otherwise cheery features which were now glum and forlorn.

“What happened…is that blood?” Darby questioned, her concern growing more apparent.

“No, worse…” Enid replied.

“What’s worse than blood?” Darby asked.

Tomatoes…” Enid whispered, “The town-kids threw large bushels of tomatoes at me and called me names, grabbed the baby from me and took off.” The words had barely enough time to make their way out when buckets of tears flew out of her eyes with enough gusto to fill the creek-bed.

“There, there, it’s alright,” Darby said, her gentle words sweeping over Enid like a light rain. “I’m sure if they had gotten to know you they wouldn’t have reacted that way. They wouldn’t have said all those hurtful things…”

Darby felt a familiar twinge coursing through her veins— the twinge of sadness, of worry, of anger. She saw how much the tiny human had meant to Enid and to have these barbaric humans treat her sister with such hate and indignity made Darby’s blood boil.

“I will fix this, I will make it right again.”

Enid sat a mere shadow of the bubbly-happy-go lucky dragon she had been hours before.

Darby stood, her mighty wings glowing with fury. It seemed these treacherous humans had unleashed the monster within, the dormant hidden beast. The undercurrent of hell ripped through the woods in a death-inducing howl. Darby’s eyes burned red-hot, her scales were nearly on fire themselves as she let out a stream of flames so mighty even the leaves curled into a fried pickling mess.

“Darby no, don’t do it!” Enid shrieked jumping up to stop her sister but it was too late. Darby had transformed into the very thing she feared, a monster—and from this very day humans would come to fear the sight of dragons for as long as they lived. Stories twisted and turned like the traveling roots of a Furness tree—growing wilder and more sinister with each passing swoop.

When Darby had finished her bidding—the city of Northbury was no more— disappearing from the Earth and vanishing from the maps forever. Some would even say a small child had been born from the flames, but no such child ever seemed to exist, no documents showed any child living or dying in that year. Much speculation circled around the nearby dragon-nests—stories of small children living amongst the dragons, but then again, who would believe such things as dragons raising a human child, let alone a whole host of them.

But, if you do believe in such things, there are still remnants of a small town hidden deep in the woods, a town that seems to be nothing more than a dragons lair—the sound of children laughing and playing somewhere between the trees but when outsiders get to close—the sounds stop. Maybe it’s just a trick of the mind or maybe the dragon-child is watching you, waiting for you to get closer…Maybe, just maybe.

By Angus Read on Unsplash

FableFantasyShort Story

About the Creator

K.H. Obergfoll

Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.

& above all—thank you for your time

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (2)

  • Miles Pen2 years ago

    Great work! I really love the world-building in this story! .... check out my dragon story if you ever get a chance!

  • Kenny Penn2 years ago

    Terrific Origin Story, very well written, thanks for sharing

K.H. ObergfollWritten by K.H. Obergfoll

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