For many a year Faahvrigüo flew, and he wanted nothing to do with elves. He was angry with them for being there, and angry with his mother because she left him alone for their sake. At least that is how it felt to him.
So he watched them from afar with a scornful sort of curiosity, perched on mountain peaks or between holes in the clouds over which he flew. They looked to him not unlike ants would look to you, and what he could see from his lofty vantage point rarely encouraged him to take a closer look. He watched a few times as they swarmed forming tight little packs of angry black dots, shrinking and expanding until they collided violently with one another in an explosion if noise and confusion that almost invariably left the trampled fields dark with blood. This happened often, and he soon grew bored and disgusted by the spectacle.
When many years had gone by and the Earth Dragon’s sleep become deeper, Faahvrigüo felt bold enough to occasionally express his disgust at them by flying over their fields, bringing such heavy rains along with him that battlegrounds invariably became too muddy to walk, let alone battle on. He would fly as low as he dared, casting an enormous shadow over them, blocking out the sun and sending them scattering in terror, leaving their killing sticks strewn over the fields or awkwardly stuck at odd angles on the muddy ground.
But Meganeea, as the elves called the land, was still a wild young place, and vast stretches of it were still peaceful havens for the Dragon Prince to find refuge in.
The animals put him at ease. Sometimes he would lie perfectly still for hours, and wait for them to approach him. The animals had no fear of him, just as they did not fear the Earth Dragon. It was as though they innately knew better, unlike the elves.
So they would get quite close, and even dip their muzzles and snouts into the cool, gentle flowing waters that made Faahvrigüo's body, and drink from it, and he was greatly soothed by their company.
There was one incident, however, that changed this forever. One afternoon found the Dragon Prince comfortably wedged inside a gorge. The wooded mountainside rose around him, and he lazily watched small creatures —an eagle, a bear, a goat— go about their business on it. It was very pleasant, and sometimes he would doze off.
One such time, a loud rustling noise startled him awake. Something about it was too careless to have been caused by an animal. He looked up in annoyance, without raising his head. It was an elf, as he had suspected. Perhaps taking the constant watery rush and the glints caused by the sun and signs of a river running through the gorge, it did not notice Faahvrigüo or as much as glance in his direction. But the Dragon Prince was watching it —and he was full of apprehension.
It was a young female, long-snouted, with thin limbs and clumsy, trampling feet. Her long dirty dress trailed on the ground, and her yellow hair, long and dirty also, fell over her face whenever she bent down to search for something on the ground. A little brown hood covered her shoulders. She was intently looking for something, sometimes on the ground or the bushes, and sometimes in the trees.
She eventually picked up something —a leaf? Faahvrigüo squinted to see her better. It was a leaf. She was sniffing it. Then she crumbled and tossed it, seeming annoyed. Faahvrigüo was annoyed too. Go away already, he thought to himself. She repeated the little pantomime thrice more, except sometimes she licked the leaf, instead. With each discarded sample she grew more exasperated, as did Faahvrigüo.
Then, all of a sudden, she ran up to a nearby bush and after a quick inspection let out a delighted little screech. She plucked off a leaf, sniffed it, and then harvested several of them into a little basket she was carrying. When she was done, she crumpled one of them in her fist and slapped it across her forehead with a look of deep satisfaction.
Then she disappeared!
Faahvrigüo forgot all about being inconspicuous. He jumped to his feet, greatly alarmed by this turn of events, and as was usually the result, alarmed every other creature in the vicinity in the resulting commotion. Birds scattered noisily away from the trees, squirrels scampered from branch to branch in a panic, and deer sprinted away disoriented, eyes rolling in their sockets and nostrils flaring.
A lone doe remained. Her coat was yellow like wheat, and her green eyes looked up at the Dragon wide with fear. A little basket lay by her hooves, turned over, its contents —a loaf of bread, a small harvest of leaves— strewn on the ground.
Even in his dread and disbelief, Faahvrigüo knew what he was looking at, and had there been any room for doubt, the little brown hood hanging over the doe’s gently sloping neck would have been enough to do away with it. Somehow, this blonde doe was the same long-legged elven girl who had trampled the forest looking for just the right leaf only a moment before.
The doe regained her composure long before Faahvrigüo did, and picking up the basket with her teeth, took off into the woods as clumsily and noisily as before.
“Can all of them do that?”
A sullen, troubled Faahvrigüo posed this question to the flickering little light in the night that was Uricchin.
“As far as Uricchin knows,” answered the shy little voice.
Faahvrigüo shifted his weight. He was lying across the mountain range that was the sleeping Earth Dragon’s back. It was the only way he knew to talk to Uricchin, but the older and bigger he grew, the more self-conscious he felt about it. He wasn’t a little hatchling anymore, and he feared disturbing her sleep. For these reasons, as time passed he visited his only confidante less and less. This time he had been prompted to do so by worry.
“How can I tell which is an elf and which is a, a… decent, honest to goodness animal?”
“There is no sure way, Master. Why, even they cannot always tell for sure if they run into one of their own that has shape-shifted in the wild. Makes for unfortunate hunting accidents, Uricchin hears.”
Faahvrigüo shook his head gravely. “Then I may not trust the animals either. Not if even one of them could turn out to be one of those… those creatures in such treacherous disguise.”
“Dear, grieved Master, they are not so bad, these elves. They too are children of Master’s venerable mother. They are—”
“Silence! To think that you would put me on equal terms with such murderous, wicked little…” Faahvrigüo noticed that Uricchin was hiding his face behind his blobby hands, and his flame was flickering as though it might go out at any moment.
“Listen — they are not like me. So don’t, please. It makes me ill.”
Uricchin peeked thru his fingers.
“It’s alright. If I must make do with only my own company for the sake of my peace of mind, so be it. Besides,” he added, “Animals live such short lives, anyway. I can’t exactly develop any strong attachments.”
And so saying he departed.
But the truth is that he grew a great deal more lonely, and only disliked the elves more for taking yet another thing from him, as he felt it.