A Dragon's Egg

A Dragon's Egg, fantastical tales
A Dragon's Tale

 An older man once lived on a lovely estate in the highlands of Scotland with his grandchildren. During the summer break, the twins spent their days exploring the estate except for the foothills, which their grandfather considered unsafe for the young siblings. The pair examined every inch of their surroundings that summer.

The twins headed out for their morning trek after a restless night due to an unusually violent thunderstorm, which Grandfather jokingly attributed to dragons frolicking in the highlands.

Cinda was the first to catch sight of smoke rising in the nearby hills. "Peter, there in the crook of Drake's Crossing, do you see the smoke?" asked his twin.

Knowing they could not venture outside the estate's grounds, the two discussed whether a trek to the crossing would be advisable. Deciding the smoke might represent a danger to the valley, they persuaded each other that investigating it was paramount and then rushed up the trail.

"You know we shall catch the devil if we are caught," said Peter.

"Not to worry. Grandfather will understand when we tell him our concern about the smoke. He may even reward us with puddings for our bravery," Cinda replied.

They noticed smoke rising from a small cave behind some boulders when they reached the crossing. "Well, at least it's not a wildfire," said Peter.

"Do you think it could be some vagabond's camp? If so, we should use the utmost care since they are known to kidnap children and sell them to the circus," Cinder proclaimed.

Peter crept to the cave's mouth and slowly peeked around its edge. Before them lay a pile of stones arranged in a circle.

"It's nothing," said Peter. "Whoever made this fire is long gone as we should be before grandfather notices we are missing." 

As they turned to leave, a faint cry came from the stones. "Do you think it's one of the kidnapped children abandoned by the vagabond?" asked Cinda.

Cautiously, they crossed the distance to the stones, and to their astonishment, a baby dragon sat among its broken shell. Peter cautiously approached the creature while Cinda remained behind.

"Where is your mother?" asked Peter. The animal toppled out of its stone nest and clumsily crawled toward the boy.

"I read somewhere that once she has laid her egg and warmed the rock nest, the female dragon leaves her offspring to fend for itself. I believe this one is also a female from her skin coloring," said Cinda.

"How cruel!" replied Peter. The baby crawled into Peter's outstretched arms, curled up into a ball, and dozed off. Peter presented the baby to his sister, who cautiously placed the beast in her lap.

"We can't leave the poor dear here to fend for itself. Let's take it back and hide it in the barn," said the girl.

"Grandfather must not find out about it, or we shall both pay the dickens for leaving the estate," said Peter.

Once they returned to the estate, they tucked the baby safely away and returned to the house to gather meat scraps from the larder. As they entered the kitchen, the cook told them their grandfather requested their presence in his study. Both swallowed hard upon hearing the request. The siblings quickly washed their hands and headed for the study without speaking.

"Children, please come in and have some tea," said the elderly man. "I'm sorry I've been preoccupied with my work and have neglected your teachings. We should travel to the seaside today for a lesson on sea creatures," said their grandfather.

"Oh, that would be wonderful! Unfortunately, Cinda and I are cataloging all the different beetles in the estate's gardens today," said Peter.

"What a great task! I look forward to seeing your report when it is complete," Grandfather replied.

"We should be getting back to the gardens now. Thank you ever so much for the tea," said Cinda. The two hugged their grandfather and then dashed off to finish their mission without further delay.

Returning to the barn with a parcel of meat scraps, the twins found the dragon cautiously exploring its surroundings. As the children approached, the animal exploded into an excited frenzy and tumbled toward the barn door.

"Here you go, feast while you can. I don't know when we'll be able to gather more meat for you," said Cinda.

Immediately, the creature gulped down the entire pile of scraps and, seeing that there was no more, began to whine.

"Hush, we don't want Grandfather to know you're here," said Peter. Angered by the lack of food, the baby began to puff small balls of fire from her mouth.

"Cinda, she will burn the barn down, and then we're done for. We better take him to the forest and let him fend for himself," said Peter.

They placed the baby in a tree hollow and returned to the estate. "We shall check on him in a day or two," said Peter.

The next day was uneventful as the children continued cataloging the estate's insects. The following morning, the twins headed to check on their dragon. To their surprise, the hollow tree was empty, and there was no sign of the wee beastie.

"Perhaps she has wandered off to find food closer to the foothills," said Cinda.

While walking back to the house, the children heard rumblings from the forest. "I wonder what could be making such a racket this early. Perhaps the woodcutters are felling trees again," said Peter.

Several days later, the children overheard the kitchen staff discussing several sheep deaths on a nearby farm. The cook mentioned something about the poor creatures being clawed open. During Sunday tea in the garden, the children asked their grandfather what could be causing the sheep killings.

"Well, if I were to venture a guess, it's a dragon, but we all know dragons don't exist anymore," said Grandfather. Then, promptly chuckling, he told the children it was likely a big cat.

The twins asked to be excused and went to the library to check on local beetles. Once inside, Cinda cried about the sheep’s death being their fault.

"We don't know if it's our dragon. Grandfather said it was most likely a wild animal that killed it," said Peter.

"We must go find her to be sure," cried Cinda. The twins returned to the garden to ask their grandfather permission to visit the woods. As they turned to go, a dark shadow flew overhead and disappeared beyond the woods.

"Children get into the house immediately," ordered grandfather. "Tell the staff to go to the cellar as quickly as possible. I have work to do." commanded the old man.

Grandfather headed to the barn to gather his tools. While searching the barn, Grandfather noticed bits of broken shells. Upon closer examination, he realized these were no chicken eggs but those of a dragon. "So! There was a dragon at Drake's Crossing during the storm, and the children brought it here," said the man. Moments later, a terrific explosion came from the house.

Racing from the barn, he was met with the horrific sight of dragon fire engulfing the main house. As the beast turned to leave, its tail scattered the burning building like matchsticks, ensuring no one could survive. Taking flight, the enormous beast flew directly toward the barn. As it passed, a blast of air from its wings knocked Grandfather to the ground and rendered him unconscious.

The man awoke to the smell of burnt wood and the sight of utter destruction. Carefully picking his way through the embers, Grandfather located the object of his search. "I see the spell of protection has preserved my codex. Perhaps there is a way to fix this after all," said Grandfather. Unbeknown to his grandchildren, the older man was well-versed in the ways of magical creatures. He was a practiced sorcerer who had spent his youth caring for dragons in the Northern mountains.

Returning to the barn, Grandfather cleared an area to perform the spell he hoped would undo the damage caused by the dragon. Closing his eyes, the sorcerer recited the incantation and waited. Within a moment, a swirling vortex of blue appeared before him.

"Now, to set things straight," said Grandfather. Stepping through the circle, he stood at the wood's edge. Within a moment, the children appeared around the corner of the barn carrying the baby dragon.

"We need to find a place where it can find food and grow strong," said Peter.

"Not too much. You know that the more you feed, the faster it will grow," Cinda replied.

"A few wood mice and beetles won't make him a giant overnight. Besides, she’s tiny, and the only animals around here are farmer McGuffin's sheep. They are much too big for her to eat," said Peter.

Grandfather stepped behind a tree to conceal himself while the twins passed. He followed the pair until they reached the hollow tree, where they left the baby to fend for herself.

"Hello, little one. Time to get you something to eat," said the old man. Carefully, he picked up the dragon and returned her to the estate, where she was placed in a stall and given half a salted ham and a pail of water.

"That should swell your belly for the night. In the morning, the children will take care of you properly," said the man. Then he stepped through the vortex and vanished.

The children were finishing breakfast when their grandfather appeared and asked them about their plans for the day. "We wanted to finish our beetle field work today if that is acceptable to you," Cinda said.

"Might I ask for your assistance retrieving some equipment from the barn before you begin? It will only take a moment," asked the guardian.

"Of course. We're not in a hurry," stated Peter.

The three walked out to the barn, and as they approached, they heard a crying sound coming from inside. "I wonder what on earth that is?" said Grandfather.

The twins looked at each other in panic but said nothing. Inside the barn, they approached the stall. "My, what have we here? A wee beastie to care for" said their grandfather.

"Peter, would you run to the kitchen and ask the cook for a salted ham? Cinda, I need you to fetch a pail of clear water from the well for our little friend here," said the old man.

After the animal ate and drank, it crawled into Cinda's lap and immediately fell asleep.

"Grandfather, aren't you upset that a dragon is in your barn?" asked Peter. Their grandfather explained that caring for a dragon was an incredible honor and that the children should give the baby as much love as they do to each other.

The dragon grew as tall as the top of the house in only three days. Each day was filled with games and tender, loving care. Even the house staff enjoyed slipping treats of roasted meats and pudding to the beast, who responded with coos and purrs. All was well, and disaster had been averted. Time, however, has a habit of getting its due.

The air grew tired and cold as summer was replaced with Autumn. The children would soon return to the village for school, and the dragon would leave for the resting grounds in the nearby mountains. The cheerfulness surrounding the house seemed to fade, leaving a feeling of dread and sorrow.

During the twins' final week on the estate, word came from the surrounding farms that a shadow beast was attacking animals and farmsteads alike. Several survivors claim that the beast resembled a giant winged dragon. It was completely black with glowing white eyes.

Upon hearing the news, Grandfather sought out the dragon. "Is this the shadow of the other, your copy from before?" asked the sorcerer. The dragon replied, "Yes."

Hurrying to the house, Grandfather instructed the children to pack their belongings quickly as little time remained before they would be in grave danger. Meeting in the foyer, the twins waited for the coachman to arrive.

Suddenly, a blast of searing heat enveloped the building. Within seconds, it collapsed into ashes. From above, the children’s dragon witnessed the shadow's attack but could not do anything to stop it.

In an instant, everything she loved was gone. Gripped by anger, the dragon released a vortex of flame that surrounded the shadow but to no effect.

The two beasts battled back and forth, but in the end, neither could affect its opposite. So, the shadow beast faded away, leaving the dragon alone and heartbroken.

Dragon-kind closely guards a secret: the power to travel through time. So, choosing to undo a wrong, the dragon winked out of time and reappeared in the cave where the children found her.

The egg lay on the ground, rocking as cracks appeared on its surface. The dragon watched as the shell began to break. In the distance, she saw the twins climbing up to investigate the strange smoke. For the love of her children, she would end the circle and save their lives.

Taking a deep breath, the dragon released a breath of intense heat that turned the egg to dust. As the adult dragon faded, she whispered, "For you, my loves," and was gone.

"I am sure it is a vagabond waiting to kidnap us," said Cinda as they reached the cave.

Peter peered around the entrance edge and, seeing only a pile of ashes, announced, "What a waste of time; it's just smoking ashes."

The two turned and descended to the estate, where lunch awaited them.

Later in their grandfather's study, he asked if they had found anything unusual during their morning walk. "No, nothing to speak of," replied Peter.

"That is unfortunate; better luck tomorrow," said the old man. Then, the twins returned to the garden to complete their project.

"I believe time has taken its due, and all things are as they should be," said the sorcerer as he closed his codex and sealed it with a spell.

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