Dragon Heart

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Shandria

The village of Shandria had about fifty residents, give or take a few. Quiet and peaceful, its residents went about their daily activities, eking a living off of the land. The Shandrian people’s diet consisted mainly of fish, nuts, berries and grains, spending the day socializing with friends and family as they fished and gathered by the river. A hoot of warning from the watcher’s alerted them of approaching visitors.

Five-year-old Jasha peeked out of his hut just in time to see a beautiful green dragon and a small child his own age walk by. Soft, honey brown eyes observed the other child’s attachment to the dragon and felt envious. He wished he had a dragon. Watching them, he saw them stop in front of Tala the Healer’s hut and a glimpse of the child’s wounded back told him why. He recognized the green dragon, she’d been here before. But never with a child. Running down to the creek, he found his best friends, Faran and Gavril and told them what he saw. The three boys, tanned as brown summer acorns, ran up the path and hid just inside the line of trees out of sight. They saw the beautiful dragon come out and walk back the way she came, taking flight at the edge of the village.

“Are you SURE you saw a little girl, Jasha?” Faran asked, doubtful as they walked to Tala’s hut.

“I swear I did!” Jasha said, his eyes telling the truth, “She had a wound on her back! She’s in there, I tell you!”

“We should just go in and find out, you guys,” Gavril suggested, “Come on!”

The boys gathered around the small hut talking quietly among themselves. They heard the healer talking to someone and then silence. Leaning closer to the door, they put their ears near it to see if they could find out who it was. Suddenly the door opened and Tala was standing there with her arms crossed looking faintly angry. Children were well loved and rarely disciplined in Shandria. Though a bit mischievous, they grew to be happy, confident young men and women.

“And what are you boys doing eavesdropping?” she said crossly, “is there something you’re hoping to hear in here?”

“Auntie Tala, I saw a child come in,” Jasha burst out, “She came with the big dragon! I saw her!”

“Oh, you did, did you?” Tala chuckled. She loved her sister’s child, he was a good boy. Curious and full of the Dark One, but a good boy. “Alright then, come in if you must. Her name is Starlyn and she’s here to seek shelter. She has known no other human since her mother but for a very short time. She’s been injured by ‘The Ones Whose Name We Do Not Speak’.”

The boys eyes became is large as the sun after hearing she was attacked by “The Ones Whose Names We Do Not Speak”, and were wildly curious about the small girl. Tala let them pass, chuckling at what could prove to be a very interesting meeting. It was hard to believe the child had never laid eyes on another human before. Unlike most human children her age, Starlyn was not afraid. She had the most unusual coloring with her wild, red tangles and astonishing green eyes. She wondered what human clan she was born to.

Starlyn stared in wonder at the three boys who mirrored her own wide-eyed gaze, in particular, at Jasha. Starlyn never saw such magnificent hair! Spirals of black, soft curls framed his head, offset by eyes the color of a clear blue sky. While her skin was white, his was honey-colored. The other two boys were also darker than her with warm, light brown eyes. She reached out a hand to touch Jasha’s curls, pulling one and letting go, watching with delight as the curl sprang back into place.

“Did you really almost get eaten by the monster?” Jasha asked, his blue eyes wide and inquiring.

Starlyn nodded somberly, showing them the deep wounds on her back. They gathered around her and studied the bandages seeped with her blood, more than a little envious of the brave girl.

“By the Elders! You were very lucky!” Jasha exclaimed, “What did it look like? Was it big? Hairy?”

“Yes!” she breathed, excited to tell her tale to the boys. “It had hair like a pig, and claws this long!” She held out her hands, showing them. “and its teeth were oh, so big!”

Tala smiled softly to herself. There was nothing better for bringing out the child than another child. Her nephew was a good boy, a kind boy. If anyone could make Starlyn feel at home, it was he. The girl would be just fine here and the debt to Shapira paid with gratitude. She remembered the day the large female dragon rescued her son from certain death from the jaws of Dagon, the river monster. Her son still had the scars on his leg to this day from where the horrible river creature clamped his jaws down on his tender flesh. Hearing the boy’s shrill screams prompted Shapira to crush Dagon with her own powerful jaws just seconds before the creature did its death roll. It was on that day the dragons and humans formed a pact. They would live together in peace.

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