Book the Two (Dragons of Histh)

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The Dragons of Histh
Book The Two

Author: Harethe

copyright 2001 by Harethe

The first survivor of the attack to recover his senses is Aurelio,frozen in place as the statue of Histh.He is free of the magma that Ida showered down on her prey.Being the only other geological lifeform present in the cavern,she considerately lapped the magma off of his prone form before she headed back to her lair.

Aurelio's form starts to melt and he's afraid he's about to melt down into a pool of molten lava.That is not to be.When Ida circled around her prey the statue was sitting at the center of that circle. Some of the heat coursing about in that circle was the residual energies of the divine powers of the six dragon deities which transformed Ida into a Great Serpente.Being the only survivor to get the full blast of those energies,Aurelio is at the center of a tug of war between forces which want to turn him into a sea serpent, a Skye dragon,a serpente,a Great Serpente,a protoserpente,a wyrm along with several other dragonic creatures.Forces which transformed a dragoness into a living volcano now conspire to transform a living statue into a flesh and blood dragon.

When the transformation is complete he pinches his forearm with a webbed paw and utters a howl of pain and puzzlement.He can feel bone,muscle and flesh.He can smell the charred scent in the air and feel the rough texture of the pedestal he is perched's been millenia since he's experienced these sensations.As a statue he could slowly shuffle about and see,but he had no voice,no hunger pangs or feel the blood coursing through his veins.Being the product of 6 divine powers trying to remake him in their own image, the final result is that he is a chimera.He has the head of a black adder,the torso of a serpente,the wings of a Skye dragon,the dorsal fins and gills of a sea serpente and very productive salivary glands drooling protoserpente slime all over his jaws.He's also very much a

dragon in thought and instinct.

Thus when a school of sea serpentes emerge from the sea serpent pool and use the common language to teel him flee and join them for a dash to the safe soothing ocean,he knows exactly what their saying.He doesn't waste any time surveying the wreckage of the cavern.He leaps off the pedestal and bounds over to the grouping of sea serpents,who welcome him as a member of the tribe and escort him through the underwater tunnels.

To his discredit,he does not concern himself with thoughts about the wellbeing of the survivors he left behind.Not that this is any big deal.Not many of the other surviving dragonkind were too concerned about their comrades either.

Having the mind and brain of a dragon,by the second night he has forgotten all about recent events and no doubt is getting ready for a glorious new existence as the first winged sea serpent in the world Unfortuneately his spate of good luck is about to run out.As the 3rd dawn approaches that supply of residual divine energy runs out and Histh.s old divine will overtakes his dragon body.

He flexes and coils and roars in protest,but in the end he reforms into a frozen statue of the black dragoness Histh.Not that his posture is one suitable for a deity.He went back to the old form unwillingly and his statue form looks the part.His mind reverts to it's human conciousness and when nightfall returns he slowly waddles through the seafloor back towards the caverns.

Now that he knows what it feels like to be a real flesh and blood dragon,he'll spend more of his time while sitting perched on that pedestal thinking about a way to escape from his current life. He may look like Histh,but he'll start checking out on the other 5 dragon deities.Being a sacred idol just won't do.

When Ida had come sliding into the cavern to circle her chosen prey,her five sisters and Maegrethe were just shambling back after examining the gutted remains of the protoserpente which lay near the sacred pool.Being a bit more scholarly then the rest of the crowd, the thought of examining the kill rather then eating it had croosed their minds.Thus they stood still and stared as the Greate Serpente came bearing down upon them.She was within seconds of running them down when with a slight twitch of her head she sent her leviathonic body 60 feet to their right.The Great Serpente had detected one of the few scents she was capable of detecting,that of a Great Serpente in front of her and made room for the othercreature.Ida had scented the differing scent of these 5 dragonesses and thus they were not prey,but kinfolk.

As she lumbered by,the 5 dragonesses could scent her and could read the body language she was communicating.This Great Serpente was ravenously hungry,and was intent on a kill and a meal.The five sisters were the only ones present in that cavern who could understand the body language of the Great Serpente,and they weren't pleased to discover that they knew in their minds what the Great Serpente would do before she did it.They fled the ceremonial cavern and leapt and bound up the exit tunnel into the dusk of the desert.They had felt the waves of heat pulsing on them as the Great Serpente passed by.At the time they had not been troubled by the heat,but just before they left the cavern sister Leisha had looked back and had noticed that Maegrethe was shuffling slowly in the opposite direction of the sisters,her bat wings dragging limp on the floor behind her.

Out in the desert night the sisters looked about them.They could see dragons circling about in the night sky in confusion. Out on the surface small groups of surviving serpentes were snapping at their tails and roaring in pain from burns they had suffered. >From one escape tunnel coiled an adult sea serpent.It flopped onto the dry desert and it.s gills worked frantically for the life giving waters it needed to survive.After 10 minutes it began to contort and writhe as it went into death then slowly went limp and the last mortal sound it made was a high pitched keening whining sound that lasted for 6 minutes .It then died with one last spasm of it.s coils.

The sisters themselves had not escaped unscathed.In all the excitement and danger their venom glands had gone into overdrive and were pumping up their venom systems.They instinctively unsheathed their quills and stingers and fangs and tried to expel the excess venom.Nothing came out .Leisha bent over her neck to inspect a quill and noticed branches of venom veins,distented and ready to burst,just beneath the surface of her skin.Things were getting dangerous.She looked at a quill and noticed that it's tip had fused over into a rocky substance.Further inspection of her body revealed areas where folds of skin over a stinger had gone hard and crusty,preventing the stinger from springing erect.Her sisters noticed that they had similar conditions.

They had to get their venom systems going again pretty quickly, so they gave each another a manicure.Leisha bit down hard on one of the quills of her adjacent sister.and yanked it off.There was a squeal of pain followed by the spurting of venom jetting out of the hole left by the vacated quill.Her sister responded to this attack by snapping her snout over a patch of crusty skin on Leisha and tearing it right off,crust,skin,stinger and venom veins. Leisha screamed.

Whilst the five dragonesses were sending patches of stingers,flesh,venom and blood flying in all directions,they noticed that when they probed their snouts into their bodies that they had a deep blood scent similar to the scent of the Great Serpente down in the cavern.This meant that they and the Great Serpente were of the same race.That meant that they were Great Serpentes themselves,and would one day bring about the destruction of dragonkind,rather than it's salvation.

All their lives they had been told that they were the saviours of their race,and now they had to face the possibility that they were creatures of destruction.They fled the area.With venom and blood dripping from wounds,and patches of loose skin flapping into the wind ,they bounded into the sands,extended their wings and leapt into the night skye.They had become exiles through no fault of their own.and had a whole continent to explore while they tried to deal with some pretty heavy life issues.

The saviour of dragonkind in the New World turned out to be a Nederlandse wyrm dragoness named Greta.Nederland may produce clunkers of computers,but they have good dragons. Greta started life as a intelligent carnivore.She was one of those rare dragons who was able to recall just what she and her family had done in previous days.Whilst the rest of the family woke up and had completely forgotten about the previous day's kill and it's location,she still retained this knowledge and would wander over to the kill site to feed while the rest of the dragons went charging off to hunt down new prey.It was her superior memory which allowed the family to survive the great dragon massacre of the 14th century in Europe.

Whereas Maegrethe was essentially a human in a dragon body,Greta was all dragon.Unlike Maegrethe,she knew what it felt like to be hatched from an egg and to have to claw out of the dirt and be something more then just another animal.What Maegrethe had been born with in an instant of divine power had taken Greta nearly 5000 years to discover.She was not well educated,but she'd learned how to survive.

Just after the end of the 14th century massacre it slowly dawned on her that what was required to survive in a world surrounded by humans was to 1)encourage humans to believe that dragons don't exist.2)avoid contact with humans 3)use things valuable to humans to bribe them into leaving dragons alone These teachings she no doubt learned from surviving witch dragonesses after dragonkind pulled itself back together after the massacre.

She started staying in caves more often and only came out at night.She learned to restrain her roars and would flee when she sensed humans were approaching.She discovered that when she left jewels and other useless human treasure near nearby farm houses, the supply of prey such as pigs,sheep and cattle tended to increase on that farm.The humans became less concerned if a few livestock dissappeared in the night.She would attack and kill travellers on the roads,haul the carcass to the cave,rip off the clothing with it's useless human valuables and deposit it near nearby farm buildings. The traveller was never seen again and the nearby humans learned that putting a few extra sheep on the fields at night kept the gold coming.This little barter exchange slowly gave rise to the legends of dragon hoards,but the reality was that dragons were more interested in the sheep bleeting in the field then useless yellow rock.But if dropping the yellow rocks near human buildings increased the supply of nearby prey,so be it.Except for the sheep and the traveller on the road,it was a fair exchange.There was no direct contact between Greta and neighbouring farmers.The noises uttered by humans meant nothing to her and her expression of the common dragon language would have meant nothing to them.What the two had in common was the knowledge that Gold=sheep=More gold. This was the basic process which allowed humankind and dragonkind to coexist without most of either race having to make contact with the other.

The coming of strife and revolutions in Western Europe made it more difficult for Greta to exit her lair undetected.Suddenly she had to deal with Continental armies,sputnik,airplanes,Stuka dive bombers,Politburea directives ,tanks ,warships,etc.

Left to her own devices,she could never have survived WWi,WWii and the communist revolution.By this time however,neighbouring humans had a notion that they were the caretakers of a very ancient dragon. They left what meat and livestock they could spare where she could find them.And if the next morning they woke up and found the slashed and bloodied remnants of a Frissan greatcoat or a burecrats suit stuffed with coins beside their doorstep,that was icing on the cake. For these Nederlandse farmers,Santa Claws was a very real person.

If having to hide in a cave all day and night for nearly two centuries were not bad enough,Greta now had to deal with the collapse of the Western European economy in 1945.By that time she was just skin and bones and one desparate dragoness.Her cave was littered with the skull and bones of dead soldiers and buerecrats and tossing them outside would have revealed her existence.She had to suppress instincts which were telling her to keep the cave clean.

With the collapse in the Nederlandse economy there were fewer travellers on the nightroads,there was no valuables in their clothing,and even if there were the farm economy had crashed.Farmers just couldn.t afford to leave sheep and livestock out on the fields at night.

Thus Grata was forced to become a vegetarian.She ate rye,grass, barley and any locusts which came hopping out of the fields of wheat, she squatted by the streams at night looking for fish and took to eating earthworms.

Although she'd spent centuries avoiding direct contact with humans,the thought of dying with dignity in a flurry of claws,fangs venom and slashing wings and tail was looking preferable to starving to death in a filthy bone infested cave.

Although she ,d long lost contact with dragonkind,dragonkind had never forgotten her.Greta was a member of the tribe of Wyrm,and one night a witch dragoness from the French Skye dragon tribe winged her way over Europe to check on whether ANY dragonkind still lived in Nederland.The news wasn't good.Many of the caves she entered contained only the skeletal remains of starved dragons and serpentes.Halfway through her tour of caves,she came upon Greta in her cave.

Greta by this stage was too weak to fly,and the thought of just putting her out of her misery with a snap of the jaws occurred to the Skye dragoness.But after visiting 78 caves with rotting skeletons in them,finding a live wyrm filled her with joy.There was no way she was going to let this wyrm dragoness die on her.

The Skye dragoness was young and strong,and she made the neighbouring area pay dearly for what they had done.She was smart and got things done.Voele got her meals and more importantly her dignity back.The fortunes of the tribe of wyrm was on the upswing.

Greta learned the latest dragon survival tactics from the Skye dragoness.She was centuries out of date and barely literate in sacred tablet readings,but she was streetsmart and driven by a raging passion never ever to return to the hell she.d lived through.She helped the Skye dragoness find the surviving 15 dragonkind from an original Nederlandse population of 225.

Greta got promoted quicktime.The other witch dragonesses accepted her as a witch dragoness and sent her assistants from all the tribes in order to put the tribe of wyrm back on it's feet. Greta thus learned about affairs of dragonkind such as the 1993 Serpente Dragon dance which was going to be held at a huge cavern in a place called Ontario where hundreds of dragons would gather.

All the forces of heavan and hell couldn.t hold this wyrm dragoness back.She was going to see the New World.

When Greta arrived at the ceremonial caverns of the tribe of Histh she drank deep on the pool of knowledge.She communicated with any serpente or dragon willing to speak the common language.With hatchling sea serpents she bonded in the language,and felt what it was like to emerge from a clutch of eggs,the sticky yolk clinging to the dorsal fin on her back.From the mother she learned the feel of a rounded branch poking in your coils as you wrapped your tail thrice around a tree stump and gazed upon the recently laid egg clutch.From wyverns she learned the restrictive feeling of the collar of the neck and the sharp pain of a heraldic dragons taloned feet into the sides of an unco-operative pet.

Yet when she communicated with members of the tribe of Histh, there was no bonding.Although they tried to speak the common dragon language,the feelings they conveyed were painfully primitive and chaotic.Even the densest serpente hatchling was a dragonic bard compared to the most literate member of the tribe of Histh.The other tribes kept communicating to her an image of a bipedal dragon walking with a human gait when she enquired of the origins of the tribe of Histh.The message was clear,Maegrethe and her tribe were considered to be big scaly humans.They were not dragonkind.They were foreign.

When the Great Serpente came charging into the cavern Greta was trying to read the body language of the statue of Histh.It was a magnificent statue of a dragon,but the statue did not communicate. It was not dragon.Greta was getting increasingly angry with this New World race.A tribe of humans impersonating dragons wasn.t what she had expected.

When the Great Serpente crashed off the walls of the cavern a portion of her tail crashed into the sea serpent pool and swept many a sea serpent into oblivion.Voele had barely had time to register this event when the Great Serpentes coils encircled Voele and the crowds around her.Voele was prey.

Greta survival was a result of being at the wrong place at the right time.As she looked about and above her,she saw wings,tails,legs and bodies writhing as dragons and serpentes struggled to flee the circle.Many a dragon was knocked back into the circle after an attempt to rise into the air and flee ended with the snap of wing bones caused by a neighbours swinging tail or a bite of the jaw. Greta avoided the baptism by magma by bounding underneath the Great Serpentes body as Ida looped over her head and neck and for a brief 3 seconds left a gap under her coils.It was a very close call.

After the Great Serpente had left the scene,Greta slowly recovered and surveyed the scene around her.Injured sea serpent mothers were sliding about the floor keening and whining for their hatchlings while their gills frantically worked in the air and they slowly asphyxiated.The sea serpent pool was filled with corpses of all tribes.In betwwen the dead bobbed the heads of hatchlings squealing and roaring away.Serpentes were all about attacking anything covered in blood and many a dragon was roaring and coiling in circles biting their own tails.Many a member of the tribe of Histh were making unintelligible human noises and were heading towards the tunnel exits.The dragoness Maegrethe was lying on the floor near the crushed remains of a Skye dragon couple and a dozen or so dead or wounded sea serpents.Maegrethe was savagely biting at her limp wings ansd uttering an all too human scream.From the tunnel the Great Serpente had exited through came the scent of charred dragon flesh and hot blood.As if things weren't bad enough,Greta glances over at the sacred pool and notices that the idol of the Goddess Histh has vanished.Greta the wyrm dragoness lies down on the floor ,covers her head with her wings and wishes that she could crawl back into the egg that she hatched from and sink into blessed oblivion.Then she gets back up on her four legs,and raises her head high and bellows out the kind of loud primal roar that only true dragonkind is capable off.She gets everyones attention and gets down to business.

Greta knew that not only that the tribe of Histh was in danger of being found out,but that all of dragonkind was in danger.If the Great Serpente came charging out from either direction of that tunnel either humans would have undeniable proof of the existence of dragonkind or there would be another massacre in the caverns.

Greta's first order of business was to contain the Great Serpente.Using the common language she told any dragonkind that there was BIG DANGER ENEMY with roars and tail thumpings and convulsions of her body.Her listeners naturally enough all bounded for the exits but then Greta tried a different line BIG FOOD.That stopped them in their tracks.She waddled over to one of the feeding troughs and started nudging it towards tunnel 17. Soon she had convinced others to join her in pushing debris over to tunnel 17.The young serpentes thought this was a game and soon were hauling all sorts of debris to block that tunnel entrance.

By this time the injured sea serpent mother stranded on the cavern floor was struggling to get back to the pool before she asphyxiated.Unfortuneately for her she happened to be passing close to tunnel 17.With a snap of her jaws Greta decapitated the mother and move the carcass over to the tunnel entrance.She impressed on the young serpentes to not eat this particular kill and thus the sea serpents body became just another pile of rubbish blocking tunnel 17.

She then enticed another group of serpentes and dragons to join her out on the surface of the desert.There was no sight of the Great Serpente slithering and coiling her way towards the humans, which Greta expressedin the common language to all listeners as SATISFACTION.She was a very relieved wyrm dragoness.In short order the outside entrance to tunnel 17 was blocked with boulders and the corpse of a sea serpent mother they found lying on the surface.

There were still bands of dragons circling about listlessly in the sky and Greta told her assistants to tell the strays to come back and get ready for a big feast with lots of fresh kill pretty soon.

She then went down back into the caverns and tried to deal with all the dead,dying and injured wandering around.Being a carnivore her actions were not always motherly.When she came upon a weak orphaned hatchling serpente she simlpy killed it and ate it.Any dragon kind which couldn't fend for themselves and had no one to defend them was a liability.Greta quickly taught surrounding dragons that any injured dragon too weak to move was just a meal waiting to happen.The tribe of Histh was learning the realities of life,and it was a brutal bloodthirsty lesson.

The reason that dragons originally ate their own was a survival trait.When a 30 foot dragon died in a lair it was easier for family members to eat the carcass then to haul a 5 ton corpse to the surface Letting good meat just rot away and stink up the lair was not a good idea either.Simply put,dead or injured dragons were just more prey to the ancient dragons.In modern times this instinct came in handy for disposing of dragon carcasses before humans discovered them. For Greta,this dragon instinct was a pretty fundamental one.Any dragon incapable of acting on this instinct simply wasn't a dragon.

Most of the crowd were hauling the dead and injured over to the feeding troughs in preparation for the big feast.Greta had her assisstants scour the desert sky and surface to make sure that no trace of dragonkind was visible to the outside world.She got a platoon of eager young serpentesses to finish covering the dead sea serpent on the surface with boulders.She was determined to eradicate all evidence of what had happenned this night.

Now that things were starting to settle down she could afford to be a little more motherly,She came upon some sea serpent hatchlings swimming around in a pool of water left in the basin where the statue used to be.She could have cared less about Histh and her followers and just leapt right into the pool to check out their condition.If Histh was around,she didn.t tangle with this wyrm dragoness.Sometimes even deities know when they've met their match.

The hatchlings were bruised,burnt and bloody.Greta's instincts were telling her to just finish them off and eat them.She glanced back into the cavern and saw the witch dragoness Maegrethe still screaming away and now clawing at the walls.That decided it for Greta.These young ones were dragonkind,unlike that overgrow scaly human over against the wall.They had earned the right to survive just by being dragonkind.She picked them up one at a time in her jaws and carried them over to the sea serpent pool where she tossed them in. She then waded in herself and kicking ,splashing and roaring,sent a message for any sea serpent parent still alive to come back and fetch their young.Then she climbed out and strode purposefully to that big scaly human shrieking in the corner.

Along the way one of Greta's assisstants,a French Skye dragon, came up to her and told her with wing movements and banks and dives of his long sinuous tail that one stray refused to come back for the BIG FEAST.He used the common language to present an image of a young Histh hatchling standing up on it's hind legs and waddling towards the enemy,and the enemy had the smell of humans.He was telling Greta that One of the members of Histh was slowly making his way towards one of the human settlements and eventual discovery.

When Greta crouched in front of Maegrethe she dearly wished that she could just chuck 5000 years of learning and just be a carnivore like the rest of her tribe.Her instincts were telling her that this was a wounded dragon and the carnivore inside her was telling her that this would be an easy kill.Her tongue flickered in and out and big gops of saliva were drooling off her jaws in anticipation of an satisfying meal.Unfortunelately for her digestive system,she was not a common dragoness.She was a witch dragoness and the pitiful creature in front of her carried the title as well.Maegrethe may have been a big scaly human,but the rank the other dragon tribes had accorded her carried a long and deep tradition in dragon history.Witch dragonesses were the caretakers of dragon traditions and you just didn,t kill one just because you despised her.Greta was going to have to force this witch dragoness to be the dragon that was expected of her.If the tribe of Histh was going to be more than just a clutch of newly hatched overgrown scaly humans,someone would have to force them to embrace their dragonhood.

Greta used the common language to tell Maegrethe exactly what she thought she was.She was the BIG ENEMY,even bigger than the Great Serpent.She bonded with Maegrethe and evoked images of a gigantic Histh dragoness striding on her hind legs, the scent of humanity all about her.This Histh dragon was stomping down on Great Serpentes,Skye dragons,wyrms ,sea serpents,heraldic dragons as she trod through the landscape.The next image Greta communicated was of a dead Histh dragon lying in the lair,surrounded by the skeletons of all kinds of dragonkind around her.It was the scent of death,and the sound of countless human boots tromping overhead.

She then communicated an image of Maegrethe squatting in the feeding troughs,greedily tearing away at the corpses of Skye dragons, sea serpentes and a big fat helping of Histh dragons.The image was of a delicious meal,and soon the image shifted to show other dragonkind waddling over and sharing in the feast.The last emotion Greta tried to convey to Maegrethe was one of SATISFACTION,PRIDE PRIDE,PRIDE.Greta was trying to tell her as best she could that Maegrethe was the enemy of dragonkind and that in the end it would cost both the tribe of Histh and the other tribes dearly.She had told Maegrethe that if she acted like a dragon,the end result would be a happy strengthened tribe of Histh.

In case Maegrethe was as dense as Greta hoped she wasn't,Greta walked over to the ancient Skye dragon corpse,tore off a piece of flesh and ate it.She then tore off another chunk of flesh and laid it in front of Maegrethes quivering snout,uttering a keening sound of a hungry wyrm hatchling whilst she did so.She then leapt and bounded down the cavern,in search of that stray Histh dragon hatchling.

She finally found him circling in the sky near a human community about 50 miles from the ceremonial caverns.He was a fairly recent initiate into the tribe of Histh,having entered the tribe unwillingly 6 years ago.He had been one of a group of teenagers who had been caught sneaking around in the desert looking for Aurelio's hoard of treasure.After being tossed into the sacred pool he had emerged from the edge of the pool as a copper skinned dragon measuring about 10 feet from the ground to the tip of his beak hook. Although on the outside he was all dragon,on the inside his mind functioned in a human fashion.Some of his memories had been wiped out during the transformation,most notably who he was,and who his human relatives were.He was probably the only dragon in the world who could tell you how to grind down the cylinder heads of a 225 Dodge slant six to boost power,but the proper approach for hunting sheep in a farm field was totally beyond him.He was the perfect example of what Greta detested in Maegrethes tribe.He belonged to neither the dragon or human race,but could totally undo centuries of effort of dragonkind to avoid detection by humans if he landed in that human community.

Greta swooped around him and tried to tell him in the common language to follow her and enjoy a big feast,a nice clean lair,a loving mother and the compansionship of his fellow hatchlings. Although he may have been about 2 decades old,to a 5000 year old wyrm dragoness he had barely emerged from his birth.He was just another dragon hatchling who needed guidance. He didn't understand the common language.If Greta had spoken plain english her message might have gotten across,but Greta was dragon through and through.Although their bodies were similar,they were worlds apart on how they thought and communicated.

The hatcling finally made up his mind and started winging towards the human community.He was looking for a soft spot to crash into.Flying was not something which came instictively to him.A nice outdoor pool was what he was looking for.Greta saw what he was doing and decided it was time to unsheath her claws. If he wouldn't come willingly then she'd take him by force.She swooped on top of him and was getting ready to cradle him in her legs.In ancient days wyrm mothers used to transport exhausted fledglings by swooping down on them while both mother and child were in the air and as the fledgling folded up her wings,the mother would embrace her and wing back to the lair with her precious burden.Greta was much bigger than the Histh dragon and could have easily carried him back if he had cooperated.He didn't.He swung his wings about,coiled his tail and body about in violent contortions and ended up knocking both of them out of the sky. The two writhing bodies fell into the tree canopy below accompanied by the sound of sprained dragon limbs.

Greta's snout quivered and she would have loved to howl out in pain.As things turned out it was the hatchling who expressed himself. He belted out a very dragonlike roar and all all across his body his venom system was unlocking quills and stingers and talons and venom fangs.He might have had the mind of a human but he had all the right physical equipment of a dragon.

Greta was definitely impressed.Had he simply uttered a human scream of pain she would have killed him on the spot and eradicated all trace of his existence.But looking on the venom dripping from his snout told her that there was hope for him yet.

As the hatchling slowly came back to his senses he looked up to see the head of the wyrm gazing down upon him,head tilted slightly and reminding him of a puppy looking at a new toy.Unfortuneately this puppy's mouth was open,revealing raws of long jagged teeth and a saliva laden tongue.The unblinking slitted eyes were focused on him and the wyrm made no noise,made none of those coiling body movements that all wyrms and skye dragons and sea serpenes and serpentes were constantly displaying.She was motionless,uncommunicative.He began to keen in terror,awaiting her judgement.

Greta wasn,t judging him but admiring him.The fall from the sky and the pain had shocked the hatchling into revealing the attack and defense systems hidden in his body ,and he was meant to be a hunter. As Voele's gaze swept from the long bristling row of spines which had sprung up on his back to rows of dagger like teeth which his lips had pulled back to reveal,she was doing a hasty reevaluation of the tribe of Histh.Having spent most of her life hunting for her meals,she had a feel for what made a good predator and the kind of prey they should attack.She began to wish that she were several thousand years younger so that she could be his potential mate.Having his Histh bloodline would definitely benefit wyrmkind.She decided there and then that she was going to whip the tribe of Histh back into shape.The tribe of Histh was going to unsheath it's claws if she had anything to say about it.

That was the future.As Greta turned away from the trembling keening hatchling she realized that they needed to find a lair and a meal.Although they were surrounded by a whole countryful of humans,Greta decided that the hatchlings first lesson on hunting and survival would not involve humans.Humans were too bony and easy to catch.They were too slow and the hunt for the hunter ended far too quickly.Voele preferred a fast meaty prey which could make a carnivorous dragon work for it's nightly supper.As a hunter,Greta knew all too well the thrill of the chase.As she puzzled over the kind of prey suitable for the hatchling,she smelt the aroma of horse manure coming from one side of the forest.That was it,the hatchling would be trained to hunt horses.

The hatchling was probably thinking more in terms of donuts and potato chips,but Greta would set him down the proper path to dragonhood.She was determined to teach the big scaly human how to be a dragon.

When the Great Serpente had passed her by,Maegrethe had been stricken by the heat that pulsed off that massive body.While the 5 sisters had charged off for the escape tunnel,Maegrethe was confused and lost her bearings.With her wings dragging she shuffled forward until her snout bruised into the cavern walls near the feed troughs.Her throat was parched and her snout was throbbimg in pain from the injury inflicted on it.She lay down on the floor and extended her long tongue into a nearby trough,splashing the pool of blood within on her snout and to wet her throat.

The blood had a familiar scent,and as she glanced to her left her gaze fell upon a jumble of corpses of all kinds,including Histh dragons and serpentes.A deep rumbling sound started to build up in her chest,something was about to give.She gazed to the right and her eyes rested upon the crushed remains of the ancient French Skye dragon couple she had befriended centuries ago and had worked so hard to train as servants of Histh.The scream that erupted from her snout was all too human,but the big lungs which powered it were all dragon.That scream was loud and long.

Of all the dragonkind she had known,the ancient Skye dragons had been the closest thing she had to family.And they were dead and she was lying in a caveern with dragons snapping at other dragons, serpentes eating dying but still living serpentes and the whole cavern a shambles.

She hated dragonkind,she hated the dragon deity Histh and most of all she hated herself.She gazed upon the big scaly reptillian form that was hers and felt a deep loathing for it.She didn't want to be Maegrethe,witch dragoness of the tribe of Histh.She wanted to be Prince Margaret,daughter of King Eldrithe of the Castle Bamburgh. She wanted to be human.

She began to bite at her wings and slash at her scaly reptillian hide with her claws,hoping to see soft pale human flesh underneath.All she saw however were veins containing dragon blood bursting and venom quills sliding out of her skin in response to this attack on her body.Her body was all dragon with not a trace of humanity in it. To add insult to injury,the involuntary screams of pain she uttered as she attacked herself came out as shrieking growls.She couldn,t even scream properly.

She wanted her mental torment to end and decided to throw herself in the midst of the eating,killing rampaging dragonkind.She wanted to commit suicide.Knowing that if attacked she would instinctively slash out with her claws and prolong her death,she unsheathed her claws and scratch them against the wall in order to dull them and make them useless.She wanted dragonkind to make an easy kill of her.

At this moment Greta crept up to her and told her what she thought of her,her tribe and the danger they posed to dragonkind. Greta then told her in the common language to get up on her claws and be the dragoness her tribe deserved.Greta hinted that the cavern was littered with fresh kill and any dragoness worth the name better start eating.The chunk of Skye dragon meat she deposited in front of Maegrethe made the message pretty clear.Then Greta charged off to deal with another emergency situation.

Maegrethe had never eaten dragonkind before.It had nothing to do with that cast iron dragon stomach of hers but everything to do with her human sensibities.The tribe of Histh had not adopted cannabalism to the same extent other dragon tribes had.Natural born dragons and humans who had metamorphosized into serpentes had no qualms about what they ate,but transformed dragon members like Maegrethe had never devolved to becoming cannibals.It was just too carnivorous.

In the end it was Maegrethe's humanity and one of her past mistakes which forced Maegrethe to become a better witch dragoness. Her human intellect told her that if the tribe of Histh expected to be a proper member of the race of dragonkind,the tribe would have to shed some of it's human practises and do things the way other dragons did them.Cannabalism of the dead was one of those basic behaviours.All of the other 5 tribes performed the practice without thought.It was a basic instinct of dragonkind which had evolved to take on a ritualistic meaning.The actual ritual varied from tribe to tribe but it was something which bonded them.The tribe of Histh were the outsiders.Maegrethe now had to decide if she wanted to doom her entire tribe to outsider status.If it was just herself she would probably have fled and exiled herself.But she was a witch dragoness and the survival of her tribe depended on her decision.Thus she tentatively picked up the chunk of Skye dragon meat and forced herself to swallow it.Her human mind was doing cartwheels in protest of this act,but she was in for one pleasant surprise.The meat tasted like raw beef with a tinge of mutton in it.The question now was whether she had the mental stamina to cruch her way through all the rest of the carcasses in front of her.Her dragon body began to send her hunger pangs.To it,dead dragonkind were no different then any other kill.This would have to be a human decision.

As she looked to the left she saw the one serpente she would gladly feed to the Great Serpente.This serpentess was huddled protectively over her cache of recently killed meat and she was staring dirctly at Maegrethe and the two dead Skye dragons.The common language she radiated at Maegrethe was one of pure hatred and possession.She wanted Maegrethes supply of meat for herself.

This serpentess was one of Maegrethes big mistakes during an initiation ceremony held 6 years earlier.Back then Maegrethe was hoping to create servants of Histh who could carry on where Maegrethe left off.What Maegrethe wished for was to create a dragon and dragoness in her own image.She wanted to fuse the human intellect to the dragon form to create a sort of super dragon.She wamted Ida and her five brilliant sisters but by a different means.The human candidates she picked out from a group of human teenagers were a brother and sister.The boy was chosen for his excellent mechanic knowledge and the girl for her love of the arts.She was culturally gifted.Their cooperation waas of no importance to Maegrethe.The rest of the available supply of humans were given to the sea serpents to do with as they pleased.

The two candidates were lowered into the pool and the initiation process began.The boy transformed into a somewhat smallish dragon but he had retained his human intellect.The problem was he had no dragon instincts to help him survive as a dragon and did not understand the common language.He could rebuild a 225 Dodge slant six with his claws tied behind behind his back but went pale and sick when it came to eating his meal at the feeding trough.He made a terrible hunter and would have starved to death if he was on his own.

His sister on the other hand went all the way over in her transformation.Her loud screams as they lowered her in the pool made it pretty clear she was not a willing participant in this process.As her body writhed and swelled and expanded as she metamorphosized her screams continued.She did not transform into a petite intelligent dragoness but a serpente like never seen before.She was twice as big as any other serpente,6 times as heavy and had a thick muscled torso.As she opened her snout and continued screaming,double rows of teeth thrust from her gums and sprays of venom dripped from her jaws.Then her screams turned to roars and she bounded out of the pool in a single leap,standing erect on her hind legs and slashing at any who came too near.She was definitely not a creation of Histh or any other dragon deity that Maegrethe wss aware of.Her cultured human mind had been wiped out in a second and replaced with something primal and brutal.Unlike her brother,killing and eating came all to easy for her.

She was however a loving mother and very effective at finding prey for her young to eat.As a serpente she was a masterpiece and her offspring made guardians for the cavern.Thus killing her off was out of the question.

Maegrethe was not about to let this serpentess sink her jaws into the ancient Skye couple she considered her friends.Maegrethe decided if their remains were to be consumed,better it be done by her than the slobbering brute serpentess squatting nearby.

Maegrethe did the job.If she was going to be a cannibal she was going all the way.She crunched away on bone,tissue ,blood and guts. All she left behind were the two heads,everything else she forced down her snout,including the excrement of the bowels.Probably not even the other dragons would have gone that far,but then they didn't have a serpentess staring at them during the whole meal.

As Maegrethe lifted her head and prepared to eat her next dead dragon or serpente she looked over at her rival.The wave of hatred and hunger the serpentess was communicating at her didn't surprise her ,but she discovered that she was bonding with the serpentess more deeply after the cannibalistic ritual,and she was getting some new emotions and readings from the serpentess. Suddenly she was the serppentess and what she wanted was to be the alpha female.She regarded the members of the tribe of Histh as HER clutch of eggs,and this dragoness was the competition.There could only be one serpentess ruling over this clutch.

Maegrethe broke away from the bonding and staggered away.She sensed that she had created a competitor ,and that the serpentess would have all or nothing of the tribe of Histh.

The two dragons had not gently landed in the forest.Being smaller the hatching had fallen further through the canapy and was in pretty bad shape.With only five years experience in dragon flight ,he had not yet developed the skills necessary to protect his wings when he came in for hard landings.He didn't have the instincts,and since he could not communicate in the common language,no other dragon could show him the right crash landing techniques.He had come down with his wings spread out and his left wing hand had taken a good bang on a heavy tree limb.That hand was starting to swell and go numb.His wing membranes had been punctured in numerous places.Greta was suspended upside down above him and the saliva and venom dripping from her maw was falling onto a puncture wound in his left wing.Although dragons may not die from ingesting dragon venom,they are not totally immune from it's effects.The hatchling's nerves in his wing were raw and sore The venom made it feel to him like someone had plunged that wing in a kettle of boiling water and then clamped it in a vise.He had stopped roaring ,but he was still growling pretty loud.If he'd had moveable eyelids.he would have closed them in pain.Being a dragon prevented this simple expression of pain.His eyelids were clear and fixed in position,and only the sight of his slitted eyes rolling about in his skull suggested that his attention was fixed on other matters than the world around him.

After surviving in the world,Greta had come down hard a few times herself.She had folded up her wings and coiled up as best as she could and had suffered no injuries to her wings.A top branch in the tree had however snagged her tail as she came crashing and bumping down through the tree.Her body had unwound and was twisted and tangled in the tree limbs.She knew that she could escape once she slid down back to the ground but could see that the hatchling wouldn't be taking to the air anytime soon.

Greta slowly wiggled and twisted her body free of the tree.Her tail however was still snagged in the upper branches .Using her jaws and her forelegs,she pulled herself back up to the top of the tree to see what was holding her tail.A branch angling up sharply at the trunk of the tree had formed a Y,and her tail spikes had firmly wedged in the Y.She chewed away at the branch,and after several minutes had freed the tip of her tail.Although her tail was sprained,a quick glance showed her that except for minor nicks and bruises,nothing was broken.

Down below the hatchling's growls had toned down to hisses,and Greta took one look at the rising sun before she wound her way down to where the hatchling lay on his back on the lower tree branches.If his spine had been broken things would get serious,but she,d find that out once she got him on the ground.Using her jaws and talons,she tucked his wing fingers back to his sides,being careful to avoid dripping venom on the numerous puncture wounds she saw in his membrane.

Thouggh the hatchling may not have understood her intentions,he'd figured out that they weren.t hostile.He offered no resistance as she poked and prodded his wings to his sides.She then rolled him over on his belly and waited for him to make the next move.

The hatchling had calmed down whilst in the tree.and made no immediate move to rush to a human habitation he could smell through the trees.His transformation years ago had altered his sense of smell.While he didn't notice his own odour so much,when humans had come close to him he had noticed they had a sickly sweet smell.Once, shortly after his transformation ,he had snuck away from the caverns and approached the dwelling his human cousin lived in.Although he hadn't noticed his cousin's body odour while he was a human teenager. as a dragon it had offended his nostrils with an overpowering human scent.This made him realize as he had crouched under the window of his cousin's bedroom that he was no longer of the human race.As he had slid back out of the yard he had encountered his uncle's pet dog Arda.Arda did not growl or bark at him,but just ignored him and let him pass in peace.He spent many a day after that nocturnal visit wandering whether the dog had seen beneath his scaly skin and still regarded him as the teenage boy he once was.

The scent he detected through the trees was as strong as that of his cousin and reminded him that he was not just a human with a skin problem.Rushing through the forest and up some driveway towards a front porch and an uncertain reception no longer seemed like such a good idea.He craned back his head and looked at the wyrm.Her teeth were still big and sharp,but she seemed to be waiting for him to make his move.When he had transformed,his vocal cords had changed to. Although he understood english he could not speak it.His vocalization was that of a dragon but without understanding the common language,he had to guess how other dragonkind would interpret his roars,hisses squeals and growls.Squealing at the wyrm seemed to be the noise least likely to provoke her into attacking him,so he squealed at her to see if she would squeal or roar at him.

Greta did neither.If he wanted to be fed he should have stuck out his tongue and wiggled his tail.She couldn't read his body language over what he wanted to tell her.She slid down onto the ground below and moved a short distance into the forest a short distance before halting and looking back at him.He now had to choose between following a wyrm he couldn't understand or moving towards humans who couldn't understand him.

The hatchling slowly worked his way down from the tree.His muscles were stiffening from the bruises they'd taken,so he gingerly eased onto the ground.His back was arched up from the pain the blow to his spine had caused,but otherwise he would still move.He figured the wyrm knew more about how to heal dragon injuries than humanity would, so he slowly limped towards her.

They came upon a swampy clearing in the forest shaped like a horseshoe.Greta stuck close to the trees as she edged around the clearing.If there were to be any surprises,she wanted to be able to bolt quickly into the safety of the forest.She kept looking up into the sky above the clearing,wary of any MIG's or dive bombers that might suddenly appear above them.She'd learned how to hamdle jets,but old WWII prop planes still terrified her.

As they came to the end of the clearing the hatchling scented the engine smell left by an old snowmobile trail.Further along they found a deer trail leading into the forest,and they followed this natural trail back into the trees.

Greta led the hatchling deep in the forest away from the sickly sweet smell of humankind.When she felt that they were in a safe secluded area she settled down in a depressed clearing which was surrounded by rotting logs,banks of leave covered ground and scrub. She curled herself up in this hollow and prepared to rest for the day.Just in case the hatchling had any second thoughts about where his loyalties lay,she grasped the tip of his tail with one taloned forelimb,If he intended to wiggle off while she slept,he'd have to leave his tail behind.She then settled down into the dream sleep of a wyrm dragon.

The hatchling spent about an hour wiggling and shifting his body in order to keep sore and bruised parts in a more comfortable and less painful position.It had been a eventful night and he drifted ina state halfway between sleep and wakefulness.Although his slitted eyes registered everything around him,his mind was elsewhere.

He was a human,and he was standing beside the old abandoned railroad crossing of Cultus Creek.On the tracks rolled one of those old fashioned railroad cars which were moved by pumping the handle up and down by the passengers.It came to a stop beside him,and he noticed that it was manned by both children and adults.He stepped on board and the car moved on down the tracks around a curve,over a railway bridge and down into a valley.They stopped when they reached the abondoned gravel quarry.The children leapt off and dashed off to their classes at the Cultus Creek Elementary School,while the adults and he headed for the administrative section.

The adults had all congregated in a corner of the hallway,and they were wondering what they were doing here in this school filled with children.The co-ordinator walked in and explained.The powers that be were aware that there were unique individuals in the world, writers and sculptors and painters with a special talent for their craft.There were also people who differed from the common folk in that they were really otherworldly beings such as spirits and pixies and dragons.She then directed the group to put their belongings in their school locker and to go to the rooms assigned for them.After putting away his bags in a locker beside the locker of an sculptor,he and the sculptor headed for their assignments.

The co-ordinator sat beside him and everyone in the room was staring at HIM.They knew he was a dragon and were fascinated to be in his presence.What they really wanted was for him to pose so they could sketch and sculpt and write about that magnificent dragon form.The hatchling was all too happy to oblige,and he writhed and coiled and posed as best he could.All around him cultured humans were busy making art and he was happy to be the center of attention.

Suddenly he was the co-ordinator,and she kept asking the dragon questins about his origins.Was he human,was he a big lizard with wings or was he something else entirely.Was he another spirit.The questions were disturbing and the dragon was afraid of what the co-ordinator would awaken within him.

Now he was talking to the king of the pixies.The pixie king's daughter just happenned to be a talented painter,and the king showed the co-ordinator some of her work.Being magical,her paintings reflowed and formed into a succession of images on a plastic wrapper.The pixie kings daughter was quickly accepted into the co-ordinators group and had a profound effect on the dragon posing for the group.

The hatchling sensed that dragons were the wellspring from which the other fairy folk sprang.Fairies,elves,trolls,brownies.pixies were all descended from dragons.That meant that he himself was not of this world,but had more in common with that tiny pixie sketching his image than he did with humankind.

Suddenly he was a huge flame breathing black scaled dragon towering above a lair filled with the bones of maidens he had eaten.He was evil incarnate.The next second the pixie had sprinkled him with pixie dust and he was a normal sized pixie dragon,with insect wings and happily fluttering with the fairies.

Who and what was he?

Before his dream could reveal his true nature,the hatchling was rudely awakened by a painful yank on his tail.The wyrm was wide awake and it was night.Both dragons were ravenous and the hatchling felt just as carnivorous as his companion.Although his body still ached and his wings were out of commission,he felt that a good meal would take his mind off of his bruised body's problems.

Greta too was thinking about a good hearty meal,but first they'd have to catch it.She knew that any wildlife in the woods would not be naturally afraid of dragonkind,but the presence of all the human habitations might have scared off any wildlife which they could other wise have gone after.She scented the air and could not detect any nearby deer.If any humans were wandering up and down the nearby roads she would have gladly pounced on them.Luckily for the hatchling at this moment a slight breeze brought the scent from a nearby horse farm to her nostrils.

Greta hoisted herself up on her four legs and waddled out of the forest heading in the direction of the scent.She came upon a clearing where an old gas pipeline had been laid down in the forest decades before.It was dark and there were no longer any trees to obstruct her movements.She charged down that path as quickly as her legs could carry her,intent on filling her rumbling stomach.

The hatchling watched the wyrm quickly charge off into the distance.With all his sores and bruises,the best he could do was limp along far behind her.He was starting to get both angry and worried.he was in strange territory,the only being he could call a companion had deserted him and he was hungry.To add to his misery,his limping dragon legs could barely hoist his torso off the ground,let alone walk or run with it.Slowly a part of his mind he didn't know existed told him to lie on the ground and dig his scutes in and start hauling his body along the ground rather then trying to walk.

One feature all dragons of Histh have in common is their crator the Goddess Histh.Although she might appear a black dragoness now she started life as a mortal black adder snake.She has not escaped from her lowly origins and neither have her creations.Whatever a dragon of Histh may look like on the outside,when you strip away their dragonhood what you are left with in the end is a being with the instincts and skeletal structure of a black adder.Other dragons may be descended from the Great Serpentes,but dragons of Histh are for all intents and purposes walking,flying snakes. Histh dragons have a short stocky appearance because their naturally long tubular snakelike form is kept compressed and bunched up by contracting muscles which are beyond the control of their mind.Likewise their ribs and skeleton has many of the hinged and flexible and hinged =tructures common to their black adder ancestor.All their flexible and hinged ribs and spinal vertebrae are kept in dragon form by more contractor muscles.If a dragon of Histh were to be given a shot of muscle relaxant,all those tensed muscles would relax and the dragon body would lengthen and thin out into the body of a huge snake.

This also explains why dragons of Histh are always ravenously hungry.All those muscles keeping the dragon in a certain form are active 24 hours around the clock,and need nourishment.The dragon may not be aware of his/her own biology,but they know the constant grumbling of their stomach.

The hatchling was angry,and his levels of lactic acid and hormones were rising and having an effect on the muscles keeping him in his dragon form.As he struggled along his body was slowly lenghening and thinning as muscle and skeleton slowly relaxed.But this made the task of hauling his sore body on limping legs even more difficult as his belly dragged along the ground and his legs splayed out to the sides as his flexing skeleton could no longer support the strain of his limbs beneath it,This really angered him and his body gave up it's battle to retain a short stocky appearance.The hatchling didn't notice the changes happening to him'his mind was focussed un catching up to the wyrm in the far distance.

Thus as his rapidly undulating ,contracting and expanding body dug it's scutes into the ground and propelled him forward at an ever increasing rate of speed,it never occurred to him to question why he was suddenly shooting along the grounds surface with speed and ease. Catching up to his companion was his only thought.

The hatchling was charging round the bend and he could feel the powerful muscles within him propel him along like a speeding whippet. As he approached his companion he knew that he could easily pass her and his will was made motion.The wyrm was as slow as molasses as he whipped by her.He charged around the bend of the old pipeline trail until the trail suddenly narrowed to a dead end of shrubs.He curved over his neck and head in the other direction and the rest of him followed suit like a well oiled machine.He charged forward a little distance and slid to a stop in front of the wyrm,panting and hissing with the sheer joy of speed.

The wyrm had just come waddling around the bend and greeted his sudden appearance in front of her by taking two steps back,rearing up on her hind legs and taking on the defensive posture of a dragon:fangs unsheathed,talons extended and tail protectively curled near the front of her body.This is not the way the hatchling had expected to be greeted,and his fear of her quickly returned.Now he noticed that she appeared a lot taller then he last remembered,and he seemed to be lying in the grass,rather then standing in it.He craned over his neck and saw a long tubular body writhing and coiling and twitching away. He looked back at the wyrm and hoped she still knew who he was.Just in case she thought he was just a snake he opened his jaws and bellowed out a dragon roar .

Greta knew who he was.She'd learned long ago that dragonkind came in all kinds of surprising shapes,and if he felt more comfortable thin and stretched out,that was fine by her.What had surprised her was the lightening speed at which the hatchling had zipped past her and then suddenly reappeared.It took her a few seconds to calm down and then she got back to the task of getting a horse for her and the hatchling.

She got back down on all fours,put her weapons away and thought about how she was going to carry this long spaghetti of a dragon hatchling when she flew back to the caverns afterwards.She dearly hoped he could put himself back into a more compact form.She could tell by the twitches of his body that his body was trying to recompress itself into a dragon form.Unfortuneately his 100 meter dash had exhausted his muscles and prevented them from automatically squeezing him back into his proper shape.He would have to eat a large kill before he got back on his legs.

Wyrms did not get their name from their appearance.Greta and her race are not long worm like beasts.Instead the name had more to do with the way the race of wyrm hunt their prey.Wyrms are short squat well muscled dragons with very well muscled necks.Millions of years ago wyrms charged about the landscape like any other dragon,roaring and running down their prey.The problem with this hunting tactic was that dragons are BIG and NOISEY,and their targets usually had fled long before the hunter got within range.Somewhere along the way a wyrm discovered that if he just lay quietly on the ground,all the wildlife ignored him and regarded him as just another fixture of the landscape.After being around for 10 's of millions of years, dragons were just a natural part of the environment as far as wildlife was concerned.It was an instinct that nearly all cratures on Earth had wired into their brains.It was not necessary for a wyrm to go charging after it.s prey,eventually the target would stop by the still dragon as it grazed.Over time the race of wyrm produced a type of dragon with strong muscular necks.They learned to quietly wait until the prey was within striking distance,and then lashed out with their necks,sinking their fangs into the prey ,injecting their venom and waiting for their target to die before consuming it.They used the same kind of tactics as pit vipers,black adders and rattlesnakes.Since they used snakelike hunting tactics,they ended up being called wyrms.

As Greta looked at the hatctling,she could see his well muscled neck and guessed that it was meant to throw his head forward quickly to strike at his prey with his fangs.She was grateful for that,he was equipped to learn the hunting tactics she was about to teach him.

Greta continued walking to the end of the old pipeline trail.The now humbled hatchling slithered behind her.Now that he knew what his torso looked like,he discovered that he had to remember to dig in his scutes,expand his body foeward,anchor his forward scutes and contract the rear end of his body to pull it forward.His old aches and pains were starting to return and his brief moment of being as light and fast as the wind was rapidly fading into a warm fuzzy memory.He could scent the smell of cattle and horses on the other side of the trees and that ever present dragon hunger speeded up his movements.

At the end of the clearing they came upon a deer trail leading west.They followed for a few dozen dragon lengths until they came upon the edge of the forest beside a pasture.There were horses quietly grazing and resting under a stand of trees in the middle of the pasture.The horses turned their heads to stare at the new arrivals,but when they saw they were just dragons they returned to their other nocturnal activities.

The hatchling just expected the wyrm to just charge into the pasture roaring,leap upon some slow moving horse and tear it apart with her jaws and talons before eating it.This is what most other dragon races did,especially the dragons of Histh. Although Greta,s dragon instincts were telling her to do exactly as the hatchling thought she would,she was a member of the tribe of Wyrm,and that race had it's own hunting methods.She moved over to the hatchling and tapped her tail on the ground till he was staring at her and not at his next meal.She had a lot to teach him and wanted his undivided attention.

Greta knew that the hatchling couldn't understand the common language,but now was as good a time as any for him to start learning it.First she displayed the movements for VENOM several times.At the end of each movement she unsheathed her fangs and spat out a litt;e venom onto the ground in front of him,She then displayed the movements for the feeling of SATISFACTION.She clamped her jaws over a small saplingand worried and squeezed and imagined that sapling was a prey animal.She felt the venom glands in her mouth throbbing away as she massaged them and got them pumping out streams of venom through her fangs.She kept communicating the sign for SATISFACTION while she did this and involuntary whines and squeals provided further hints of the heavenly pleasures she was experiencing.Once she had emptied her glands of all their venom,she repeated the process over again two more times.She wanted her venom system completely drained .She then went back to the hatchling and pushed his head beside a sapling.displayed the common language for SATISFACTION and sat back on her haunches,

The hatchling hadn't understood the common language.He did know about the smell and feel of the venom the wyrm had sprayed on the ground in front of him.Venom was a vile liquid his body kept producing whether he wanted to or not.He had never hunted and without knowledge of the common language had no means to learn about how to dispose of the venom which caused painful swellings of his everproductive venom glands.Usually by dawn he was suffering a splitting headache,his jaws were hard to close and his whole body went stiff and sore as branches of swollen veins appeared beneath the surface of his skin.Although he didn't know how to expel the blasted venom from his body,when he reawoke at night he found himself bathed in venom.At a cetain critical pressure his venom system automatically relieved itself through the quills and stingers nestled in his body.Waking in the night dripping with venom made him feel like he had pissed in his sleep,and he usually waddled shamefaced over to the sea serpent pool to wash his body clean before returning to the jeers of the other members of the tribe.Venom made his life as a dragon more miserable.

The hatchling sank his jaws over that sapling and began tugging and pulling and squeezing his teeth in the bark.It felt good and soon he was rubbing and wiggling his forked tongue on the inside surfaces of his mouth.Slowly his venom glands came to life as they were massaged and began giving him that headache he knew all too well.He remembered how the wyrm had kept her fangs unsheathed while she chewed on a sapling.He unsheathed his own fangs and felt the first pleasures of actually using them as he pumped sprays of venom through his fangs. His headache was starting to fade and be replaced by a new pleasurable sensation.Pumping venom through his fangs felt SO good.and he wished he could chew on that sapling to the ends of time.He began to make involuntary whining and squealing sounds.He was in dragon heaven.

It finally occurred to him that he was making the same kinds of happy pleasureable noises that the wyrm had made while she chewed a sapling and sprayed venom out of her fangs.The veil fell from his eyes in an instant.It finally dawned on him that the wyrm was trying to tell him something when she made all those body movements.He quessed that her most recent movement had something to do with the pleasure and satisfaction he felt as he chewed away on the sapling.

He just had to tell her that he'd figured it all out.He released the sapling,tapped his tail on the ground to get the wyrm's attention and made a crude body movement of the common language forSATISFACTION. He then chewed at the sapling while he whined and squealed with pleasure.He repeated the procedure two more times and then lay still, his heart pounding with excitement,awaiting the wyrms next move.

Greta was pleased that the first display of the common language this new dragon understood was of SATISFACTION.Better to start his new life knowing that life as a dragon could be a pleasureable one then to start life knowing the meanings of DANGER,DEATH,HUNGER and FEAR.She repeated her performance of the two displays till she was satisfied he understood what VENOM and SATISFACTION meant.SHe then taught him his first sentence in the common language.She displayed the sentence VENOM SATISFACTION DANGER.On the DANGER display,she reared up on her hind legs and went into a defensive posture,as if the pools of venom lying on the ground could attack her.She was trying to tell the hatchling that though venom could be good,it could also be very very bad to a dragon.AFter her communication ,the sight of the hatchling chewing on a new sapling and trying to empty venom from a drained system told her he'd unterstood the gist of her message to him

The hunting method she wanted to teach the hatchling was one only the tribe of Wyrm practiced,and it required the venom glands be completely drained before the hunt.Ancient wyrms had discovered that dragon venom was composed of several components,and these components did not recharge at the same rates in a drained venom system.The initial component to refill was a combination tranquilizer,neurotoxin. The later component was a tissue destroying inflammatory fluid which caused pain and wild agonized movements in the prey animal.If the second component was kept out of dragon venom,hunting was a much less painful and bloody experience for both hunter and hunted.

Greta got the hatchlings attention with a tap of her tail.As he watched she lay down on her underside,and slowly crawled along the ground to a pile of horse manure lying at a corner of the field.She crawled into it and rolled in it till she smelled of horse.She than edged her way over to within 200 feet of the stand of trees under which the horses sheltered.She bunched up her neck,making it shorter, and patiently waited.

Since Greta had not come charging out of the forest roaring and tail swinging,the horses had ignored the squat natural feature which had wandered around the pasture.After a half hour,an inquistive mare wandered over to see if Greta was edible.When the mare got within range.Greta reared back her neck with lightening speed,extended her fangs ,hurled her head forward and simply grazed the flanks of the mare with her fangs before she lowered her neck and head back into the grass and went dormant again.

Her strike had been so swift and light that the other horses ignored it.They continued to relax under the trees.The mare ran off about 50 feet and then stopped.She hardly had time to register the strike on her body and quickly returned to grazing.The natural feature 50 feet away wasn't doing anything hostile and she felt no pain from the twin scratches on her flank.There was no danger.

When Greta had grazed her prey,she had quickly pumped what little venom had recharged in her glands through her fangs.Thus a thin film of tranquiizing/paralyzing venom was slowly making it;s way into the mare.About 10 minutes after the attack,the mare slowly sank down onto the ground,drifted off to sleep and peacefully died.

Greta slowly worked her way over to her kill.She huddled over it protectively and waited to see if the hatchling had learned anything about wyrm hunting methods.

The hatchling slid out of the trees.While he had waited for the wyrm to make her kill he had chewing away on various saplings,pumping what venom he could out of his glands.As any dragon could have told him,dragonhood and continuous venom production were a fact of life.The only time his body stopped producing venom would be when his heart stopped beating,

He coiled over to the wyrm,intent on a easy meal.The wyrm extended her wings protectively over her kill and sent a clear message by that action.If the hatchling wanted to eat,he was going to have to learn how to hunt on his own.

Greta had other concerns than merely satisfying her ravenous hunger.She knew that after this meal she would have to fly back to the caverns with a long awkward hatchling cradled in her legs,and she would need all the nourishment she could get for the long flight ahead

The hatchling slid towards the stand of trees where the horses lay.Once he was within 25 feet he stopped and waited for his first kill.He tensed up his neck,slowly extended his fangs and licked off some of the venom smeared on his lips.

A horse wandered over to inspect him.It was not a mare,it was not a colt.It was a Belgian draft horse and it towered above him as it looked down upon the dragon .The hatchling could have just struck quickly,he had all the muscles and glands and skeleton becessary to do the deed.What he also had was the mind of a teenage boy.That minds imagination was filled with images of massive hooves crashing down on his skull .Had the Belgian meant him harm,it would find him an easy target.The hatchling lay there frozen in terror,praying to any god which might be listening to send away that horse.The Belgian probably was thinking"another day,another dragon" and after a snort it trotted away.

While the hatchling was musing over the correct body display for the term TERROR a old nag came by to look him over.She was not quite as imposing as the draft horse.The hatchling waited till she was close and then struck at her.His attack was swift and delivered the venom. As a first time hunter he had misjudged a few points.He didn't pump his venom glands hard enough and slashed too deeply into the nag's hide.As a beginning hunter he still had to learn such technical details such as the length of his neck,how quickly his glands could recharge and effects of tired neck muscles on the speed of his strike.

The nag knew something was wrong.She bolted and fled to the other side of the pasture.The other horses also went on the defensive and galloped off.

The hatchling saw his meal finally halt a mile away and slowly sag to her knees.He looked back at the wyrm,but she was motioning her head in the direction the nag had taken.He was going to have to slide over to the end of the field if he wanted to be fed.

Greta got down to eating her kill.She had held off while the hatchling hunted ,but now that the horses had bolted and he had his own meal,it was time to look out for number one.Although wyrm dragonets are taught how to eat their meal in a unobtrusive way which won't frighten away a prey population,the hatchlings attack made such table manners unnecessary.Thus the night was rent with the sounds of crunching bone and squelching blood,accompanied by the whines and squeals of a contented wyrm.

Around midnight Greta had finished feasting.She took a chunk of flesh in her jaws and went over to see how the hatchling was doing. There was more bone than flesh on that nag,and the hatchling was chewing on a leg bone when she arrived.She noticed that his form was shorter and stockier than it had been an hour before.The muscles which held him in dragon form were rested and nourished and were slowly contracting and squeezing him back into his proper dragon shape.Whilst she nibbled on the chunk of flesh she had in her jaws, she displayed the common language display for FLIGHT.Once he pulled himself back together,he'd learn pretty quickly what she was trying to tell him.

As his final vertebrae snapped back into position,Greta straddled him and tucked in his wings and tail and head so that he was in a resting position.She didn't want that tail of his knocking her out of the sky again.She cradled him in her forelegs,got her wings beating a strong rythmic pulse and then pushed off the ground with a powerful thrust of her hind legs.She had to fly the length of the pasture to gain enough altitude to clear the trees,but once she was over the forest she rapidly gained altitude.With a graceful curve of her tail she banked her body and headed west back to the dragons of Histh.She could feel the beating of the hatchlings heart as he squirmed to get closer to the warmth of her body.She held him even tighter to herself and craned down her neck every once in a while to make certain that he was alright.His soft whines and squeals while he slept told her all was good in the world.

Cradled against her chest,the hatchling was slowly drifting off to sleep.His rational human thoughts slowly fragmented as he slept his dragon sleep,and his last thoughts were that his mother would protect him .His image of mother was that of a wyrm dragoness.

Greta and the hatchling had crashlanded near the community of Drumbo.Although the name wouldn't have meant anything to her, she knew that the tiny human community was near a big 4 lane road which she could use to get back to Cultus Creek and the caverns which lay nearby.Greta wasn.t going to rely on some built in dragon homing instinct to get back to the caverns.If she did possess such a built in navigational instinct it wouldn't have been of much use to her.It probably would have sent her winging back over the Atlantic Ocean to the Nederlands.She followed the same visual cues any aircraft pilot would use such as rivers and roads.Although when she came into Canada she had followed the Saint Lawrence River and up Lake Ontario and Lake Erie,once inland she took a note of all the human roads and direction they ran in.She was a Nederlands tourist in the New World,and had done more since her arrival in Houghton Township then stand and stare at the Sacred Statue of Histh.There had been nightly flocks of dragon tours conducted by the dragons of Histh for visiting dragonkind,and Greta had used these little night trips to scout out the territory.

If a motorist had pulled off to the side of the 401 and looked up into the nightsky,they might have beheld a unusual sight.They would have heard a steady pounding sound ,then they would heard silence.A winged dragon would then have glided into view,high in the sky.She was drifting along a westbound track parallel to the 401.Air currents carried her along to the west and her tail zigged and zagged to keep her pointing in the right direction.When she dropped down to a certain altitude she started vigourously beating her wings again till she reached the easterly wind current again.At that point she glided along for a mile or two before having to resume that beat.When she was carried along by the wind currents she moved across the sky at a good clip.but when she had to beat her wings to gain altitude her forward motion crawled along at about 1 or 2 miles per hour.

Hauling around the hatchling was putting a strain on Greta's wing muscles and tiring her out.Had she noticed that motorist standing open mouthed beside the 401,she would have been debating whether now was a good time for a rest and a nighttime snack.The problem with landing is that getting airborne again would be much more difficult.She could scent the waters of Lake Erie high up in the sky,so she decided to keep on flying.Below her she could see the headlights of cars rushing along the road.She followed the trail of lights spreading out into the distance.Being a night flyer,she didn't recognize where she was by the locatins of buildings,trees and hills,but by the patterns of the lights spread out below her.Off in the distance she could see the groupings of lights which ran in a north -south direction and corresponded to the human communities of Ingersoll,Salford and Tillsonburg.The road which connected these communities ran close by Cultus Creek.Once Greta was directly over this road she twisted her tail and swept to the south.

A few miles south of the 401/19 interchange,Greta encountered another dragon winging his way back to the caverns.He was a feathered dragon of Histh,and his thick stocky neck told her he had a bit of Nederlandse wyrm in him.They did not communicate,but flew side by side to Cultus Creek.

The feathered dragon was the travelling scholar of the tribe of Histh.His name was Jenthe.

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