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Book the Four (Dragons of Histh)

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The Dragons of Histh
Book The Four

Author: Harethe

copyright 2001 by Harethe

As Greta,the hatchling and Jenthe approached one of the secret entrances to the caverns,they noticed that they were not alone.Five mating pairs of dragons were winging in with them.Bethog's 3 brothers and two sisters were making their monthly visit to their sire and dam. All seven adult dragons landed in a clearing in the forest near the old Armstrong farm.The hatchling was just starting to stir so Greta released him and he stretched his wings before he joined the adults who were moving into the forest and the tunnel entrance.

Since all six wyrms were from the Nederlandse,they were busy conversing in the common language.Their squeaks,roars and hisses were coming fast and furious as Greta and the 5 brothers and sisters discovered that they were from the same area of the Nederlands. The hatchling might not have known more than 3 to 4 words in the common language,but he could tell by the rapidity of their movements that the adults were fluent and were conveying a lot of information.Just inside the first cave to the tunnels the adults all stopped and stared at him.Greta rested her forepaw on his shoulders and motioned the other 5 wyrms over.Once all 5 wyrms were looking at the hatchling,Greta began pointed out all the quills and spines hidden in his body.One of the sisters nudged at his lips,and gave his sharp teeth a close examination. The adults were communicating amongst themselves,discussing this childs great prospects as a hunter.The hatchling didn,t know what they were saying,but he knew that he was the center of attention and really would have preferred not to have all those slitted eyes staring at him.

Jenthe came to the rescue.He had stood patiently near the entrance to the tunnel,but soon the sun would be up and he wanted to be deeper in the tunnels and in his lair.His mate Terre awaaited him and after months of work he just wanted to lay down for a long stretch and perhaps relax in the sea serpent pool.Thus when it looked like the other adults were preoccupied with admiring the dragonet,he reminded everyone that they had to hurry inside with a roar and a jerk of his neck towards the tunnel.That hurried the other adults along,and Greta made certain that the hatchling marched in front of her with the other 5 wyrms surrounding them.The hatchling was getting suspicious at this point,he suspected that the wyrms had been conversing about more then his sharp teeth and venom systems.

When they entered the main chambers they noticed that things were back to normal.The feeding troughs had been set upright again and there were hundreds of contented dragons and serpentes coiled up and sleeping off the feast forced upon them by the Great Serpente. Maegrethe had a bulging stomach and was sleeping contentedly with a Orientel dragon.There were plenty of wounded,but the Histh dragons had carried them to the deeper caverns where they were being attended to.The caverns were clean and Greta saw that all was good.What Greta really wanted to do was carry on this conversation with Bethogs clan .As she asked the elder brother where his lair was,the hatchling tried to sneak away.He figured his time with the wyrms was over and that he could go back to his old life.As he started scrabbling away a sharp jerk of his tail brought him short.He looked back.Greta had gripped his tail in her jaws and was slowly pulling him back towards her.The other 2 wyrm dragonesses were making soft squealing and whining noises towards Greta while the 3 wyrm dragons kept jerking their necks up and down with their mouths open like they were laughing.The hatchling finally figured it out,"my god,she thinks I'm her baby".

Looking after her hatchling had crossed Greta's mind.But she was also thinking about the injuries he had suffered.If he was going to stand on his own four feet someday,he was going to have to learn how to take care of his body.After telling the other four wyrms that she would see them later,she motioned for the hatchling to follow her.

The two of them wandered down one of the tunnels leading to a new cavern which was still under construction.Here they found many wounded dragonkind.Although the dragons had disposed of the dead and dying dragons,the less seriously wounded that been brought down to this cavern .here they would stay until they were healed,at which point most of them would be transported by sea serpent or wing back to their lairs in the old world.There were several orphaned dragonkind resting in that cavern,including a clutch of 2 wyrm dragonets who had lost their parents and one sibling.Greta looked around,no other dragonkind seemed interested in these solitary dragonets.Thus she and the hatchling waddled over and introduced themselves.The hatchling turned his back on these strange wyrms,but Greta was much more warm towards the clutch.She told them that she would be their mother from now on,and that they would now regard the uncommunicative Histh dragonet as their brother.When one of the little dragonets asked her why their "brother"couldn't speak the common language,Greta told the dragonet that the hatchling had been raised by humans and had never recieved the guidance he needed.It would be up to her and her brother to make sure that the hatchling was taught what it meant to be a dragon.

Lesson number one was how to heal a injured wing.Greta led her 3 dragonets to a corner of the cavern where a supply of grasses and herbs were kept in separate piles on the floor.With the 2 other dragonets looking on,she led the hatchling through the piles and made him sniff the various medicinal plants.She showed the hatchling the common language display for each plant,and made sure he understood which plant went with each display.She made him repeat her actions till he had every twitch of the tail,every snap of the jaw,every hiss down perfect.She then held a clump of herb in one paw and touched his forehead with another paw.She then brought the clump of herb onto his forehead and waited to see if the hatchling could figure out what the plant was used for.

As soon as the hatchling felt the plant brush against his skin he noticed that his forehead felt cooler.It dawned on him that this herb could soothe his hot skin with it's cool touch.Once Greta was sure he had figured out the healing properties of the herb she held it against different parts of his body.Whereever she touched the plant his body cooled to it's touch.He noticed that she kept the plant away from his ears,eyes,nostrils ,mouth and cloaca.When he pointed at the plant and then at his nostril,Greta showed him why she was avoiding these areas. She shoved a small fragment of the plant into his mouth suddenly. The inside of his mouth was suddenly hot and on fire.He spat out the plant and learned the hard way that this herb was for external use only.

They repeated the process with all the piles of grass and herb, and Greta made sure that the hatchling learned the proper use and application of each plant to his dragon body.She then lifted up his injured wings off his sore back and packed a mixture of soft grass and soothing herbs on top of his back.She then lowered his wings and watched while the hatchling positioned his wings to keep the soothing mixture of medicinal plants resting on his back.The hatchling had learned the basics of dragon healing.

The three dragonets and the hatchling then followed Greta to a corner of the cavern where they all took a well deserved nap for a few hours.

It was night,and the 4 dragons were awake and hungry.Greta had a special treat for them.She had made arrangements to join the monthly gathering of Bethog and her clan.After making sure that the hatchlings wings still pressed protectively on the healing herbs she told the other two dragonets that a special feast had been prepared by Bethogs clan and that they were all invited.The two orphans squealed with joy and were eager to be off.The hatchling understood the part about "FOOD" that Greta and the two dragonets were displaying,but to him "FOOD" was a half torn carcass of sheep or calf lying in a feeding trough.He still possessed his human sensibilities and wasn,t too thrilled at the thought of tearing away at raw bloody carcasses.he did what he had to do to survive,but he would have much preferred to dine out a fast food outlet.

The hatchling then watched while Greta communicated to the two dragonets.he then watched while the two dragonets promptly responded in kind.All three wyrms then turned to the hatchling and repeated their movements.They then waited,and stared at the hatchling expectant -ly,as if waiting for a similar response from him.All they got was a blank dumb look from him.He really hadn't a clue about what had just passed between the three wyrms.After a few minutes the little dragoness turned back to Greta and made more of those mysterious body movements.Greta responded by uttering a low growl,tapped her tail on the stone floor a few times,and then swung her neck between the two dragonets and the hatchling a few times.She then charged off into the cavern,leaving the 3 dragonets staring at one another.

The two orphans stared at the hatchling in an awkward silence, then the brother tried to interest the hatchling in conversation.The brother essentially said"so do you think the hunting will be good this fall.How good is your venom for hunting.Do you think they'll have snacks at the gathering of Begoths clan".The hatchling naturally missed the gist of 90% of this conversation,but he did pick up on the words "FEAST,PLEASURE,VENOM and HUNT"Thus he tried as best he could to express his opinion that the meal would be very pleasant.The brother naturally enough wanted to show off his fangs to the hatchling.He trotted about in a circle roaring and hissing,his body twisting and flexing,his wings outstrtched as he showed himself to be a extroverted little wyrm.He then stooped his impromptu dance of the hunt and stared at his sister.She was less of an extrovert,and simply sat there cleaning her wings and tidying up her body.But as she did so she let her talons slowly slide out ,and she rubbed them on the floor in order to maintain their wicked sharpness.She gently extended her fangs and licked them with her tongue till they were gleaming white.Both the hatchling and her brother hissed appreciatively as she subtly displayed her weaponry.She wasn't all sugar and spice.

It was now the hatchlings turn.He already had a sense of what was buried within him,but how to make a proper act of it.Simply popping quills,stingers ,fang and talons all at the same timewouldn't do.His two companions were more interested in the show he put on than whether he had longer fangs then they had.

After a few minutes of thought,he lay on the floor and slowly,oh so slowly crawled along like he was dying.Being the creation of a shape shifting dragon snale goddess ,he realized he could probably push his body into shapes other dragonkind only dreamed of.He decided now was as good a time as any to find out.He began to feel inside himself and started flipping switches inside his body he had only become aware of days ago in that forest.As he crawled along,bones and muscle and skin slowly began to pop and reshift.

Once he was in position and felt his body was prepared for his display,he lay quietly on the floor and played dead.The two dragonets obliged by walking up to him and poking at him,waiting for him to impress them.The hatchling did nothing,he figured best to give them a real good surprise.The hatchling felt his body make it's final preparations in his skull,neck and tail.He could feel his venom glands throbbing,his venom system quills pushing on the inside of his hide and distinctly reptillian thoughts floating to the surface of his mind He might be a dunce at the common dragon language,but his instincts were telling him that the prey was just where he wanted them.

The brother got bored.He started to walk away.Thus it was his sister who got the full display.Suddenly the hatchlings head shot up in the air above her,and kept rising and rising.His neck was lengthening and his head towered above her.As she watched his mouth opened wider and wider as his jaw unhinged and opened to an impossible degree.AS she looked up.she saw the bones at the back of his skull flex and form the hood of a cobra snake.He roared and swung his wings out wide.As they did so rows of quills and stingers emerged from his body in waves.His talons extended,his fangs swung into view and he pulled back his lips to reveal his long sharp teeth.The little dragoness was distracted from this display by a squeal of terror beside her.She looked over to see her brother lying on the floor, embraced in the coils of a long tail.the hatchlings long tail.a tail which lay in a loop on the floor at her feet.

Although the hatchling had stray thoughts bouncing around his mind of what to do with the captured prey items,these were quickly pushed aside when he noticed that his act had been a little too convincing for the brotherThe brother was both growling and whimpering at the same time,ready to fight for his own survival.Thus the hatchling quickly uncoiled his lengthy tail and let the brother regain his dignity.The hatchling then started pulling head,neck and tail into their proper compact form.After a minute or so he appeared his own normal self,with not a claw or quill in sight.The two dragonets were impressed.They started pointing out various parts of his body and gave the hatchling the impression they wanted to see him reveal what lay within him in a less dramatic fashion so that they could examine each component in a more leisurely fashion.

When Greta and Maegrethe arrived,they found the hatchling obligingly lengthening and shortening his tail to the amusement of the two dragonets.The hatchling was finally getting the sense of what it meant to own a Histh dragon body.

When Greta had communicated with the two orphan dragonets her conversation had been simple enough.It went something like"Hi,my name is Wyrm Quiet Little Feathered Huntress,but my friends call me Greta.What are your names?".The little dragoness had replied that although she was named "New Wyrm Little Wtch " being called Maerethe was her preferred name.Her brother had been named "New Wyrm Loud Noisy Hunter"but much preferred to go by the name of Jenthe.The three of them had then turned to the hatchling and had asked him what his name was.Naturally enough the hatchling hadn't a clue what Greta meant with all her displays and noises.Greta could live with that.She knew that that 99% of what she communicated flew over the head of the hatchling.Once she taught him what the display for NAME was in the common language,he would quickly respond by telling her his name.She could be patient while he learned.

Then the little dragoness had to go spoil things by displaying "DRAGON NO NAME" as she pointed at the hatchling.THAT prospect horrified Greta.The possibility that the hatchling was nameless meant he had no personality,no soul.He was just another lizard scurrying in the sand,just another calf ready for the slaughtering pen.As Greta mulled over the possibility that the tribe of Histh was just cranking out dragonkind like they were just nameless mindless beasts was making her increasingly nervous.Just because the hierachy of the tribe had been named didn't mean that the lower groupings were.Greta growled nervously and then after telling the 2 orphans to keep the hatchling company,went to see Maegrethe.

Greta found Maegrethe in the sacred tablets storage cavern.As Greta approached the witch dragoness she puzzled over how she was going to broach the subject .telling Maegrethe that the Histh tribe was composed of souless nameless animals would not be a very diplomatic gesture.As she looked around the chamber she could scent the odors of countless dragonkind in this chamber.Ahhh,that was good,it meant that tribe knew the value of a sacred tablet.The old world dragons had started the tradition of keeping track of each dragon by his or her own sacred tablet record.That tablet recorded the scent of his birthing,his first hunt,his mate,his sire,his dam,and if need be where and how he died.There were no nameless dragons in the old world.By holding that chunk of stone to your snout you could relive the life story of the dragonkind that was recorded on it.

Thus Greta got around the question of a nameless dragonet by asking Maegrethe a oblique question.Could Maegrethe PLEASE update the sacred tablet of a hatchling Greta wanted to adopt into her clan.The little tyke didn't remember his formal dragon name and stubbornly refused to give her his common name.perhaps if Maegrethe got a description of the little dragonet she would know the dragonet Greta was referring to.

Maegrethe knew the dragnet Greta was communicating about.The tribe of histh referred to him as the"SERPENTESS BROTHER".He was no great shakes on his own,but his sister the SERPENTESS looked after her own.Maegrethe politely listened to Greta's description of the dragonet while her mind frantically tried to recall where she had stored that particular sacred tablet.She knew she hadn't stored it in the regular stacks of tablets that kept track of Histh dragons. it was near the serpente storage niche.The Serpentess had turned out to be a glorious success as a serpente,while her brother had turned out to be a dismal failure as a dragon.Thus she had put his tablet beside hers.Perhaps some future witch dragoness would want to puzzle over why two humans had taken such widely varying paths in their transformation into dragonkind.

As Maegrethe pulled out the hatchlings sacred tablet record, she inquired on whether Greta wanted to see the naming and baptism of a recent clutch of serpente hatchlings.Their parents had been lured into the ceremony by the sight of free meat.Even though the serpente parents hadn't a clue what was going on,they sat around docilely on full stomachs while a assistant witch dragoness named. baptized and recorded their offspring into the world.

As Greta and Maegrethe watched the assistant grabbed one of the serpentents that were scurrying about by his tail and held him high above her.Her body began to sway and twist and guttoral roars emanated from her snout as she emplored to welcome this new hatchling into her community,and to guide him in his future life.The serpentent naturally enough was unhappy at this unique use of his tail and began to squawl and paddle his four legs wildly about.He just wanted to get back to MOTHER.MOTHER could have cared less.She had been through this routine before and felt if the dragons wanted to give away good meat for the priviledge of dangling her kids above the floor for a few minutes,she could live with that.

The assistant then dangled the serpentet above a sacred tablet that would record his future life as a serpente.She gave him a good whack on his rump and he responded by spitting venom and saliva all over the sacred tablet.He began squalling even louder,which made it easy for the assistant to figure out what to call him."you're a noisy little runt,aren't you"she thought and in the common language she named him LITTLE NOISE.She then gently lowered LITTLE NOISE onto the floor and let him scurry off to hi mother.

After naming the other five serpentets the assistant moved over to the two waiting dragonesses and explained how she named serpentes. She didn't bother with long names for serpentes.Thus like dragons go about being known as a simple common name,she gave serpentes simple easy names.Usually serpentes responded to their names by associating the display of their name with a free meal.

As Greta and Maegrethe walked back towards the waiting trio of dragonets Maegrethe explained that the tribe made sure that all newborn dragonkind got a least one name.The members of the tribe had gotten the other dragonkind to adaopt one new concept for dragonkind.They taught the other dragons that come hell or high water.every hatchling should at least be named to a tribe or dragon deity.Thus many a dragon or sea serpente egg that contained a dead unborn dragonet or serpentet had been named HISTH or SKYE or WYRM or WYVERN before being disposed off.There were no nameless souless dragonkind in the new world.Maegrethe wanted to make that point perfectly clear to Greta.

As the two entered the unfinished cavern Maegrethe glanced at the sacred tablet and then at the sight of two dragonets playing with the hatchlings shortening and lengthening tail.She told Greta that formally her intended adopted son was named "NEW HISTH WYVERN FLAMESPITE "She'd been homesick for England when she had named him,but coming up with a informal name for him to go by had never crossed her mind.Staring at that long coiling tail set the two dragonesses thinking along the same lines Thus when they waddled up to the hatchling they both greeted him with the same name "hello LONG TAIL" or in the english language :Harethe.Thus was Harethe named.

Harethe quickly got his tail back to a more proper shape at the site of Maegrethe.He knew that she was one of the higher ups in the tribe and more importantly he remembered that she was the dragoness who had done the ceremony on the day he had been transformed from a human into a dragon.She was a VIP,and he felt nervous in her presence. He started to tremble and hid his head underneath his wings.

Maegrethe and Greta were a bit flustered at this response and stood there awkwardly trying to figure out why Harethe was so bashful. Harethe may have thought he was an adult,but the 2 adult dragonesses certainly didn't think so.It slowly dawned on the two of them that after nearly 6 years of life as an outsider in the tribe,Harethe's social skills were just as ill developed as his ability to communicate in the common language.

Harethe was going to need a lot of schooling,that was for sure. Greta told Maegrethe that there was no way her son was going to end up the equivalent of a ditch digger.Greta could teach him some things but others would have to come from another person willing to be his guardian .She tapped her paw patiently while she waited for Maegrethe to rise to the challenge.

Maegrethe wasn;t exactly thrilled to become the godmother of a dragonet most of the tribe only respected because he was the brother of the Serpentess.But it would be a way of getting on Greta's good side.Thus she politely accepted the invitation to be Harethe's godmother.

She then gently lifted Harethe's wing up and scratched his skull just behind his earslits.Harethe moved his head out and swivelled it so that Maegrethe could scratch it in the right places.He began to quietly hiss in pleasure,and Maegrethe knew that the two of them would get along just fine.

Greta then told the two orphan dragonets ,lets go to a party. Maegrethe gave Harethe a light tap on his forehead and hoisted him up on her back.All five dragons then set off for the gettogether of Bethog and her clan.

When they arrived at the lair of Bethog's parents,they discovered that they weren't the only ones invited to this family gettogether. Mary King lay at one corner,scratching the neck of the Serpentess.Ida and Henry King were chatting away with one of Bethog's brothers,whose name they later discovered was Josethe,whilst the 3 sisters were busy preparing the feast.Josethe had mated with a Cornsh Flamespite, and she was merrily cooking the meat with her breath.The scent of cooked and seasoned sweet meats was thick in the air,and Harethe was taking deep sniffs of that wonderful aroma.

Greta told the dragonets to run along and play with the other dragonets in the cavern,then she and Maegrethe went to where the adults lay restful on the floor.The Master cavern builder had an enthralled audience listening to him describing an encounter he.d had with Raemac,the french skye dragon they had encountered in New Scotland when they first landed on the shores of the new world after the Great Migration.Greta had never heard the details of what had happened to dragonkind as they made their way into the new world. Thus she settled down and listened to the clan remember their first years ,when clans had to decide where to set their lairs and whether to start a new clan of their own.

It appeared that Raemac had come to the new world a century or two before the rest of dragonkind.He had been caught in a storm which had blown him off course.When the storm had died down he had caught the scent of a forested land to the west,and had decided to investigate.What he discovered was a land teeming with wildlife and with few humans.The humans who were around looked upon him with awe and regarded him as a god they referred to as a "Thunderbird".Raemac didn't know what a thunderbird was,but he certainly appreciated the offerings of tobacco and food the native humans made to him.There were no other dragonkind about,so he had the whole continent to himself.He had flown back to the old world and had enticed his mate to follow him with tales of a land of milk and honey.

Although he longed for a simple life sitting in a lair and obtaining food for his offspring,his human worshippers would have none of it.He was a god,and they expected him to pass his divine judgement on their daily affairs.Soon he had discovered himself using his scholarly Skye training to settle disputes between competing villages of humans.He ended up becoming Nova Scotia's first dragon lawyer and judge,and he had held his court in one corner of his lair.When the later dragon migrants had first come ashore,he had often talked about how he had always wanted to be a simple hunter,and had ended up being trained and working as a god.

Now all the dragonets were having a good time,all except Harethe. All around him were dragonets chasing after one anothers tails, dragonets poking their snouts out of hidden recesses in the chamber and dragonets leaping over one another and riding piggyback.He guessed that they were playing games but if you couldn't understand the language it was difficult to decide if one group of dragonets was playing Hide and Seek or Pin the tail on the Donkey.Not wanting to make a fool of himself in front of all the other kids,he decided to stay out of the play area.He was one miserable little dragonet. Now Maegrethe saw him there curled up in a corner and wandered over. Since she was in a way his creator she felt an obligation to get him reinvolved in society.

She sat beside him and puzzled over how to get him involved.She looked about for some divine inspiration and got it.One of the Serpentess's latest hatchlings had snuck into a food trough and was recieving a scolding from one of the dragonesses preparing the meal. Dinner was NOT served.The serpentet was a tiny young thing,only a day or two out of his or her egg,and that got Maegrethe thinking. She might have been a servant of Histh,but she was also a scholar who had studied the creation myths of the various tribes.One in particular bore a strong resemblance to the Book of Genesis,sans humans.She decided that perhaps that was a good way to let the dragonet in on the fact that dragons were not big dumb scaly lizards.

She tapped the dragonet to get his attention,then stood up and rored to get everyones attention.She told all that they were going to play a little game.THIS little dragonet didn't feel like he belonged in the party,and she was going to put an end to that.After announcing the rules ,she got down to business.

After a 1000 years as a dragoness ,her english writing skills were a bit rusty and she wrote in an archaic english that hadn,t been written for nearly a millenium.she extended a talon and scratched in the sand the words "Inn thee Bgininge".She then scratched out the pictograms for the dragonkind genesis"START HATCHLING SUN"or in human terms "when the sun god was hatched".She then motioned to Jenthe to continue the story and he continued with the english version and added a pictogram to the dragon version.One of begoth's brothers,a short well built fellow named Bernthe,could make sense of those chicken scratches from the human genesis,but he gamely put in an effort and came up with the next line "igbegnneee" before he did a much more passeable dragon pictogram"LONELY".AT that point Mary KIng stepped up and scratched out the english word for "lonely" beside the pictogram.Thus the story of creation from both the dragon and human versions slowly unfolded on the sandy floor.

Some of the natural born dragons understood simple English words, and scratched these out on the floor,along with their pictogram equivalent.Bernthe,for example,had had a smattering of education in reading human text and translating it to the common dragon language during the Great Massacre.Thus when his turn came up he put the pictogram symbol for the "SUN" underneath the word "God" and on the dragonic version of Genesis he added a few human words beside their dragonic equivalents.He motioned Harethe over and indicated he should add a few lines.Harethe couldn't make head or tail of the pictograms but seeing big winged scaly lizards writing Genesis in human words hit him like a piledriver.He looked at all his companions and realized for the first time in six years that he wasn't alone.This society was a lot more complex and a lot more similar to humanity then he had realized.After weepy for a few minutes he scratched out a line on the sand"the lord god saw that it was good".At this point Maegrethe looked over at the dragonic Genesis version to see if a similar line existed there.There was "SUN SUN PLEASURE PLEASURE".She circled the pictogram sentence with one talon,circled the human words Harethe had just written with another talon and made sure that Harethe got the message. He did.He scratched out a new message in English"don't parties have food and games" So they did thought Maegrethe,now let's start partying.

The dragons all looked over at the feeding troughs to see if it was time to eat.it wasn't and Bethog and her two sisters shushed away inquisitive dragons.Come back when the moon is high in the sky(or in about an hour.Thus they still had time for some games.bethogs brother in law from New Scotland sauntered over and suggested that they play Dragon football.He asked if Harethe knew how to play it.At this point Jenthe stepped forward and said that the dragonet probably knew something similar to it.The two of them then asked everyone to join one of two teams,they were going to play a round of football.Jenthe took Harethe aside and scratched out on the sand just what kind of game they were about to play.He pointed out 2 holes in opposite sides of the cavern which were about 20 feet off the floor.Put simply Harethe,we're going to have a round of soccer He told Harethe to crawl into one of the holes to act as goalie.

Harethe got into the hole and wondered how the dragons proposed to get a soccer ball into a hole 20 feet above the sand floor.As he looked down upon the two opposing teams of dragons standing on the floor he got his answer pretty quickly.The dragon holding the soft small ball tossed it high in the air.Suddenly the cavern was filled with the sound of flapping wings as the two teams took to flight. They weren.t allowed to touch the ball with their jaws or feet,only their tails.Soon the ball was being slapped about in the air and tails were swinging and bodies were twisting and coiling about in the air above the floor.Suddenly the ball came flying at Harethe and he swung his tail wildly to knock it away.SMACK and the ball flew to the other side of the cavern with several dragons chasing after it.His adopted wyrm sister was the goalie for the opposing team and she tried to hit the ball out out with her tail.DARN,the ball bounced off her wings.That was a goal for Harethes team.It looked like her side would have to work on it's defense.Harethe was beginning to like this version of soccer.He curled up his wings and lay on his side as best as he could,and bent over his neck so that he could get a clear view of that ball.His tail coiled and dangled out of the hole,ready to keep that ball out of his teams hole.No way was he going to let down his side.

Nearly an hour later Harethes side was winning.Both sides had decided that for Harethes first game it would be nice if his side won.Thus when the opposing side had tried to slap the ball into the hole,they had done so lightly and had tried to aim the ball at a spot where harethe could easily deflect it from.As they led the mighty dragon goalie Harethe to the feeding troughs all the team members made sure he knew that they thought he was a mighty dragon.Haethe didn't need an interpreter to understand that he was the hero of the game.He was beginning to feel warm and fuzzy,and bellowed out a few roars and showed his fangs just like his fellow players did .

It was time for the feast.The feeding troughs ran along a long line near the sides of the cavern.Bethog's sire and dam sat near the end of the trough,the adults then seated themselves beside Bethog's parents and the juveniles and dragonets sat at the far end of the feeding trough.To keep up Harethe's good spirit,the dragons sat him right between Bethog's parents.He was definitely the guest of honour at this party.He looked down upon the feeding trough in front of him and could smell the delicious sweet meat and spiced greens laid out before him.Before he could dig his snout into the selection of foods laid out before him,the old dragoness to his left coughed and nudged him on the shoulders.He looked about,all the dragonkind had their heads pointing towards the ceiling.Maegrethe had stood up and had her neck and head stretched out and was softly whining and hissing and speaking in the common lanuage.Harethe could make out her body movements to a point and saw "SUN... SUN... PLEASURE... YES" .He guessed correctly that she was offering thanks to the sun god for the meal laid out before them.Harethe stretched out his head towards the ceiling and kept a close eye on what his two companions would do next. After a minute all the dragons bowed their heads ,made soft roaring noises and briefly flapped their wings.Harethe did the same and guessed that he had just said "AMEN" in the common language.He then dug in to the feast laid out before him.

Normally Harethe's meal consisted of a recently killed calf tossed into the feeding trough along with a helping of green grass and a bushel of oats or rye.it was done like this not because the dragons didn't know any better but because further preparation of the meal was unnecessary.Harethe and his fellow dragonkind have cast iron stomachs,not to mention plenty of teeth and claws.Harethe should have been thankful.In the old days Bethogs sire and dam had to fly out and either hunt prey or raid some farmers flock of sheep.The old dragons thought the young dragons were spoiled rotten.In the old days you had to WORK for your dinner,and tparties were far and few between.

Harethe surveyed the heaping piles of food before him,Properly cut up calf stewed in Norfolk blueberries and with the sweet aroma of maggi drifting into his nostrils.Stacks of yams,cabbage and turnip boiled in soybean oil.Over in one side lay a hill of toated wheat kernels and whole watermelon.Harethe definitely stuffed himself like a pig,as did most of the dragonets. The juveniles were more interested in staring into one anothers eyes and talking about SEX then eating,so many a young dragonets head snaked in between two lovelorn juveniles and made off with a untended treat.The adults ate more leisurely and savoured every minute of the meal.Many of the older adults remembered what it had been like to starve in a lair during and after the Great Massacre.An event like they were now holding would have been unheard of in those days.

After harethe had had his first helping,he went for a second,and then a third helping.He figured it would be a while before an meal like this came his away again.he was going to milk it for all it was worth.After he had finished his third helping of calf dripping in blueberry jam,he pulled back from the trough,put his forepaws to his full stomach and burped,Ahhh,this was definitely dragon heaven.After letting out those excess stomach gasses,he looked around the cavern to see what everyone else was doing.

Most of them were doing the same as him,lying on their bellies or on their side and just taking a brief rest.The Serpentess however ,had maneuvered herself into the feeding troughs and cleaning up any leftovers.Knowing it could be days before her next kill,she left not a scrap of food on the feeding troughs.Many of her offspring were huddled in one corner of the cavern and Harethe knew his sister would probably regurgitate most of her meal to feed her young.He also knew that she regarded him as one of her hatchlings,and maneuvered himself to be ready when she came to feed him.After the Serpentess finished up the troughs she spotted Harethe and crawled over to him.Her tongue flicked out to taste him,then she made a gurgling noise as she regurgitated part of her meal in front of him.The glop that came back out of her stomach wasn't as appealing as calf with blueberry,but he whined and lapped it up.His sister pulled back her lips in what he hoped was a smile,whined mother noises,and then waddled off to feed the rest of her clutch.

As Harethe watched her move off,he longed for the days when he could actually talk to her.He wanted to know whether she still recognized him as her brother or whether her actions to feed him were just some instinct,with not a flicker of intelligence behind it. He wanted to know whether the sister he had known still lived,or whether the creature who had replaced her was just a mindless reptile.

As he turned away from the Serpentess,he noticed Jenthe and his two offspring devouring their kill.Jenthe had swallowed a full grown bull while his two dragonets were stretching their jaws over a pair of calves.Harethe could not help but notice the major distension in Jenthe's features as he unhinged his jaw and his skin and features distorted as he swallowed his prey whole.He looked every bit the black adder he had been born.Then Harethe rolled back onto his side, stretched out his neck and tail and drifted off to sleep".Some other time.Some other time he'd have to ask Jenthe about his sister." were his last thoughts.

The reason why Jenthe and his two dragonets weren't stuffing themselves full of stewed calf and fresh blueberry jam was because their bodies couldn't handle that particular diet.As much as Jenthe and the kids would rather be at the feeding troughs then stretching their rather flexible skulls and necks over a whole kill,they had learned the hard way that Histh had not given their kind the features of a black adder snake merely for show.

Harethe had only fallen asleep for what seemed like minutes.He and his companions were stuffing themselves with endless supplies of stewed calf and blueberry jam.Suddenly his companions to his left rudely jammed a calf bone into his side.With a jerk,he was awake,and staring into the snout of Mary King.The dragoness motioned for him to follow her.The lights were low and all the dragonkind had gathered in a circle around the old dam and drake.The dragonets were huddled eagerly at their feet and their parents lay relaxed in the outer edges They had set up a little campfire near the centre and near this Harethe could see long lines of verse scratched into the sand.Mary positioned herself and her companion near this verse and as the old drake began to coil,twist,flap,hiss and roar,Mary laid a talon on the words that he was uttering in the common dragon language.The old drake was telling one of the old stories:a fairytale.

"there is a place where all the magical mystical creatures of the six worlds live.Although you'll find creatures ranging from aryxiodactyls to zylotropes living there,you won.t find one solitary human.Being a magical place,the land of Zyxthia likes to grow and remake the 6 worlds into itself.Someday perhaps,it will.Millenia ago, a colony of zyxthians came to the Earth to form a new colony and to spread Zyxthia into this universe.They consisted of dragons,trolls, sea serpents,fairies,salmon people and many other magical creatures.

That first colony did not do well.The Earth was too harsh for Zyxthia to grow and prosper here.Soon most of the colonists had either fled back to Zyxthia or had been killed or transformed into dumb plodding beasts who had forgotten their magical heritage.Many a dragon ,upon watching their little patch of Zyxthia vanish,had to choose between eternal death or saying the magical words which would transform them into humans.As humans they would retain their dragon fire but would forget they had ever been Zyxthian dragons.

The last Zyxthian on Earth was a dragoness named Yxmiyl.She no longer left her little patch of Zythia golden ground and planned to flee back to Zyxthia within a few hours.The golden circle was shrink- -ing and she had no intention of being stranded on this planet.She had watched too many of her companions come up to her to give a last farewell before they said the magic words.Only a year before her sister had transformed.Her patch of magic ground had vanished and her golden hide had rapidly turned black and started to dissolve.The two dragonesses had one last tearful embrace before her sister had said the magic words.After much groaning and shrinking and crunching of bones,her sister was no more.What stood below her was a terrified human female looking up into the jaws of a huge and terrible dragon. Her sister had run shrieking away accompanied by the anguished roars of a dragoness who was now truly alone in this godforsaken hell of a world.

Yxmiyl had no intention of suffering a fate like her sister.She was all prepared to go.Each time one less person truly believed in dragons,her patch of Zyxthia ground grew smaller.This was a planet of unbeleivers.

There was one human who still believed.Perhaps the human was a great......grandchild of a transformed Zyxthian dragon.Whatever the reason,the human searched for the last dragon on earth and found her. As the human wandered into yxmiyl's lair,the human saw a huge dragon standing in a patch of golden sand,coiling it's neck and preparing the magical words that would return her to Zyxthia.The human was not afraid.but strode up and said"I want to be a Dragon".The dragon just stared at the human.No speech,no roars,no telepathy,just stared at the human. The human decided that maybe hanging around wasn.t such a good idea and turned and ran for the cave entrance.Suddenly the dragon was in front of the human and reached out a huge paw to grasp the human.The human began to squirm and scream in terror cupped within those huge paws.

Yxmiyl had understood the human's desire,and for a brief moment thought that perhaps the colonization plans could be revived.The human was NOT of Zyxthian blood,but that could easily be rectified.She stood in the golden patch where any new zyxthian had to be birthed,and began the humans rite of transformation.She squeezed on the human and tried to remold it's body.If things had gone well the body within her paws would have refolded and flowed like putty ,but all she heard was a scream,a moan,the snap of bones and the tearing of crushed flesh. Yxmiyl didn,t want to look at the limp bundle in her paws,looking down on the ground at her feet told her all she needed to know.The patch of golden sand barely reached beyond her hind feet and was shrinking by the second.Time on Earth had run out for the Zyxthian and the human.Yxmiyl said the words of departure and sank into the sand.The golden circle shrank till it was a pinprick of golden light and then it too vanished.

Yxmiyl stretched out her golden wings and let the gentle zyxthia breeze carry her along.She looked up,hundreds of miles above her she could see the mists.Hundreds of miles below her she could see the clouds.It was good to be home.Within her paws she could feel a wiggling form try out her new lengthening tail and neck.She could feel broken bones fuse back together and torn flesh knit itself back together.There was the flutter of wings,and then a chirp as a new Zyxthian was born.Yxmiyl opened her paws to look at the tiny dragoness she held.Her tail was twice as long as her body,and her scales were flashing in a rainbow of golden colours.Her body sans tail was about six feet long and her eyes glittered with the blue fire within them. She was truly a magical creature of Zyxthia.

She also happenned to be terrified.maybe her mother was used to floating hundreds ofmiles up in the mists,but she wasn't.She wrapped her tail snuggly around one of mother's hindlegs,dug her talons into mothers chest,and took her first good look of Zyxthia.What she saw were magical bean plants,magical redwoods and assorted other zyxthian flora rising from the clouds hundreds of miles below and travelling hundreds of miles into the mists above them.In their leaves were the nests of rocs,thunderbirds,griffins and assorted other winged life. Curiously Yxmilia felt no fear at the sight of her new zyxthian neighbours.Truth be told,the sight of a 2 legged human creature would have brought her more fear.Humans were unnatural,griffins fairies trolls and magical bean plants were perfectly normal in her new way of thinking.

Yxmiyl went into a steep dive.Chatting with a roc about the weather was fine.but she had business to attend to.She plunged through the clouds below and levelled off as she approached the lands of the dragons.Below she could see her family lying on the rocks,merrily trilling away as they greeted her arrival.They started peppering her with questions,mainly to do with the fate of the other zyxthians on the planet Earth.They didn't like what they heard,and when her mother heard that one of her daughters had been reduced to transform herself into a human in order to survive,she began to wail.For a few minutes the other dragons took up this keening lament for a lost soul.Then her father spoke sharp words to his mate"not in front of the children....pull yourself together....we'll find a way....rescue her....need a plan" The old dam slowly stopped her wailing,and as she dabbed the tears from her eyes she heard a quiet chirp come from beneath Yxmiyl's body.A tiny little dragonet was poking her head out ,staring at all the huge dragon feet around her.one of their talons was nearly as big as her body.Then a huge snout swivelled down to stare at the little dragoness.Then another huge snout came down to join the first.A loud booming voice said in a roar"well who have we here".Yxmilia had just met her grandparents."

"now Yxmilia might be living in a dragono=ic nevernever land where the happy hunting grounds,the Seely Court,selkies and an infinite number of worlds coexisted,but she still had a stomach,and it was growling.What was she going to eat?She didn't even know what food was .Her first memory was of an intense pain as her bones had snapped and her flesh had torn.Then had come her birth,which had been as wonderful and pleasant as one could hope for.Her humanity had been shed like an old skin.

Yxmiyl heard her daughters grumbling stomach and pushed aside her doting parents.She led her daughter to a stream and told her to eat. The stream was chalk full of wiggling little salmon.She knew her daughter was going to have to eat a lot of those ittle wrigglers before she started putting on weight.After she had eaten her full and lay on her bulging side,her mother told her to put the remaining bones and scales from her meal back into the stream.To yxmilia's surprise,a whole fleet of canoes suddenly popped up on the surface of the stream and the humans in them waved back to the startled dragonet as they paddled away."those are the salmon people,you'll get used to them" Yxmiyl answered in a matter of fact tone to her daughters unspoken question.

Over the next few years Yxmilia ate lots of salmon people,and to be honest,she got eaten herself a few times.usually she'd be out minding her own business soaring up in the clouds when a dark shadow would suddenly pop up above her and down she'd slide down some griffins gullet.There wasn't much pain,at least not that she remembered afterwards.Then darkness,and when she reawoke she usually found herself basking on a rock,chirping away and with a well fed griffin saluting her as he flew off.Being a Zyxthian was definitely an interesting lifestyle.

The next few years were carefree ones for Yxmilia.Evenings were spent on the basking rock chirping and trilling away with the rest of friends and family.Days were spent courting with the males,and she had her eyes set on a handsome fellow named Xyzth.There was also the matter of what Yxmilia would do when she grew up.She was already 3/4 the size of her mother and was ready to lay her first clutch of eggs. Other dragonesses had already laid their eggs and gone off to colonize new worlds and bring them into the world of Zyxthia.Her grandparents would have been happy to keep her with them but her mother had other plans.The planet Earth still awaited colonization as well as a lost sister who needed recuing.She gently broached the subject to her daughter.Perhaps you,d like to set up your nest on the Earth.After the initial refusal,Yxmilia reconsidered.Earth was a tough nut to crack,if she could establish a successful foothold there her family would definitely be honoured and dragons would be chirping and and trilling "the ballad of yxmilia " to the ends of eternity.Perhaps she would go to Earth.

She snared Xyzth by telling him that she planned to be a proper little dragoness by setting up her nest in one of the established colonies.A nice safe place where life would be easy.She lied.The word Earth was never mentioned. They mated,she laid her eggs on a trilling rock surrounded by golden sand and the eggs hatched.Preparations were made.When the magic words were spoken that rock,a few thousand square feet of golden magical sand and a family of Zyxthian dragons would be transported to their new home.After allowing the kids a few days to get used to Zyxthia,it was time for this boat to leave the dock.

On the appointed day everyone was there,weeping grandparents salmon people,hungry griffins and all,Up on the hill the kids were chirping contentedly,Yxmilia was tidying up the nest and Xyzth was as nervous as hell.The crowd seemed a little too big for a mere departure.Everyone out there knew something he didn't.He glanced between his mate and the cheering crowds as she uttered the final words of the departure spell.The earth started shaking and the sand started to glow.The warp engines were warming up.THEN,somebody in the crowd had to roar"bon voyage,see you on Earth".EARTH,they were going to the hell hole earth.Xyzth took one look at his mate and kids and started bolting down that rock.Things were really shaking up now,it wouldn't be long.He stood at the edge of the rock and looked back.His dragonets were bawling in terror,his mate was calling to him. A few quick bounds and he'd be in the crowds and safely away from Earth.To one side he could see the sand wavering and sink beneath the surrounding sands.In a few seconds that rock,nest and terrified family would vanish.Then he heard his mate utter a lonely terrified chirp,and Xyzth bounded back up the rock to be beside her .He curled his tail protectively around her and shivered in terror as Zyxthia,the only home he had ever known,vanished in a cataclysmic flash of light and thunder.Swiss Family Robinson was on it's way.

A lot had changed on Earth since Yxmiyl had fled the planet.There had been a few wars,a few nuclear power plant breakdowns and Coal was King.The atmosphere was blackened with pollution,mutant things lay for protection under rocks and bones of the dead were scattered about. The trilling rock had materialized in some american desert.Except for the area on and above the golden sands,they had set up their colony in a blackened,blasted wasteland.That first night was rent with the terrified chirps of dragonets and the soft despairing roars of their parents,

The Zythians huddled in the nest for several days.Xyzth was too terrified to venture outside the golden circle to forage for food.He and his mate took to loud quarreling when she matter of factly told him she had forgotten the magic words which would get them out of this godforsaken hellhole.She actually hadn.t(Yxmilia wasn't that stupid) but she was hoping to get her mate up in the air and looking for something to feed the kids.She was determined that there would be a "The Ballad of Yxmilia " someday.

Hunger finally drove Xyzth to action.One day,after glowering silently at his stupid forgetful mate,he leapt in the air and flew off.As he flew out of the reach of the zyxthian sand Yxmilia noticed that his golden hide dulled considerably.This was a polluted place.

For several days they heard nor saw him.They worried that perhaps he had injured a wing,or a far worse fate,that his hide had blackened and he either now lay dead or had transformed into a human and had forgotten all about his family.

Neither event had occurred.he had travelled far but had finally found prey.In each talon he grasped a buffalo,his tail was coiled tightly around a buffalo calf and in his jaws he grasped the calf's mother.That night that sounds of the desert were rent with the chirps and burps of well fed dragonets and their parents.

The next morning the family stared down at the scraps of the previous nights meal.Bones lay scattered all about.The parents taught their kids to gather all the bones.if this were Zyxthia they'd have tossed the bones in the stream,in the ground or in a volcano and watch their meal spring back to life as good as new.They knew if they put them outside in the desert nothing would happen,the bones would stay bones.But stick them in magical golden zyxthian sand,hmm who knew? Thus the family buried the bones in the sands of their home,moved back to the top of the rock and chirped and trilled a song of rebirth.For a few minutes nothing happenned,then slowly six hills began to form in the sand as if the bones were growing.Soon 6 spiky horns thrust out of the sand,then a mane of white and then the heads of six unicorns thrust out of the sand.With a snort and a shake,the 5 adult unicorns and the one colt shook the sand off their Zythian bodies.

Being flighty creatures ,the unicorns didn't hang around.They dimly remembered being eaten by those dragons and decided that once was enough.As four of the adults stepped over the ring of sand,two transformed back into buffalo and 2 transformed into a stallion and his mare.This was a bit of a shock and they leapt back into the circle Presto chango,they were unicorns again,The mare with her colt held back.she was very happy being a unicorn,thank you very much. Thus the situation was that a family of dragons perched on the rock and six unicrns trotted about along the sand on the bottom.There was some zyxthian plant life growing about in the sand,but it was only a matter of time before the unicorns would need more grazing space. Being zyxthians,they had no desire to venture back into the desolate terrain which lay outside the circle of golden sand."


 "  Xyzth continued foraging for buffalo and pretty soon there was

a herd of 950 unicorns galloping around the trilling rock.It was only a matter of time before there were more unicorns around the rock than there were buffalo in the herd he stalked.One day,after a fruitless hunt,he came back with nothing to feed his young.A particularly fat unicorn had strayed from the herd and was grazing beside the trilling rock."why not?" thought Xyzth and with a quick dive he had obtained that nights meal. If Xyzth had tried such a stunt months ago,all the unicorns would have bolted.But they were quick learners and had learned that being a Zyxthian meant they were playing by a different rulebook.Tomorrow the dragons would stick the bones in the ground and the recently deseased unicorn would be as good as new.Besides,it gave them a chance to finish off that patch of grass the fat one had been working on.

True to style,the dragons waddled down the hill in a solemn procession,buried the bones and went back up to the top of the hill where they chirped and trilled.POP,the fat one appeared in a flash of light on top of the sand where his bones had been buried.He trotted off to join the herd,as if nothing had happened.

Actually something had happened,the sand where his bones lay buried lay undisturbed.Previously,unicorns had clawed their way out of the sand.This was a new means of being reborn,The family of dragons waddled down and went to where the unicorns bones had been buried.They were no longer there.They had vanished.As Yxmilia looked down in the empty hole,she heard a snort and looked up into the muzzle of the fat one.

For a few seconds neither said anything,then the fat one said"if you must eat me ,don't burp so loudly next time".That broke the ice, Yxmilia retorted"if you exercised more there'd be less fat to burp over".

The unicorns and dragons discovered they had a common set of problems:lack of food and lack of space.Buffalo were hard to find, the grass was getting scarcer,young colts needed more room to kick up their hooves.the dragonets were getting too big for the nest.There was no question about it,this little patch of Zyxthia was going to have to get a lot bigger.The two sides puzzled over the problem.They each had the partial answer to the puzzle but they had to work together to solve the problem.

On the appointed day the herd of unicorns positioned themselves around the ring of sand.The dragonets had scattered golden sand lightly over an area around the trilling rock of about three miles diameter.They figured this would be a good test size.back on the trilling rock Xyzth wanted to make certain his mate knew the words. After what had happened months ago he didn't relish another surprise.

On the appointed hour the unicorns plunged their horns into the golden sands around the rock and waited while Yxmilia chanted the magic words of colonization.All around her kids chirped away.Xyzth tapped his tail nervously ,ready to bolt if things went wrong.

Those warp engines came back online.The ground started shaking and Xyzth found himself clawing desperately for a foothold as the ground swayed beneath him.Out in the distance he could see circles of golden sand spreading out and joining together as Zyxthia came to Earth.Trilling rocks began thrusting themselves from the newly formed golden sand.Desert mice squeaked in terror as their bodies swelled and feathers sprouted out of their fur.They hunched over in pain as their bones reformed and their snouts fused into beaks.Where once lay an innocent little mouse nest now towered a huge hungry griffin and her brood of 5 hungry griffinets.They were looking for something to eat and they would not be dissappointed.Lizards,spiders and birds discovered that their old homes just wouldn;t do anymore.

A cactus plant suddenly decided it didn't want to be a cactus plant anymore.it wanted to be a magic beanstalk,a HUGE magic beanstock As it's transforming roots swelled and thundered to dig hundreds of feet into the transforming soil beneath it,it looked up.Somewhere up there was a land called Zyxthia,and fellow bean stocks it could pollinate.It dimly remembered something about a fellow named Jack who wanted to cut it down.It looked down upon it's swelling bulk,it was already 1/8 mile in diameter and still growing,and thought"hah,lets see him try his axe now" and reached for Zyxthia.

A desert sparrow had been sitting over a nest in the cactus.She barely had time to comprehend that the cactus plant she was in was no longer a cactus plant before the transformation swept over her and her nest.Suddenly she was sitting on a hill of shaking ,vibrating eggs before she fell through the space between two eggs which were towering above her and waited to be crushed.That didn't happen.Instead her plummage grew polychromatic and sparks of lightning shot out of her eyes as her body began to grow and change.Minutes later ,after she had repositioned herself on top of her eggs,she flapped her enourmous wings and enjoyed the loud noise they made.Down below.the rest of the new born Zyxthians stopped briefly to listen to the sound of thunder heralding the birth of a Thunderbird.Off in the newly forming mist,a Roc circled in to see how his mate was doing.In his beak he held the limp body of a sea serpent which only minutes before had been a rattlesnake.

The former cactus finally found the home it was looking for.As Yxmiyl and the other residents of Zyxthia looked up in awe,a huge tendril came plunging down out of the sky and buried itself deep into the mother soil and began to feed and take root.As it transferred the lifegiving nutrients into itself like a hungry lamb takes to it's mothers teat,springs began appearing in the dry desert back on the Earth.Schools of salmon people leapt and frolicked as they found a new home on the Earth.The golden sands in the desert began to spread and grow with every throb of that hungry transformed cactus.

Yxmilia and Xyzth hugged one another and began to weep with joy as they saw the first arrivals from the old world make their way down along the bean plant.This time things WOULD be different."

As the old dsm and drake finished the old story,Mary King gazed down upon Harethe.He had curled up and gone to sleep,as had most of the other dragonets in the circle around the campfire.Mary King stepped carefully around the sleeping children as she went to help the other adults tidy up. BooktheFour commentary