Dragon Plight

August 16, 2010
I tested my strong claws on the rock, and was familiarly pleased with the feel of the hard, tight granite below me. My wings, which my father deemed matured enough for flight, fanned out up and above my head, making the Draconic symbol for dominance and victory. My long, wiry tail flicked back and forth, making whipping cracks as my excitement increased. My long neck eased my head up and down, smelling the wind, which blew easily on my face. My teeth, white for the time before I light my first fire, shone brilliantly against the sun. My eyes were blazing with the anticipation of this moment; my first horn was coming in, on top of my hardened snout. This look, of course, took many, many hours of painstaking polishing and buffing; my shining black-red coat took at least half a day for the sand wallows to buff and polish. The lesser dragons, the only ones small enough to do so, had to bite the pests off of my wings and body, and be delicate.
The preparations were not in vain, for I shimmered, the sun accepted me. The thousands of smaller, lesser dragons were below the cliff, waiting for the Great-kings’ newest war dragon to make his first flight to prove himself. I would fly far and strong, and may my war cry deafen those below, like my father’s. Maybe a dragonelle will catch my eye…
My father came up behind me and slapped my side to shake me from my thoughts. Lord Aeronus’ twenty-horned head marked him as over six hundred years old, if you couldn’t guess from his size. He was clearly three times my size, towering over me. His teeth had long since blackened form his first fire, and shimmered. His own red scale glinted, blazing like fire. The elder’s tail was clubbed at the end, with knobs that used to be spikes, long since broken off in battle. His wings were humbly retracted, folded up at his sides.
I lowered my wings out of respect for the elder and said “Father, this day has brought me joy. Thank you for bidding me ready. You could not have picked a better day, either; the winds are calm, the sun is bright.”
He smiled, the corners of his lips curling up. “Just do not try any heroic feats. Lift off, climb to the height you wish to show off at, and then touch down at the opposite cliff,” he advised, extending a wing to point out the landing side, where his mother was, “And don’t worry if you do not go high; I felt I failed my first flight, and I apparently did very well in the king’s eyes. You have my blood and my blessing son. Make me proud.”
I bowed my head as my father walked off, beaming with pride. Any second now, the flight fire would light off on the mount of Elation and I would fly. The anticipation made me claw at the ground, I made impatient grunts and got low to the ground, ready to fly off fast, at a moment’s notice. The sky called to me, with its light gusts seducing me- I would fly to the sun! Even if every fiber in my being told me to stop, I would keep flying. Even if I can’t breathe for lack of air, I would keep flying.
The fire is late, but why? Should I go on ahead? No, no. I will wait here all day, so I can prove my patience.
It is almost nightfall, where is the fire? Someone has played a cruel trick on me. The entire day I spent ready to fly, all sprung up. And no fire. Even if there was a fire, I couldn’t show off my scales with the sun below the horizon, could I? I looked down a second time today, at the crowd below. Only, this second time, there was no crowd. In surprise, I looked across the canyon- and my mother disappeared. I was left alone… had the king already rejected me?
In a depressed daze, I walked back to the home cave, my wings drooped on the ground and my long tail dragged on the ground. I, a failure of a dragon, was crushed. I decided now that, since the king had no need for a failure, I would sleep in the muck. I deserved it, I didn’t please the king and I am useless, like the mud in the pond I now stalked off to. I couldn’t fly, for I had no first flight.
I fell in the pond, digging myself into the wallow, laying my head down just outside. Aerogos, the shame of Aeronus, fell asleep weeping.

In the morning, I still felt wretched. The sky was full of clouds, blue and foreshadowing a storm. Though, I was ready to confront my father, shame turned to anger. I lifted out of the pond, washing myself off the best I could, and came out of the pond seething with rage. I went directly for my home cave, entering with a stomp and a storm. My mother was there, shaken awake by my calls for father. Her great green body lurched off the floor, coming to me. “oh, my son, I’m sorry-”
“Mother, I spent an entire day waiting for a first flight that didn’t come! Why disgrace me like this? Mother?”
“Son… it’s Aeronus… your father was… killed.”
My anger seized up, it collapsed into shock. My entire body shivered. “what?”
Mother, haggard and torn, told me that after he left me, he took flight. “Scouts said that they… saw him attacked by dwarves… and they had him down before… before the scouts could get to him… he’s been beheaded… my husband…” she managed to sob before breaking into tears.
My shock turned to anger once more. “Those Dwar have killed many. Mother, I will avenge my father. I’ll have my First Flight, and seek them out.”
“No, you have no flame! You’ll be killed too, and I do not wish to lose two of my family to the Dwar. Please my son. Avenge your father in the war. Leave the Dwar to the Night Dragons.”
I was sobered, anger turned to sadness. “I loved my father, everyone loved him. I hope this will finally open their eyes to the threat. Oh, mother…”
The full brunt of the situation then dawned on me, and I embraced my mother with my neck as I wept over her shoulder. I wept loudly, cursing the Dwar with every tear I dropped. The clouds outside opened as the lords of water and air clashed. The torrent increased, ripping trees from their roots. The lightning struck and thunder boomed. Water drowned the earth, and rivers flooded the banks.
Mother Earth and Father Sky lost one of their greatest offspring. They embraced each other, weeping.

A year later, and my first flight had still not come. It was embarrassing; my friends all flew first months ago, and left the canyon. My wings ache for the air, but no one will sponsor me. You need a father figure, and my family’s been all killed off by the Dwar. My mother died of a broken heart, and some poison she took. She died over my shoulder, leaving me alone, barren, a shell.
People give me sneers for my luck, and nobody will talk to me since my mother committed suicide, three months ago. I’ve sat on the forum rock, waiting for old friends to come to me, but I see nothing of my old friends. I’ve had enough today. I wait to ask the Great-king to find a sponsor. There is not a long line, and I am next in the queue. I’ve been in this position for hours now, and I begin to chafe, for the one in front of me left an hour ago.
The Great-kings’ advisor, Simmen, beckoned me forth right before I was ready to leave.
“Be respectful, barren flightless, for you walk in the court of the Great-king! You may enter”, he said as he beckoned with his wings.
I entered the court, down the large steps, while looking forward in wonder at the great white dragon before me. His entire head was full or horns, he must’ve been over a thousand years old. There was another attendant who told me to stop. “You are in the court of the Great-king. State your issue, and be polite.”
I bowed low, my nose touching the ground, then straightened and looked up at the Great-king. His eyes were bright yellow; his horns were slim, yet intimidating. I cleared my throat, as my mouth suddenly dried in this dragon’s immensity.
“Great-king, I have come to beg of a sponsor for my first flight. It has been a year since mine was shamed by the death of my father, and I never left the ground. My mother died of a broken heart three months ago, and I am without a sponsor. I implore you, your majesty, for no one will listen to me.” I finished my inquiry, and bowed again, hearts pounding hard.
The great dragon chuckled, a sound that disarmed and soothed my nerves. “You are very brave indeed to inquire of me to demand a sponsor. I have heard of your plight, and I have been wondering why nobody has taken you in. I am old enough, wizened enough, that I no longer carry the suspicion of bad luck. And I see a strong, fit young dragon in you. Indeed, I am intrigued by your inquiry,” the ancient dragon chuckled again. His deep booming voice both intimidated and uplifted.
He smiled. “I will have the honor of sponsoring your First Flight. I knew your father well. Lord Aeronus was a great dragon indeed, and I remember his first…” the ancient gazed upward, smiling as he reminisced. I stopped listening halfway through, senses stunned by the acceptance. I almost squeaked with disbelief and pride. “I-I-I would be honored, Great-king. I will carry your banner with pride.”
“The honor is mine, pride of Aeronus. Now, you will reside in the palace after your First Flight. For now, go to your home cave, take your possessions of worth to you, and get ready to leave your home cave. You may return there whenever the stench of nobility is too much for you to handle,” another chuckle from the Great-king. “and do polish up your scales, I see a much brighter crimson under that dust.”
Brimming with self confidence, I proudly strutted down to the sand wallows, where the lesser dragons buffed and shined the scales whilst one slept. I collapsed in a wallow, and fell immediately asleep when the sand was shoved over me.
I was woken by a golden dragonelle, who was blowing air into my face to wake me. I opened my eyes to her beautiful face, with a horn protruding out of the top of her sharp-tipped crest. Her eyes had every hue of blue imaginable, and her face shone against the sun, no doubt to the lesser dragon who stalked away. We were both still buried in sand, so her wings and body were hidden from my sight.
“There you go! Finally awake, I see? What’s the occasion that you’re at the wallows?” she said, eyes bright with interest.
“I am preparing for my first flight… finally,” I responded, still drowsy from the good night’s sleep.
“Oh? You look strong enough that you should’ve had your first flight.”
“Well, you just can’t see the rest of me, that’s all. But I finally get to reach the sky. But what of you?”
“I’m going to have it soon, my father tells me. I’ve been eating my sheep whole, like he told me too, wool and all. I’m the last in the family, so I’ve sort of been held back. When are you going?”
I thought for a second, and then said, “He really didn’t tell me. He told me to just get polished in the wallows and get my things.”
“Get your things? Are you getting ready to move?”
“Watch my first flight and you’ll find out,” I said, eager to dodge the question until later.
“Oh… okay. I didn’t catch your name. Mine is Anadelle.”
“Well then, you’d remember me. I’m Aerogos, remember? You and I used to chase each other when we were young. We’d go so far into the forest… remember when we ran up on that human?”
Sudden clarity dawned on her. “Oh, now I remember you. How have you been, Aerogos? I forgot all about you! I remember the shenanigans we’d find ourselves in. We’d get such a scolding by our parents.”
“I could’ve hoped for a better year, but I’ve still got all my teeth. Well, do I?” I asked as I opened my mouth, showing off my sharp teeth.
She pretended to look, and nodded. “Yep, they’re all there. Where’re your parents? I haven’t seen them in the wallows”
My cheerfulness subsided at that innocent question, and I looked away. “Oh… I’m so sorry. What happened, if I can ask?”
“My father got murdered by the Dwar. Mother died of a broken heart,” I said, sullen not only for the loss, but for the fact that I just ruined the conversation. She’d probably get out of the wallow, tell me “good day,” and walk away.
“Wow… I’m so sorry for your loss… who’s your sponsor now?”
I cheered up again at that. “The Great-king,” I said.
“No! He never sponsors first flights!”
“Well then, you’ll just have to watch my first flight, milady,” I said suavely, as the lesser dragons rubbed my back inside the sands.
The next hour consisted of both of our bodies being slowly uncovered as the lesser dragons worked feverishly at every iota of our hide while we talked idly, in the unenviable position of being stuck very near someone, yet having everything you could talk about have already been spoken of. Eventually, I dozed off, and, when I came to, the lesser dragons had finished and my scales glimmered. Anadelle had already finished, and she was probably telling all her friends about her First Flight. By the lords, she is beautiful. I’ll get to see her in all her glory in a few days at her First Flight.
I walked to my home cave, and, when inside, realized an emptiness inside. There was nothing in here that would really be of sentimental value. The entire cave is my memory, not the straw bed, nor the granite fireplace. There’s nothing to take. But there’s so much to gain. By being the Great-king’s champion, I will restore honor to my family. The sky will be my savior. I walked to the straw bed I used since I was a hatchling, padded down the straw, and fell into a fitful rest.

The next day was bright, shining. I woke to the brightening of my cave, and walked out with a satisfied yawn. As I stretched outside, Anadelle ran to me.
“There you are! I’ve been asking where your cave was forever!”
“It’s tucked away, yes. What news?”
“My First Flight’s today! I couldn’t lift off without you to see, though,” she said, turning back around, her tail whipping. She padded off, then when she realized I didn’t follow, beckoned me forward.
We took off at a brisk walk, and I saw in her eyes the pride, the glory of Flight. Her mind was somewhere off in the sky, and she wanted so badly to go catch it. We made good time to the Flight Rock, solid, fine granite at the edge of the canyon. Her father, a Bronze with at least ten horns, proudly stood, a fine trail of smoke wafting up from his mouth.
“Ah, Anadelle, this is your friend, I trust?”
“Yes, father. This is Aerogos, I met him in the wallow-“
“Yes, I remember fondly Young Aerogos and you, and your escapades. How have the years fared for you? Oh, not so good,” he said, then as he saw my face droop, he quickly said, “But let’s not dampen the mood. I’ll hear all about it, though…later, in a more appropriate setting. For now…”
He turned to Anadelle, who looked up into those blazing red eyes of her father’s. “Anadelle, I have watched you, scolded you, scalded you and molded you into this fine young lady. With this first flight, you will make my effort mean something more than it already has. Your First Flight will be flown with my thanks, my blessing, and my best wishes. May you fly fast and far.”
Anadelle looked ready to burst with excitement. “Thank you father! I shall take your bless, and fly…as soon as those louts up at the flight fires burn it…”
I gave her my best wishes, and walked off with her father. We both looked at her for a minute, each thinking of her in flight, then he turned his head to me.
“radiant, isn’t she?” he asked with a wry smile.
Unwary, I said “Yes, very beautiful…” before realizing it was her father I spoke to. I choked on my words and nervously chuckled. The great bronze laughed a high laugh, unbecoming of his giant size, then told me, “She is old enough. I married my beautiful Irelda after my First Flight. You may have her, good Aerogos. You’ve turned into a good enough dragon, even though you stole my food when you were young.”
“um- thank you, sir. Though, I fear my life is changing fast-”
“Oh, please, doesn’t everyone’s after their First? But, if you have cold claws, she’s not had many suitors…”
The conversation switched to the unfortunate loss of my mother and father, and the great bronze sighed. “Well, I knew your father well. He and I used to hunt together- haha! Such were some fun times, when we were small enough not to crush the animals to a pulp with a swat of our claw…” he dreamed of the memories, and it seemed the thought of crushing animals to a pulp also enticed him.
I was about to contemplate on what this could bode for his personality when all of a sudden, the entire canyon silenced. The gossip about the glories of this new flyer Anadelle ceased. I looked up at the fire, curious, and saw the small torch being carried to the fire. The small man held the torch at arm’s length, burning end pointed toward the stack of wood. I’ve never seen a human servant myself, but they looked sturdy and interesting from a half mile away. The man dropped the stick in the fire, then fell face down. The fire caught fast, turning into a raging inferno.
Anadelle, well prepared, crouched down, her large, muscular hind legs in tension. Then, wings unfurled, she launched high into the sky, and kept going higher. Her wings shone through like a pink venous drape, or the thin hide of an animal. Her wings forced the air into a frenzy, causing the trees on the other side of the canyon to shake and stir with a fake wind. She kept climbing, until she was small against the large blue expanse. Her First Flight flew well.
The pangs of jealousy hit me then. Why didn’t my father stay? Why were the Dwar so close? Why eren’t the fires lit anyway?
I left before she landed, shamed once more.

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