Faahvrigüo grew older and bigger. He grew until he was all done growing. But even though he was an adult, he was still much smaller than his mother. This was a good thing, for the world in which he lived was not very vast for a fully grown dragon. Nevertheless, having crossed the Meganeean skies far too many times to count, he grew very bored, and became taciturn too. With little to do and only Uricchin to confide in, the Dragon Prince slept. He was especially fond of napping underwater, where he was least likely to be bothered. And in this manner, sometimes decades would pass without elven eyes getting as much as a glimpse of him.
There was an occasion in which Faahvrigüo took an especially long nap. He slept for years and years, decades, maybe a whole century. I don’t think noise could have waken him easily, so who knows just how long he might have slept have it not been for the light, and for her.
Underwater, down in the deepest of depths, it’s very dark. Faahvrigüo had gone as deep down as it was possible for him to go. Down in those darkest corners there was only the dull, tremulous echo of the shifting waters above and around. Very little life stirred there. Surrounded by the water’s rushing noise and enveloped by the pitch black darkness, the Dragon Prince slept soundly.
Being fast asleep, Faahvrigüo did not notice the glow as it drew closer to where he lay. He did not notice it until it had spread to the point that it reached his sleeping place and grown so blindingly bright that everything surrounding him became white, even with his eyes closed —then he was startled awake! But the same bright light forced him to shut his eyes again, for it was too strong, and so he remained, motionless and temporarily blind, but awake. He was, truth be told, considerably frightened. He waited for his eyes to accustom themselves so this assault so that he may open them again.
It must be mentioned that this blinding light was more like a gentle, all-enveloping glow. But try and sleep a few decades in the darkest, most pitch black corner of the world and then have a lantern shone right in your face; you might be momentarily blinded and rightly scared out of your wits too.
The water all around Faahvrigüo was aglow. The Dragon Prince blinked several times, taking in the landscape. In any direction he looked, he could see everything. It was as if the water itself and everything in it —the fish, the reefs and the dancing algae; down to the sandy soil at the bottom of the lake— everything glowed in soft, bright colors, showing its beauty in a way that made it brand new.
Faahvrigüo knew instinctively that he was not alone, that a foreign creature was causing this, and that it could not be his mother’s doing or some other natural phenomena. He supposed it must be a large creature, perhaps bigger than he was, and felt terribly defenseless at the thought. He curled up on the lake floor like a frightened hatchling.
Yet instantly he was ashamed of his own cowardice. Without moving from the spot he let out what he meant to be a roar, but as it came out, it sounded like more of a bubbly bark, muffled by the water. Still, breaking the silence emboldened him, and he roared a second time —a true, long roar that reverberated for some time.
All the light went out as soon as that second, fiercer roar began, snuffed out like a candle. Faahvrigüo began to swim upward with careful, calculated strokes that became more rapid and powerful the closer they brought him to the surface, until he broke out of the calm waters and into the cold night air.
On the surface, all was dark and still, except for the crashing of the waves that Faahvrigüo's body created upon emerging, and for some time after the waves had calmed themselves, the only visible light was that of the stars and the moon. But then, out of the corner of his eye, Faahvrigüo spotted a glow shining behind the peak of a small rocky island not far from where he was. He began to swim toward it, but as he got closer the glow faded until it was hardly there at all. The faintest hint of it remained, sharpening the rock’s edges with its presence. Faahvrigüo paused his approach and huffed, frustrated. But he wasn’t afraid anymore.
“If you are bold enough to swim in my waters, come forth and let me see you!” he called out. “I will not hurt you.”
“I see you. I am not afraid of you,” a voice answered, timid, but clear. It betrayed no fear, nor hold hint of any threat. “Here I am.”
The glow shone brighter, and, as it moved from behind the rocky peak, it began to spread and fill out into a solid body. Light spilled into its every feature and extremity until a definite shape stood out sharply against the night sky, creating a display that was arresting to behold.
It was another dragon. Faahvrigüo knew this from the moment he laid eyes upon her, even though she did not look very much like himself or his mother. Instead of two horns curving inward, like he and his mother had, she had one sharp long horn on the center of her brow, and another at the tip of her long tail. Faahvrigüo was puzzled most of all by her ethereal, luminous body. Had he ever seen a ghost, he might have taken her for one. It transfixed him.
Now she was approaching him, and Faahvrigüo's boldness left him almost completely. He was rooted to the spot. She stopped a short distance from him, and watched him with curiosity.
“What a wonderful country this is,” she said, looking up at the stars, “I came here hungry, and not long after I landed, my hunger is sated.” She looked full at him. “I don’t understand it. Is this your doing?”
Faahvrigüo opened his mouth but found his voice strangely difficult to summon. So he closed it again and only shook his head.
“What is this place?”
“This is my mother’s land,” answered Faahvrigüo, somehow managing to find his voice, “She must have funneled her energy into you when you were landing so you wouldn’t rampage her precious little… Well, this —this planet’s lifeforms. She’s rather overly fond of them.”
“Oh?” there was a hint of amusement in the other dragon’s voice. She slid closer to him, though still keeping some distance. “I take it you are not?”
“Not as much.”
“Why is that?”
Faahvrigüo huffed. “They maim and kill and burn the land and each other. There is no peace to be had around them.”
“I see. So you hide underwater. Is it peaceful down there?”
“I just want to be left alone,” answered Faahvrigüo defensively. He couldn’t meet her inquisitive gaze. Dawn was now breaking. He rested his eyes on the sun rays that flickered on the water, glad to have something else to look at. There was something in the way she looked at him which made him feel terribly self-conscious.
“Very well then. Good-bye.”
Her words startled him into looking up.
“Wait!” he cried, but too late. The brightness of the sun rising behind her swallowed her luminous body until it no longer seemed to be there, leaving Faahvrigüo to struggle with an odd combination of relief and regret.
After this encounter, Faahvrigüo found that he was quite done with sleeping for the time being, and took to the skies. He coursed above the clouds, at first with poorly feigned nonchalance, then becoming increasingly annoyed with himself each time that a ray of sun bouncing off a cloud, or a gleam of moonlight peeking through the edge of another, caused him to start, heart at his throat, thinking that he had found her at last.
After several fruitless seasons of searching while trying his best to appear bored and aloof, he grudgingly made himself fly under the cloud cover, hoping to extend his search while attracting as little attention as possible. He’d been flying over the great lake, and to his dismay, no sooner did he make himself visible that one of the contraptions he had first come upon on that awful day (Uricchin called them “ships”) greeted his eyes. Of all the luck!
A groan of dislike left his throat before he could help it, and tiny screeching creatures scattered in all directions at the sound. It was a fishing vessel, manned by humble, particularly simple elves, and they were terrified. Some, stupid in their fright, jumped overboard; others ran on deck aimlessly, and a few brave ones brandished whatever was handy and stood ready to defend their weaker companions and their ship.
Faahvrigüo had not seen any elves in many a year, and, jarred by the unpleasant discovery and irritated by the threatening, unfriendly ways he had known from them before, he let out a disgusted roar to leave no doubt that the feelings were mutual before taking for higher skies once again, until he could no longer see them.
There he flew in long, fast circles, up and down, round and round, like an angry, pacing cat, riling up the clouds and wind while his body rained below in a hard, heavy, pounding stream. He was trying to let off some steam, only half aware that the rainstorm must be affecting the fishing vessel. He found that he did not really care very much. He might have caused a small tornado and sent the hapless elves to the bottom of the lake (though, granted, not on purpose) had she not spoken just then in her timid but clear voice, barely audible over the storm.
“How cruel you are,” she said, “How heartless. Stop! Stop this instant.”
Faahvrigüo’s attention was instantly and wholly redirected. The storm he had riled up stopped so suddenly that the elves below were even more confused, but regardless lost no time in getting away from there, and a few changed professions thereafter.
“Whatever do you mean by scaring them so?” she reproached him, her shining face spying him between the clouds. She did not come nearer. “I was looking all the while, and they did you no harm, no harm at all. Why?”
“I took no notice of them,” Faahvrigüo said shortly, angry with himself because she sounded so disappointed him. “I needed to pour down rain and make the wind scream. I can’t watch my every step and breath for their sake. Why should I?”
“Why are you angry?” she asked more kindly after a moment’s pause.
“I couldn’t —” he began, then snapped, “You hid yourself from me!”
“I don’t go into hiding,” she answered, laughing, “That is something you are fond of doing, as I recall, but not me.”
“You must have hid,” grumbled Faahvrigüo stubbornly, “I flew from one end of the land to the other for I know not how many days and nights. You were nowhere to be seen.”
He had perched upon one of the mountain peaks that rose at the center of the lake, worn out by his tantrum.
“This is my territory,” he said sullenly, with his back to her, “If you won’t share in my company, go home! Wherever that is.”
He instantly regretted his words and turned round, but she did not seem inclined to leave him this time. Faahvrigüo’s claws dug into the rock when he saw her drawing near —very near. She did not perch beside him, however. For one, there was no room. Had there been, she might not have done it anyway, for her ethereal form appeared to be all but weightless. Faahvrigüo felt all the more awkward with his great hulking, constantly dripping body. His claws dug deeper into the mountain —he felt the need to steady himself— and the water coursed faster through his body, making furious little waves down his back and filling his ears with a rushing noise.
“All this time you’ve sought me over the clouds, while I’ve been beneath them, seeing your world up close. You rule over a beautiful land.”
“I wouldn’t know,” said Faahvrigüo, “It’s overrun by little pests —my mother’s creatures. I don’t rule the land. I only live in it.”
“They are interesting, your mother’s creatures,” said she, ignoring his bitter tone, “I’ve seen life in other dragons’ planets before, briefly, but it is always so… primitive. No one ever lets it grow too much between feedings. It doesn’t talk or walk on two legs. They are just dumb animals, as one might say.”
“Dumb animals, as one might say, are much better company than my mother’s pets,” he interrupted her, “You don’t really know them. They haven’t spent hundreds of years ruining your peace and their own. They certainly have never done me a bit of good, have never done a thing that did not being me irritation or grief. Love them if you want to, and be as my mother, but to me they always have and will always be nothing but scurrying, vile little vermin.”
With that last savage retort Faahvrigüo looked away, because he’d been struck by his own biting remark and felt rather ashamed.
“You speak cruel words with such ease,” she said. Her tone was more wondering than reproachful, and Faahvrigüo felt doubly mortified.
“It’s awfully lonely,” he said without looking at her, “to grow up in such a vast land as this one, with a mother who must always sleep for the sake of a people to whom you cannot even speak, and who are terrified of your approach. I was not born feeling animosity toward my mother’s creation.”
And here he stopped himself again, because his tone had become spiteful as before. He sighed heavily, and turned to face her.
“I’ve grown up surrounded by the things, and have never seen them do any good, to the land, to themselves, to my mother or to myself. And yet for their sake, I must be always alone.”
“Well... I am here, now, too, if you will allow me to remain. And I think that, while you sought me so tirelessly, I’ve perhaps seen things that you have not noticed before.”
“So maybe you have. Maybe not. I don’t want to talk about them,” said Faahvrigüo. “What is your name?”
“I’m Tekneea. I have no world of my own. I grew too big for the planet I hatched in, so I left it.”
“I am Faahvrigüo,” returned he, with a nod of the head he hoped made him appear gallant, even if the opportunity for a good impression was long past. “That mountain range over there is, as you already know, my mother. She’s an Earth Dragon. I am a Rain Dragon. I suppose my father must have been one also, but I don’t know. Mother and I have never spoken much, and she’s never talked to me about where she lived before she came to this planet to build her nest.”
“You mean, you’ve never seen any other worlds but this one?”
“No,” answered he. “Have you?”
“Yes —well,” she smiled sheepishly, “Not quite like this one, however. This is a very peculiar world. It’s so… peaceful.”
“Peaceful!” exclaimed Faahvrigüo. He shook his head. She didn’t know any better, clearly. “Well, that shows what you know, but you can’t be blamed. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen, I assume. I might show you, if you want, but you won’t like it.”
“Perhaps I might show you some things, as well?”
Faahvrigüo found this a little impertinent —this was his land, after all— but he was charmed by her. He couldn’t help it. “Show me my own domain?” he said with a smile.
“I think some things have changed,” she hastened to add, “I mean, while you were sleeping. I’ve been traveling since my arrival. I’ve seen some things that you might want to look at, too.”
“Very well, then,” said he, “I’ve got nothing to do, so lead the way.”
Her face lit up with pleasure, and with a quick bound she took to the skies. Faahvrigüo followed close behind.
He was in awe and delight of her body. It was so unlike anything he’d ever seen. When the sun shone upon her skin, if it could be called that, it sparkled back in luminous colors, as if her scales were made of paper-thin opal, that let you see through her, except when her glow became too bright, which seemed to depend on how intense her mood was. At the tip of her horn, and on her talons and her tail, there was a different sort of glow, that never looked the same either —sometimes white, sometimes bluish, sometimes with a violet tinge to it. “It’s like the color of lightening,” Faahvrigüo thought to himself. The constant flicker of it reminded him of that, too. But most of all, he thought she was beautiful, and he’d never thought that about anyone or anything before.
After flying for some time Faahvrigüo’s attention began to drift to the ground below them. It was not as he remembered it.
“The land has changed somewhat,” he observed. “I guess I’ve been away a long time.”
“What is different?”
“It’s all —I don’t know, rather yellow. Dry looking. I flew over the land many seasons before I took my nap. I guess the earth got used to me raining on it.”
“Ah, that would explain some things,” said she. “I’ve seen little dwellings surrounded by yellow-brown fields that seem to be all but baking in the sun, and sometimes when taking a closer look, I’ve noticed the poor little people standing by their thresholds, looking up at the sky. Perhaps they are looking for you?”
Faahvrigüo snorted. “Hardly. They’ve ran for cover whenever they’ve spotted me.”
They flew in silence for a while, until Tekneea said, “These creatures, they don’t live very long, do they, compared to us? I suspect any creature alive today has never laid an eye upon you, other than the ones that you recently scared witless. Maybe they’re not the same way that they were when you fell asleep.”
“In all likelihood they are much worse,” answered Faahvrigüo curtly. She gave him an exasperated look and flew ahead of him. He quickly caught up. She would not look at him.
“I’m sorry,” he said meekly, “What do you want me to do? I can’t help the way I feel.”
Tekneea let her eyes meet his again, and her look had softened. “Come with me down to the earth,” she said to him. “Let me show you the things I’ve seen. And —perhaps you might let some of your rain fall as we go.”
“Very well. Though I can’t understand why you care so much.”
Tekneea didn’t say any more. Instead she guided Faahvrigüo to one of the fields she’d mentioned, where a miserable, weather-grayed little farmhouse stood, and on the way there Faahvrigüo rained and rained, not torrentially, but a cold, heavy rain that had been held beneath his scales for a long, long while, as his body soaked deep underwater. A dusty smell rose up to meet them as they flew.
Their approach —or more likely Faahvrigüo’s downpour— brought forth a large number of children. They tumbled out of the house’s threshold followed by their parents, all jumping and screeching and throwing little hats in the air. They appeared thin, and so fragile and small; Faahvrigüo could have held several of them in one clawed paw. He let his talons touch the ground as gently as he could.
The taller elves froze on the spot. One of them fell to his knees. The children stopped for a moment, and then approached the Dragon Prince full of awe.
Only later would Faahvrigüo learn the significance of this moment. He knew not that, while he slumbered, stories had been passed down of the Dragon Prince that, though fearsome, had once soared the Meganeean skies and nourished their crops with the rain that fell wherever he flew.
One child, a little girl, dared approach closer than all the others. No one stopped her. She brought a curious, small hand up and touched with it the rippling surface of Faahvrigüo’s body. The water parted along her fingers and she laughed. She sunk both hands inside his skin, and Faahvrigüo, though startled, managed to keep his composure by an encouraging glance from Tekneea, who had alighted beside him.
The little girl then did something astonishing to all. She brought water cupped in her hands up to her mouth and drank it. She smiled up at Faahvrigüo, a smile that was full of innocence and delight. She blabbed words at him which he did not understand, and trotted back to her parents.
The other children were not so bold. The family huddled together and watched the dragons, parents still kneeling in reverence.
“There are other places to visit,” said Tekneea. And so they flew away from there, with Faahvrigüo following behind her, his heart aching strangely, and full of things which he could not have put into words.