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Vega: Guardian of the Individual

By: Ashley Benware

By A. L. BenwarePublished 5 months ago 20 min read

A roar rattled the trees of the otherwise desolate forest. This was followed immediately by the frantic pounding of hooves against the fallen autumn leaves on the near freezing earth. The enormous buck had lived a long and fruitful life in relative peace…until now. Now, a large shadow loomed ever closer over the distressed creature as it ran for its life. Another roar shook the forest and the deer bawled as the last thing he saw were the jaws of the dragon coming for its next meal.

This was simply nature as a creature in the wilds. There are prey and there are predators that need nourishment. This was not the mindset of the village neighboring the woods where the dragon resided. Most humans painted this animal as a brute and a monster. Though, there were a few select people that considered the dragon as an ethereal guardian. Regardless, no one ever got close enough to find out which path the dragon chose.

What these humans did not know was that this dragon was unbelievably intelligent. Not only did she understand their spoken language, but she understood their written one as well. In their language she had created the name “Vega” for herself, should any human be brave enough to ask. She understood their daily lives and how they felt about her. It was for this reason she hunted further out than any human had dared go so as not to cause them fear or to diminish their food supply.

In her nearly 200 years of life she was simply fascinated by them. She studied them from afar in the safety of the dark forest. In her days she learned how truly intelligent these beings could be if only they could open their minds. She also learned that a small portion of these people were truly and irrevocably evil as she watched certain ones torture and belittle the females, pets, and even children. Those were the times she decided to let out a roar or a puff of fire out of the forest canopy. Their fright was undeniably satisfying.

When she was not observing the humans she would hunt or travel the lands hoping in earnest one of her kin would return to her. Vega would wait atop mountains, hunt, and retreat back to her home in a hidden mountain cave once the last of the sun's rays had bounced off of her blue-gray scales. This is how her days progressed as the forest became more bare as autumn neared its end and prepared for the snowy winter.

On one of the last days before the ice and the snow would surely begin, Vega noticed a glowing light from the base of the small mountain she inhabited. As a naturally curious dragon, she crept as close as she dared to the unnatural light. What she found were humans, more specifically, a family of humans. She recognized them from the village as a usually happy man, woman, and two small children. They were huddled around their small fire and trying to warm themselves. Vega watched from the shadows as their youngest, a son no more than two winters old, toddled around much to the distress of his mother when he came too close to the flames. He giggled as his father scooped him into his arms and tickled the small lad as the female watched while cuddled up to their daughter.

The way the light of the fire bounced off of the boy's wild, curly, copper-colored hair reminded her of one of the dying leaves that had fallen from the trees on a sunny autumn day. His small cheeks were round and glowing with life and his big, round, beautiful eyes matched the blue-gray of her scales. His sister, who was only a few years older than him, seemed to be his complete opposite. Her hair was dark like the richest of soil and her skin was nearly as pale and beautiful as the moonlight. Her smaller, graceful, and ever so slightly narrow eyes matched the green of the land on a cloudy spring day. The girl looked exactly like her father while the boy favored his mother’s features.

Vega waited as the father stoked the fire and added more dry wood to make it truly come to life. When she was satisfied they would be warm enough she turned to go back to her cave. What she did not notice was the glimmer off of her scales when she turned that the young boy saw as he stared after her and squealed excitedly.

The next morning, Vega awoke to a strange noise coming from near the mouth of her cave much like that of what her hatchlings had sounded like when they wailed to be fed so long ago. She crept quietly to the entrance of her cave and carefully looked out into the cold, rainy day and waited to hear the noise once more. When she heard it again Vega spread her wings and flew towards the meadow nearby.

The tall, dying grass of the meadow showed no life to be making such a sound. She waited and the creature cried again from the ground and led her to a patch of grass that had been trampled flat. On top of which was a small figure. Vega was taken aback when she saw the young boy from the family she had seen the night before. He was lying on the ground and dirty as he whimpered. His tiny hands were balled into fists and his eyes looked as though he were using all his might to squeeze them shut as the mighty dragon sniffed at him and gently nudged his tiny leg with her snout. She surveyed him from top to bottom and noticed a couple small wounds on his hands and face, though he looked healthy otherwise.

Vega made a small noise so as not to scare the small human child and his eyes opened and looked straight into hers. He stood and reached a tiny, chubby hand out to her without hesitation. The dragon brought her head to him and his hand patted the tip of her snout repeatedly. Vega nuzzled the boy's hand when he suddenly cried out again and began to rapidly flap his arms as if he hoped the wind would carry him into the sky. This confused the dragon as he began to make noises that did not form the words of his brethren. The boy stared at Vega with those big eyes that reminded her of the cerulean pools in a far off land. The land where dragons were once plentiful and free to roam without the threat of close minded villages. If only those humans could see that the dragons wished to live in harmony. She looked down at the boy and was met with those big, round eyes that seemed to plead with her for help in the purest of ways. He didn’t seem to understand that she did not understand him.

The dragon did not understand why he was so far from his family as he was barely the age of a hatchling. While it was barely a few moments flight for Vega to get from his family’s camp to the meadow, it was at least a mile or two for the small child. How had he gotten himself here? Surely his family would not have abandoned him in such a place to fend for himself? Vega looked at the child and curled her tail around his back so as to bring him closer to her warm body.

Vega expected the boy to scream in fear or try to run, but instead he wrapped his soft, tiny arms around her tail in a heart warming embrace. She let out the breath she had held in relief as he snuggled in closer to her and soaking up her warmth. The dragon lifted a wing over the boy to shield him from the rain that began to fall harder. The child began to shiver and Vega used her front leg to scoop the boy up and hold him against her chest as she had seen the other humans do in the village. He wiggled and squirmed and she waited until he calmed and her grip was solid before taking off into the skies.

In her experience it was easiest for humans to find things if they were to stay stationary, but the child was cold and wet and she worried if they were found he could be separated from her. Vega returned to her cave and would take him back out to the meadow once the rain calmed. The dragon set the boy down gently and walked on wobbly legs towards the back of her cave near her nest of soft grass. He jumped onto it excitedly and ran as fast as he small legs would go in gleeful circles in the nearly pitch black space. Vega sat at the entrance and watched the boy as he ran and ran.

This child was very much like other children she had observed, but again not. There was a more playful innocence to his demeanor though at times he seemed to give himself over to fits of frustration. Self inflicted punches and slaps would come about at the most random of times as well as a random growl or yelp or screech, yet nearly as soon as it began it would end. He did not speak which was normal for such a young creature, but usually by this age they had the most basic of language in the form of a greeting or a name.

This boy seemed content in his relative silence and Vega could not help but to see a bit of herself in the human hatchling. She wasn’t sure if this child understood the language, but she felt a sort of kinship in not being able to speak it. Watching this child long enough she figured out that the boy would use his fists to strike the top of his head when he got himself too excited with running and jumping into the nest. When he was frustrated with not being able to reach a small ledge or putting back a piece of grass where he wanted it to be, he would make a screeching noise and slap his cheek. The dragon did her best to comfort him in the fits of frustration and distract him with a puff of smoke from her massive mouth in the shape of rings that caused the most contagious of smiles to cross his little mouth.

Fascination could not fully describe what Vega felt watching the human boy. He seemed to see the world in such a unique way as he moved about and played. He didn’t even fear her as so many others had. He would periodically come climb about her tail and began clapping his hands and giggled uncontrollably when she would flick the end of it.

He continued about the cave and tossed rocks at the walls and clapped his hands when they made a satisfying “THUNK” against the stone. Every so often he would mistakenly throw a rock towards Vega to which she knew he meant no harm. The dragon reveled in the hugs and snuggles the little boy stowed upon her. He would even attempt to give her scales sloppy kisses and it truly brought her back to a time when she had her own hatchlings causing chaos in her cave. Though that chaos came with dragonfyre, so a few rocks bouncing off of her scales was minute in comparison.

Vega noticed that the boy would randomly stop mid run to examine a small pebble or a twig on the cave floor, then immediately go back to running. Sometimes he would move the objects as if they were in the incorrect place or pick it up and put it back exactly how he found it. He seemed so intrigued by the smallest of treasures. Treasures that any other human would not even think to acknowledge. The purity of this child comforted her soul merely for the fact that humans were still so capable of wonder.

Hours passed as the dragon guarded the child and she could feel the sun begin warming her wings. She turned to the child who began to slow his running and sleepily rubbed his eyes with his tiny hands. The pounding rain had ceased and the boy no longer shivered and as much as she wished for him to stay, it was time to return him to his family. Vega walked up to the boy and he held his arms up for her to pick him up and she obliged, tucking him securely into her chest. When she was satisfied she had a firm grip once more, Vega took off into the skies towards where she had found the child’s family the night before.

Vega landed a little ways away from the camp so as not to frighten anyone by landing in the middle of it and surely causing chaos. The boy was asleep against her chest and she made her way silently through the forest until she could hear cries from the grown humans. The man and woman kept repeating the word “Logan” and she figured that must be what they called the boy. Vega let out a quiet version of her roar as she didn’t want to startle the still sleeping Logan.

The humans were silent and Vega slowly walked out of the trees and into their camp. They did not scream, but the male human tucked both the woman and the small girl behind him and held out his hand to signal for the dragon not to come closer. Vega simply lowered her snout to the man’s hand much in the same way Logan had come up to her earlier. He looked at her in disbelief and his body seemed to somewhat relax as Vega moved the wing that had been shielding the sleeping boy in case the humans came at her with malicious intent.

Once the man saw his son resting so soundly in Vega’s claws his face crumpled and he fell to his knees with his face in his hands. The woman ran up to the dragon beaming as tears streamed down her cheeks. The dragon gently placed the boy in her arms and the woman looked straight into her ancient, fiery eyes and Vega saw those same cerulean pools she shared with her son. Logan did not stir and his mother did not waiver as she spoke to the dragon; the first one brave enough to ever do so.

“Thank you,” she said clearly. Vega’s eyes widened and the woman smiled. “You can understand me, can’t you?” Vega nodded as the man and the girl walked up to the woman’s side. The girl was wide eyed and doing her best to hide that she shook harder than tall grass in a windstorm.

“We are in your debt, magnificent one, thank you,” the man stammered as tears continued down his cheeks. Vega shook her giant head, these humans owed her nothing for the pleasure of connecting with such a pure creature. Nothing could ever give her the same satisfaction of the feeling of belonging she now had. Now the little girl stepped forward and Vega waited as she gathered her courage.

“The people we live near are cruel about the things they say about my brother,” she started. Vega was taken aback at the statement, but listened as the girl continued. “They don’t understand him and the other kids are so mean. Were you kind to him? If you were mean to him we can’t be friends.”

“Penny!” her mother snapped as Vega laid on the ground at the girl's feet and looked up at her, trying to give her some indication that, yes, she was kind to her brother. The woman looked somewhere between terrified and infuriated while the glassy eyed little girl beamed at the dragon and brushed her hand along her scales.

Logan began to stir in his mother’s arms and soon those bright, blue eyes were blinking up at Vega once again. She could not believe any creature could be cruel to this little beam of light. This child was anything but a menace; he was merely not the same as other children. Rather than celebrate his differences, the close minded village chose to shun them. A low growl emitted from Vega at such a thought as that beautiful child smiled up at her from his mother’s arms.

Vega could feel the humming of magic in the forest as if it too were appalled at the notion of such a thing. Penny suddenly pointed behind the immense dragon as a glowing orange light came closer to the group before stopping atop Vega’s snout. It glowed brighter and with a flash of light a small figure appeared to the dragon’s delight; a fire sprite. The humans mouths opened in awe and the tiny creature playful twirled in the air and faced Vega with a bow.

“Your magnificence, your courage and empathy has not gone unnoticed. The forest has sent a gift for you in the form of a kindred flame, dearest guardian,” the sprite said in a voice both old and new. “If you wish to convey a message to these humans you need only speak through me.”

Vega turned to the humans, their mouths still agape, and bowed her head slightly as she turned back to face the sprite. The sprite’s fiery glow gave Vega’s blue-gray scales an incandescent glimmer of their own. What could only be described as the closest form of a toothy grin graced the dragon’s face as she made a few rumbles toward the sprite.When the grumbling noises ceased the fire sprite gleefully turned to the humans and clapped her hands in front of her smiling face made of flame.

“I have been given the great task of introducing to you humans a guardian by the name of Vega. Vega is relieved that your son is safe and in the best care with you. She is proud that you did not abandon him due to close minded ideals of your village and would be happy to assist you in creating an accepting home.” The man and woman blinked at the sprite as their heads swiveled to look at Vega. “The guardian believes that communication through the spoken language is not always necessary to understand any creature and is contented to have a kinship in that intelligent silence with your son.”

“I am glad to know you, Vega,” the glassy-eyed woman said to the benevolent beast. “I am glad our children know such kindness in this world.” Vega bowed her head as the woman laid her hand upon her snout to which Vega made a noise similar to a purr. The blazing fire sprite bowed her head and, with a quick wink to the children, disappeared as quickly as she had come.

Thus, the humans and the dragon embarked on the next steps of their biggest endeavor yet.

The next days, weeks, and months proved to be difficult and yet immeasurably satisfying for Vega. The mature humans had rounded up a couple of the more supportive of the village people and had brought them before her. Vega made many trips back and forth taking as many humans and supplies as she could carry to the small valley below her cave in the mountain.

There, the few men began to build what became their own small village. Vega had learned that the mother and father to Logan and Penny were named Arthur and Leigh, and they helped to direct newcomers who had been exiled from their villages as well. They would come a few at a time looking for a rumored refuge for what others had deemed misfits where they were welcomed with open arms.

As the small village grew Leigh would guide some of the men, women, children, and otherly abled to the gardens and community house to get settled, while Arthur would direct the men and women who took interest to help with construction. Once the newcomers were settled in a temporary home, they would be brought to meet Vega.

There was always a fearful silence when the people were brought before such an exquisite creature. Vega was always patient as she studied each human big and small, young and old as they came before her. They would all hold their breath, except for the occasional bold child that would instantly wrap their little arms around her neck and tail, and bow their heads to the mighty guardian. Vega would bow her head as well and would hear the exhale of weighted breath at her acceptance of them.

Over the months that passed, Vega would hear many stories from the newcomers. Their stories of why they set out to live here and have better lives for them and their families often made her angry at those who were so ignorant towards them simply for being. She often wondered if these people were the ones who were truly the misfits among the unenlightened.

Vega had found an additional shadow to her own in the form of Logan. He always sought her out and they just enjoyed each other’s presence. He still did not speak and Vega understood more about him every day. She had learned when he would just stand in front of her and stare that he needed something he could not reach on his own and that if he abruptly turned and walked off that she was to follow.

He was so purely individual and she enjoyed watching him flourish with the friends he had made in the newcoming children. It always delighted her to see them accept him with open arms. His sister Penny had found a great community of children that shared some of the hardships she had faced and was blossoming in her own right. She was happy to help anyone whether that meant holding their hand while they wept, or playing a ball game to distract from unpleasant memories, or simply someone just needing a friend; she was there.

Penny had all the grace of her mother when it came to talking to anyone and everyone. Logan, however, kept more to himself yet was happy to lend a hand just like his father. With this raizing this new village these children and so many others were given the room and acceptance to grow and thrive simply by being themselves. There was no judgment here for simply being. If there was a dispute, it got resolved peacefully. If tempers flared, those who were calm could step in. Even though no place could ever truly be the epitome of perfection, this village certainly felt like it was.

Vega relaxed in her cave as Logan played with her tail and climbed all over her scales. Penny sat with her back against her side as a book lay open in her lap. Hours passed and Leigh and Arthur came to collect the children to feed them supper at home. This had become a nightly ritual as the days went on. They always greeted Vega with a hand placed lovingly on her snout and it made the dragon's scales tingle with an internal warmth she would never take for granted. The love and devotion she had for this family was immeasurable. When they had said their goodbyes and Logan was nearly out of sight, still waving to her, Vega would take off into the skies.

The giggles heard from below were nothing short of awesome. Vega went for her hunt but always hovered over the family until they were at their doorstep. Leigh looked into the sky as Vega’s extraordinary form faded into the distance. Her family made their way into their house her and her husband had built with their own two hands and assistance from Vega’s fire. Leigh lingered in the doorway as she observed what they had made together. Tears stung her eyes as she heard Vega’s signature roar within the wind. She said in a voice just barely above a whisper:

“Thank you, Vega: Guardian of the Individual.”

FantasyShort Story

About the Creator

A. L. Benware

I wrote my first poem in second grade, I had my poetry published in an anthology when I was 15 and now I think I have the beginnings of my first(-ish) novel in the works. My mind constantly builds worlds and stories that I hope to share!

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