Little Draco

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Little Draco has found a wizard of his own, and now he attends his first Council of Dragons. The council will determine Gaia's problems and how the dragons can help restore her to her natural state. Little Draco, the seventh Draco, has found his wizard and because he's a young dragon, he must learn how to manage his skills as he teaches his young wizard. His first Council of Dragons excites him as he sees first-hand the elders as they parade around before the council begins. The importance of the council will direct all of the dragons on their course to correct the problems Mother Earth encounters, problems leading to the possible annihilation of humans. The dragons were called upon to fight the battle to restore Gaia to her health; they are her warriors. Humans may not survive, but Gaia will always balance nature.

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Chapter 6 Council of Dragons

Draco arrived unnoticed among the hundred or so dragons gathered outside the hall. He certainly felt his insignificance as he moved slowly through the throng of kith. The turnout surprised him. Wide-eyed, he labored around the doyens as he passed them with his head bowed in humility, for the sense of spirit projected by the ancients, bombarded him and left him in awe.

He scoured the crowd for Kezwicken, his brother, and his lovely sister, Lucinda, although he sensed the closeness of his esteemed brother. Kez finally waved at him not five feet away.

“Kez, my brother,” Draco embraced him.

“So good to see you after these two years,” Kez replied. “How goes the wizardry?”

“Very well. He is everything a dragon needs. Where is Lucinda? I must see Luci before the council begins.”

Draco searched the vast, open space in front of the Pillars of Laylaquin, where all the dragons renewed their friendships while waiting for the opening fanfare. The Place of Memories, where Draco learned of his heritage, described past commencements as spectacular events, processions of wise and heralded elders adorned with their accomplished wizards in their gilded habiliments. Draco had none of these trappings; only a few dragons donned the regalia of the last, great era of dragons, before the Battle of Doubts. He finally heard Luci singing with Iowane and DayWan, and went to her.

“Luci! I’ve missed you so much,” he cried out.

She left the others when Draco surprised her with his outcry.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of your progress, Draco. We’ve all monitored your bonding with Gabriel, and you have accomplished so much in the two years since finding him.” Luci felt Draco’s strong embrace, and withstood his pressure for as long as he needed.

“Your voice gave you away, Luci. I might never have found you in this crowd if you hadn’t been singing. I could recognize your voice through a thunderstorm.”

“You are the sweetest,” Luci caressed his face with her slender blue fingers. Grace and beauty manifested in Luci, in her slender fingers, long, smooth tail, iridescent wings, and large, pale-yellow eyes, almost white. Her long, dark-blue eyelashes accented the paleness of her eyes. But her hypnotizing voice surpassed all her other charms. Before you became aware of her beguilement, her voice ensnared you in a seductive, empyrean enchantment.

“There will be no procession,” she relayed the gossip to Draco. “This being the first Council in centuries, will not have the finesse as the last era. It’s possible that in the future, we can carry on our traditional galas, but this one is more a working symposium.” She paused to make sure Draco listened carefully.
“Pay attention, Draco,” she barked. “We have a lot of work to do, and today we’ll hear from the Four Corners. I’m guessing, and I’m usually right, that the conditions we’ve all experienced are global. I’m appalled at the mores, or should I say lack of. ” She paused, and waited for an acknowledgement from Draco. Draco shook his head in agreement.

“You are so lovely.” Draco missed her, and her sagely chatter.

Iowane and DayWan stopped singing as all heads turned toward the two elders making their way through the crowd. Ronin-Roun, the eldest, preceded by his faithful shaman Chowder, slowly moved along the path to the pillars, his hips obviously troubling him. His battered scales showed the deep scars left by the Battle of Doubts. One side of his great face drooped, his eyes sagged with the weight of his wisdom, and his beard gleamed pure-white in the morning sun. He held his wings as tightly to his body as the old dragon could, but his strength wavered, and his tattered wings fluttered in the slightest breeze.

Behind him, Hoddendid stepped carefully as he tried not to trip on Ronin-Roun’s tail. Hoddendid had no wizard. Myrddin, his only shaman, died centuries ago and he never found a suitable replacement. No one could ever measure up to Myrddin. Hoddendid saw his share of battles, as did Ronin-Roun, and his body displayed his courage in every knot and gnarl. His once beautiful black-and-tan coloration, now turned gray, and lost the shine long ago. Without an attendant to groom him, no one knew what lived in his matted beard and shock of gray, thick hair. But under his wild, flowing eyebrows, his eyes still twinkled, and his wit could cut you sharply if you overstepped his boundaries.

Kez found Draco and Luci as the two old dragons faced the crowd at the Pillars of Laylaquin. The colossal pillars, carved from the solid granite mountain, stood at the entrance that had welcomed the Council of Dragons since the beginning of time. The Griffins, perched on top of the pillars, guaranteed a safe passage. They dealt a swift death to anyone harboring violence or aggression. They effectively scanned each entity swiftly, whether dragon or wizard or other, and without mercy, swooped down to take the life of an unsuspecting intruder. There were no exceptions and no second chances.

“Doh dexa nen rexan,” Chowder announced in a clear, firm voice, speaking the ancient language with ease. “The Council of Dragons may convene. Those that enter through this passage be of clear mind, fair heart, and humble, lest you be put to death.”

Chowder banged his staff three times on the stone slab steps for all to know the seriousness of passing before the Griffins as they magically came to life atop the pillars. The capricious air that preceded that moment fell silent, replaced by a shroud of reverence.

As they entered the Hall of Dragons they felt an immediate awareness of those that passed away long ago. Here their memories lived in the stones, in the air. Their ghosts lingered on the thrones, and their whispers were heard in the anterooms. Their names emblazoned on each coat of arms, heralding their families with crests of color and character, echoed semper fidelis.

Draco felt the atmosphere of dread and apprehension from the council, and knew everyone felt unprepared to take on the overwhelming task ahead of them.

“Not like the councils of old,” one whispered to another.

“Things have changed greatly in the world,” the other spoke.

Almost eighty dragons settled into their seats and with heavy hearts, opened the 132nd session of the Council of Dragons. Ronin-Roun took his place in the center of the hall.

“I’m foregoing the usual pomp of opening statements,” the elder dragon began. “It’s unfortunate for the newcomers, since you have no experience to draw from except the memories of your forefathers, but we haven’t the resources to produce the same regal rubric as in the past.”

The others beat their tails on the rock floor in agreement that caused the hall to fill with reverberations. Luci looked at Kez in amazement. Kez felt the spirits of their ancestors, too. He smiled at Luci, and sat up straight in the chair.

Ronin-Roun, the elder dragon spoke to them. “If this is your first council, then know that your ancestors abide here, in the stones within earth; they do live. We will hear them through you, so listen closely, for they will speak to you.

“Chowder!” Ronin-Roun bellowed. “Chowder!”

Chowder hurried into the hall with a troop of helpers carrying bladders of ordinary water. He ordered them to fill the large basin, a hollow scooped out of the stone floor in the middle of the hall. The dragons cleared a path for the assistants as they trailed into the hall, and emptied their containers.

After ten minutes of water dumping, the helpers vanished, and Chowder stood behind Ronin-Roun’s seat. The dragons surrounded the basin, and leaned inward, waiting for the water to calm.
“Will the Four Corners come forth,” Ronin-Roun asked.

“I am Hoddendid, second eldest to Ronin-Roun.”

Hoddendid took his place on the east side of the basin, and waited. A hush fell over the hall.

“I am Iowane.” The old female dragon left her seat, and took the south position around the basin.

“I am Ojomal. They call me Ojo. I am the west.”

“And I am Ronin-Roun. I am the north.”

They circled the hollow filled with water, each one clutching the tail preceding them.

“Newcomers, gather behind us, and look into the waters of our mother, Gaia. She will show us that which is frightful to her. She will show us the things that must change or she will swallow them herself.”

The elders began a low, vibrating bass tone, almost a growl that each dragon felt in their bones. Their lower eyelids slowly covered their eyes as the enchantment deepened. Their breathing came heavier and more labored as they lay on their sides, their ribcages heaving with each deep breath.
The others, not knowing what to expect, moved back, afraid to touch the Four Corners entranced by the ancient chant.

Draco watched the pool of water; he didn’t want to miss any visions. The water vibrated with the chant. Draco vibrated. He could feel the energy the four elders generated in his tongue. His ears itched and his eyelashes tickled.

The water began to boil, and the steam escaped the surface. A great cloud collected over the Four Corners. Their heads had fallen against their backs, their wings had partially opened, and all four gasped for air. Sweat rolled from under their scales and began to form pools on the floor.

“Do you think they’re all right?” Luci whispered to Kez.

“I don’t know,” Kez answered, his eyes filled with anxiety.

“Should we do something?” Luci began to panic.

Luci started to reach for Ojo, just to touch him and rouse him from his trance when Chowder came forward, and shook his finger at her. His staff held a large, rubinated quartz crystal that glowed a brilliant white. The light from the quartz grew stronger as the life seemed to drain from the elders.
He waited for the precise moment then Chowder banged his staff three times, and the cloud revealed the image of earth in a clear vision.

The elders straightened up; their eyes fully opened, their breathing came back to normal, and their wings folded against their bodies.

Chowder remained with his staff projecting the images into the cloud.

“Isn’t she beautiful,” Iowane reached toward the image as if she could caress earth. “She lives. She breathes. She allows us to exist surrounded by her eternal grace, and all she requires is respect and love.”

“You scared us,” Draco spoke the words every newcomer felt. “We thought you were dying.”

“Each time we ask her to reveal herself,” Ojo explained, “we must surrender entirely to her.”

“We reach a point, close to death, but she brings us back.” Hoddendid stood up, and spoke to her. “Show us your wounds Mother, so that we may soothe your anguish.”

The image of earth became larger and larger, so that continents became countries and landscapes. Cities spewed smoke and chemicals into the atmosphere and the waters. Images of factories making diseases and poisons passed before their eyes. People dying from hunger and genocide, their bodies tossed into mass graves for the earth to swallow, made all the dragons gasp in revulsion.

The image of an atomic bomb loomed into view.

“Oh no!” exclaimed Iowane.

“They’ve reached that point already,” Ronin-Roun said in disgust.

“Show us the radiation, Mother,” Hoddendid sadly asked.

The image of radiation, hot and deadly, drifted over the face of earth, from every site that tested, and especially Bimini Island, Japan and Chernobyl. The nuclear stores glowed white hot as Mother zoomed out to show the spots still warehousing the potential death.

“They haven’t learned anything,” Billobear spoke for the first time.

Mother showed them people dying from smallpox, and laboratories that continued to make and store smallpox as well as Ebola, botulinum toxin, bubonic and pneumonic plague, and Hanta virus. Chemical stores contained saran gas, mustard gas, Agent Orange, and scientists created even more deadly chemicals to use on their own people.

“As if the nuclear threat wasn’t enough, they think they need biological and chemical weapons.” Jin-Jan stood up nervously. “These people are destroying their own homes.”

“As well as every one else’s home,” Kez added.

“They’re going to destroy earth,” Jin-Jan said.

“No. They won’t destroy earth. Our mother will destroy them first,” Ronin-Roun said calmly. “Gaia will mutate, and only those organisms that can live in the mutated world will survive.”
The images continued. Whales and dolphins beached themselves, and died from the usage of sonar. Radio waves, cell phones, television, satellites, and radar filled the air, water, and ground with interference.

“They are so sensitive,” Weeander wept for the innocent creatures killed by ignorance and arrogance.

“And the whales! They are so special.” QueKuono lived close to whales and understood them. “They take good care of their families, and they know more than people could possibly understand. We’ve got to help them.”

“Look.” Ojo pointed to the images. “The earth is warming. The poles are about to shift.”

“Yes,” Ronin-Roun spoke. “Mother will take care of these issues if we don’t. She’ll swallow the pollution, and spit it out at the offenders. She can only take so much. If she decides to start fresh, even we might not survive.”

“Then we have no time to waste,” Kez took the floor. “We must make war upon the offenders, even if it means annihilation of humankind.”

“No.” Iowane protested. “We do not kill to solve problems. We change the direction of the world.”

“Iowane is right,” Ojo stood with her. “It’s not our way to decide the deaths of so many.”

“Then how do we change the direction of the world?” Luci asked.

“Through a wizard. An exceptional wizard can make discoveries, get the people behind him and challenge the offenders. He can change the world with our help.” Ronin-Roun explained.

“The only ones that listen to the earth anymore are primitive people.” QueKuono spoke for his own shaman.

“We don’t have years to train a wizard,” Billobear nodded at Kez in agreement.

“Draco has found such a potential wizard, hasn’t he?” Hoddendid pointed to Draco.

The image of Draco and Gabriel appeared in the cloud, Draco rolling in the grass, and Gabriel spitting out the words ‘sufferin’ succotash’.

“This is our future?” Billobear pointed to the image in disgust.

“Draco has bonded with him already, although he doesn’t understand fully. But we can help.” Ronin-Roun pointed to Chowder. “We have an experienced wizard that can help Draco and Gabe.”

“Are you going to rest the fate of our mother on this dragonet, his potential wizard, and your broken-down shaman?” Jin-Jan shook his head in disbelief. “I say we take a more aggressive direction, just in case this ‘potential’ solution doesn’t work.” He emphasized the word potential in his disagreement with the elders.

“I can’t believe Draco acted so shameless,” Luci whispered to Kez. “Draco needed us, but we weren’t there.”

“We told him not to forget who he was, but he’s lazy, and too well fed.” Kez took a hard look at the dragonet displayed on the cloud, and found him a little embarrassing.

Draco felt all the dragon eyes on him as he slumped down in his seat. He felt Kez’s embarrassment the strongest, since his brother’s respect meant more to him than the others. He wanted to tell Luci that he didn’t need her discipline, just her love, but now was not the time. He heard snickering from the rear flanks of the gathering, and knew they made jokes about his lawn rolling.

“Have any of you rolled on a lawn after a gentle rain? If you haven’t, then you have no idea what a delight you’re missing.” Draco explained, but voicing his discomfort didn’t ease his tension.

Luci realized the dragons had fallen into a dishonorable mood of condemnation.

“How dare you ridicule Draco!” Luci addressed all the dragons. “You disgrace yourselves.”

“Luci is right,” Hoddendid agreed.

“We must not forget who we are,” Luci continued. “We are dragons. We are the earthkeepers. We are models of greatness, and warriors defending excellence.”

“We are dragons,” their voices filled the hall as the dragons murmured her phrases.

“And we don’t kill and destroy,” Iowane emphatically added. “We shall not have a Disparity of Precepts again. Otherwise, we become rogue dragons, and our fate will end up like the others that took that path.”
The hall fell silent with her statement.

“Remember Annamander,” Finner and Elmay called out at the same time. Almost all the dragons concurred.

“Yes, but Annamander took out a lot of harm in his wake,” Billobear spoke for his ancestor, although not proud of Annamander’s fate; Billobear stood up for his family.

“Any dragon can go rogue, forget his purpose, and let corruption and desire ruin their lives. Annamander is no reflection on your family or your own good deeds, Billobear. We are all in the family of dragons.” Ojo spoke for the elders. “We are dragons!”

“We are dragons!” Hoddendid turned to the others and shouted.

“We are dragons,” the Four Corners exclaimed in unison.

“Then it’s settled,” Ronin-Roun announced. “The Council has decided. Set down our decision in the stones.” He pointed at Chowder to do his bidding.

“Wait,” Kez left his seat to stand before the Council. He walked slowly before every dragon, until he reached Ronin-Roun.

“Gabriel seems like an intelligent person, and I don’t mean to sound as if I don’t like him. I hardly know him. Draco is my brother and I love him dearly, but if he fails then we must not fail Mother Earth.” Kez looked directly into Ronin-Roun ’s eyes as he spoke. “We have sacrificed our lives in the past, to make our world right, and our choices may have dire consequences, but some of us still have the courage it takes to do what’s right.” Kez daringly pursued his uncertainties.

The others felt his boldness, and waited for the elder to reply. Ronin-Roun slithered off his seat, uncomfortable with the younger dragon talking down to him, and stood beside him, at least three feet taller than Kez.

Ronin-Roun felt the tension from Kez as he circled the younger, inexperienced dragon. He examined every inch of Kez with his intruding gaze. The nerve, he thought, to challenge a decision of the Council.
“Kozmocken complained at the last council,” Ronin-Roun began. “He wasn’t sure the den would keep you safe, but here you stand, safe and of sound mind.”

Ronin-Roun faced Kez. His eyes squinted as he spoke softly, but the force of his thoughts pushed back the head of the young dragon.

“That, too, was a hard decision, to leave your children’s fate to a council, most without progeny,” he nodded to Iowane and Hoddendid.

Kez could almost taste the sour mood that blanketed the hall. Ronin-Roun drew power from the stones and the others, as sparks snapped from the damp corners and electrified the cracks in the floor, all leading to where the two dragons stood. Kez saw a condescending smile grace the old dragon’s face, and felt his contemptuous cackle as he drew the energy into his body.

Yes, Kez thought, the old dragon has his tricks, but how dare him bring his father into the argument. Kez blinked and the image of Kozmocken filled his memories.

“When you wake, the world will be a better place,” he heard him say, all the while he strained to keep his emotions from destroying the courage it took to leave his beloved son at the nest site.

“Is the world a better place since my father’s difference of opinion?” His words fell fearlessly on Ronin-Roun, and in that instant, all the dragons saw Kozmocken speak through his son.

Disarmed by the sight of the late western leader, Ronin-Roun gathered his strength again.
“You’re as strong as your father, Kez. Kozmocken would be proud to see you stand before me, and continue his challenge.” The old dragon moved sinuously around Kez, and tried to survey the others. Who would support Kez, he wondered?

“In truth, you would be as dead as your parents had we not hid you away in the den.” Ronin-Roun spoke harshly to the council. “The world is still here, but the rogue Annamander, and his league of rebels destroyed your good parents. Their corrupt and deceitful ways may have removed some evil from our lands, as Billobear stated, but they did not restore the balance,” he roared.

Ronin-Roun bellowed his wisdom to the newcomers. His anger swelled as he summoned up the mayhem burned into his memory. He turned his head away from Kez, and in a fiery belch, spewed out the image missing from the memory stones. The rage of the last massacre materialized from the old dragon’s heart, and blazed in full fury next to Kez.

Kez recoiled from the abhorrent sight of his father’s murder.

“Stop this shameful, revolting display,” Luci cried out.

The images dissipated into smoke.

“You speak of dire consequences,” Ronin-Roun looked around the hall then at Kez, and finally at Luci. “But you know nothing,” he thundered, “nothing of consequences brought on by the vileness of a corrupt and vain rogue dragon. A DRAGON!” he continued to walk the circle of dragons, addressing each one he encountered. “Not a person, or wizard, or a stampeding herd, or an elephant gone crazy in confinement. No! A DRAGON.”

The atmosphere grew thick inside the hall. A low fog crept around the seats and stones, around the feet of the council, and the stench of rotten, seared flesh invaded them.

“Mother suffered the loss of her earthkeepers. We are dragons, her servants, and without us the balance tips. The rotten smell is her children, wasted in indignation.”

Ojomal slid through the wispy mist, and swept the fog clear with his great, scarred tail, defaced by his many battles.

“The Disparity of Precepts began as a simple, defiant question,” Ojo paused, and bowed slightly to Ronin-Roun in respect before continuing. “The Battle of Doubts ended a 300 year rift between Annamander and Ronin-Roun; the separation of rogue rebels and those that abide by the council. We have waited a long period, discussed our wrongs and rights, and conclude that there can be no doubt in a dragon’s heart. If we question the wisdom given to us by our mother, she will certainly swallow us up like she did with Atlantis.”

“We can attain Camelot again,” Iowane insisted. “We need a Myrddin. We need Gabriel.”

The sun filtered through the vents in the ceiling as the air cleared. Jin-Jan and Billobear returned to their seats and spoke in whispers. Others nodded in agreement with the elders. Luci went to Kez but remained silent. Kez knew he couldn’t turn the elders but maybe, he thought, he could get a time limit, with a secondary plan.

“I beg your pardon, elder Ronin-Roun. Your wisdom exceeds my experience, and I am heartily sorry for my impudence. My concern was for a time limit, and a secondary plan, in case the boy fails.” Kez bowed to the floor in front of Ronin-Roun.

Ronin-Roun bent over and kissed his head.

“Well done!” Hoddendid roared.

“A secondary plan, then.” Ojo agreed.

“Very well,” Ronin-Roun motioned for Kez to rise and join the discussion. “The rule of sevens shall prevail. The period of training and discoveries shall end at midnight on his 14th birthday. Do we concur?”
All tails beat against the floor in agreement.

“It shall also be written that the dragonet, in this case Draco, must not still possess his adolescent tuft at that time. Do we concur?”

Again, all tails agreed, and some laughter drifted through the congregation.

“And if either of these events fail the writ, we shall meet to discuss alternate actions. Until then, no one acts on their own behalf else face a trial for Disparity of Precepts.”

“Fair enough,” Kez applauded the elder.

“I do, then, solemnly adjourn this council.”

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