Here is the first chapter of my soon to be released book, Dragons daughter.
I wanted to thank my wonderful husband. With out you pushing for this story to get done it would have gotten pushed back and even forgotten. I love you babe, through all of the ups and downs writing has brought us.
To my readers, please enjoy this story of a girl and a boy and how they have to learn to live and grow together to overcome some pretty scary odds.
Never mess with dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with catsup
Oh, he was hungry, so hungry.
His stomach gurgled at the thought of how hungry he was.
Circling the valley slowly, he was looking for something anything to eat.
The sun beat down on him, warming his scales and raising his internal temperature, increasing his desperation to find something to eat.
Then he heard it, a child’s whimper.
Children weren’t his favorite to eat. All the noise they made was off-putting.
Right now, though, his mouth watered at the thought of how tender and sweet a morsel the child would be, noisy or not.
He dipped a wing to bank into a landing near the child, his hunger making him clumsy causing him to trip on the landing. He was beyond caring about he appeared to his meal.
The damn villagers hadn’t brought him a girl in years. He hadn’t even thought about food in even longer, having fallen asleep for a brief nap and woken up groggy and starving.
He wasn’t even sure what century he was in anymore.
His scales had nearly petrified and his blood was so thick and sluggish in veins it had hurt as the sludge had moved thought his body.
Multiple small animals had made his body their home for what had looked like generations of the creatures. Smalls nests and bits of natural plants tucked here and there around the nooks and cranny’s of his sleeping body had formed.
He wasn’t even sure what had woken him up. He had simply become awake, all at once. Unable to move his petrified body, at first all he could do was blink, watching the tiny creatures scurrying here and there across him.
He had to slowly and painfully flex and move each small body part, regaining his hard-won self bit by ever starving bit.
By the time he could stand, legs shaky and weak, then walk moving about his cave unsteadily relearning how to balance and move, more than a month had passed.
Under normal circumstances that wouldn’t even have been a heartbeat of time to him. Nothing about what he was going thought was normal, every second felt like an eternity as if making up for all the years he had slept, in that one awful month.
At last, as he was able to flap and test his wings, scattering dirt and debris far and wide in his cave, he was able to take off, flying away from his home turned prison.
Soaring over the villages ignoring their shouts of fear and the pointing fingers, he briefly forgot about his hunger he felt intense satisfaction of being able to fly at last.
The wind rushing past his face whistling by as it buoyed him up, spreading his wings as wide as they would go feeling his joints creak pleasantly knowing they would keep him afloat in the currents of air.
He flew on, body stretched out as far as he could, pushing himself and working the last of the kinks out un the hunger came crashing back, he found this valley. Overgrown and nearly treeless.
Surly something, anything, with a heartbeat, would be better than this ever-present gnawing in his gut, the emptiness was driving him out of his mind.
If he wasn’t going insane from the hunger, then why was there a child tottering up to him, giggling?
Shaking his massive head to clear his vision, he blinked slowly, the child was still there, getting closer as it sucked a thumb, holding its other hand out to grasp at him.
Okay, Bob, you are hundreds of years old, you can do this, he encouraged himself. That is a tasty tender baby, open your mouth and eat it.
He tried, he gave it his best. Opening his mouth and bending his long green neck, the child was practically on his tongue he only needed to close his mouth and swallow.
The stupid thing wasn’t scared of him in the least, it just giggled more and ran under his head to hug his neck.
Bringing his head back up carefully, shutting his mouth with a loud snap no child in it to swallow. He eye this strange creature consideringly, his stomach still gurgling in protest.
“Shoo!” He hissed at, trying to gently remove it by backing up, wondering where the urchin’s parents were. “GO on, let go!”
Beginning to panic now, why couldn’t he eat it! Where were its parents? Oh, Goddess, the child smelled something awful.
Bob didn’t do dirty nappy’s and this child was a mess.
This child was much too young to care for its self, there must be a caretaker somewhere nearby, right?
He lifted his head a little higher finally dislodging the child’s grip on his neck. Scanning the valley in all directions and only seeing the tall grasses all around them waving gently with a breeze.
At the other end of the valley, he could just make out a change in the grass, a dimple where there wouldn’t naturally be one.
Hoping it was the child’s parents he scooped up the happily smelly thing as gently as his massive clawed hand could, not that this seemed to bother the baby at all who just sat down in his palm with a nasty sounding squish. Cooing up at him it babbled, talking nonsense as he hobbled on three legs awkwardly, spreading his wings out to assist with his balance. Doing his best to ignore his body’s protest over having not eaten and the weird way he was forced to walk, he headed as quickly as he could across the valley.
Nearing the spot in the grass he assumed were the stinky child’s parents he got a whiff of something, over the smell of the soiled child, something dead and rotting in sun.
His hunger came back in full force, roaring to life as his stomach cramped at the wondrous smell. He started to run, er hobble, as fast as he could towards the delicious carrion smell. Setting the child down a short ways away before rushing the last of distance to his find.
He found two bodies, already picked over by smaller scavengers but more than enough left for him to feast on, satiating his hunger, and before any logic could intervene he made short work of the dead man and woman he had found.
When he sat back his belly full, seeing there were only a few small clothing scraps remaining, did reality come crashing back on him. Turning his head to look at his dinners child around a tucked wing, terrified of what he would find. Traumatized children were not his specialty.
The child, a very young one, was fast asleep in the sun where he had left it, sucking on the neckline of its shirt having made itself a nest in the surrounding grasses.
Turning all the way around to stand over it, peewhuu, did the tiny thing stink, snorting to clear his nose, Bob the dragon made the biggest decision that history never would recover from.
Scooping the child into his palm and tucking it up to his chest protectively, he spread his huge wings ruffling all of his scales in a preflight stretch, he launched himself into the air, taking extra care to not accidentally grasp the child too hard as he gaining altitude.
Retracing his flight pattern back to the nearest village, he kept both hands cupped around the child he couldn’t eat, shielding it from the frigid winds and keeping it close to his chest keeping the little mite warm.
How was he going to manage this, he thought to himself, what do tiny people even eat? He pondered many things on his long flight back to civilization, searching for a suitably sized village.
The sun was starting to set and the sky getting dark as he, at last, near a decent sized village nestled in some mountains.
As he flew over he spotted a woman holding a child of similar age to the one he was holding.
Having a brilliant idea he banked making a tight turn heading back into the village. He landed awkwardly on his hind legs, unable to use his front legs, making a series of hops to slow his momentum down before flapping his wings and settling back on his haunches watching the villagers rush back and forth screaming.
The noise woke the child he was carrying with a wail, adding its considerably loud voice to the cacophony going on around the amused dragon, sitting quiet and still in the chaos.
First one villager then another stopped and turned watching the immense green dragon trying to soothe the child in his cupped hands. They could hear it wailing but were unable to see it. Curious, a group of suspicious villagers started edging towards him, craning their necks to get a better look at was making the noise.
“Oh great, now look at what you did,” Bob told them crossly, at a total loss for how to make the now drippy squishy and noisy little person in his hand stop.
He was seriously rethinking his decision to keep it.
“It can talk!” Somebody gasped.
“It has a baby,” Somebody else added, worried.
“Of course I can talk, would one of you kindly remove this from palm?” He asked the crowd, holding both of his cupped hands out to the crowd gathered around him, revealing the mess in the center of them.
At first, they all jumped back, it was funny for Bob to watch, yet their curiosity got the better of them as the child noticed other people looking at it and quit crying to stare back, gripping on of Bob’s fingers tightly.
One matron, braver than the rest, grabbed her skirts in one hand and marched up to the beast.
“Now Mr. Dragon, what do we have here?” She asked, peering around his long claws. “A baby! How did get a baby?”
“It was alone in the valley far to the south of here, its parents are dead.” He sighed regretfully. “Can you do something with it, it smells horrible, and now so do my claws.”
“Of course, the poor wee mite looks as if it’s been in the same nappy for too long,” She cooed to the babe, “Now if it will just let me pick you up sweeting-”
The woman, a veteran with children of all ages, was just about to pick the baby up when it let out an ear-piercing wail, complaining loudly and scooting back out of her reach.
“I see then,” She propped her hands on her hips, pursing her lips in thought.
Bob, startled by the child’s screaming bent his face down, looking at the red-faced child, tears streaming down its grubby face.
Seeing the dragons face so close, the baby let go of his hand and lunged for Bob’s snout, giving the village matron an opening to catch the child mid-flight and holding it tight to her chest back-peddled as fast as she could away from the terrifying beast who held it.
The child was shocked at first, taking a deep breath reaching its little hands out of the receeding dragon it was attached to, it let out an unnaturally loud wail. The sound bouncing off of the hills and mountains, echoing and growing with intensity before rushing back throughout the village with its intensity.
The villagers and Bob looked around, spooked, as a concussion of power exploded around them following the sound, causing dust and small rocks to jump into the air. Expanding from the child in a strong wind, rushing all through the village blowing doors and shutters open with a bang, flattening plants and crops, and lastly blowing leaves off of the trees before it died down.
Seeing the situation escalating, Bob bound forward, snatching the baby out of the shocked woman’s hands and pulling it to his chest, gently rocking and talking softly to the distressed baby. Instantly the child quieted down, babbling back at him, telling him all about it.
Unconsciously Bob smiled down at it, frightening the villagers watching them.
“Please, Mr. Dragon, don’t eat the baby!” Cried the matron, misunderstanding the smile for aggression, terrified of the dragon and the strange child it had brought into their midst.
“I’m not going to eat it. I do not know what to do with it.” He looked up, seeing the windblown villagers blinking back at him in shock, all clustered together and frightened.
Looking back down at the child, he realized he was going to have to keep it, after all, this village wouldn’t be able to handle its emerging powers.
With a deep sigh, he gave in the inevitable, accepting that what he now knew he was planning to do in the first place.
How does one take care of a child in the first place? How often do you feed it? Where would he keep it?
“Would you help me, ma’am?” He looked up at the matron, discarding his pride to ask for her help, widening his eyes hoping he looked more helpless.
“You’ve got to get that poor thing out of those filthy clothes first and into a tub right now.” She answered him curtly, crossing her arms over her ample chest. “I’m sure that poor mite has a horrible case of rash on its behind as well.”
Sighing heavily he looked to the crowd, addressing the villagers, “Would one of you please retrieve a warm tub of water for me and this child?”
This was going to be a long evening, he groaned to himself if the blank stares he was receiving were any indication.
“Ya heard the beast, fetch him the half barrel,” The matron turned, clapping her hands sharply to get their attention. “Grab some clean rags and a fresh nappy, that poor baby needs warm not hot water and some goose grease for its bottom.”
Snapping out of their trance several of the villagers ran to get the supplies the matron was asking for, she was a well-respected member of their town and few were brave enough to argue with her.
“Kaber, bring some rolls and some milk, I dare say the poor wee mite looks half-starved,” She singled a girl out of the crowd, “We all know a baby needs let’s move people.”
Gratefully Bob carefully relaxed his hands in front him, giving himself room to lay down on his belly, putting him closer to head height and hoping he looked less intimidating to the villagers scurrying around bringing back the supplies they were asked for.
“Alright now Mr. Dragon, you’re going to have to get your baby out of those mucky things.” She turned back to face Bob, gesturing at the wide-eyed child.
“Bob, my name is Bob.” He told her, looking down at the drippy stinky mushy child in his hand, trying to figure out how to remove the cloth it was wearing without damaging the child.
Looking up at him, the child’s bottom lip began to tremble as the dragon was setting it on the ground between his hands, staring up at him with tears pooling in its eyes as if Bob had betrayed its tiny trust.
“Oh no. None of that little one.” He talked to it while looking down at it from different angles, at a loss for how he was going to proceed. “We need to get you out of…whatever this is you’re wearing.”
A half-barrel arrived, swiftly filled with steaming water while someone else handed the amused Matron clean rags and nappy as well as a new gown for the child to wear after it got clean.
“I believe you’re going to have to rip it, carefully with your claw tip,” She told him, hiding a smile behind her hand.
Releasing yet another deep sigh, his breath ruffling many villagers’ hair with its passing, he carefully placed the tip of his first claw in the neckline of the baby’s shirt and pulled down, splitting the dirty garment in half down the baby’s back.
Catching on to what the dragon was doing, the child excitedly pulled the soiled rags off of itself and standing up pushed to awful nappy done its legs leaving an ugly brown trail down from its backside to its ankles.
Seeing the steaming water the child ran, tottering on unsteady chubby little legs, for the bath, babbling about it the whole.
Throwing its little leg over the edge of the wooden lip, it struggled a little before overbalancing with a splash and sitting up in the waist-high water splashing happily and giggling.
Happily, the child complied with the Matron as she soaped up a rag and got to work cleaning the tyke up, revealing six teeth and a curly shock of red hair, a bright pair of green eyes kept checking to make sure the dragon hadn’t moved but otherwise was content to get clean, not even protesting when the water had to be changed before getting all rinsed off.
Wrapped a soft sheet of homespun lambs wool she grabbed at the rolls brought to her while the matron swaddled her in a fresh nappy, talking to the woman between bites, letting her put a clean gown on and holding the clean baby in her lap.
“Congratulations, Mr. Dr-er Bob, you have a healthy baby girl, what do plan on naming her?” She asked him, squeezing the child one more time before letting her wriggle off of her lap and toddle back to the dragon.
“That’s not possible,” He muttered under his breath, scratching his chin in thought. “I will name her Rue, like the herb. It has such a pretty flower.”
Amused he watched her sit with her back against his chest, tucked right in between his forearms. A child with so much power and one that’s a girl, unheard of.
Magic was only ever-present in men, it developed usually in a man’s 25th year, stopping the aging process, permanently. Some wizards theorize this is because it takes so long to learn how to control and master their powers. A long and drawn-out process.
It was exceptionally rare for a wizard to be discovered to start with, usually, there would be some clue beforehand, like it ran in the family.
You could only kill a wizard by beheading it or ripping his heart out and burning it, otherwise, he will just heal himself.
But a baby? And a girl showing so much potential for magic?
Strange and strangers, he thought, watching the girl in question stroking his scales and blinking sleepily, her roll clenched in her other hands falling to her lap as she nodded off. What a world he had woken up too.
“My names Maude, Ol’Maude around these parts I suppose.” She stood up with a grimace, her bones not as kind to her as they use to be. “Do you know how to change a nappy? Or how to take care of a child?”
“Hmm,” He hummed, noncommittal, worried about where this conversation was going.
He crossed his forelegs, blocking off access to the child.
“You can’t just feed children rocks, Bob,” She crossed her arms, looking down her nose at him.
“What would you have me do, Ma’am?” He asked her, narrowing his eyes at her, irritated.
“How about we make a deal,” She proposed, grinning. “I will personally go to your…cave?”
“Yes, I prefer caves to live in,” He nodded, waiting to see where this was going, his residence was far away and not fit for a small child like Rue.
“You’re going to have to move closer to the village, I’m an old woman and my knees can’t handle such a climb,” She demanded, worried how the child would far in such an uninhabitable environment.
“Right, so now I have to relocate to suit you,” He paraphrased, irked.
“Look it here, Sir, that is a human child you have there and they are a lot more helpless than a hatchling, she’s going to need all day and all night care, do you think you can manage with those great big daggers you call hands?” She shouted at him, getting heated with concern for the girl.
“What about me? I need to hunt, what am I supposed to eat around here without scaring either the wildlife away or the livestock?” He asked her.
“You can fly a great distance off to hunt and we will provide you with two cows a month in exchange for you not bothering us or any other village around here. I will travel to your home and stay with you until the girl is house trained, helping you feed her and take care of her until she can help you herself.” She offered, getting it all out at once.
“Two cows you say?” He pretended to consider it, knowing he needed her help in a dire way. “Not scrawny or sickly cows mind you, healthy and plump.”
“Yea that’s right, nobody here is going to argue with you over their safety when it comes down to this,” She told him looking over her shoulder at the gathered villagers.
He felt a brief pang in his chest, feeling their fear of him like a lonely knife in the heart. Looking down at the sweet girl sleeping against him, content and safe, he felt a strange warmth blossom deep inside of him.
He didn’t know it since he couldn’t see it, but all the assembled villagers witness that night when the fierce dragon fell in love. He glowed a gentle green hue as if lit from the inside while he stared down at his daughter.
“For the bargain price of a free meal for life and child care, I expect to see you first thing in the morning, Mistress Maude,” He stood up, carefully catching the girl in his hand, cradling her against him safely. “Good night, until the marrow.”
With two great beats of his wings, he flew off, having seen a cave that looked big enough to fit him and close enough for Maude to find them easily.
For the first time, he would allow the villagers to have access to him, he only hoped it come back to bite him in the backside.
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