What to Feed Your Dragon
Hint: It'd Better Be Fresh!
There weren't always dragons in the Valley. Well, not living in the Valley. Sure, there was the random scorch mark to be found, when I was out gathering herbs for my potions or digging for tubers. I knew there had to be dragons somewhere nearby, but it would take some real investigation to figure out why, exactly, they didn’t live there.
Not a problem. I had time to spare in those days. Another cup of tea? Or would you rather have some of these cookies I’ve just taken from the oven? Still warm—
Help yourself! Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the dragons in the valley.
There’s not a lot of work these days for a hedgewitch, you see, now that the alchemists and natural philosophers and arcane scientists have taken over the healing trades. Everyone seems to think that men in starry robes from the city are more qualified to heal an ailment than the farmwife who lives next door. Hogwash! But as they say, everything runs in cycles. What goes around, comes around. And when it comes back around to me, well, I’ll be ready to step up.
You see, I’ve discovered an ancient secret that few remember. There is power in the bones of dragons. Power to heal, power to harm. Not that I’m in the harming business, mind you! I don’t hold with harming honest folks. Or dragons. That’s why I had to really think through my action plan.
It doesn’t do to go into this kind of thing without your eyes wide open. Dragons are pretty fearsome creatures, as you know. I’m sure you’ve heard that quote, “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with—”
Yes, all right. So, there were dragons I needed for my most powerful potions, but I wasn’t in the market for slaughtering the poor wee beasties and chopping them up. I decided to lure one in, easy-like, kind of befriend it. Then, once its belly was full and it was sleepy-ish, I would ensnare it with a magical web. Not to enslave it, of course. Just to get it to sit a spell and talk. I thought if I could tell it what all I had planned, and convince it of how it would be a benefit to both human- and dragon-kind to work together against the alchemists and metallurgists and their ilk, well, then…
Everything would work to both of our advantages.
Easier said than done, of course. Isn’t that always the way of things? I came here to the Valley with just one wagon full of my earthly possessions. An old nag to pull the wagon, and my two goats tied on behind. And this sweetheart…
Now, don’t let that old puss turn you sweet on her! Once you start in to petting her, she’ll follow you around all the long day, begging for a scratch on the chin. Here, give her to me and I’ll put her in the barn. No, no! She’s fine out there. We’ve got just one mama dragon lying in right now, brooding on her nest. Those eggs’ll be hatching any time now. You’ll have your pick of the litter.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes! One wagon, one horse, two goats, and a pregnant cat. I’d gotten the place pretty well in order, although it’d been in quite a rare state when I arrived. No one had lived in this old place for many a year. No, the windows were already cut into the boulder, by the previous tenants. But I enlarged them and then carved those flowers into the lintel around the door. I do like to pretty things up, wherever I live. And quite frankly, living inside a boulder can be a little tight, if you know what I mean. Safe and sound, from the weather and all, but a mite confining.
Luckily, there was plenty to eat here in the Valley, for me and the livestock. The cat is a good mouser, so she had her meat. But I wasn’t about to go off hunting some poor deer or other, to bait a trap for a dragon. I've been a vegetarian since I was just a girl. I don't hold with killing much. So I had to figure out another way to attract the first mighty beast. That’s when I had to get wily.
Even though most of the folks who used live in these parts had headed off to the city for “better opportunities,” there were still enough around that a certain element stayed. The ones who live on the fringes of civilized society, if you get my drift. And I knew that when I lit my fire—a nice, smoky cooking fire—they’d be along to check things out.
Ha! Yes! Men…
Well, they showed up just looking to cause some trouble for a woman living alone. I’d put on my best gown with cleavage down to here and done my hair up and fixed a nice big batch of fresh cookies. No, no! Those are fine. Nothing to worry about. So, pretty soon, a couple of ne’er-do-wells shows up at my door and push their way in. They ate those cookies down quick as you can blink, and in two shakes of a lamb’s tail they were out cold.
Opium poppies, that’s what I used. It took a bit of wrassling to haul those two out onto the rock ledge in front of the cliff, but I managed it. I’m stronger than I look. I'd already painted the web on the rockface, so whatever dragon I managed to lure in would be inclined to stay awhile. And when the first dragon shows up, well, I told him he had to set and converse a while, before he could eat. It turns out I didn't even need that magic web, he was so cooperative. Friendly old boy, he was. I guess maybe he was lonely like me, and just wanted someone to talk to. Those two bandits were starting to stir by the time we came to an agreement, that big old king dragon and me. But he’s stood by it ever since. I did give him a good meal, didn’t I? I know how to treat a guest right. And I didn't have to do the killing myself, so that was a plus. A bit squeamish I am, you might say.
So, all you have to do when the eggs start to hatch is pick which one you want and hold it tight in your arms. That little dragonling will bond with you for life. Just start to feed it from that barrel I showed you, the one with all those bite-sized pieces of brigands and robbers in it. The mama dragons slice them up with those sharp claws of theirs. Feed your little dragonling and it’ll be devoted to you until the day it dies.
Or until you do. Best move to a place with lots of ready criminals when you decide to settle down. You'd make a decent meal yourself, sweetie, if your dragon misses too many meals.
Dragons do eat a lot. Fresh meat. But you'll get all the shed scales you need to make your magical pretties for the fair. Just keep your baby fed and you’ll do fine, dearie. Just fine.
Thank you for reading! Likes, comments, shares, follows, and pledges are always cherished.
I have challenged myself to write twenty-seven dragon prologues/stories for the Vocal.media Fantasy Prologue Challenge, one for each day the challenge runs. Here's a link to my next entry:
About the author
Hillora Lang feared running out of stuff to read, so she began writing just in case...
While her major loves are fantasy and history, Hillora will write just about anything, if inspiration strikes. If it doesn't strike, she'll nap, instead.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
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