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Dragons of Legend

A story of how leaders were made and chosen.

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published about a year ago 21 min read
7
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The water fall trickled musically as I leaned down for a drink. The peacefulness of the forest was soothing.

A subtle wind blew and rustled the remaining leaves in the trees. Most of the birds having flown south for the winter made for a song-less serenity.

A sudden shriek split through the air and cut the silence.

My blood ran cold at the interruption, the spines on my cheeks rose in alarm. Sniffing the air, I found an old familiar scent.

The smell of a child, which explained the shrieking that interrupted my peace.

With as much stealth as possible, I scaled a tree and began hopping from branch to branch. Following the scent and sounds of the child until I found myself safely above it.

The boy looked to be no more than 4 years old, with short black hair. Wearing a thick orange sweater and black pants.

He sat upon the ground crying into his hands, shaking in fear.

I took pity on the poor thing as I continued watching in curiosity.

It had been some time since I’d seen a child alone in the forest, so many years I didn’t bother to account for them.

I sat for several hours watching the boy as he eventually stopped crying and calling for help. He sat in place, patiently. Talking to himself in a voice so small, I couldn’t make out his words.

But I didn’t dare move nearer, for fear of his parents return.

The boy began to remind me of an old friend, one whose memory pained me to think of. It had been eons since I thought of him, let alone since I had seen him.

I smiled to myself as the memory of Aldrich graced my mind.

But this memory was interrupted by a few more whimpers from the boy.

Snapping me back to the present.

He wiped the tears from his cheeks and stood up, looking around as though trying to regain his bearings. But then quickly sat down in a pout, crossing his arms on his chest.

Night was beginning to fall and his parents were showing no sign of locating him.

The soft spot in me couldn’t help but want to protect him. Almost like an unspoken thanks for bringing back the memory of my Aldrich.

So as the last of the light began to fade, I scaled down the tree in silence. Keeping an ear out for any other sounds aside from the boy.

Standing at the base of the tree, I cleared my throat. Hoping to soften it before I spoke.

The boy immediately turned and gazed upon me in bewilderment.

“Hello.” I began nervously, trying to form a smile.

The boy stood up, fear beginning to form in his expression.

“Don’t be afraid, young one. I am here to protect you.” I explained, remaining in place.

Hoping this would come as some comfort to him.

The boys eyes moved all around me and curiosity won out.

“What are you?” He asked in a small, timid voice.

Swallowing hard as he attempted to hide his fear and anxiety.

Chuckling, “I’m a dragon.” I explained, smiling as I allowed his curiosity to charm me.

The boys expression turned to a furrow, something like confusion.

I always found human expressions hard to read.

“I thought dragons were bigger.” He spoke in a less timid voice, tilting and turning his head as he continued to observe me.

“We come in all shapes and sizes.” I explained, taking a few steps towards him.

“What’s your name?” I inquired, trying to edge closer in a nonthreatening way.

“My name is Tai.” He replied in a semi- rehearsed voice.

“Tai,” I began. “Do you mind if I start a fire?” I asked, as night was starting to fall and I could tell his vision was beginning to fade.

I slowly tip toed towards him, cautious of any unpredictable movements.

I always thought the worst thing about humans was that you could never tell what they were thinking.

Tai nodded, watching me as if unable to find words in this moment.

I piled a few leaves together and let out a small huff of fire. Igniting the pile immediately and lighting up the forest around us.

The fire burned and crackled quietly, emitting both the heat and light needed for this time of year.

“Why don’t you have a seat?” I offered, sitting across the fire from him.

“But my mom-“

“We will find her in the morning.” I interrupted, wanting to stop another bout of useless tears.

Sometimes humans and their emotions were too much for me.

“It’s no use looking for her in the dark, it’s best to try to stay warm and get some sleep.” I further explained, waiting for him to take a seat.

The boy looked around as though hoping his mother would suddenly appear in the light of the fire. Realizing that wouldn’t happen, Tai sat back down with a thump.

Barely visible over the flame that separated us.

He crossed his arms again, pursing his lips together in a pout.

“I can promise you will be safe with me. No other animals bother dragons.” I assured him, passively glancing around in the darkness. Almost daring something to challenge me.

Caught off guard, he looked around too as though trying to spot others of my kind.

“There are no more dragons in this forest.” I commented, smiling again.

Getting up and stepping around the fire to be nearer to him.

“Are there dragons in every forest?” He asked, his eyes lit with curiosity.

Settling back on the forest floor, I curled my tail around myself.

“No, but there used to be.” I stated, remorse filling my heart as the memory of the old times filled my mind.

Tai shimmied down so his back rested on the log, watching me as though he expected a story. His eyes heavy with sleep as he began to relax in my presence.

“What happened to them all?” He asked, fighting a yawn that escaped.

“Well if I’m going to tell a story, I best start from the beginning.” I began with a sigh and small smile.

I allowed myself to be swallowed up in my own story and the memory I was about to recall.

I gazed into the flames and was hypnotized by my own words. Being swept into a different time and nearly dimension.

* * *

My story began a long long time ago, in a time before Kings and Queens. A time before humans were beginning to form civilization.

Dragons, not unlike myself roamed the earth as the last living relatives of lizard family. Better known as dinosaurs.

As humans began to evolve, we found the need to coexist.

Dragons would go on to eventually teach humans how to harness the power of fire, how to speak, grow and harvest food.

In return, we asked for the sacrifice of a small child ranging from the ages of 3 to 5 years old.

This sacrifice also served to keep the peace between species. As humans began to grow in the strength and numbers, it helped humans fear our kind enough to obey our command.

These were the teachings passed down to me as I grew and took on my own plot of human territory.

Growing up, I was always branded as a more feint of heart dragon than most. Feeling pity for those of the human race as they didn’t have the knowledge and abilities we do.

My weakness only further proven when it was time to collect my first sacrifice.

Sitting with my teacher, watching as a small boy waddled into the forest. Shaking, sweaty as he took several tentative steps into the forest. Pausing as he came far enough in to not be visible from the village. His green eyes darting in all directions as he nervously awaited his fate.

With a nod, Warrick sent me forward. Scaling down the tree with great stealth, I crept up behind him and accepted my first victim.

The boys scream echoed in my ears for hours after his death.

Even now, just the memory brings forth the echoes again.I could feel the sting of guilt again, almost as painful as it had been that day.

Meanwhile listening to the praises from my teacher on my efficiency, I washed the blood off myself in the river.

Warrick assured me that it would get easier with time and I’d eventually enjoy the taste of their blood.

But it never did. I grew to detest the taste entirely as it only reminded me more of the guilt I felt at a lost life. A life I had taken.

The soft part of me began to win out as I wished for another way of accepting the sacrifice. Or even just another way of keeping the peace between species, so that life wouldn’t need to be wasted.

My will was tested only months later, when yet another sacrifice was sent into the forest.

A young boy at about 4 years of age with chin length mud brown hair, entered the forest. He toddled in haphazardly, not showing fear for his fate by any means. He seemed to be expecting to be attacked as he did his best to calmly survey the surrounding forest. But showed great valour as he continued to trudge onward, travelling deeper still.

This peaked my curiosity, causing me to withdraw from my original purpose.

I allowed him to wander deeper into the forest than any had, as I got carried away observing him.

“Mr. Dragon?” He finally paused to call out, “I am here for you.” He continued, looking around in curiosity.

Scanning the forest floor as though expecting me to come trotting out the bushes at any moment.

I remained in the trees above him, drawn in by his lack of fear, wanting to see what he would do next.

The boy eventually carried on walking deeper into the forest, huffing as he got tired.

“Oh Mr. Dragon,” he continued calling as his voice got hoarse.

I allowed him to wander until night began to fall.

I felt my sense of duty begin to wane as I became more wrapped up in the curiosity. The boy exerted bravery, that none others had shown.

Eventually the boy took shelter under a large dogwood tree as night fell and he lost the ability to see clearly.

Sitting upright, he crossed his arms on his chest and seemed to be settling in for the night.

This was when I took my chance to get a better look at the boy.

Scaling down the tree nearest him, I watched him carefully.

His eyes closed as he began to breath deeply.

I was so entranced, I forgot to watch my step. Accidentally crunching leaves and snapping a twig.

The boy immediately opened his eyes, looking wildly into the darkness.

“Whose there?” He called, a small tremor in his voice. “Mr. Dragon?” He followed up, impatiently awaiting an answer and his expected fate.

My cover blown, “Yes, I am the dragon.” I replied in as deep of a voice I could muster.

Wanting to sound threatening and bigger than I am.

“I can’t see you, but I am here for your sacrifice.” He explained, shuffling clumsily to his feet as he spoke.

Holding his breath and limbs stiffly as though he expected the attack to occur in that second.

I could hear his heart rate quicken, clearly more nervous than he let on. But still not afraid.

“Are you not afraid, boy?” I asked, still too intrigued fulfil my duty.

He remained silent. Looking around nervously as though trying to pinpoint where my voice came from. Steadying his own breathing as he did so.

I slowly began to creep closer, choosing my foot steps carefully.

Waiting until I was only feet away from him, then breathing fire and creating some light before him. Simultaneously, giving away my position.

The flames sputtered and burst into action, spreading warmth and light in our nook.

“Explain yourself, boy.” I demanded, tilting my head as I watched him find me in the light.

Taking in my form with a gulp, “I am here as your sacrifice.” He repeated. A glint of fear starting to form as his pale green eyes made contact with mine. The severity of his purpose coming to full realization as he watched me in expectation.

“You have said.” I stated, taking a few steps closer to him. “But are you not afraid?” I inquired. Tilting and turning my head in curiosity as I looked at him through narrowed eyes.

Swallowing hard again, “Yes.” He finally answered. Chewing his lips nervously.

“Then why don’t you run?” I asked in a low voice, licking my lower lip hungrily.

A piece of me wishing he’d run and that my instincts would take over when it came to collecting.

“It is an honour to serve my village.” He stated in a rehearsed sort of voice, although it shook slightly. His eyes locked on mine as he awaited his fate.

There was something about his demeanour that made it hard to collect this sacrifice. Harder than usual. A piece of me was far too intrigued by the boy. I wanted to know more about him.

“What do they call you, boy?” I inquired, sitting down a couple feet in front of him.

“Aldrich.” He stated, “Aldrich of Bain.” He reiterated, waiting obediently for more questions.

Doing his best to hold a straight face but his furrowed brow told me of his confusion.

“Nice to meet you. You may call me Alden.” I stated, continuing to look over the boy with growing curiosity.

He seemed uneasy at my introduction, dancing on his feet for a moment.

“Mr. Dragon- er- uh. Alden,” he began nervously, “Are you really going to eat me?” He asked, his eyes showing real fear for the first time.

“No, Aldrich. You intrigue me in a way that makes it hard to follow through on my duty.” I explained, unsure why I was suddenly so forthcoming.

Speechless, he nodded and slowly sat himself down against the tree.

It seemed that my words brought him some form of comfort or possibly relief.

As the night progressed I grew to like the boy more and more.

We fell asleep by the fire side, the flames fading as the sun rose for the coming day.

I awoke to find Aldrich sound asleep against the base of the tree. Not a worry or care in the world as he slept on, in his own little world.

Watching him rest brought me a sense of peace that I couldn’t quite explain. The warmth in my heart rivalled that of the fire in my soul. To this day I still cannot explain my true feelings for how happy I was, knowing that I had made the right choice. Not to accept Aldrich as a sacrifice. I felt as though I was about to redeem myself for the wrongs I had done in accepting previous sacrifices. It was in this moment that I decided I would no longer be accepting sacrifices.

Moments later Aldrich awoke.

“Good morning,” I grumbled awkwardly.

Attempting to act as though I hadn’t been watching him.

“Good morning Mr. dragon-“

“Alden” I corrected.

“Ah, Alden.” He accepted, pressing his lips together in embarrassment.

We sat in an awkward silence for a few minutes before I decided to interrupt.

Standing up with a cat- like stretch and yawn.

“Well, we should get on with our day.” I began, waiting for him to stand and join me.

“Okay.” He agreed, clumsily getting to his feet. Just before his stomach gave a distinctive rumbling sound.

Chuckling to myself, “Maybe a spot of breakfast first.” I commented, with a half smirk.

“What kind of things do you usually eat?” I asked, starting to leave our camp.

“Sometimes an apple or porridge.” He answered in a small voice, as he followed me.

“Then I shall find you some fruit, boy.” I explained, picking a small tree to scale.

Aldrich stood at the base, watching me with a helpless look on his face.

A sinking feeling overtook me as I came to the realization that he likely couldn’t climb.

Sighing, I climbed back down and walked along side him until we found a fruit baring tree.

After a few pieces of fruit the boy seemed satisfied and we went back on our way.

“Where are we going?” Aldrich inquired, following me clumsily.

Losing his balance and flailing his arms in an attempt to regain it.

“We are going to check on your villages crops and the river near by.” I explained, not paying much attention to Aldrich as he toddled on behind me.

“So you can give them your blessing?” He asked.

“My what?” I asked, giving a puzzled look over my shoulder.

Not bothering to stop as I felt a sense of urgency with our slower pace. As we were now confined to walking on the ground, rather than jumping tree to tree.

“Your blessing.” Aldrich repeated, huffing as he struggled to keep up.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I stated, still carrying on with my quickened pace.

“The blessing you give our crops, water and livestock. But only after you receive the-“. Aldrich began to explain but suddenly stopped as though worried he’d said too much.

Pausing in his steps as though he were debating running in this moment.

“Is that what you humans think the sacrifice is for?” I asked, holding back a laugh as a smirk graced my lips.

Turning to see him frozen in place as he watched me with apprehension.

With a near silent snort in amusement, I took a seat as I watched the boy running through thoughts in his mind. I waited a moment for him to relax before starting to explain.

“We only accept the sacrifice because it keeps humans afraid of us and from hunting us. We don’t bless the crops and livestock, we tend to them. We don’t bless the water we sculpt the riverbeds to flow so that you have clean water. We accept the sacrifice as payment for all the work we do that you humans have yet to understand.” I finished, taking a breath after my long winded speech.

The boy looked at me with large eyes as though shocked at my revealing of the secrets.

I felt like I could physically see him thinking. Furrowing his brow and then relaxing as he began to understand.

“You haven’t received payment yet.” He commented with a nervous gulp. His eyes ablaze with brave determination as he awaited his fate. Prepared to follow through on his duty.

“I won’t be collecting this time.” I explained, swallowing hard at the admission.

Instinctively allowing my gaze to scan the trees and surrounding forest. I nervously wondered what another dragon would do if they over heard.

By about mid-day, we had reached the river and I began to show Aldrich how to unblock its path. He jumped in and immediately began following my lead to the best of his ability. Unable to move large logs that blocked across the river. But still doing his best to move those that were more his size.

By mid-evening we had reached the crops and live stock outside Aldrich’s village.

There I showed him how to prune the plants as needed, explaining why and how. Then showed him how to shepherd the livestock to better pastures for their benefit.

A lot of dragons hated this part, feeling it was below our species and not worth serving human kind in this way. But I found it satisfying and enjoyed teaching it to someone who appreciated it.

After a few days it became apparent to me that Aldrich wasn’t going to be able to stay with me. He was slowing me down to the point that I felt I was no longer doing my duties justice. It was getting hard to stay on track and take proper care of him.

One morning, we awoke bright an early.

“What are we doing today, Alden?” Aldrich asked, with a smile as he climbed down the cherry tree. A handful of cherries in hand as he eagerly awaited todays agenda.

“You will be going home today.” I explained, starting on my way as we usually did.

“What?” He asked, in a sullen voice.

Standing at the base of the tree as he looked to me with hurt eyes.

Realizing my mistake, I turned and sat so I was facing him.

“You need to go home, bud.” I began in as soft a voice I could muster. Doing my best not to let my own voice shake.

“But I like it here. I like it with you.” He argued, tears beginning to form in his eyes.

“I can’t take good care of you and do the other jobs I’m supposed to.” I explained, trying to hide the disappointment I felt. Putting on a brave face, I continued. “You won’t be able to survive winter with those clothes. It’s already getting too cold for you.”

Aldrich’s mouth turned down at the corners, and his lower lip stuck out in a pout. Then with a sniffle he gave a deep breath.

“Okay.” He agreed with trepidation, “Let’s go home.” He continued, hanging his head in defeat.

“I’m sorry, bud.” I stated, leading the way back to Bain.

Aldrich said nothing as he followed me back, unable to find the words to express my own feelings.

Standing at the edge of the forest, I attempted to part ways with Aldrich.

“What should I tell my people?” He asked, fear in his eyes. Clearly worried they’d be upset upon his return.

Turning to face him again, “Tell them that I will no longer be collecting sacrifices. That I have chosen to take mercy on the village of Bain. I will still continue to provide my -uh, blessings, out of the goodness of my heart.” I explained, swallowing hard as though I attempted to keep my expression neutral.

Feeling that was enough, I turned and began to walk away.

“Will I ever see you again?” He asked in a small sad voice. His feet seeming to be cemented in place.

Sighing at my own weakness, I turned back around to see his sagging lower lip and round saucer-like eyes.

“Do you want to?” I regrettably asked, without thinking.

“Yes.” He answered too fast. Watching me expectantly.

“Then you may come to visit, but I can’t promise that I’ll always be around.” I explained, trying not to show how touched I was.

“Then I’ll come once a month on the days you are supposed to collect your sacrifice. That way I don’t interrupt your schedule.” He added with a hopeful smile, awaiting my acceptance.

Fighting not to let out a charmed chuckle, “I can accept those terms.” I stated, smiling at Aldrich. “Now go home, before I change my mind.” I half- heartedly threatened.

With a nod Aldrich did as he was told. Stepping out of the forest and walking back to his village. Not returning until the following month, when he’s ask to be taught something new each time.

But unbeknownst to me, he would carry the knowledge of what I taught him forward. Surpassing the elders of his village in knowledge and wisdom. To the point of becoming the youngest leader the village had ever known.

Soon passing on the knowledge to other leaders and thus become the leader of all villages in the area. Then on to an entire mass of land. Where they would give him the title of King one day.

In all these changes Aldrich would do his best to still come and visit. I would impart more wisdom upon him each time until I had shared all that I knew.

But as he aged his visits became fewer and fewer, his strength waning until eventually he was on his death bed. Upon it, he asked that I pass the knowledge directly on to his son.

Unfortunately, that was where things turned sour.

Following through on my promise to Aldrich, I passed on the knowledge to his son, Radna.

After receiving the knowledge, he then turned and revealed all the secrets to his people. Blaming dragons for all humanities misfortunes until this point. Placing a bounty on dragons as he promised untold riches to those who brought him their heads.

Thus beginning the slaughter and endangerment of my kind. Now making us far and few between, if any besides me are left at all.

All because I couldn’t do what I was told and accept a sacrifice.

* * *

Pulling myself out of my memory, I came to the realization that my young friend was now asleep. Slumped over on the leg he leaned against.

Smiling to myself, I walked over to sit beside Tai. Curling my tail around him as I rested my chin on my front legs, closing my eyes for the night.

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of multiple voices breaking the forests silence.

“Tai.” They called, over and over. Their voices growing louder as they got closer, the sounds of foot steps beginning to echo though the trees.

I left Tai upon his log and scurried up a nearby tree, out of sight.

Remaining silent as I watched the happy reunion. Ending with everyone leaving the forest as suddenly as they had arrived.

Smiling to myself as I recalled the memory of Aldrich, he had stirred in me. Unable to truly regret my choice in sparing his life.

AdventureClassicalFableFantasyLoveShort StoryYoung Adult
7

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

Thank you for stopping by!! 💚💙💜🩵

If you are interested in longer works by me, I have two books published on Amazon.

Jogger's Trail and Fox in The Hole.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (4)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran9 months ago

    Awww, I loved the relationship between Alden and Aldrich! That snake Radna is sooooo horrible! I mean, Aldrich still made time to come visit Alden even after he became King. It's hard to believe his son was so vile. Alden kinda reminded me of Mushu from Mulan. Also, such a happy ending where Tai reunited with this family. I loved this story!

  • Novel Allenabout a year ago

    This is a great story. It is always better to teach someone how to fish than just giving them a single fish every time. I hope your book/books are coming along nicely.

  • Gal Muxabout a year ago

    A happy ending. No harm befell Tai. A heartwarming story.

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