Submitted on 05/11/2020

Categories: Fantasy

The four children from this world known as the Quartet of Innocence here in Quandah were seated on the grass in The Clearing in front of the magician Ozymandias’s cave dwelling. They were relaxed and chatting with their friend Lamghi.

Vikram as the only boy of the Quartet, tended to talk first. He had no patience with all this stuff about absorbing the atmosphere or getting in touch with his emotions. He just wanted facts and then he could act. “So Lamghi, what kind of dragon are you? Everyone says you are the only dragon in the country, so where did you hatch?

Lamghi gazed at him from her beautiful big golden eyes, took a deep breath, not the kind she took when she planned to breathe out a spume of fire, though. They had all seen her do that often enough. Then she lowered her head, resting it on her friend Sita’s lap.

“Well, let me see.”

They all listened in silence, “It all began long, long ago in a country so far away, I don't know where it is, I don't even know its name. I was one of 20 hatchlings. I remember my birth. I was the fifth to emerge from my egg, which was a magnificent marbled black and gold one. Four of my brothers, already hatched, were sitting waiting, watching for the rest of the clutch to hatch. I remember my mother, a beautiful red and gold dragon hovering in the background.  You could feel her excitement as she stood watching the eggs hatch. Her wings were quivering. Her eyes were blinking rapidly.

As I hatched, I remember hearing the background noise from the rest of the dragons. We were part of the colony, I was the first female and created quite a stir, apparently black, and gold was very rare. As the hours went by, the rest of my brothers and sisters hatched. There was only one other with mixed colours like our mother. My sister was a replica of our mother’s colours. The rest were all uniform in colour but beautiful, like gems. They were azure, turquoise, amber, green, red and one was purple. One of my sisters was strange, though. She was much smaller than the others, and she was a pale pink colour, but she was exquisite. I was jealous, she was so delicate and beautiful. When she stretched her wings and flapped them, they had frilly edges! Oh, how I envied that pretty little dragon, she had long, beautiful eyelashes that she fluttered and everyone she looked at immediately fell in love with her.

As hatchlings, we stayed in the cavern. I explored most of the passages and found one which had never been used by the colony. When I grew tired of all the noise, you can imagine the din from twenty hungry hatchlings and at least twenty adults. That was just talking, not counting feeding time when they all trumpeted and flapped wings. I hated it, so crept over, grabbed some food, and disappeared down to my own quiet little cave to eat in peace.

The adult dragons were not there all the time as they had their duties. They were out guarding the King and his palace, which was close to our cavern. As hatchlings, we stayed in the safety of the cavern, our parents, and some of the others would come down to the nursery to see we had our food. We were looked after by very short people, about your size, Sita.”  

Lamghi continued, "One day when we were half-grown, there was a dreadful noise outside. The cavern filled with smoke and I was so scared I ran back into my quiet cave where I could not hear the sounds or smell the smoke, the others knew where I went so I thought they would follow me. I stayed there, shivering with fear for a long, long time. Then I slowly went back, retracing my steps and entering our home cavern.

 The silence was unnerving. The scene was awful, as well as terrifying. My brothers and sisters and parents were all lying still, in pools of their green blood. My beautiful pink sister had her head half cut off. I felt sick, who or what could do such a terrible thing? What about the keepers? Why had they not stopped this slaughter? I picked my way between the bodies and carefully went up to the entrance slope. I intended to go to the Castle and find out why the King had allowed such desecration right on his doorstep.

 I looked across only to realise the Castle was no longer there. Now it was just a few smouldering beams lying on a pile of tumbled stones. Whoever these people were, they had killed the King and his household as well as us, the protectors of the people. I could still smell the acrid smoke, and it made me feel sleepy. That’s when I knew the killers had used torches with some sort of soporific smoke. By waving the smoke into the cavern, they had made sure there would be no opposition. Then, they must have rushed in with their swords. To make sure no one else had escaped this carnage, I returned to the caverns. I looked at my parents, their chests had a gaping wound where once their hearts had been. Tears rolled down my face. I was shaking with shock and fear. I didn't know what to do. Heartbroken, I barely managed to creep back to the cavern entrance. I saw nothing moving. That’s when I decided to fly away as far and as fast as I could.

My wings were not fully formed, but we had been practicing flying. Fear gave me the courage as I sprang into the air and soared up above the trees, above this dreadful scene of devastation.  I didn't know what to eat. I'd always been fed. I didn't know what to drink. Our drinking water in the cavern was a permanently sparkling stream. As I flew, I saw rivers, most flowing so slowly I didn't know that it was water. I didn't know it was drinkable, so I passed them, feeling weaker and weaker as I flew on. Then I came to a clearing in a forest, and there was a glint of blue water just like we had at home. I landed and took a sip of water, but exhaustion overcame me. I sank onto the small mound, and the last thing I remember was seeing a cave entrance.”

Ozymandias took over the tale and told them how one morning he had emerged to find a poor exhausted little Dragon unconscious by the Healing Spring. Every few hours he managed to dribble some water into her mouth, this went on for days. Then she opened her eyes, sat up slowly, and folded her wings, “I've come home, haven't I?”

“I nodded and said she was welcome to make her home here in the forest. She was still small, but she looked into my cave and said, “No, that's too small for me, it's not like my birth one.”

Then I showed her the cave up on the cliff face. I had been into it from the other side of the hill and knew it was huge and went back a long way. She excitedly flew up and said, “I don’t like it. I love it!”

Lamghi carried on, “It was beautiful, roomy, clean and warm. I flew up there and settled to sleep. I made it my home, and that's where I’ve lived ever since. I don't know what kind of Dragon I am, and I don't know where I've come from, but I do know where I live now. I do know my home, and I do know my friends.”

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