A Word of Warning

Meganeea may at some point in time potentially feature certain themes, scenes and/or character dynamics that some readers may consider upsetting. Individual chapters will not contain warnings. The story will at times contain scenes that feature or reference murder, war, violence, natural disasters, and more. There may also be problematic character dynamics and problematic romantic relationships. The protagonists of the story may not always make the right decisions, not even the heroes and heroines. Not every character (antagonist or otherwise) will necessarily get a comeuppance. If any of these things would upset you, I would discourage you from reading. I write primarily to amuse myself, and anyone else who might find the stories enjoyable. For those who choose to visit Meganeea, I do hope you will find your stay entertaining.

Chapter Index

 
Chapter 1
Time Begins
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If you had been in a certain far-away galaxy at a certain point in time, standing on the surface of a certain oddly shaped planet, you would have seen a very peculiar sight: a great Dragon, as vast as the largest mountain and built of earth like one, too. You would have seen her curled up in a ball, fiercely clutching an egg in her claws. And you would have heard her low, mournful weeping.

Now, you would have needed to be at a good distance away from the Dragon in order to properly make out this picture. Even then, it might have been complicated if you did not know exactly what you were looking at. This is not only because the Dragon was as big as a mountain, but because she quite looked like one, too. There were trees growing out of the soil that made her skin, rivers running between her scales, and thick vines hanging from her long, rocky horns. There was life all over her body, from the birds that nested on the tree branches to the ground squirrels that made warm burrows in her earthy skin.

 

Normally, this Earth Dragon was a beautiful sight, but had you seen her on this day you would not have believed it. It looked, effectively, as though she had been ravaged in turn by an earthquake and a fire. Everything was in disarray: trees fallen, their trunks snapped; whole patches of forest burned to the ground and still smoking, birds flapping their wings and calling, disoriented, among the ashes that still hung in the air. Every surviving animal howled, brayed, yowled or bleated sorrowfully, each crying in its own fashion, accompanying the Earth Dragon in her mourning. It would have been the saddest thing you could have ever seen or heard, had you been there to see it. ​                   

 

But there was no one else there. The Earth Dragon was all alone.

 

The Dragon was crying because she had just lost her mate and her home. All she had left to live for was the egg. She had flown  tirelessly through the vastness of Space, looking for a safe, empty planet in which to build a new nest for her egg to hatch.               

 

Now she had found it. The planet was empty of any kind of life. There was not a tree, nor a single shrub; nothing but rocks and wind, and the dirt baking in the sun. And it was vast. The average planet was small for this enormous Dragon, sometimes to the extent that there would be barely room enough for her to sit on. But here it took her half a day to  walk from one edge of the flat mountainous surface to the other. That made it just the right size, and an ideal place to raise her young —or it would be, just as soon as she had made it suitable.

 

With great care and using only her lips, the Earth Dragon picked up the egg and placed it in what to you would have been a very deep ravine, but for the egg made the perfect little makeshift nest. There would be no risk of it rolling off the edge of the world while its mother worked.

 

With one last lick and tender brush of the nose, the Earth Dragon left her egg behind and walked to the center of the planet. Once there, she rose high up on her powerful hind legs and took a deep breath. Then, almost as noiselessly as she had risen, she came down again in one determined swoop and dug her sharp rock claws deep into the parched earth.

 

Water spouted from it almost instantly, in beating, gushing sprouts, not unlike blood from an open wound. The Dragon unhooked her claws from the ground and began to scratch and dig on the spot, which was darkening rapidly underneath her as the water rose up.

 

It didn’t take long before she was standing talon-deep in muddy water. It was a small puddle to her, but to you it would have been a body of water so big that calling it a lake seems hardly sufficient. Had you sailed from one shore to the other it would have taken you weeks to cross it, and that is with the weather cooperating, for the lake was as big as a small ocean.

 

Now the Dragon walked to the spot where she had left her egg, quite near one edge of the world, and there she sat facing the other edge directly. She hooked her claws into the soil again, more gently this time, and closed her eyes.

 

A rumbling tremor began, barely perceptible at first. It started at the place where the Earth Dragon sat and moved from that end of the land all the way to the other, like a wave. It did not stop for hours, and when it was all over, things looked very different.       

 

The first change took place at the Earth Dragon herself. Here a burned tree fell from her body, and there another. All sorts of debris —dead trees, rocks, even the bodies of animals that had lost their lives in the recent Calamity— rolled off her back as new trees sprouted in their place and pushed them aside, growing thick and bursting with green leaves. It took less than a minute from a tree to sprout and grow to be quite tall. It would then continue to grow, slower and slower, until you could hardly notice that it was growing at all.

 

Soon the Dragon was green all over. There was no remnant of her earlier ravaged looks now, other than for the few ashes that still clung to the air around her. These soon dispersed as she gave herself a little shake now and again.

 

This burst of life sprang forth from the Dragon to the soil around her like a seismic tide of green, and it did not take place quietly. You could sit by the side of a plant for days with your ear stuck to it and you would not hear a thing. But take hundreds; no, make that thousands and thousands of trees growing in a matter of hours, and vast meadows being covered in thick young grass in mere minutes —now that is bound to make some noise.

 

There was first that dull tremor, which reverberated throughout the land for as long as life continued to grow in this extraordinary manner, and on top of it there was a constant crackling of growing branches and snapping of twigs. There was also the sound of thousands of millions of blades of grass growing all at once, which I can’t quite describe and you will have to try and imagine for yourself.

 

Then there were the animals. All the creatures that had survived the Calamity and come to the new land on the Earth Dragon’s body began to climb, creep or fly down to this bountiful land, to make their new nests and burrows in it, and to feed. Everything was in bloom, and the branches of every tree and bush that could bear fruit were heavy with it.

By twilight the very tip of the edge opposite to where the Earth Dragon nested grew thick with grass and wildflowers. Then, just as it began, the tremor was over.

 

The Earth Dragon looked over the virgin land, so clean and pure, and breathed deeply. This was not the first time she created life. But it was only the second time she created an entire world. Now as the first time, the moment had arrived to do something which invariably broke her heart as much as it made it swell with joy. For while she was but one of many Dragons that could make life out of nothing, she was the only one she knew that could create this kind of life, and nothing made her happier or prouder; there was nothing which she loved more tenderly, not even the egg which rested snugly in the ravine by her side. 

 

She lay down with her head resting on the ground, and closed her eyes. Then her great earthen brow furrowed, and right between the spots where her long curved horns began, something started to grow.

 

A little shape was slowly rising from the mud. It was a little person, quite unlike any other animal that had arrived riding the Earth Dragon’s body. It had no face at first, and its arms had no hands. But eventually the mud that dripped at the end of each arm solidified into four perfect fingers. As this happened, the creature brought a hand up to its shapeless face, and the mud it was made of swirled into an expression of pleasant surprise. It was a young masculine face, with thick eyebrows, big eyes and an odd flat nose. Locks of red hair sprouted from its head, as well as a pair of pointed ears. Now able to hear, the creature looked even happier. He laughed, and the sound of his own voice startled him, causing him to laugh again.

 

He did not yet have feet; his legs were still solidly rooted to the soil from which he had risen. Now he looked down, and pulled one leg up. It dripped, at first; then just as his hands had formed, a perfect footpaw with wriggling toes shaped itself. The creature then did the same with his other leg, and while he was examining his new feet and poking the pawpads in the with delight,  he sprouted a long tail with a tuft of red hair at the tip. This gave him a great shock. He grabbed it with both fists, greatly suspicious, and gasped when pulling on it caused him pain, but before this incident could distress him further, he was distracted by another shape rising very near the same place he had. 

 

In minutes another little person stood beside him, risen from the mud in the same extraordinary manner: a pretty female with green eyes and long auburn hair that grew down to her waist, and a tail as long as his own. Holding hands they climbed down the Earth Dragon to the land below. All the while they talked happily to each other in a babble that was incomprehensible even to them, for they had yet to develop a proper language. But they soon would, as the Dragon knew only too well.

 

At one point the couple looked back. They saw the Earth Dragon and looked into her eyes. Then they knew who she was, and who they were, and why they were there. Then they turned around and walked on.

Nuzzling her egg, the Dragon watched them leave.

Their presence comforted her. She was glad they were there, as well as concerned for them. She hoped they wouldn’t cause each other much pain, and that they wouldn’t forget her too quickly this time. They always knew her, at first, but whenever she lay down to sleep for long, they would often forget she was there. She didn’t really blame them —after all, in the time she took a nap, an entire generation of them could have children, grow old, and die. Still, it made her a little sad whenever it happened.

With her creatures gone from view, the Earth Dragon's entire body slumped heavily. She was exhausted.

She nudged the egg closer to her body,  between her moss-covered rock talons,  to keep it warm, and shut her eyes. As she drifted to sleep she thought of the two elves alone in the rich  new land, and wondered what it would all look like when she woke up.

But she was wrong: the young elven couple wasn’t alone in the vast country that they would later call Meganeea. There was someone else like them there, a survivor of the Devastation, who had come on the Earth Dragon’s body along with the other surviving creatures.

 

The Earth Dragon should have known this, of course, because she knew each and all of her creations as if they were extensions of her very own being. She knew their names and their thoughts, where they were and whether they were alive or dead. She should have known that he was there, but she didn’t, because she had done the unthinkable.       

 

She had forgotten him.

 

But there he was, lost and forsaken deep within the treacherous caverns that were her insides. And while she fell fast asleep, he awoke.

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Chapter 2
Inside the Earth Dragon
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​Ébano blinked once, twice. The darkness around him was so complete that he couldn't be sure of whether he was actually blinking at all. So he blinked a third time, but it made no difference.

The wolf-elf did not know where he was. He did not know how long he had been there or how he had gotten there, or where he'd been before he got there. Yet as more of his consciousness returned to him so did a pressing panic; a feeling of desperate urgency and the awareness that something dear to him was hopelessly lost.

 

His hand, in which he held something furry and limp, tightened into a fist, and a small whimper broke the dead silence. Ébano relaxed his hold immediately, but his hand did not let it go. More carefully, he cradled it now, with both hands.

“Amadeus,” he called to it, in a low voice. “Amadeus.”       

 

The winged rat moaned and stirred in his hands. Ébano placed it gently on his lap.   

 

“What place is this?” asked the rat in a tremulous voice.   

 

“I don’t know. Your eyes are better than mine. Can’t you see anything?”


“No.”

They sat in silence for a while. They were afraid, both of them.

“I don’t remember much,” Ébano said finally. “I do remember something as being terrible wrong, but… Somehow, I just can’t…” his voice trailed off.

 

“Shh! Listen!” the rat hissed. Ébano perked up his ears. He heard it, too.

 

Something was stirring, something big, and wet. It was walking in their direction with heavy, squelching steps. It was soon close enough that they could hear it heave and snort.

 

“Charko!” Amadeus squalled joyfully. Ébano heard him taking flight and then fluttering by the great tar-horse’s side. It had been his tar body that dripped along as he walked. 

 

“I wonder,” Amadeus began, “I wonder if anyone else…” then he stopped and said nothing more. Neither did Ébano. He, too, had remembered. Yianna was dead. The Earth Dragon had killed her with a flick of her earthen tail. It had destroyed the entire land, the entire planet, with that single flick of her enormous tail.

 

“If we made it,” Amadeus began tentatively, “then perhaps Yianna, too—”

 

“No,” Ébano cut him off. There was a dangerous edge to his voice. He didn’t make any noise and Amadeus could not see his face in the dark, but because he was perched on Ébano’s knee, he could feel his body shaking convulsively.  It was a miserable moment, and it seemed to last forever. Unable to bear it any longer, the rat finally spoke again.

 

“Why...? Why did She do it? She looked over us all this time. Why?”

 

“When has your beloved Master of All Creation needed a reason for her whimsy?” retorted Ébano bitterly.

 

“There must have been a good reason,” Amadeus sputtered. “She must have had one! She must!”

 

Ébano spat on the ground and was silent.

 

“I-I mean, look at us. We aren’t dead!” the rat insisted desperately, “If we were spared, She must have a reason for that, too!”

 

“So? She forgot,” said Ébano getting on his feet. “Just a sloppy job —and we ourselves might die yet if we don’t find a way out soon.”

 

Amadeus perched on his shoulder and Ébano began to walk, the tar-horse following close behind. It was no use to ride him —Ébano’s eyes had adjusted to the dark, but barely. He could not guide the horse if he was riding it. So he felt the rocky wall with his hand as he went and let the beast follow him.

It was wretchedly slow going. Every few steps they tripped over rocks they could not see, and ran into more dead ends than they could count. Ravines abounded, and Ébano fell into more than one.

 

Time lost meaning quickly inside the Earth Dragon’s cavernous body. It was a small mercy, at least, that they never felt a physical need to eat or drink, so they did not starve.

 

They spoke but little. Eventually Ébano lost himself in his own dark, despairing thoughts and stopped answering Amadeus altogether. Years would go by without him saying a word, so Amadeus would perch by the tar-horse’s ear and talk to it instead, or pray quietly to himself. It was all the rat could do to keep from giving in to utter hopelessness.

It would take them over two hundred and fifty years to find the way out of the caverns that twisted and turned deep within the Earth Dragon’s innards,  and they would emerge looking no older than the day fate trapped them there. But Ébano would not surface unchanged.

 

For you see, in the face of great adversity, when one’s heartaches become too much to bear, those who believe in a higher power generally react in one of two ways: they may find solace in their faith, becoming stronger in it, or they may lose it altogether.

 

The rat did not understand the Earth Dragon’s motives, but by convincing himself that She must have a plan for them and it would all make sense in the end, he was able to withstand the ordeal, to a point.

Ébano, having once opened his heart to Her, felt the betrayal was too great to do the same. The Dragon was a cruel, capricious beast, and he had been a fool to love Her.           

For over two hundred and fifty years he brooded and seethed, grieving for his lost bride and unborn child. Having no faith to hold on to, nothing to shield him from the pain that continually ate at his heart and the disturbing scenes of carnage which he could not forget, Ébano’s mind became clouded with dangerous, irrational thoughts.

 

In time, he found his way out of the Earth Dragon, but his sound mind, and any peace his soul had ever known, any gentleness his heart had once harbored, would be left behind.

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Chapter 3
The Egg Hatches
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​For two hundred years the Earth Dragon slept soundly with her egg between her claws, becoming more and more covered with trees and other green life. Generations of elves came and went, until no one remained who could tell of seeing the great mountain rise on its feet or roar in such a way as to make the land shake from one end to another. She thus became little more than a myth, though there were still elves who faced the direction of Earth Dragon Mountain when saying their prayers every night, and even staunch unbelievers swore by the Dragon if they happened to drop something heavy on their foot by accident.

 

But then the egg hatched, and everyone’s doubts were decidedly dispersed for a good long time.

 

The first creature to become aware of the hatching was a lone goat grazing atop a gently sloping hill on a chilly, drizzly dawn. A dull tremor had been reverberating under his hooves since the prior night, so he was rather unnerved, but not especially alarmed given that it had not brought him any immediate harm. The turf which grew all over the hill was delicious and thick, so the goat ate cheerfully, only pricking his ears momentarily whenever the tremor occasionally became louder.

 

Then quite suddenly he felt uneasy. The noise, he noticed, had stopped completely. Mid-chew, he raised his head, sniffed the air, and then, seized by instinctive panic, he took downhill. His hooves barely left the spot where he had been grazing when the ground underneath cracked open with a sickening sound. The crack grew longer and wider behind him, and water began to burst through it, soaking and terrifying him further —but he made it off the hill and disappeared among the nearby woods bleating indignantly.

 

The egg’s short, deafening crack echoed repeatedly throughout a good part the land. Those elves who heard it were now looking out their windows or staring, their plowing or other chores paused, toward Earth Dragon Mountain, and as they did their puzzlement turned to fear and wonder.

 

The mountain was moving.

 

It began by giving a short, if rather violent upward lurch. Then, as if remembering itself, it continued to rise very slowly and carefully.

 

The Earth Dragon’s shape was unmistakable by now. She opened her great amber eyes, and earth crumbled down her face with each sleepy blink. Once in a while an uprooted tree fell from her with a dull crash. She gave one wondering look to the land so changed, and under this gaze more than one bewildered elf fell on its knees.

 

There was not one spot in that vast land where the fantastic display had gone unnoticed by any creature. Every wild beast, too, was watching, quiet and reverent. Watching and waiting.

 

The Dragon, for the time being, had no attention for them. Her eyes were for her egg only, and the round snout that now poked through its widest crack.

The little poking snout pushed forward, grunting and snorting, until quite suddenly and with one watery snap, the shell broke all around its contents, leaving a very wet, bluish blob in its place.

 

A head with a mop of sopping blue hair rose gingerly from the blob, eyes tightly shut. A little mouth opened once or twice in a silent cry, and then it began to squall shrilly, to its mother’s immense delight.

The little dragon made a clumsy attempt at a step and tripped, momentarily losing his shape as his wobbly body hit the ground with a watery crash. Occasionally his lower half would fall apart and almost instantly come to shape again as he made further attempts at mobility. Most of his body was made of water, yet at times it appeared quite solid.  He could not control his essence very well, and would occasionally become almost fog-like as he stopped to rest on a spot, shivering with his eyes half-open. At these moments the hatchling seemed but a misty mirage. Then, with a violent sneeze, he would solidify into view

again, eyes wide open and a startled expression on his face.

The Earth Dragon kept her toddling offspring confined to a small area between her claws, which to him were like great earthen walls, much too high for him to climb.

His wings were barely there, and he did not know how to make himself light enough to float upwards as a raincloud would. He was, like his father, a  Dragon of Rain, so his essence would allow that in time. But for now the young Prince could only explore the ground below his Mother’s adoring gaze.

 

This gaze he now noticed. His once-filmy eyes having cleared up, he looked up for the first time and soon discerned the shape of her face towering so high above him; the curved horns that framed it, but most of all the eyes that looked down at him with such love. He cried out to her shrilly, and she returned the call with a soft, crooning growl. Gently she lowered her head toward him. The little dragon dragged himself around in a slight panic, because his mother was infinitely large, and when her face was right over him he could not recognize its shape as easily any more. But there was nowhere to escape, so he curled up where he was, and put his claws over his eyes.

 

Eventually, gentle pokes from the great snout reassured him enough to entice him to sniff it and give it a couple of tentative butts with his own head, still soft and with the barest hint of horns. His fear gone, he began to climb, until he was sitting on top of his mother’s head.

 

The Earth Dragon stayed still and waited while her hatchling made himself comfortable among the bushes and full tree-tops that grew on the top of her head. The little dragon clawed and kneaded the way a kitten does when fixing up its sleeping place, making it just right. Then he settled down with a contented sigh, paying little heed to the couple of displaced mountain goats that went scurrying for protection somewhere down the Earth Dragon’s neck.

 

He began to drift off to sleep when a gentle lurch caused him to sit up in alarm, claws digging to the ground. He felt as though he were falling, and in his fear he cried out shrill little cries, but the falling sensation only increased.


He was, in fact, going upwards. His mother was rising her neck, slowly but continuously, as well as her upper body. The little Dragon Prince found himself higher and higher. In time the tickling feeling in his tummy stopped. He opened his eyes, still frightened and squalling shrilly for some explanation.

 

Before him stretched all of Meganeea. He stared at it all, full of awe.

 

His mother crooned at him, and his whole body reverberated with her reassuring growl. He was not frightened when the reverberation grew more intense, even when it caused little stones all around him to dance on the ground.

As the growl grew louder, his mother’s jowls opened wider. There  was absolute silence for a fraction of a second before a deafening roar burst forth from within; a long, joyous call for every Meganeean creature to hear.

 

The young Dragon Prince, too, broke into happy, proud squalls. He was infected by his mother’s joy with no awareness that he was the cause for it, or that her proud calls were made to inform the land and its inhabitants of the very occasion of his  birth.

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Chapter 4
Little Faahvrigüo
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The Earth Dragon remained awake for some time after the birth of her hatchling. She moved but little, however, and her offspring, who for the time being would absorb sustenance from his Mother’s life force without the need to eat, was mostly left to his own devices, though under her watchful eyes, most of the time.

 

In the beginning, he set out to explore the mountain that was The Earth Dragon’s body. He was quite small in comparison to it; enough that it was a place he could get lost in, but not so much that he couldn’t find his way back before nighttime or come to any harm during his wanderings.

 

There was a sharp mountain ridge going down the Earth Dragon’s back all the way to the tip of her tail, which she kept curled around the side of her body. The shortest of these peaks was as tall as Faahvrigüo could stand when he stood on his hind legs.           

 

Past the southern side of his Mother the land ended sharply. He could explore no further. So he tried to explore the land to the North, but every time she would corral him in her claws, and his attempts were foiled.

The older he grew, the more frustrated he became. He learned to control his liquid essence so well, that he could turn to water that would go between her talons, and regain his shape once on the other side. But then she would pick him up and place him as far from the northern land as she possibly could, forcing him to restart his long trek until he reached her claws and was stopped in his tracks once again, over and over.

 

Always before night fell he would find his way back to his Mother’s head, where he had his favorite sleeping place, right ahead of the spot where her long, curved horns grew. From here he would watch the sun set over the land to the North with longing, and wonder what was there, beyond the sea of of green treetops that extended as far as his eyes could see.

 

Little Faahvrigüo grew older and bigger. In time, he got big enough that he had to curl up very tightly in order to be able to fit on top of his Mother’s head. Once in a while one of his legs would slide out of him and he would wake up, startled, scrambling and reaching to hold on to a rock or bush with his claws, lest he slide down her neck all the way down the mountain range that was her back. When that happened, it was a stony, bumpy ride down. And happen it did, several times, until it was one time too many.

 

On that occasion, when Faahvrigüo managed to grab onto one of his Mother’s scales and stop rolling and bumping and splashing against rocks and trees, he decided to make his way down and find a new sleeping place. But when he turned around to give his old, comfortable nest a last sulking glance, something caught his eye.

 

There was barely perceptible light coming from a crevice somewhere below his sleeping spot. It flickered and moved around. As Faahvrigüo approached, he noticed that it was in fact a cluster of several very tiny little flames, constantly moving, slowly and jerkily.

 

This crevice was far too small for him to get in, and that was a good thing, for in the dark he had not noticed that he was peering into his Mother’s ear. The mouth of this tunnel was just big enough for him to peek into.

 

His eyes were beginning to get accustomed to the dark and make out the little shapes that accompanied the flames when a soft little voice greeted him.  

“Young Master, hello!”


So startled was Faahvrigüo, who had never heard a voice other than the rumbling of his Mother’s throat before,  that he lost his footing and went rolling and bumping and splashing down the mountain again. This time, however, he managed to stop his fall sooner. Frightened, but curious, he went back to peek into the tunnel and look for the little voice among the dancing flames.

He looked in, and saw a pair of golden, sleepy eyes looking into his own. They appeared large on the face of the friendly little creature to whom they belonged. A bright flame burned merrily atop its head.

Faahvrigüo watched it as it moved slowly toward him. It was smaller even than one of the young dragon’s own eyes. Faahvrigüo could see no feet on it; it dragged the bottom of its body over the rock much like a slug would, leaving a trail behind. It did, however, sport a pair of tiny arms, and rather shapeless hands at the end of each. Every part of its body seemed to be merely a suggestion of the real thing, half formed, partly melted, or melting into waxy little droplets.

 

“Hello,” it said again, waving a tiny three-fingered hand very shyly. Then a finger melted and dripped to the floor, and there were only two left. Faahvrigüo was astonished.

 

“Oh, dear,” said the little creature, “Don’t be frightened. Look, here it is again.”

 

He showed Faahvrigüo his hand, with the fingers it had left directed toward the floor, and a new finger was being formed where the other one had melted off. The other two, however, seemed to become longer. So the little hand was now even more shapeless than before, but its owner seemed satisfied.

 

“There, all better!” he said, wriggling his three fingers so Faahvrigüo could see them.

 

“This is Uricchin,” he said, placing a hand on his chest. Then he made a respectful little wave with it in Faahvrigüo’s direction. “You are the Earth Dragon’s Son.” His childlike voice was full of devotion. “That makes you Uricchin’s Master.”

Faahvrigüo only stared with bemusement, making no reply. The creature baffled him, rather, but he was glad to have this unexpected companion.

 

“We grew from the body of Master’s Mother, like everything else here,” explained Uricchin with a motion toward the many other little creatures like him that crawled aimlessly as far inside the tunnel as Faahvrigüo could see. Some were smaller and some were larger, and all were melted to different degrees. Some had no flames on top of their heads, only little wicks, and appeared to be asleep.

 

“But unlike everything else,” continued Uricchin, “we were here first. And I’ve been here since the Earth Dragon was still in her egg.”

Here Faahvrigüo found his voice.

“You don’t look that old,” he said dubiously. “You shouldn’t tell lies.”

The little flame burned brighter, and Uricchin’s chubby face seemed to glow red under its light. He giggled and looked away and seemed terribly pleased.

 

“My Young Master is too kind, much too kind!” he squeaked with delight, “It is no lie. Uricchin would never dare lie to his Master, not ever... Uricchin is very old indeed. He is as old as Young Master’s Mother. He has been with her, always... Before this world, and before the world before this one, too.”

 

“What do you mean? What other world?” the little dragon flicked his ears, puzzled.

 

“The Earth Dragon made everything in this world,” said Uricchin with a hint of sadness, “She made another world before this one, but it ended badly. That was before my Young Master was born.”

 

Faahvrigüo shook his head slowly.

 

“I don’t understand,” he said.

 

“It would be too hard for my Young Master to understand,” said Uricchin, “when He doesn’t know what a world even looks like. This world doesn’t end at the edge of the Earth Dragon’s tail.”

 

“I know that,” said Faahvrigüo, flicking his own tail with annoyance, “She won’t let me see what’s beyond it. I’ve tried and tried.”

 

Uricchin gave Faahvrigüo a long, thoughtful glance that for a moment almost seemed to betray his age.

 

“The Earth Dragon’s sleep is more sound with every passing day,” he said. “Soon it will become so deep that almost nothing will rouse her from it. My Young Master must wait for such a time, and then, quietly, without disturbing Her, fly over to the side that lies beyond Her. There He shall find the rest of this world.”

So Faahvrigüo waited. He waited days, and months, and weeks and even years while his Mother still shifted occasionally around, or  sometimes awoke, gave a contented look around, and slept again. Of course, though years were a long time to the rest of Meganeea, they amounted to little for Faahvrigüo, who by the time he’d first met Uricchin, was already a two hundred year old hatchling.

 

He didn’t grow any more than you would between Halloween and Christmas Day, but the wait was just as grueling for him. To pass the time, he would sometimes have a visit with Uricchin, whom he found in equal measures entertaining and grating on his nerves. Other times he would climb up the tallest peak he could find, and there he would concentrate on making himself lighter and less dense, until his body became so light that his feet started to leave the ground, and he was able to cover small distances by letting the wind push him as it would a cloud.

 

Every day he got a little better at it, and a little stronger, until he was able to push himself around him with his own wings.

 

“I flew above the tree-tops today,” he said to Uricchin one night. His voice carried a careless note, but he held his head very high.

 

“How marvelous!” Uricchin praised him dreamily, “How Uricchin wishes he could fly and see everything from above, too.”

 

“But you have been with Mother when she has flown before, have you not?”

 

“That isn’t the same, Young Master. Uricchin has spent almost his entire existence in this cave. He cannot look down from above, not from here.”

 

“Maybe I’ll take you with me one day,” said little Faahvrigüo magnanimously.

 

“How generous Uricchin’s Master is to his humble servant! He so wants to see the world!”

 

“So do I,” said Faahvrigüo. “Now tell me —just when will I get to do that? I ask you this every night, and every night you say, ‘Not yet.’ I’m going to lose my mind from boredom, always walking up and down Mother’s back, seeing the same old things.”

 

Uricchin grew serious. “My Young Master must take care,” he warned, “for beyond the Earth Dragon live Her other children.”

 

Faahvrigüo’s eyes widened with astonishment, but before he could ask anything, Uricchin went on.

 

“They are not other young dragons such as my Master is. These children of the Earth Dragon are called elves, and they do not all look alike. But they are all very small, so small that my Young Master could kill one by stepping on it by accident. My Master must take great care not to frighten or hurt them when he is out in their world.”

 

“What kind of brute do you take me for?” scoffed Faahvrigüo. But then, because Uricchin seemed so earnest and concerned, he added, “I’ll be careful.”

 

Time went on, as time does, and a day did come when Faahvrigüo perched on his Mother’s talons, looked back, and she did not rouse. In fact he could not recall the last time she’d moved, or even blinked. Her breathing was shallow, though he had been reassured by Uricchin not to worry. All the same, as he took that last look, he was filled with trepidation. He went over her talons to the other side, and she did not move them to corral him back in. It wouldn’t matter now that he could fly, but he felt reassured all the same. Emboldened, he rearranged himself into something that was almost like steam and floated up with little pushes of his still-small wings.

 

 The air was warm, and Faahvrigüo’s steamy body lingered on it with ease. He felt almost weightless, and the slightest movement of his wings pushed him forward and high, high to the sky. For the first time he felt complete confidence as he flew, save for the occasional cold pocket of air, when he would plummet down until he collected his wits and made his body lose enough density to float, or the warm air enveloped him again, doing it for him.

 

It was still dark out, and drunk in the exhilaration of this first true flight, the sunrise caught the young Dragon Prince by surprise. When the sun spilled color all over the land below, he stopped mid-somersault, first shocked, then delighted, at the vision that presented itself for him. He swooped down to get a closer look.

For miles all around, a carpet of green extended below him. Trees grew thick and tall, more than he had ever seen. But only for an instant did he stand in awe as he beheld the view. Faahvrigüo was young and wild and full of curiosity, and the exhilaration of his flight left him feeling deliciously reckless.

 

Instinctively (for it was becoming second nature to him now) he rearranged his essence to make his body heavier, and in one fell swoop he dropped down toward the expanse of green below. The speed with which he dropped caught him by surprise, so that he nearly crashed  against the canopy. He composed himself just in time, however, and was soon coasting over the trees regarding the landscape with his best lofty expression, for you see, he was a Prince after all, and it simply won’t do for a prince to appear out of breath while exploring his dominion, even if he is a very young prince.

 

The vast expanse of green seemed to stretch forever into the distance. To Faahvrigüo they looked little different from the trees he was accustomed to seeing on his Mother’s back, and he found himself growing bored in spite of his earlier excitement, until a faint glimmer in the distance caught his eye. There was something promising and deeply compelling about these far-off dancing lights, and now with a clear destination in sight, Faahvrigüo beat his small wings with added vigor and moved toward it at greater speed.

 

It was far, far away.

 

Morning gave way to noon and Faahvrigüo still found himself coasting on the warm currents of air, flapping his wings only occasionally so as not to tire himself out too much, and yet the glimmer seemed as distant as ever.

 

Still, the landscape was changing. Slowly but surely trees began to grow sparse, and soft sloping hills gave way to mountains. He came upon a sharp cluster of peaks that reminded him of something —alarmed him, even.

 

“Mother!” he cried out, immediately aware that it was not, could not, be her, but wondering for the first time since he’d left whether she had noticed he’d gone off, and whether she would be cross when he got back. 

Faahvrigüo looked back, indeed for the first time yet, and was quite astonished, not for the first —or last— time that day.

 

There lay the Earth Dragon, fast asleep. For an instant Faahvrigüo did not “see” her, for truly she was as if one with the Southern Meganeean landscape; a long range of sharp peaks surrounded by thick green life. But the pattern of those peaks was unmistakable, as were the vine-wrapped horns. The misty cloud of  breath that always hung thick and warm near her snout was visible even at this distance.

 

To that day, Faahvrigüo had never seen his Mother’s body from end to end. Now, even after hours of flight, she still loomed so vast and imposing! Faahvrigüo felt strangely afraid and very, very small.

 

He did not fear rousing his Mother’s anger, not truly. But seeing her so large on the horizon that she herself was the horizon, reminded him of just how tiny he was by comparison. And this world —just how big was it? Uricchin hadn’t said. Perhaps he should turn back. What if he flew so far he no longer could see his Mother, and became lost? What if…?

 

He turned around. The glimmer trembled and danced on the other side, calling to him. Suddenly Faahvrigüo knew what it was.

 

WATER!

 

Now, don’t ask me how Faahvrigüo knew that it was water, when he had never seen a lake, river or even a pond in his short life. In fact, the largest body of water he had ever beheld was his very own.  Perhaps this is how he could tell. He had seen small puddles across his Mother’s back, and found that he could control the shape and density of the water in them just like he was able to do with that of his own body.

 

And what fun it was! Just imagine the potential that a whole lot of this liquid plaything could have. For it was a lot: this much, too, he could tell. At this enticing prospect he wavered no longer, and flew onward.

 

By the time he arrived, it was late afternoon, but the sun still danced with blinding beauty over the water. It was the biggest “puddle” that the young dragon had ever seen; a lake so vast indeed that Faahvrigüo could not see the shore on the other side at first approach. Jagged, great rocks and misshapen islands poked randomly throughout its calm surface.

 

Flying over this great expanse of sparkling blue made the Dragon Prince drunk with delight, and he dove straight into it with a delightful crash. He found that he could breathe underwater as easily as he could out of it. Not only that, but almost as soon as he hit the water he was overcome by the feeling of becoming one with it.

 

Faahvrigüo did not feel small anymore! In fact, he could not tell where his own body ended and where the lake began. He laughed when fish swam right through his skin, tickling him. Vaguely he could “feel” the massive reach of the lake itself. He felt the soil that surrounded the water, and felt its great depth, the reach of both being much farther that he would have dared to explore. The lake was absolutely teeming with life.

 

Although the place where Faahvrigüo swam was peaceful and quiet, the energy of this ebullient life made a “noise” that coursed through Faahvrigüo’s body in a deliciously confusing fashion.                     

 

He was distracted from his pleasure by an odd, somewhat alarming feeling, the sensation of an unknown presence on the lake’s surface —and by extension on his own body— that had not been there before. Or maybe it had been there all along, nearby, and he had only noticed it now?

 

Deciding to investigate, he swam up and poked his head out of the water only just enough to be able to take a quick, safe peek.

 

Looking around, he saw nothing peculiar at first. Dusk was falling, and mist was settling over the lake’s surface. But then, out of the corner of his eye, Faahvrigüo spotted two shapes coming into view. To him, however, they were completely unrecognizable.

 

He dove back in so as to swim closer to them undetected, and after a fruitless inspection of the objects’ smooth, curved bottoms, he peeked out again.

 

Two tall, very peculiar structures were floating on the water. They smelled like they might be made out of trees, or something that had been a tree before, yet they looked unlike any tree that the young dragon had ever seen, with only a few gigantic white leaves billowing in the breeze.

 

These floating contraptions were made even more disquieting by the fact that they were crawling all over with angry-looking little people, most of which sported pointy ears and furry tails —some longer, some shorter. They were causing a great din.

 

Faahvrigüo told himself that these must be the elves Uricchin had described to him, and the puzzling structures must be their dwellings. He had not expected to find them drifting along in the middle of a lake.

 

Inconspicuous as the young dragon may have been trying to appear, he would have been the cause of great and immediate alarm for these elves under ordinary circumstances. As it turned out, they were much too preoccupied with one another to notice him at all.

 

Faahvrigüo watched in fascination as the structures drifted dangerously closer together until they ran into each other with a loud bump.

 

Shortly thereafter, great excitement ensued!

 

There were yells and shrieks and waving of pointy things and shaking of fists. Some pointy things flew with a whizz! from one structure over to the other. There was a powerful blast, which caused Faahvrigüo to dive in a panic. He was greatly frightened and confused. When he dared to reemerge just enough to see, thick, foul smelling smoke which stung his eyes was obstructing his view. He had to draw closer to better see the hulking vessels, one of which was now badly marred. Both structures were in flames. Something resembling vines was thrown between the two, and by their use, most of the elves were now on the same one. The ones that weren’t, Faahvrigüo noticed with a sickening feeling, were floating in the lake, not moving. The water around some had a faint red tinge. Faahvrigüo felt it pollute his own body, which was then mixed with the lake’s waters. He felt ill.

 

One need not have the horror of death explained to them to recognize it. Even in his fear and confusion,  Faahvrigüo knew it when he beheld it.

What stupid little creatures, to thoughtlessly do such horribly things to one another! And for what reason? The young Dragon Prince’s first excursion was ruined, his new special place most grossly violated. Faahvrigüo could not stand to be in the bloodied waters any longer.

 

He dove down and under the structures, where the muffled screaming could still reach his ears. Then, after a moment’s hesitation, he shot up and burst through the surface right between them with his  fiercest roar.

 

To be sure, this made a strong impression on his bickering audience, as he would have —roar or no roar. For you see, Faahvrigüo felt quite small next to his Mother, and he had felt small when first surveying the vast unknown world that morning. The endless lake, too, had made him feel quite insignificant, yet in reality he was anything but. In fact, he quite underestimated his size, and when he emerged so violently the waves his body created caused the wrecked structure to capsize, and the other to nearly do the same. He had not meant to cause this to happen, and was taken aback along with the elves.

 

They stared, and Faahvrigüo stared back, regaining enough of his composure to glare at them, feeling large and imposing and very terrible indeed. No one said anything or moved, and after a minute or so, the silence began to turn rather awkward.

 

Then someone —someone not very bright— decided to seize the distraction as an opportunity to club someone else on the head, and to the young dragon’s dismay and disbelief, pandemonium broke loose once again.

 

The battle resumed as if he had not been there at all. Indignant, Faahvrigüo roared again and with one hard swat sent the now sinking wreck bouncing a little way across the water, like a skipping stone.

 

Then the elves on the remaining ship paid attention to him, and how! This attention they expressed with spears and harpoons and cannon balls, all of which naturally went right through Faahvrigüo’s liquid body, causing little more than a good deal of splashing. Such things could not hurt him, nor could any other means available to common ruffians such as these elves were.

 

They did however serve to greatly frighten and anger our Dragon Prince, and in a second his talons might have clawed those rickety wooden things to pieces, the elves along with them. This would have been a terrible thing, so I am glad to tell you that it did not happen.

 

Both dragon and elves were stopped in their tracks by a deafening, ear-splitting roar that got into the core of every living and non-living thing so thoroughly, that by the time it was over —and it lasted a good while— every blade of grass shook and every rock shook with its might.

 

The elves, with  their bodies flat against the deck and their hands over  their heads, shivered as well, though for different motives. Faahvrigüo gave them a scornful glance and looked up in the direction of his Mother, where she, with her body half-risen, lay looking back at him.

 

It took one confusing, painful instant for Faahvrigüo to come to the shocking realization that the wrath he read in her eyes was not directed toward these insolent, foolhardy creatures that would try to hurt her precious young, but at Faahvrigüo himself. Even though he probably ought not to have strayed so far, the burning fury in her eyes hurt him deeply. It scared him, too.

 

He did not look back at the elves again, but took flight and made for home. He was not eager to arrive, yet he pressed on, for the Earth Dragon’s roar had carried very far, and this made the way back a very uncomfortable experience.

 

Elves were everywhere now, out in droves and in small groups, with torches and lanterns. Every window was yellow with light in every farmhouse and village that Faahvrigüo flew over, which in the daytime he had somehow overlooked. All eyes and pointing fingers were on him, and various sorts of exclamations, the nature of which he could not understand, followed him all the way.

 

He did not have to bear the terrible look in his Mother’s eyes for long, at least. When she saw him take off in her direction, she lay down again and shut her eyes. Even from far away it was evident that the effort of rising had exhausted her. For the first time the young Dragon Prince wondered why she spent so much time sleeping, and why she tired so easily. Had it always been so? Why hadn’t he noticed?

 

His mind heavy with many worries, Faahvrigüo flew higher, over the clouds, away from the gaping faces and pointing fingers of the pesky little beings on the ground, and he did not begin his descent until he reached his Mother. ​

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Chapter 5
Faahvrigüo and His Mother
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Dragons are not creatures given to long discourse, not even among each other. They think long and deeply, then act decisively, although young dragons are perhaps prone to less thinking and more rash actions.


Faahvrigüo's mother had never properly spoken to him until that day. Strange as it might seem to you, there had been no need.


After flying all through the night, the young dragon landed on the tip of his mother’s snout and sat there quietly at first, staring at his talons. But when he heard her open her eyes (for when a dragon the size of a mountain range as much as blinks, it makes a sound, believe me) he looked up with defiance, ready to defend his actions.

He relaxed somewhat upon noticing that the look in her eyes had softened. Her gentle booming voice filled his head, though the earthen lips never parted or moved.


“My son,” she said to him, “tell me what happened.”


Faahvrigüo shifted uncomfortably. He was not sure where to begin, and was himself quite confused by his recent experience.


“I… I wanted to see what the land was like,” he began reluctantly, “I only wanted a look. Uricchin told me to stay away from them, and I—”


“Uricchin?”


“Yes… I met him one night when I couldn’t sleep,” answered Faahvrigüo, “Near… my nest.”


(He couldn’t quite bring himself to say, “inside your ear.”)


“He’s all drippy and moves a bit like a slug, and he’s got a little bunch of yellow light growing on top of his head.”


“I know Uricchin well,” answered the gentle, booming voice inside Faahvrigüo's head. There was a hint of amusement in the Earth Dragon’s soft amber eyes. “What did he say to you?”


“He said to avoid the elves as much as I could,” answered Faahvrigüo sullenly, “I did.”


“I see.” There was a faint rumble as the Earth Dragon slowly blinked. “What else did he say?”


“He… He said not to frighten or hurt them, but—”


“Then, why did you attack them?”


The voice inside Faahvrigüo's head had grown stern.


“I didn’t hurt them!”


“They were terrified.”

“I was too! I scared them so they would stop killing each other. They made the water of the lake I was playing in all bloody.”

His voice cracked slightly at the end of this outburst. He felt his motive sounded petty, and he couldn’t find the right words to say what he meant.


“Their blood was in me while I was in the water,” he choked, “It got all mixed up with me.”


“My dear, you cannot scare them into not killing each other. It doesn’t work that way.”


Faahvrigüo sniffled and lay  down on his mother’s mossy snout.

“Why do they do that, mother?”

“That is not easily explained, my hatchling, But as you saw, they do themselves enough harm without outside help.”

“But—”
“You must never, EVER raise your talons against them again.”


“But they attacked me first!”


“They can do you no real harm.”


The young dragon prince got on his feet excitedly. “I will not sit there while they fling their spears at me and do nothing, even if they don’t hurt me!”


“Indeed you should not. This time, and any other, you should have flown away from there.”
Faahvrigüo stared, speechless in his consternation.


“I’ve… I’ve got just as much right,” he began weakly. “Mother, they are everywhere! Uricchin said so. What shall I do?”


“Keep your distance, dear, as best as you can.”


Faahvrigüo sat in silence for a while, deeply troubled. “Why?” he asked finally.


“Faahvrigüo,” answered the Earth Dragon tenderly, “My beloved child, please forgive your mother’s unfairness. You are quite right —you have just as much right— but humor me on my whim. You may understand my motives better when you are older, or you may come to resent me for them, but I must implore you to try to do as I bid you.”


There was sorrow in her eyes, and a bitter lump in Faahvrigüo's throat. He swallowed it and asked his mother, “Why do you care about them so much?”


“They are my children, just as much as you are.”


A pang of childish jealously stung the dragon prince’s heart.


“Whom do you care for the most?”


The Earth Dragon gazed at him for a silent moment. The enormous earthen lids dropped and rose once with a faint crunch as the Dragon blinked.


“Whom do you love best, then? Mother!”


“I love you the same.”


Faahvrigüo caught his breath and stiffened.


“I don’t understand. Are they not like the grass, or the trees? They are so small. They all look alike. They are noisy and mean-spirited. There are so many of them —or so Uricchin tells me. There is but one of me. How can we matter the same to you?”


“I don’t expect you to understand, little one. You are so very young, and have seen so very little of the world, and of them…. Although (and here a grimace flickered across her face) I’m afraid you’ve seen too much of some things, too early. Perhaps…” She seemed to hesitate. “Perhaps you should go forth then, and see more. Go and see the world and let the world see you.”


She sighed —the first sound to come from her lips. Her breath shook the treetops on the valley below her snout.


“They might as well get used to you, and it’s not like I can prevent it for very much longer.”
“I don’t want to!” cried Faahvrigüo, lashing his tail against the ground and making it splash. He felt deeply contrary. He would rather they all went away, and not have to look at them or be looked at.


“Heed me, my beloved hatchling, and pray do not be obstinate,” said the Earth Dragon, soothingly, “Do you not realize how much you’ve grown since the last time I’ve been awake? My son, too soon you will outgrow this part of the land, and me. You cannot nest on mother’s back forever.”


A great sorrow filled the young Dragon Prince’s heart upon hearing these words, and tears filled his eyes. Gaze downcast, he asked in a low, tremulous whisper, “But I don’t have to leave yet, do I? We can still be together for a while longer, can’t we, Mother?”


The great amber eyes were shut. As the minutes passed with no forthcoming reply, Faahvrigüo began to fear that there would be none. But then, with a crumble, the eyes opened and the loving, familiar gaze fell upon him once again.


“Have you wondered yet, my child, why Mother must sleep season after season, for years, so seldom waking while you grow and explore and play all on your own?”


Faahvrigüo lifted his head. He realized that he had wondered this, and for a long time, too. But, as she’d never been awake to ask when the question crossed his mind, he would forget for a while, until some night when he felt rather lonesome and wanted for her.


The gentle booming voice droned on.


“As a species, we dragons are self-sustaining. Some of us, such as myself, can create a world from nothing. Others, such as your Father, can nurture that life and make it grow. The life we create becomes our own source of sustenance. We must feed from it in order to stay alive. However, I could never do that. I grow too fond of it. So I sleep. So long as I sleep, and conserve and regenerate my energy, I’ve found that I can stay alive and life can go on undisturbed. In this manner, I keep you alive as well. If I did not sleep, both you and I would grow weak and hungry. You do not need to eat as long as I stay alive.


I would die first rather than harming this world to keep myself alive, but I could not ask the same of you, and neither could I bear to see you kill to appease your hunger. So I must sleep. I must sleep deep and always, for during my every waking moment, I grow weaker, and so would the land in time grow weaker, since our energy flows as one.”


“I don’t understand,” Faahvrigüo said softly.


“My little prince, I must sleep so deeply, that I could not talk to you for hundreds of years. You would grow lonesome here, long before you grew so big that you could no longer find a nesting place on my back.”


“Oh,” was all that Faahvrigüo said. But something felt broken in his throat, and he struggled not to cry. You must remember that he was, after all, only a little dragon, not much older than a hatchling, and needed his mother very much still.


The Earth Dragon’s eyes had closed again, but her voice still filled Faahvrigüo's mind, loving and soothing.


“Go out into the world, my love, see it, and let it see you. Though they may not look like you, your brothers and sisters fill this land. Know them, harm them not, and I’m sure that in time you will come to treasure their existence as much as I do. And remember —though I may sleep, I dream of you. I am always with you, and you may count on Uricchin to guide you.”


The Earth Dragon did not speak again.


Faahvrigüo curled up into a tight ball and stayed on her snout a while longer. Then he dried his tears and flew away from there.

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Chapter 6
Animosity
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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 had left him alone for their sake. At least that is how things 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 of noise and confusion that almost invariably left the trampled fields dark with blood. This happened often, and he soon grew bored and repulsed 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 frighteningly low, 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 quiet refuge in.

The wildlife put him at ease. Sometimes he would lie perfectly still for hours, and wait for the animals to approach him. They 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. A wooded mountainside rose around him, and he lazily watched small creatures —an eagle,  a bear, some mountain goats— go about their business on it. It was very pleasant, and sometimes he would doze off.  One such time, a loud rustling noise woke him with a start. Something about it was too careless to have been caused by an animal. He looked up in annoyance, careful not to raise his head, and saw that it was an elf, as he had suspected. Perhaps taking the constant watery rush and the glints caused by the sun as mere 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 very young female, a child, long-snouted, with thin limbs and clumsy, trampling feet. Her plain, dirty dress ended at her knees, and a little green hood covered her shoulders. She carried a little basket and was foraging for something. Mushrooms perhaps, or berries.

Faahvrigüo watched as another elven child appeared behind her, screeching noisily, snatching the basket and provoking the other child into giving chase. They drew closer to the edge of the gorge, filling the air with their shrill little cries. Faahvrigüo was annoyed. Go away already, he thought to himself. He did not like small elves any more than he did big ones.

The children had come up to the edge now, and the second one, a boy, had picked up a stone to throw down the gorge. Looking down into it he then froze, with the stone in his raised hand, trying to comprehend the picture that presented itself in front of him. For you must realize, Faahvrigüo was almost incomprehensibly large for a child of this size to process. While not as big as his mother, who was so big as to actually escape notice because she was part of the landscape, Faahvrigüo was somewhere in between —large enough that you wouldn’t immediately notice he was a living creature himself, especially if you were right next to him, but once you realized it, you might have been a little alarmed.

The little girl now approached her companion, who remained comically frozen, his eyes locked into Faahvrigüo’s, and she too froze, her face white with dread. She grabbed the boy’s shoulder and began to drag him back from the edge. And then something happened, something that to Faahvrigüo was terribly disturbing. In front of his eyes the boy suddenly melted into a completely different shape, that of a fawn, which remained on the spot with the same terrified expression for a split second before bounding away toward the forest at high speed. 

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 —real deer, as he would later think of them— sprinted away disoriented, eyes rolling in their sockets and nostrils flaring. The little girl screamed and then she, too, morphed into a small fawn, and, picking up the basket with her teeth, took off into the woods as clumsily and noisily as before, leaving Faahvrigüo staring after her in dread and disbelief.

M

“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.


“Oh, Master…”


“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.


And thus passed the years.

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Chapter 7
Faahvrigüo and Tekneea
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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.
M
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 down 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 gone on to cause 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 clear, resolute 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 remaining clouds. She did not come nearer to him. “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 in 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, then 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 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 even 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, and I must always watch my step.”
 
“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 from up close, and notice that which you have not noticed before.”

“So maybe you have. Maybe not. I don’t want to talk about them anymore,” said Faahvrigüo. “What is your name?”

She smiled.

“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, I’m afraid. 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 ever 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 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 in a torrential manner, but with 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.

In the time that followed, Tekneea and Faahvrigüo would make some of their happiest memories together. They would show each other the world, and they would let themselves be seen by everyone. So, while some elves certainly did doubt whether the Earth Dragon was real, or if she was, whether she was still alive, no one had any doubts that these two creatures were part of their world, and more and more, they were seen with a fearful benevolence. And very, very slowly, as he no longer hid himself, Faahvrigüo began to develop —I would not say a fondness, exactly, but rather a tolerance for the elves, at least for some of them. He did not seek to interact with them as Tekneea would, however, vastly preferring when it was just the two of them in their favorite haunts, ignoring anything and anyone else.

Faahvrigüo came to discover that when he and Tekneea flew together in a frenzy, they would create some pretty fierce thunderstorms. To him, it was intoxicating, and so it was for her, but she worried about the elves, and often cut these events short. But these were the best times —high enough not to see any elves below, twisting and turning this and that way among the clouds, flashes of white all around them, wind whistling, and a rain so strong that the two were but a blur within it— the two would become almost drunk with one another. Sometimes, something in the make of Tekneea’s body would shock Faahvrigüo, sending a painful punch all throughout his liquid body, but it would be over in a second, and he would then chase her, his desire for some sort of retribution mixed with his desperate desire to touch her again, driving him wild. He was never sure whether she did it on purpose or it was an accident. Sometimes she laughed at him and sometimes she seemed completely unaware that it had happened. But it didn’t matter to him.

He was happy. 
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