A commission for Blankit featuring my own Faahvrigüo and Uricchin! When Faahvrigüo was very young, Uricchin would tell him about the land and about Faahvrigüo ‘s own mother, the Earth Dragon, as they walked over her massive body.
I am tired, but happy with this piece. Trying to knock one out per day or every two days depending on complexity. Thank you everyone for your patience!
Hello, everyone! I want to begin by thanking all of my Patrons for a second month of support. Both in a practical way when it comes to the funds I get, and in an emotional way in terms of encouragement, your pledges keep me happier in my work, doing my best. Thank you to all of you, especially those of you who are now on your second month.
As you may recall, even when I made my first Patreon page a big goal was to fund my books. Or rather to be able to get the funds needed to set time aside to work on them. In the end it was a bit of a catch-22: with no time to dedicate to my books due to commissions, people couldn’t get to know the projects well enough and regularly enough to develop an interest in helping them progress.
To that end, and while it is a bit of a long shot, I have created a new tier, limited to two spots, at $200 each.
This tier allows you to sponsor a chapter of one of my fantasy novels (currently, Meganeea) by funding the time it takes to bring it into existence. I will set aside three full days to work on a chapter for every Patron who pledges to this tier, up to two Patrons per month (currently). As the funds will allow me to set time aside to work without any other distractions I expect this to be long enough to finish writing a new chapter.
In addition, you will receive a shout-out at the top of the chapter when it is posted on my blog, and when I am able to publish the book in physical form, you will be credited in the book itself for sponsoring the project.
This tier is a bit of a pipe dream. It’s one of those things that I feel will probably not work, but if anyone out there believes in me this much, I may not find out unless I make this option available. I’m not sure anyone will want to sponsor me to this degree, so naturally, I create this tier not without some level of trepidation. However, progress on my books has stalled without having it funded in a more direct manner. Even if you can only pledge as a one-time deal, giving me the luxury of being able to work on even a single chapter is hugely important to me.
By pledging to this tier even once, you are letting me know the most important projects of my life matter to you. This is also what brings me the most joy. I’m grateful if you consider it even for a moment.
You can view my page and consider making a pledge by clicking on the button below:
I haven’t drawn my OCs in forever and wanted to vent some feelings so this happened today. Also it’s really weird because this is definitely a vent but I’m also 100% okay and really happy? Not sure how that works. 🤔
I also want to say that I allowed myself to draw this today because I got so much more Patreon support than I expected in my first week. I have not hit $100 yet, but still. You all make a massive difference –thank you.
During their courtship, Faahvrigüo and Tekneea traveled through almost all of Meganeea, perhaps missing the odd spot here or there, given that the more time they spent together, the less they cared about the landscape or the elves. But there came one morning when Tekneea asked, “Have you been to the land below this one?” and Faahvrigüo said “The what?” and so Tekneea took him there, terribly pleased as she always was to know of something that he somehow didn’t (which invariably made Faahvrigüo slightly disgruntled, for, as you might have gathered, he was rather vain.)
This “Land Below” was quite large, so Tekneea and Faahvrigüo spent a considerable amount of time traveling through it, and I cannot tell you where exactly they went or what they saw, because this book is about the Land Above, and none of the elves in that realm knew of any other place, so for the time being, we all have to pretend we don’t know anything either, since it is neither here nor there.
So I will take you somewhere else in Meganeea, somewhere that Faahvrigüo and Tekneea had not in their travels yet visited.
This was not a small city, but Meganeea was so, so very big, that it should not be all that surprising that the two had not yet come upon the area, especially as it was rather well hidden. This was Lion-Elf City, and other than the odd traveling merchant or entertainer, lion-elves were all that lived within its walls, for they kept to themselves.
Now, lion-elves, they were peculiar among all other Meganeean elves. They knew that they were, too. It was said among them that a very long time ago, when the Earth Dragon had been a hatchling, lion-elves had been her first intelligent creation, and she always tried to recreate this race in its original form whenever she made a new world.
They were not perfect creatures. They were, you could even say, quite ugly compared to other elven species. They had big bulbous noses, thick eyebrows, very furry feet and hands, and lion tails. They were very tall, among the tallest elves in Meganeea, though I suppose average sized in your own world. Their height did not make them more handsome, as they were rather oddly proportioned. They could not shape-shift into lions. But from the very beginning, they’d had a connection with the Earth Dragon that other elves didn’t have. And just between you and I, this connection, while real, was a complete fluke.
There was a lot about her creation that the Earth Dragon couldn’t control or do on purpose —most things, actually. But elves (and other sentient creatures) have a tendency to look for meaning in anything and everything, especially if they can use it to give themselves any level of self-importance over their peers. And no elven species ever thought more of itself than lion-elves.
There was one particular little lion-elf boy living in this city with his mother, who, while good hearted, thought about as much of himself, or more, as most other lion elves did of themselves. Which is: highly, and destined to great things.
His name was Gideon.
Gideon had visions, but this, in and of itself, was nothing so remarkable. You see, the dreams of lion-elves were quite particular, in that they could show the past, or a glimpse into one of the Earth Dragon’s own dreams. This is how lion-elves knew that they’d existed in other worlds that the Earth Dragon had made before Meganeea. They could try to understand the feelings and emotions of the Earth Dragon by some of these visions, or what she feared might happen, or had happened, by her nightmares. Sometimes they were right, and they generally ignored most of the times when things did not come to pass or make sense as expected, since this was an inconvenience.
When thoughts or dreams from the Earth Dragon’s mind bled into a lion-elf’s dream, the result could be as foggy and incomprehensible as any dream of yours or mine, or very vivid, but generally, it was the former. It could be from the point of view of any elf that had lived in an Old World. Or it could be from the point of view of the Earth Dragon herself. Or it could be a figment of that elf’s imagination altogether, a regular dream. There was no way to know, so lion-elves were compelled to write them all down and take them to the Elders and Eldresses at the temple, who would then look for patterns, and record them. Some elves only had a few in their whole lives, and others had them more often.
But Gideon was unusual: he had them every single night.
He had very vivid dreams, with images and events that he couldn’t understand. He would dream of one specific Old World, dreams which were so clear, that they felt as though he were living through them. Sometimes he would laugh in his sleep while he dreamed, or he would punch the air, and very often he would cry, or wake up screaming. And, to be sure, this was distressing, but above all, Gideon was proud in spite of his distress. No one else he knew —none of the elders, seers or priests, none of his friends— had visions like he had. Among an already blessed race, he, Gideon, was special.
Gideon had been five years old when his mother first took him to the temple to see the Head Seer. He told the Head Seer of a dream in which he broke free from a dark place, where he had been hungry and dirty for months, with iron digging into his flesh, chained to a cold wall, and of how he shifted into his animal form and ran, with energy that he didn’t know he had, and ran, and ran, with the body of a rat in his jaws, until they’d both got away.
He told of how later he was standing on something long, very long, and black, something like an enormous metal snake that shook and rattled, and that ran like the wind, faster than any elf or animal could go, and giving off a great smoke and a roar. And the rat was with him too, and also a lady, a very pretty young lady, whom he held in his arms and kissed. And they both laughed and laughed, because they were free. That was one of the good Old World dreams, and Gideon had it often, at first, and every time he told it a little better.
At first, the Head Seer and the elders who worked in the temple were interested. They told Gideon to come see them at the temple whenever he had a new vision, so they could write it down and try to put the history of the Before Times together with them.
The problem, you see, is that Gideon did just that.
So three years later, on a day on which dawn had barely broken and the streets were still fogged in cold, white mist, the fervent little rap that began on the Lion-Elves’ temple door was not welcome by the elders who were still at their studies. The call reverberated on the temple’s cavernous insides, and one could not ignore its persistent echoing. They all sighed at well-known sign of their nearly-daily visitor.
Rap, rap, rap.
“Eldress Aghummin, Elder Erkestenne,” a little voice called. Like the knocking, it was small, but insistent.
Rap, rap, rap, rap.
“Eldress Aghummin, I saw the candle from the window, I know you are all awake. Please, open the doors.”
“How did he reach the windowsill?” one of the elders hissed at the aforementioned lady Aghummin. The latter shrugged helplessly.
Rap, rap, rap. RAP, RAP.
“I had a vision again, Eldress Aghummin. You’re there, aren’t you? Pray open the door, and hear me. I want to study with you.”
Every eye in the room was glaring heavily upon Eldress Aghummin, who had stood up. She had a soft spot for the little voice’s persistent owner.
“Oh, let the child speak,” she said in a tired tone, “We all need our rest, so let him speak and then we can retire for a few hours. Our duties include hearing all visions.”
“It’s all very well to hear visions,” said one of the elders to the others, “but I have no patience nor interest in an infant’s tall tales.”
The iron lock echoed as Eldress Aghummin unlocked it. Promptly, a small child ran in, nearly tripping over his own big feet. He had a spectacular, messy mop of orange hair, and big, blue eyes. His red robe came up to his ankles, unlike the longer, trailing ones that the adults present wore, and he had a little green hood. A leather and blue stone pendant hung at his neck, and his a thick golden cord tied around his stout belly held his robe in place. He was the son of a prominent member of the lion-elf community, and looked it.
“May the Earth Dragon dream of you, Eldress Aghummin,” said the little boy in greeting, with a well-practiced bow.
“And of you, Gideon. Why don’t you come inside?” said the eldress. There was a pointed tone to this, no doubt due to the fact that the little boy had practically burst through the doors.
“Thank you, I am inside,” said he, already walking toward the gathered seers.
“Yes, indeed you are,” said she, with a mix of weariness and amusement. She closed the heavy door behind them.
“Good morning, elders,” said Gideon approaching the wide table where all the elders congregated, among books, scrolls, and many empty cups of coffee. He repeated his little bow, blissfully unaware of the irritation this added to his visit. “May the Earth Dragon —”
“Yes, yes,” one of the elders interrupted, “Forgive us for doing away with pleasantries, but dreaming is something all of us want to be doing soon. So tell your little made-up story, and then be on your way.”
“Oh, Elder Erkestenne, do be kind.”
“It’s not made up,” the little lion-elf said passionately, for it was a sore subject.
“Listen, boy,” said another of the elders, not unkindly, “We don’t know why you are tormented by so many very special visions and dreams, but we cannot hear them all. You have too many, we have not the time, and frankly, we are not sure if they are visions, or figments of your overactive little mind. Listen,” he repeated firmly, raising his hand to silence Gideon’s impending outburst, for his little chest had heaved and his mouth become a perfect circle of indignation, obviously preceding an aggrieved retort. “We shall give you one of our blank volumes —a real record keeping tome. You can write it all there, and once a month, you can come, for two hours and not a minute more, to discuss your records with the Council.”
Gideon did not seem at all delighted at this suggestion, but it was what it was. He was thus given a very heavy volume with thick leather covers, all blank inside, and unceremoniously deposited on the other side of the door.
The book was really quite a fancy thing, and I think he would have been delighted to have it, were it not for the drawback of the situation. It was just like the ones that the elders themselves used to write down their understanding of the Before Times, and their guesses about the Future Times. It was very thick, and an effort for a small child to carry. Gideon sat on the temple steps, with the huge book covering his small lap, and he put his head down on it, and cried. You might think crying about it was a bit much, but, you must remember that Gideon was barely eight years old, and he’d just been told that the one thing he most looked forward to every day was no longer allowed, so he was really rather put off.
But such infantile outbursts are rarely long-lasting. He was soon wiping his nose on his sleeve and admiring the thick leather covers, running his handpaw over them with awe. Then, with newfound determination, he got to his feet and made for home.
He had to stop quite a few times on the way because the book was so heavy. He did not consider this a great inconvenience, as it earned him looks from both adults as well as the similarly aged peers he encountered, filling the little lion-elf with such feelings of importance that he could have burst from the pleasure. So he would wipe his sweat with a very exaggerated flourish and grunt even louder as he picked up his heavy burden once more.
Once home and in his own private chambers, Gideon brought the book to his little desk by the window. It hit the surface with a hard thud, being too bulky for Gideon to put it down with the care it merited. The morning sun was well on its way up now and streaming down the window, and little flecks of white dust displaced by the book danced in the warm rays.
Gideon climbed up his chair, and, having opened the blank volume, took out his ink-pot and quill, ready to write down his last vision, which he had been so keen to share to the Council of Seers earlier. It had been a very unusual vision, because —Gideon knew this instinctively— he’d seen it from different eyes. Simply put, it wasn’t the same viewpoint of all his other visions to date. With it still fresh in his mind, he put pen to paper, slowly at first, but increasing to a frantic pace as he went on:
Gideon, who was remembering details as he wrote, found that his handpaw was trembling. This hadn’t been a good dream. It had filled him with awe, but all throughout he’d felt very afraid. Now, as he remembered, pearls of sweat dotted his forehead and he felt a little sick to his stomach. But he wrote on.
The little boy put down his quill with trembling handpaw. His visions did, quite often, distress him. His mother would tell him that they were not real, they were things that had happened long ago, to someone else, and couldn’t hurt him, so he wasn’t afraid of having them. But once in a while, they were intense enough to make him feel ill. Yet the more deeply emotional or shaken they caused him to feel, the greater his feeling of importance once he’d recovered. And her eyes —he’d seen the Earth Dragon’s eyes! No one he knew had seen them in Meganeea, or at least her eye color had never been written down by anyone. It was terribly exciting, and very frustrating that he wouldn’t be able to share this with the Council for an entire month. But perhaps he’d have had an even more important dream or vision by that time.
Gideon looked down at the pages. Though his writing was on the large side, not even a full page had been filled. He sighed. Would it be okay to write his past dreams? Maybe not. After all, the Council had written those down already.
The day dragged on slowly, endlessly, but finally the sun went down. Gideon went to bed early, eager for his next vision. He lay the book by his side, over the blanket, right in his little bed, “for safekeeping” as he put it, or “in case he wanted to write a vision as soon as it happened” (although his mother refused to allow him to have the quill and ink-pot on his nightstand). In reality, he simply wanted it near, and not long after he’d fallen asleep, his arms were wrapped around it, not unlike the way a less-precocious child would have held on to a teddy bear.
The break of morning found Gideon bleary-eyed after a frustratingly dreamless night. He shut his eyes tightly as he heard his mother moving about in the kitchen, and shut them tighter still when the sun tickled his eyelids, trying his hardest to catch a few more winks of sleep that might grant him a special dream to write about. But no dreams or visions visited him, and so, hungry and annoyed, he washed his face, had his breakfast (the precious, mostly blank volume on a chair next to his own, as his mother would not allow the enormous book at the table) and went to school, book and all.
At school, Gideon hardly heard his lessons. During the midday break, he sat under a tree, with the massive open book resting heavily on his small knees, quill in hand, brow furrowed, desperate for something of value to come to him, something he could write. But nothing came to him.
As the days passed, his schoolmates tried unsuccessfully to coax him into joining their play, but Gideon, stewing with as frustration and with even more self-importance than was the norm for him, brushed them off rather rudely. Couldn’t they see he had serious work to do? Didn’t the book make it obvious? He’d sigh heavily to show his discontent at the interruptions, and soon everyone left him quite alone.
Two weeks went by, and three, and then an entire month. It came time to visit the Council of Seers to share any new dreams or visions he might have had, so, though chagrined by the recent lack of progress, Gideon went.
Eldress Aghummin let him in. Gideon took in the empty chamber with surprise.
“No one’s here,” he said to Eldress Aghummin in a somewhat wounded tone. He realized he had been had, so to speak.
Eldress Aghummin opened her mouth, perhaps about to share some prepared explanation for the absence of the entire council. Her expression softened, and she shook her head. “I’m sorry, Gideon,” she said to him as she shut the door, “Duty aside, I suppose the Council doesn’t have much patience for a little boy. I have no idea where they all decided to go, but my guess is that each one of them found something different to occupy themselves with today.”
Gideon’s face showed his contempt for this behavior quite clearly. But he sighed, and sat at the large table usually occupied by the conspicuously absent council. Carefully and with difficulty he lay his heavy book upon it, and nodded when Eldress Aghummin placed a cup of tea in front of him.
“I care about what you have to say, Gideon,” said she, joining him at the table with a cup of her own, “I know you take everything, including yourself, perhaps more seriously than you ought, but I know your visions have value and I want to hear about them.”
Gideon shifted on his seat, uncharacteristically quiet. He was still quite upset, and in spite of Eldress Aghummin’s words, he could not quite shake the feeling that she was humoring him in the way an old woman does with a very small child, rather than as another lion-elf with genuine value to the council.
“Did you write anything in your book?” Eldress Aghummin prompted him, so kindly, that Gideon cringed inwardly and felt even more annoyed. But he opened the book to his first recorded vision, the one in which he’d seen the Earth Dragon’s open eyes, and carefully moved the book towards the Eldress. He didn’t say anything and maintained what he thought was a serious and dour expression, but really, he was just a little boy, and so it came off as nothing but pouting.
Eldress Aghummin was quiet for some time as she read the few paragraphs that Gideon had put to paper. In spite of himself, Gideon stole a curious look towards her face, trying to catch a glimpse of her reaction. To his surprise, she didn’t appear shocked as he had expected. Quite the contrary. She nodded, sighed, and then closed the volume.
“So, you could fly in this dream, I see,” she observed. Gideon nodded. He felt suddenly uncomfortable. “And you saw the Earth Dragon’s eyes, something which no one in the history of this land has yet recorded.”
“I did too see them,” Gideon said. He could not help his defensive tone. He swallowed hard.
Eldress Aghummin stroked his head. “Gideon,” she said, “interpreting visions is very difficult. Sometimes, it’s hard for even us grown-ups to know what is a simple dream and what is a vision of the past. That is why we convene to study different noteworthy visions and decide which have that potential.”
Gideon was quiet, a hard lump at his throat.
“In my experience,” continued Eldress Aghummin, running her handpaw over the tome’s leather cover, “real visions come rarely, often visiting lion-elves who have never had them, who are not necessarily learned or studious, and who do not generally dwell constantly about having them.”
I did too see them, I did too see them! Gideon repeated to himself, feeling hot tears at the corners of his eyes.
“I don’t think you are telling any lies, my dear child,” said the Eldress, “in fact, I don’t think anyone in the Council actually thinks that.”
“Elder Erkestenne does,” mumbled Gideon. He felt absolutely miserable.
Eldress Aghummin waved this comment off, though not unkindly. “He’s just a grumpy old elf, don’t mind him. Listen, Gideon. I fear that, in your zeal, you’re causing yourself to have certain dreams, very vivid dreams, upsetting dreams, that are only that. And we are all very busy. We cannot continually analyze a little boy’s daily dreams. That is not what we do here.”
“Elder Erkestenne said I could have two hours every month, with the whole council,” Gideon protested, but feebly. He was trying so hard not to cry.
“I am a member of the council,” said Eldress Aghummin, “and I am giving you my valuable time. But I do not think this…” Here she trailed off, waving her hand over the tome. “Well, I’m not certain of whether this benefits you. I’m not sure giving you this book was a very good idea, but —here she held up a handpaw to stop Gideon’s tearful protest, as he had raised his head in anguished alarm— I shall not take it from you. However, I think you need to think about other things for a while. Write your dreams if it pleases you, and study them on your own if you must. But please, do try to spend time with your little friends, play outside, take in some sun. You are far too young to be upsetting yourself so much with nightmares. Growing little boys need to be well-rested, and this obsession may come to do you harm if it gets in the way of your a restful night’s sleep. You don’t want to worry your parents, now, do you?”
Gideon was beyond arguing. He mumbled something in agreement and took his book back. He walked towards the door, and Eldress Aghummin, with a concerned look on her face, opened it for him.
“Don’t be so glum, little one,” she said, “I’m sure someday you will be a part of this council yourself —an important part, even. You’re a very precocious child, but you must enjoy being a child while you can.”
As the slumped pair of little shoulders and the wild-haired red head descended the front steps in utter dejection, Eldress Aghummin felt only compassion for the boy. She could not know how prophetic her words of comfort would be.
Faahvrigüo grew older and bigger. He grew until he was all done growing. But even though he was an adult, he was still much smaller than his mother. This was a good thing, for the world in which he lived was not very vast for a fully grown dragon. Nevertheless, having crossed the Meganeean skies far too many times to count, he grew very bored, and became taciturn too. With little to do and only Uricchin to confide in, the Dragon Prince slept. He was especially fond of napping underwater, where he was least likely to be bothered. And in this manner, sometimes decades would pass without elven eyes getting as much as a glimpse of him.
There was an occasion in which Faahvrigüo took an especially long nap. He slept for years and years, decades, maybe a whole century. I don’t think noise could have waken him easily, so who knows just how long he might have slept have it not been for the light, and for her.
Underwater, down in the deepest of depths, it’s very dark. Faahvrigüo had gone as deep down as it was possible for him to go. Down in those darkest corners there was only the dull, tremulous echo of the shifting waters above and around. Very little life stirred there. Surrounded by the water’s rushing noise and enveloped by the pitch black darkness, the Dragon Prince slept soundly.
Being fast asleep, Faahvrigüo did not notice the glow as it drew closer to where he lay. He did not notice it until it had spread to the point that it reached his sleeping place and grown so blindingly bright that everything surrounding him became white, even with his eyes closed —then he was startled awake! But the same bright light forced him to shut his eyes again, for it was too strong, and so he remained, motionless and temporarily blind, but awake. He was, truth be told, considerably frightened. He waited for his eyes to accustom themselves so this assault so that he may open them again.
It must be mentioned that this blinding light was more like a gentle, all-enveloping glow. But try and sleep a few decades in the darkest, most pitch black corner of the world and then have a lantern shone right in your face; you might be momentarily blinded and rightly scared out of your wits too.
The water all around Faahvrigüo was aglow. The Dragon Prince blinked several times, taking in the landscape. In any direction he looked, he could see everything. It was as if the water itself and everything in it —the fish, the reefs and the dancing algae; down to the sandy soil at the bottom of the lake— everything glowed in soft, bright colors, showing its beauty in a way that made it brand new.
Faahvrigüo knew instinctively that he was not alone, that a foreign creature was causing this, and that it could not be his mother’s doing or some other natural phenomena. He supposed it must be a large creature, perhaps bigger than he was, and felt terribly defenseless at the thought. He curled up on the lake floor like a frightened hatchling.
Yet instantly he was ashamed of his own cowardice. Without moving from the spot he let out what he meant to be a roar, but as it came out, it sounded like more of a bubbly bark, muffled by the water. Still, breaking the silence emboldened him, and he roared a second time —a true, long roar that reverberated for some time.
All the light went out as soon as that second, fiercer roar began, snuffed out like a candle. Faahvrigüo began to swim upward with careful, calculated strokes that became more rapid and powerful the closer they brought him to the surface, until he broke out of the calm waters and into the cold night air.
On the surface, all was dark and still, except for the crashing of the waves that Faahvrigüo’s body created upon emerging, and for some time after the waves had calmed themselves, the only visible light was that of the stars and the moon. But then, out of the corner of his eye, Faahvrigüo spotted a glow shining behind the peak of a small rocky island not far from where he was. He began to swim toward it, but as he got closer the glow faded until it was hardly there at all. The faintest hint of it remained, sharpening the rock’s edges with its presence. Faahvrigüo paused his approach and huffed, frustrated. But he wasn’t afraid anymore.
“If you are bold enough to swim in my waters, come forth and let me see you!” he called out. “I will not hurt you.” “I see you. I am not afraid of you,” a voice answered, timid, but clear. It betrayed no fear, nor hold hint of any threat. “Here I am.”
The glow shone brighter, and, as it moved from behind the rocky peak, it began to spread and fill out into a solid body. Light spilled into its every feature and extremity until a definite shape stood out sharply against the night sky, creating a display that was arresting to behold.
It was another dragon. Faahvrigüo knew this from the moment he laid eyes upon her, even though she did not look very much like himself or his mother. Instead of two horns curving inward, like he and his mother had, she had one sharp long horn on the center of her brow, and another at the tip of her long tail. Faahvrigüo was puzzled most of all by her ethereal, luminous body. Had he ever seen a ghost, he might have taken her for one. It transfixed him. Now she was approaching him, and Faahvrigüo’s boldness left him almost completely. He was rooted to the spot. She stopped a short distance from him, and watched him with curiosity.
“What a wonderful country this is,” she said, looking up at the stars, “I came here hungry, and not long after I landed, my hunger is sated.” She looked full at him. “I don’t understand it. Is this your doing?”
Faahvrigüo opened his mouth but found his voice strangely difficult to summon. So he closed it again and only shook his head.
“What is this place?”
“This is my mother’s land,” answered Faahvrigüo, somehow managing to find his voice, “She must have funneled her energy into you when you were landing so you wouldn’t rampage her precious little… Well, this —this planet’s lifeforms. She’s rather overly fond of them.”
“Oh?” there was a hint of amusement in the other dragon’s voice. She slid closer to him, though still keeping some distance. “I take it you are not?”
“Not as much.”
“Why is that?”
Faahvrigüo huffed. “They maim and kill and burn the land and each other. There is no peace to be had around them.”
“I see. So you hide underwater. Is it peaceful down there?”
“I just want to be left alone,” answered Faahvrigüo defensively. He couldn’t meet her inquisitive gaze. Dawn was now breaking. He rested his eyes on the sun rays that flickered on the water, glad to have something else to look at. There was something in the way she looked at him which made him feel terribly self-conscious.
“Very well then. Good-bye.”
Her words startled him into looking up.
“Wait!” he cried, but too late. The brightness of the sun rising behind her swallowed her luminous body until it no longer seemed to be there, leaving Faahvrigüo to struggle with an odd combination of relief and regret.
After this encounter, Faahvrigüo found that he was quite done with sleeping for the time being, and took to the skies. He coursed above the clouds, at first with poorly feigned nonchalance, then becoming increasingly annoyed with himself each time that a ray of sun bouncing off a cloud, or a gleam of moonlight peeking through the edge of another, caused him to start, heart at his throat, thinking that he had found her at last.
After several fruitless seasons of searching while trying his best to appear bored and aloof, he grudgingly made himself fly under the cloud cover, hoping to extend his search while attracting as little attention as possible. He’d been flying over the great lake, and to his dismay, no sooner did he make himself visible that one of the contraptions he had first come upon on that awful day (Uricchin called them “ships”) greeted his eyes. Of all the luck!
A groan of dislike left his throat before he could help it, and tiny screeching creatures scattered in all directions at the sound. It was a fishing vessel, manned by humble, particularly simple elves, and they were terrified. Some, stupid in their fright, jumped overboard; others ran on deck aimlessly, and a few brave ones brandished whatever was handy and stood ready to defend their weaker companions and their ship.
Faahvrigüo had not seen any elves in many a year, and, jarred by the unpleasant discovery and irritated by the threatening, unfriendly ways he had known from them before, he let out a disgusted roar to leave no doubt that the feelings were mutual before taking for higher skies once again, until he could no longer see them.
There he flew in long, fast circles, up and down, round and round, like an angry, pacing cat, riling up the clouds and wind while his body rained 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?”
“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 frightening 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.
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.
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—”
“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.”
“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.
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 tallest 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 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 thick tree-tops. 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 her 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 was the horizon herself, 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.
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 hide underwater completely. He was greatly frightened and confused. When he dared to reemerge just enough to see, there was thick, foul smelling smoke which stung his eyes and obstructed 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 special new 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 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 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 reverberated with its might.
The elves, their bodies flat against the deck and their hands over their heads, shook 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 way back resulted in 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, village and town that Faahvrigüo flew over, for the Earth Dragon’s roar had carried very, very far.
All eyes and pointing fingers were on Faahvrigüo, 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 terribly look in his Mother’s eyes for long, at least. When she saw him take off in her direction, she laid 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.