The Fall of the Dragons
Chapter 1: A Discovery in the Woods
Ambivre 1st, 1733
It had been a long time since I had visited my friend Grendel. I didn't have much to do today, so I decided to visit my childhood friend who lives on the other side of the Golden Leaf Woods.
I wanted to look my best, so I put on my purple pinstripe suit. My wife had recently ironed it. I put on my nicest purple loafers, and I plucked my chin and nostril hairs. (I'm a bipedal dragon, and I look pretty great in a tailored suit.)
I wanted to discuss something with Grendel that had been troubling me for a while. I knew he would have better notes on the subject than me. Since childhood, he had always been the better record keeper. I grabbed my briefcase and made sure all the necessary documents were tucked inside. I kissed Laurena goodbye; she said she had some soap operas to watch. She suggested she might go to Caperville to pick up rare ingredients from the Witch Cart. Laurena has an out-of-this-world recipe for eye of newt pasta.
I left our cave cottage around 10:30 in the morning. On foot, I would be at Grendel's by noon. It was a lovely fall day. Golden leaves fell from the trees, strong winds made waves in the lake, and the smell of cedar and apples lingered everywhere.
Pumpkins were decaying. The garden patches were past their prime. Squirrels and chipmunks scurried on the ground. I called out to them, "Yo, ho! Best get your fill of nuts before the first frost!" (I'm not sure if the woodland creatures understand me. They never reply back.)
I walked along the Primrose Bridge to cross over Lucerna Lake and make my way to the Golden Leaf Woods. As I walked, you could hear the pitter-patter of my feet and the thwomp-thwomp of my tail. A couple of fish jumped out of the water. Plump geese huddled on a half-sunken log. The midday sun was friendly, a light shade of yellow.
The Golden Leaf Woods looked as charming as ever. The trees were not as plush with leaves as they were earlier in the season, but there was a good mix of vibrant yellow and orange leaves. I've traveled through these parts many times. I've tried all the different paths. I know this place and its secrets. I know its hollows, creeks, and hills.
As I ventured deeper into the woods, the stench of burning wood filled my nostrils. I assumed I was about to run into campers and a large bonfire. I kept making my way east, and the smell magnified and the smoke got thick. I was surprised by what I found: in a large tree, a toddler was stuck in a hang glider harness. The child, perhaps a year old, was tangled in ropes. He wasn't crying, but he was frantic.
There were little flames here and there in the woods. Perhaps there was a larger crash? I scoured the land, thinking maybe there was an airplane engine on fire. I was really at a loss for how a toddler in a hang glider made it to these parts. I suppose if it was a larger crash the child would be in a parachute, not a hang glider harness... A thousand different thoughts raced through my mind. This was a precarious situation indeed.
Humans don't normally travel to this region. It's teeming with what they'd call monsters, toxic waste, and boggy swamps. Agregia is where the dragons live. It's not a place for humans.
I went to the toddler. I did what I could to untangle him from the hang glider. "Are you okay, little one?" I asked.
The toddler responded, "Mama?"
"No, I'm not your mama," I replied.
It dawned on me that this might be the only word the child knows. Once I released the boy from the tangled mess, I cradled him in my arms. He was wearing a blue onesie. I didn't know what to do with the boy. Do I call the authorities? No, they might kill him since humans are considered an invasive species.
I decided my visit with Grendel could wait. I went back home with the toddler.
Ambivre 2nd, 1773
Laurena was understandably shocked when I brought the boy home. She was undecided on whether we should keep him. After much discussion last night, we cleared a room for him. He needed a place to sleep.
We didn't know what to do about clothes since we don't have human toddler clothes. This morning, Laurena went to Caperville to see if anyone sold such things. At the very least, dragon diapers essentially operate the same way, at least for bipedal dragons.
The child rubbed his eyes a lot; maybe he has allergies? He ate a great deal of mushy green peas. He was happy to play with Laurena's old childhood toys. While she was out shopping, I turned on the morning news. It was the same old lineup: goblins breaking into people's cars, witches arrested for drug possession, elves complaining about property taxes, and dwarves concerned about a shortage of workers. Then there was one segment that left this middle-aged dragon pretty spooked.
Several minutes of airtime were dedicated to a young human couple: their toddler went missing. He was described as a blonde, blue-eyed, chubby-cheeked boy last seen wearing a blue onesie. He goes by the name of Declan. The boy was known to get into mischief. The boy's parents assumed he wandered off the property and got lost. He recently learned how to walk. There is a $50,000 reward for information that could lead to the boy.
I looked over my shoulder, and the boy, presumably Declan, was beating two dolls into each other. Smoke started coming out of one of the doll's ears. I turned off the TV. I pulled the doll out of the child's hands. It was very hot.
The boy pouted. He said, "Mama!"
I wondered if the boy really was missing or if he was abandoned. Because it was evident to me that he had tapped into some kind of irregular mischief...
I lifted the doll well over his head. He got upset and frantically lifted his arms above his head in a "Give me!" gesture. His face turned scarlet red. He was angry. He was determined to get his way. The doll's left foot started smoking. The boy's face was flush with crimson rage.
I simply turned the doll away from him, and I breathed fire, scorching the doll into black madness. The boy's jaw dropped. His normal flesh color returned to his face. He clapped in excitement.
Side note: I don't think Laurena will be happy with me for setting her doll on fire. I don't look forward to that fight.
The child, though, was exceedingly happy. In his mind, he found his likeness—someone else who knew the way of fire. His human parents surely didn't approve of his methods to start fires. Yes, I really think they abandoned the child and are saving face with the authorities... if this is, of course, Declan. It seems I'm finding more reasons not to tell the police about this toddler.
Later in the Afternoon
Laurena came home with an assortment of human toddler goods—clothes, formula, food, toys, diapers, and books. She said there was a dealer who comes up once a month with human baby goods. She happened to run into him on the right day.
We used some of our old furniture for his nursery. We still had a crib we used for our baby dragon—he didn't make it to six months of age. That was a long time ago. Ten years or so? We found a dresser and converted it into a changing table. I also strung ornaments on strings and made a mobile.
Laurena had also heard about the parents of the missing child. It was apparently the talk of the market. She had a bad feeling about them. She watched one of the news segments, and she felt the mother was very fake. Maybe Laurena and I were building our own narrative because we didn't want to accept reality. We saw the child as a new beginning. (We still grieve from time to time when we think of our son who died so young.)
At dinner time, the boy set his cereal on fire. Laurena was speechless. Somehow I had forgotten to tell her he could do that... She was very upset when I told her I burnt her old doll. She didn't see that as an appropriate bonding moment with the boy.
After dinner, Laurena looked through our storage closet for flame-resistant toys, the ones most fire-breathing dragons receive around the age of four or five, when the fire-breathing glands kick into gear. It's quite amazing that the child was catching things on fire at about the same time he was learning how to walk.
We put the boy to bed after reading him fairy tales. He snored surprisingly loud.
Laurena and I discussed whether we should call him Declan or something else. We acknowledged we don't actually know if he really is the missing child known as Declan... even if he is a missing child and fits the description of the toddler reported on TV. We decided it was best not to call him Declan. It was too suspicious. We'd eventually want to take him out in public, once we had disciplined his fire tendencies, at least somewhat.
I was fond of the name Jadynth. Laurena thought the name was stupid. She liked the name Christopher, the name of her great-grandfather. We ended up landing on the name Percy.
Ambivre 3rd, 1773
I woke up to a strange dream in the middle of the night. A princess left a castle at nightfall. She was taken into a carriage that zipped away into the wilderness. The castle behind her was on fire. There was a man with red hair who was walking around the premises with a bloody sword. A giant winged woman was chained to a rock. The man with red hair cast a spell on her—she was imprisoned in a cage of light.
The man made his way to the throne room. He killed knights along the way. His cronies were looting the place. People were thrown over the castle walls to their deaths.
The princess in the carriage held a baby tightly to her chest. She whispered to the baby to be quiet. The carriage never slowed. The castle faded into the distance.
After the dream, I went to the fridge to get some milk. We buy really good goat's milk from a mom-and-pop dwarf shop. It usually calms me down when I've had a nightmare or vivid dream that stirs me up too much. While sitting in my recliner sipping milk, I heard the faintest cry from Percy's room. I went to go check on him. Maybe he had a bad dream too.
When I entered the room, Percy sat up, rubbed his eyes, and said, "Mama!" Tears came out of those big blue eyes.
I rocked him to sleep. I don't know why my instincts keep telling me to parent this child. Chalk it up to dragon intuition! I have a feeling it's important that I keep him here. He belongs with me. He belongs with Laurena. He belongs in a stable home, like our delightfully charming cave cottage.
About the Creator
Freelance writer. Undergrad in Digital Film and Mass Media. Master's in English Creative Writing. Spent six years working as a journalist. Owns one dog and two cats.
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.