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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.
“Can all of them do that?”
A sullen, troubled Faahvrigüo posed this question to the flickering little light in the night that was Uricchin.
“As far as Uricchin knows,” answered the shy little voice.
Faahvrigüo shifted his weight. He was lying across the mountain range that was the sleeping Earth Dragon’s back. It was the only way he knew to talk to Uricchin, but the older and bigger he grew, the more self-conscious he felt about it. He wasn’t a little hatchling anymore, and he feared disturbing her sleep. For these reasons, as time passed he visited his only confidante less and less. This time he had been prompted to do so by worry.
“How can I tell which is an elf and which is a, a… decent, honest to goodness animal?”
“There is no sure way, Master. Why, even they cannot always tell for sure if they run into one of their own that has shape-shifted in the wild. Makes for unfortunate hunting accidents, Uricchin hears.”
Faahvrigüo shook his head gravely. “Then I may not trust the animals either. Not if even one of them could turn out to be one of those… those creatures in such treacherous disguise.”
“Dear, grieved Master, they are not so bad, these elves. They too are children of Master’s venerable mother. They are— ”
“Silence! To think that you would put me on equal terms with such murderous, wicked little…” Faahvrigüo noticed that Uricchin was hiding his face behind his blobby hands, and his flame was flickering as though it might go out at any moment.
“Listen — they are not like me. So don’t, please. It makes me ill.”
Uricchin peeked thru his fingers.
“It’s alright. If I must make do with only my own company for the sake of my peace of mind, so be it. Besides,” he added, “Animals live such short lives, anyway. I can’t exactly develop any strong attachments.”
And so saying he departed.
But the truth is that he grew a great deal more lonely, and only disliked the elves more for taking yet another thing from him, as he felt it.
And thus passed the years.
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