Hey, it’s my FIFTH story for the game, in which thirteen year old Vivica and her friend rescue a newborn dragon.
This one pretty much wrote itself, all I had to do was try to keep up.
“Hey Viv! Look over here!” The enthusiastic thirteen-year-old girl waved at her friend, sunlight glinting in her eyes.
“Coming, Elena!” Vivica spun in her heel to see what her crimson-haired friend had found.
“This big hole - this is the weirdest thing! Why’d they leave a big hole right here in front of a castle?”
“Like a moat, maybe?”
"Don’t be silly, ya doof. A moat is like a lake, goes all around the castle. This is just a big hole, goes down to the center of the earth!"
The two teenage girls stood at the edge of the crater and peered down. Occasional wafts of sulphurous vapor made their eyes water. Elena, the more adventurous of the pair, kneeled down to balance herself as she peered in.
“Looks like a ledge down there, you see it? Wow, I wonder if you could…”
“You don’t wanna go down there, ya big yooby. You’d never get out.”
“You’re a yooby!” Elena said, laughing.
“No, you!” Vivica spread her arms wide and cocked her hip. “My name is Elena and I’m a total yooby!” she shouted. A workman on the Stronghold castle looked down and waved from his scaffolding.
“See, he thinks you’re a yooby too,” Vivica said. “That proves it.”
“I think you’re both a couple of yoobies, girls,” an older man said as he walked up,“Especially if you fall in!”
“We’re not gonna fall in, Lord Gray,” Vivica said solemnly, “we’re careful.” She took a cautious step back from the ledge.
“Why’s there a big hole here anyway, Daddy?” Elena asked.
“When we chose this site for the Stronghold,” Lord Gray said, “this location worked for several reasons. It’s protected by the mountains, it’s a good view of the valley and the Corel river, and it’s heated by this thermal vent. Deep down that hole, way down, you’ll find lava. That heat keeps the mines working, the buildings warm.”
“Lava?” Vivica asked,“you built a castle on a volcano?!”
"Not a volcano, a thermal vent. A fissure. It lets heat out, so a volcano won’t erupt!"
The older man briefly stood at the edge of the pit between the two girls, each considering what lay at the depths of the pit.
“Dragon alert!” The cry rang out from a high tower on the castle. Soldiers streamed out of the Stronghold armed with crossbows, and two manned a catapult aimed toward a cliff face.
“There’s dragons?” Vivica asked, her eyes wide as saucers.
“You girls have only been here a few days, you’re still learning the area. Yes, there’s a big dragon that circles the Stronghold about once a week. It’s like the Titans the come from the southeast, but this one seems to stay around the mountains.”
“Has it ever attacked?” Elena asked. She wondered what good crossbows would do against a fully grown dragon.
"No, thankfully, it just circles around and flies away again. But we don’t want to take chances."
The girls watched with excited eyes as the large, blue dragon winged slowly down from the peaks and flew slowly around the parapets. All crossbows were aimed on the animal, but never had to fire.
Later that evening, Elena was sitting up in bed unable to sleep, gazing out of the window at the mountain peaks.
“Psst! Yooby! You awake?” Vivica called from the door. Elena padded over and quietly opened the door for her friend.
“Think that dragon’s gonna come back?” she asked. The two girls knelt on the bed side by side, peering through the open window.
“Dunno. I hope so? Dragons are beautiful.”
“Dragons are dangerous. They eat people.”
“They only eat yoobies.”
“You’re a yooby.”
“Look where they’re building that watchtower,” Elena said, pointing. “Daddy says it’s going to be as high as the castle! But it’s on that tiny ledge, out over the mountain. They build it too high, it’s gonna just snap off!”
“I’m not gonna go up it then,” Vivica said, “but you know why they put it there, right?”
"Get rid of yoobies."
Elena punched her friend in the arm, then kissed the spot and rubbed it.
“So the cook was telling me,” Vivica said after a pause, “that there’s a secret passage under the castle to get to the pit, way deep. They dug it out to put the first heat lines in.”
“You think we should go investigate?” Elena’s eyes shone at the idea of exploring forbidden areas.
“You said you saw a ledge…” Vivica said, leaving the sentence hanging.
“I’ll grab a light stone. You think you can find the kitchen tunnel?”
“I have my Mama’s eyes, Elena. I could see in the dark if I had to.”
“Yoobies can see in the dark.”
"Well see? You’re fine then. Follow me!"
The two girls snuck out of Elena’s bedroom and down a spiral staircase, making their way through the sleepy castle to the kitchen. A guard dozing by the banquet hall stirred, but never opened his eyes. Elena cupped her hand over her stone to shield the light, until they made it to the kitchen.
Vivica slowly pushed the door open and crept inside, and her crimson-haired friend followed.
“So much food! You could feed an army from this!” she whispered.
“Well we do, every day.”
"How much dried pork can one person eat, though. I mean really. Just once I want a salad, you know?"
They snuck through the kitchen towards the oven, Vivica eyeing the walls. “There,” she whispered, “that door…wow it’s made of iron. Help me pull…” Together the two girls tugged on the door handle, and the iron slab creaked and swung aside.
“There, look! The back of the oven, and… Oooh a big tunnel!”
“Oh it smells like old farts,” Elena said, wrinkling her nose.
“Yooby farts,” Vivica giggled.
They made their way down the tunnel, more and more aware of the sulphurous smell and the heat.
“How far down from the opening do you think we are?”
“Dunno but I hope we find it soon…”
“I think I see light,” Elena said after a moment. She crept further along until the tunnel opened wide.
“Hey, we’re there. Look, up there is the opening. Moonlight! Oh, we must be on that ledge.”
“Huh, that’s why the kitchen don’t need chimneys, and they’re so far deep.”
"Yeah, huh. The pit is like one big chimney. And… Hey look!"
Elena nudged her friend. “There, see? What’s that?”
“Big blue rock?”
"Huge blue rock! Oh I gotta know…"
The two girls crept slowly around the ledge to come closer to the rock. It was about two feet high, oval, resting on a nest of stones and dried branches, sitting about six feet from the edge.
“You know what this looks like…” Vivica said with big eyes.
“Don’t say it’s a dragons egg, Viv.”
“It’s a dragons egg,Viv,” the dark haired girl said, and let out a peal of laughter.
“Shhhh!! They’ll hear us!”
"Nobody’s gonna hear us. We’re miles from anyone and the whole castle’s asleep."
The girls crept closer to the blue object, nestled on it’s pile of rocks and branches. It was definitely egg-shaped, and blue with visible veins of white.
“Hey look there,” Elena said, "shells!"
Near the blue egg were a bunch of scattered shell fragments, some as big as a shield. Elena picked one up and carefully examined it.
“Look, it’s all smooth on the inside. And sharp edges, wow!”
“Dragon hatchery. In a volcanic fissure. Oh! It’s a, oh what’s the word. It’s a weyr! And we built a Stronghold right on top of a dragon weyr. No wonder it’s been circling!”
“Hey…if these are hatched eggs, where are the babies? Baby dragons?”
“Oh, ermm… Maybe they left? Flew away?”
“Then why’s this one still here?”
“Didn’t hatch? Maybe it’s dead.”
"You touch it."
Vivica reached out and laid a hand on the shell. “It’s warm. It’s… Ohh I feel something.”
“Did it move?”
“Not like touch feel, like… sense feel. In here.” She pointed to a spot between her eyes. She got a faraway look in her eyes, and Elena recognized that something important had just happened.
“Is it still alive?” she asked.
The two girls sat and considered the blue egg for a moment, and Vivica did not move her hand from the shell.
“My feet are stiff,” Elena said finally, “I need to move around.”
“Okay. I’ll be here. I’m… I’m supposed to do this.” Vivica sat down again, one hand still touching egg.
“I’m…” Elena started to say.
"You go back up, El. I’ll be alright. I’m gonna sit here for a bit."
Elena walked a few paces up the tunnel, then turned to look. Her friend Vivica, who she’d known since they were children - wild, impetuous, free-spirited Viv - was sitting very still, one hand resting on a large blue egg.
“I love you, yooby,” Vivica said without looking up.
The next day, Lord Gray expressed concern when his daughter’s best friend missed communal breakfast.
“She was probably up late studying,” Elena said, somewhat apologetically.
“If you see her before noon, tell her we were worried about her, okay?”
Elena was walking to a newly-built training center when she saw Vivica ahead, and dashed forward to greet her. She called out as she got closer, and Vivica turned slowly to greet her friend. She had large bags under her eyes, and a pale complexion. She had a fragment of one of the other shell pieces strung like a necklace around her neck.
"…did you sleep?" Elena asked, “Everyone’s been asking where you are.”
“Up all night, with the egg,” Vivica replied, “no sleep. But it’s - I think it’s teaching me something too!” She had a brief glimpse of her enthusiastic spark back.
“Dunno what yet. But it’s like it… Oh Elena, I’m so excited. The egg is gonna hatch soon, I know it!”
“I - you think we should tell someone? Daddy? Melendor?”
“Oh no, they’ll just tell us to stay away, and take it. No, this is my egg! Our egg.”
“Any idea where the other babies are?” she asked as they walked along.
“Well, no…will they come back? Who knows. They’ve hatched, right, why would they?”
“You think there’s a connection between your egg and the one that keeps circling?”
“I thought about that. Is it the mother, waiting for the last baby to hatch? Like a nesting mother bird?”
“Yeah. What if it hatches, and calls to her for food - you’ll be it’s first meal, Viv! You big yooby.”
“We’ll find out, I guess. I… I dunno, feel confident it’s gonna be okay. You know?”
“So are you gonna sit with the egg again tonight?”
“Most definitely. You wanna sit with me?”
“For a bit, maybe. I wanna see it hatch. But…” Elena paused, looked around for the big dragon, “I don’t think I want to be there when SHE sees it hatch.”
“It’ll be fine, you big yooby.”
For two nights, Vivica sat with the egg, and tried to pretend that she could go about her business and continue her studies and training on no sleep. By the third day, she was unsteady on her feet and missing dodges in fighter school.
“Viv, people are beginning to talk. You need to do something. Tell someone.”
“I know. But El - this is it, I think. Tonight, it’s going to hatch, I feel it!”
“Want me to be there?”
“You’re a yooby if you’re not there.”
“You’ll call me a yooby anyway, yooby.”
Elena and Vivica made their way to the nest on the fourth night, and Elena was only partially surprised at what she saw. Vivica had brought blankets down, and a few lightstones and a basket of food.
She nodded at the sight, but said nothing.
“Here, sit here,” Vivica said. She patted the blanket and Elena sat, watching as Vivica sat with her back against stone, where she could look up at the night sky. “It’s so peaceful,” she said after a while. "Just me and the egg, and…“
Shhhh,” Elena said suddenly, "you hear that?"
Vivica paused, her head cocked to one side. There was an unmistakable sound of wind, and leather hides sliding over each other. "Oh. Oh!! We’re gonna have company! And the egg…"
Elena watched as the blue egg shifted slightly, and seemed to bulge. There was a tapping from inside as the shell started to crack.
“It’s - hey look!” Vivica said happily, "look! Elena, look, it’s --"
Elena was suddenly more concerned about what she was facing in the pit. She stood up suddenly, face to face with a large, iridescent blue head. Large eyes swirled as they regarded her. The head was easily five feet long, each eye bigger than her hand. The entirety of the pit was filled with a giant, floating dragon, iridescent blue wings and viscous- looking talons.
Elena took a step back, and almost tripped over her friend when she saw a second, much smaller dragon emerge from under the mother’s wing, sharing the same angular skull and lean, pointed snout.
“Elena, it’s happening! Oh my gosh!” Vivica’s attention was completely engrossed by the blue egg hatching before her.
“My own dragon! Oh Elena, it’s so amazing!”
“Oh but Elena, what if it doesn’t like me? What if it wants to there is a dragon here. Dragon! Elena!!! THERE IS A DRAGON HERE!”
“I know, Viv! Been trying to tell you…”
"But my baby…"
The dark haired girl turned to watch as the shell split open, and a small blue head poked out. It was the size of Vivica’s own head, with bulbous yellow eyes, and a large, rounded snout. It blinked as it fumbled it’s way out of the egg, making a high-pitched keening sound.
Vivica instinctively knelt down and plucked away pieces of shell, helping the little creature out of it’s egg. The baby dragon half stumbled and half fell into her arms and she cradled the head with one hand.
“Elena, it’s so…”
“STEP AWAY! KEEP CLEAR!” Lord Gray’s voice rang out in the stone tunnel. The tall, solemn warrior, accompanied by a dozen soldiers, strode towards the two girls with his sword drawn. “We’ll never get a better chance than this,” he said to one of his men. “Crossbows!”
“No, Daddy!” Elena said suddenly. The teenage girl jumped up and ran toward her father.
“Elena, don’t put yourself in harm’s way, girl! Let us get a clean shot.”
“Viv!” she called out without taking her eyes off her father, “what’s happening?!”
“He’s fine! The baby’s fine!“
A tone of sudden desperation in Vivica’s voice made Elena pause and glance her way, and the girls shared a quick, knowing glance.
”…baby?” Lord Gray asked.
Vivica stood, holding the newborn baby dragon. It lay nestled in her arms, its bluish hide still moist. A wing flexed, and it made a cooing sound.
Ignoring the armed men, she stood and turned to face the large, hovering dragon in the pit. Immense eyes swirled and a long, burgundy tongue flicked out.
For a handful of seconds, nobody moved.
“When I say fire, FIRE!”
Elena stood firm, between her father and the dragon. Behind her, Vivica held the infant up. Lord Gray and his men watched as the huge dragon flicked her tongue over the newborn and Vivica, then swung around to face them.
Two huge, swirling eyes blazed from blue to midnight purple and back, as the dragon considered the humans.
She flicked a wingtip, and three of the men’s crossbows fired on their own, letting the bolts skitter off the ledge and fall harmlessly into the pit.
"Dad… If she saw going to eat us… She would have. She wanted to see her baby. Right Viv?"
Vivica stood up, the baby dragon still cradled in her arms. Behind her, the larger dragons swung around and flew away.
“She says to leave her alone, sir,” Vivica said,"and she’ll leave us alone."
The baby keened again, and nestled into it’s adopted mother’s arms.
“You wanna kill a dragon, Dad? Shoot this one. Go ahead. I dare you. I’ll watch. So will she.” Elena waved her hand behind her, in the general direction of the pit.
Lord Gray paused, his eyes darting from his daughter to the baby dragon to the moonlit sky above the pit.
“Arms down, men. Elena, Vivica, we need to have a long talk.”
"We will, Daddy. But for now, we have a baby dragon to attend to. Is Isshtak available? He may be able to offer insight?
Three days later, Vivica and her dragon were the talk of the region, not just the Stronghold. The mother dragon still made occasional sweeps over the mountains, but now people waved to her and cheered, rather than taking aim.
Vivica held her infant charge in her arms, a baby bottle in hand.
“Milk? For a dragon?”
“Nuh-uh. Blood, from a pig. It’s apparently a fair substitute.”
“So, I was meaning to ask you. When you said, back there, that it was fine…”
“I lied. I knew you knew it, I think Mama knew it too. This little fellow, he breathes funny, his head’s a weird shape, he’s so tiny… You saw the little one under Mama’s wing? Much bigger. I think this ones like a runt? Something? Maybe he wasn’t supposed to survive…”
“But he will, now, because of you. You’re a natural healer, Viv. This little fellow is proof of that.”
“I suppose. I just hope I’m doing g the right thing.”
“Have you named him? It?”
“Not yet. I’m not sure what’s a good name. Fang? Firestar? Ramoth? Dunno.“
Elena leaned over the little blue creature and patted its head.
“You be a good dragon now, hear?”
“Oh dang it, Elena!”
”‘You be a good dragon…’ You be. Yooby.”
“His name is Yooby?!” Elena said, laughing.
“Well what else can I call him?!”
“Wait till I tell Isshtak!”