Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #2288572
A Baby Dragon's Quest to Find His Mother
"Run Flame, run as fast as you can. Hide behind a rock or in a cave. The dragon slayers are coming. Hurry Flame, hurry."
"Mother, where will you go? Don't leave me, I'm scared."
"We can't stay together; they will find us. Please do as I say, don't tarry. I will find you when this is all over, I promise."
Flames erupted everywhere and the smokey filled air created chaos. Shaking, Flame did as his mother directed and ran through the forest where he knew a small cave existed. Crawling inside, he curled into a ball trying to shut out the screams and cries of his clan. Afternoon passed into night and fearing to move, Flame fell into a sound sleep.
Waking to the morning sunlight filtering into the dark, damp cave, Flame opened his eyes and remembered last night's terror. Rumbling in his stomach told him that he was hungry but utmost on his mind was finding his mother again. Slowly creeping out of the cave he moved along toward his home, ever watchful that the dragon slayers were not still lurking about. Step by step, heart beating in his chest, he was finally at the edge of the woods and gazed at the foothill of the mountains.. He gasped at the site before him, could anyone have survived this?
"Oh Mother, are you OK? How will I ever find you." A huge lump formed in his throat, he lay on the ground not knowing what to do next; none of his family or friends could be found; fire surrounded everything. A thought entered his mind. maybe they all fled to the woods, I will search until I find them.
Day after day the lonely little dragon scoured the woods in search of his clan but all he saw were squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and other forest creatures. He slept below the towering dark pine trees; the needles below becoming a soft bed. Sometimes the howling of a wolf or swift movement from a deer frightened him and he ran exhausted until he could run no more. Sheer determination kept him going. Food wasn't a problem, he could find leaves and grass to eat everywhere and often came to streams or ponds where he could quench his thirst.
One evening, right before twilight, Flame jumped when he heard a voice. "What is a poor little thing like you doing out here in this big forest? Whoooo are you?"
Looking above him, there in the tree sat an old owl. Shaken by the first voice he had heard in such a long time he replied. "I, I'm, well my name is Flame."
"Flame, is it," said the Owl, looking at him with big eyes. "Tell me Flame, why are you here, don't dragons usually live in the mountains?"
"They do, but I'm afraid to go there for the dragon slayers killed my clan. I'm trying to find my mother."
"Ah, the dragon slayers. Now there you have a group with nothing more to do than hunt dragons. They are a worthless bunch if you ask me. Listen Flame, take this advice from the Wisest Old Owl I know; me. If any of your clan survived, they will not be in the woods, they will return to what they know; the mountains. That is where you need to go. Now off with you, I will send word to my family to be on the lookout for anyone from your clan. Oh, and listen Flame! You are a dragon, start acting like one. Why are you creeping along the forest floor when you can fly?"
"Umm, my mother didn't really teach me yet. I only hatched a short time ago."
"Oh my, I see this is going to be a challenge isn't it. Listen Flame, it appears that I will have to teach you, won't I?"
"You could do that, teach me to fly?"
I could and I will but you have to promise that you will control that fire inside you. I am old but I don't want to spend my last days going up in flame. Aha, I see why you were given that name. Amused at his own joke, the Old Owl hooted and flapped his wings."
"You don't have to worry sir; babies can't breathe fire until they can fly."
"Well, good to know. I'll remember to get out of the way once you can."
The Old Owl spent weeks scooping up little Flame, then letting him go from the air. Flame didn't complain but he secretly thought his mother could have done a better job. He had been bounced off of tree limbs, fallen into rocks, and generally bruised in every part of his little body. Eventually he got the flapping of wings correct and was able to direct his flight into a softer landing.
Feeling proud that he had taught a dragon to fly in his old age, one day the Old Owl said. "I think you're ready for the big test now, Flame. I must leave you. Take care and remember everything I showed you. Tomorrow, my friend, the Bald Eagle, will take you to the mountains and drop you. I know you are ready; just flap your wings and you will soar."
"But do I have to? I don't want to leave you, you're the only friend I have."
"Yes, little one, you have to. There will be many other friends along the way and someday you will be a great fire breathing dragon like your mother."
Soaring through the sky under the claws of the great Eagle, Flame felt free. Who knew that flying would give one such a sense of the vastness and beauty below. The forest looked so small; rivers seemed only a ribbon of blue, and the great mountain peaks with their snowy tips like little ice sickles in the sky.
"It's time Flame, once we are over this mountain, I am dropping you. Keep your head and flap your wings just like the Wise Old Owl taught you and you will be OK. Good luck son."
Scared to death, Flame felt himself departing from the comfort of the bird above him and descending slowly downward.
"Keep your head, keep your head," he thought. "Flap your wings, that's it, I'm flapping. Oh, I'm flying, I'm flying. "
Once he got the hang of it he dove downward and then spiraled upward again and again. Tiring, he looked for a place to land and spotted some level ground about midway up the mountain. Diving slowly, he approached and landed somewhat roughly but alive.
Flame had been through weeks of hard knock training, made friends with an old owl and a bald eagle and now had accomplished the art of flying. He felt proud but still had deep feelings of sorrow and vowed that he would continue his quest until he found others of his kind. Now, it was time to find an uninhabited cave to claim as his own and provide shelter. He finally found one that was suitable but felt a sneeze come on.
"Ah chew, ah chew." Fire burst from his mouth, and he realized that he was now a full-fledged fire breathing dragon. Using his newfound talent, he warmed the inside of the cave and snuggled in for the night. Morning sunlight filtered into his eyelids, waking Flame. Chilled, he heated up the room again and then used his flame to lkeep it lit in order to find food.
"Oh boy, moss," he cried. "I can eat this and don't have to go searching for something else."
Flame decided to explore the cave a little further, there may be other hidden goodies to eat if he were lucky. Using fire to guide his way, he slowly walked farther back in the cave realizing it was much larger than he first expected. Many bats hung from the ceiling, but they didn't bother Flame, nor was he concerned with their presence. Stalactites and Stalagmites hung from the top of the cave creating a ghostly atmosphere.
Suddenly Flame came to a tunnel that sloped slightly downward. Maybe I should turn around, he thought. Curiosity got the better of him and he continued onward. He came to the end of the tunnel, and it was closed by a transparent milky stone. Faint light shown through the stone so Fame figured it must lead out of the cave to the outside world. The aroma of flowers assaulted his nostrils and he tried to stop the sneeze but couldn't.
Oh no! What have I done? The sneeze set off the flame within and melted the translucent stone in front of him. A series of high-pitched screams could be heard, and strange creatures ran to find a hiding place behind leaves, trees, and tiny little homes. Flame could see sets of eyes peering at him from behind those barriers. The creatures were very small, about as big as Flame's toenail. They were green and their faces shaped like frogs, but they had the bodies of humans and wore clothing. The scene before him was picturesque with multicolored flowers growing everywhere, green grass, and fields full of sprouting grain.
"I'm very sorry," shouted Flame. "I didn't mean to do any damage; I'm looking for my mother."
The creatures stood up, little hands holding their ears. One spoke out. "Please, kind sir, you are hurting our ears with your loud voice. We are the Weemug people and have no grievance with you, please don't harm us."
Whispering, Flame said in his quietest voice. "I came through the tunnel and when I sneezed the opening broke and now, I have come to your village. I was only looking for my mother. Please don't be mad at me, I would never hurt any of you."
A frogman with a long beard walked forward. "We are friendly but isolated people; this is our village; we are farmers. Don't tell anyone else you found us here; it will mean trouble."
"I won't, I promise," whispered Flame; and with that a tear dripped out of his eye and ran down the hill toward the village.
"Stop, Stop, crying. You are going to flood our village," cried the Weemug, jumping out of the way.
A small lake formed just before it crept into the center of town.
"Listen, Flame, I ask that you return back to your cave, we will send our fairy friends to help you find your mother. "I wish you well and have one favor to ask of you."
"Anything," Flame nodded.
"Will you take rocks and board the hole that you made in the opening back there so that no one else will discover us. Then, wait back at the entrance and we will have the fairies contact you."
Flame turned and went back into the cave hoping that they would send the fairies as they promised. Day after lonely day went by and Flame waited patiently for news. Periodically the fairies would report back to him but as of yet, they had not found his mother. The bald eagle stopped by now and again to bring him a treat and once the Wise Old Owl even made the trip.
"Gettin' old to fly way up here in the mountains," he quivered, "keep the faith son, keep the faith."
Then he was off and Flame was sad for he knew it might be the last time he would see his old friend.
Finally, one clear day the fairies came to see him. "We have found her Flame, we have found your mother, and she cannot wait to see you. We will take you there as she was injured and still cannot fly so high."
Flame shed tears of joy and followed the fairies to a small den in the base of the mountain where his mother was waiting.
"Oh Flame, I prayed so hard that I would see you again, and here you are. Look at you, all grown up and flying."
That night Flame slept peacefully next to his mother and dreamt of all the friends who had helped him along the way. There were a lot of lonely nights and times he had lost hope but now he was safe and happy back in his mother's arms. He couldn't wait to tell her about all the friends he had made but the Weemug village would remain a secret.
1st Place Winner and Merit Badge from Creature Features.