Thursday, 24 September 2009
The Earth Dragon and her Eggs
The third tale, a bit longer...
It was Monday, the weather warm in the sunlight but cold out of it. Philippa took her red coat and her bag with sketch books and whistled. From the warmth of the kitchen the cat blinked slowly and stayed where he was. But the dog got up, a skidding of claws on the green tiles of the kitchen floor and raced to the door, slipping past Philippa and out into the chill clean, clear air.
She went out of the garden with her hands jammed into her coat pockets, the wind plucking at her hair. But she turned left away from the town and went towards the hillside meadows. The previous night there had been strange noises in the night - a grinding and a singing and a great roaring like the North Winds tearing through the landscapes.
Today it seemed too peaceful as if the noise in the night had been no more than dreaming. But as she passed from one field to another she noticed the stones. Great pale grey splinters standing in the fields almost as if giants had been bowling She walked among them quietly, her head down, as if she hoped they would not harm her. The dog snuffled in the grass behind her but did not seem alarmed, which she took heart in, trusting the animal's instincts.
Only as she exited the field was she aware of the swift moving shadow that slipped easily over the grass towards her. She looked up but the glare of the sun was too much. When she raised her hand and shaded her eyes, the sunlight glinted, reflecting off of something. It was not metallic and yet... she stopped and gaped, unbelieving. The dog gave a sharp half-hearted bark-yelp and tugged at her coat. She allowed him to pull her away and then lowered her hand and ran with him. The shadow seemed to turn and glide back towards her. But she entered the trees and crouched whimpering.
"No such things as dragons. No such thing as dragons." she told herself breathlessly.
The dog flopped at her feet and placed his head on her leg, whining softly. She hushed him and let her breathing slow. Quietly she got up and peered from within the green shadows of the trees. The dragon had landed and she watched the sunlight glint off the almost enamelled scales. Bright colours of blues, greens near the tail and yellows, oranges and reds nearer the muzzle. The great eyes were like those of a cats and she saw that there was an intelligence in them.
The great head moved and she felt her own gaze caught almost hypnotically by the dragon. To her amazement it seemed to smile. Then... it spoke.
"What do you here?"
Philippa gasped softly as if she had been slapped. The dragon moved forward its head swaying as if still questing for her, but the head moved back on the long neck. Then the dragon pushed its great head between the branches and said softly,
"Are you afraid, little one?"
Perhaps because it had called her little one, she answered with a shout, "If you eat me people will come looking for you."
"I have no intention of eating you, little one. I have laid my eggs and wish only to protect them. It is a long time... a long time since I have returned to the world of people. So much has changed. But I slept in the earth believing the last of my kind were dead. So they were. Alas, so they were. But one of my cousins of the skies found me and awoke me. For a time we lived together and loved each other. Then something in the sky made him sick and he died. Plooshun, so he said. I left my home in the earth when I realised that I was with young. I came here to hatch them in the bright sun of the meadows." the dragon replied in soft tones.
"What - what do you eat then?" Philippa asked - keeping her distance.
"I am an earth dragon. I eat the things of the earth. Stone and earth, stone and earth. My younglings will be different, they will eat both of earth and of sky. Clouds will not be safe from their hunger, nor will stones or trees. But humans are too much blood and bone. We do not eat them. It is possible you speak of fire dragons, for there is much fire in your kind. I must ask you not to harm my younglings. The new age of the dragons is to come. Perhaps we will be friends unlike the fire dragons of old. Of them it was written that they breathed fire and ate flesh and made war on humans." The dragon answered her.
Philippa took a tentative step forward. The creature may well be telling the truth after all. The dragon met her and together they walked back to the field of stones, the dog unsure of the dragon until Philippa put him on a lead afraid that he might antagonise the dragon. She did not mention that she thought dragons were a myth believing that it might be a little tactless.
She sat upon the hillside beside the dragon and they talked until the sun descended below the horizon and the moon arose. At that time, there was a tapping and the dragon got up and helped a young dragon hatch from the stone. Nearer midnight, all the dragons had hatched and were suckling from their mother. Philippa watched then as the dragon spread her wings and the younglings did the same. For a moment they stood gently waving their wings until all the dragons together leapt into the air and flew away like great shadows. Philippa watched them go until the night sky seemed to swallow them up.
She walked home again, the dog trotting beside her, her head full of thoughts. Once indoors, the cat meowed to be fed and the dog trotted back to the kitchen to feed and sleep. Philippa, having fed both animals, trudged into the living room and collapsed on the sofa. Almost instantly she fell asleep.
Later the next day, she read about UFOs in the paper and saw the blurred photos of the winged shapes. She smiled to herself and hoped the dragons would be safe and well.