Chapter I: How I Became Dragon Mom

 

     Even in summer, the mountains rage on in ice storms, speckled with the rare moment of serene grace. It is in one of these treasured moments that I look upon the world below – Snow and ice covered the mountains and the valleys below. The sun glints off every turn and speck of ice, threatening to blind me, though I still enjoy the scene for a moment before the light becomes too intense. The trees below glisten and somewhere, an elk calls out, adding to the moment of tranquility. However, I know what watches over these lands. I have climbed nearly to the summit of the mountain, and see the entrance I seek in the distance, past a ridge and another fierce climb. A deep breath, and I begin my trek anew, shielding my eyes while keeping my senses alert. 

 

     At the ridge that contains the entrance I seek, I find my quarry also basking in the midday sun. Still a fair and safe distance away, I see them in full glory. Dragons the length of a small sea, thick as a sycamore tree, though still young, likely only recently settled into their nesting grounds. Both are a brilliant blue – one lighter than the other, both matching the essence of the mountain they call home. Both had hints of gold, silver, and black, though one had a touch of green and the other some bronze. I hold my breath – originally thinking there to be one, I instead find two. The realization thrills me, as I have come for specific reasons, and a duo would prove to be much heftier a challenge for much greater reward. They were yet young, but the darker one – the female, I believe to be a queen. A true trophy, though I come for the necessity of spoils, not so much the claimed victory. The armor that shall be made of their scales will serve purposes well, and the towns below would be freed of their fears, though it would not bring back loved ones lost to these two. Releasing my held breath, I draw my bow back, arrow notched. Taking a stilling breath, I take aim, and release. 

 

     The battle was long and hard. Moments, I was sure to lose my life, and I would claim no fault if so. I fought for my life and defended it well, and they fought for everything they had alike. It was fierce, a time to remember and tell the story of and be proud of how far I’d come, but now is not the time for that story. Instead, it is what I discovered after that began my new tale. 

 

     I had come for the hide of a dragon and supplies for months. It is said to be one of the best materials for armor, and from just one I could create two sets, one of cold weather and one for warm, even despite not using the softer scales of the underbelly. My current armor of other hide was wearing thin and needed a replacement. It was unfortunate I had to take both, but as this was partly an assignment from people who were losing livestock and townsfolk to these two, it was an unfortunate necessity. And yes, that fact had been proven in the prior time I had been watching, though I realized I had only seen the queen prior to this day. Her mate would serve me well though. I finished collecting my necessities from her and moved on to him, only to notice part way down that there was something different about his hide. At first, I thought they were deformities, but upon closer inspection, I saw them for what they were. Hatchlings. 

 

     In a small area, I located five of them. Three males, a small runt I could not tell at the time that turned out to be another boy, and a large female. Being as her mother was a queen and she was the only one and of that size, I had guessed she would become a queen herself, but had no way to know for sure. In the moment, you can understand how I felt, but I am not one to flee or leave the defenseless in tough times. Instead, I took the time to examine every inch of both parent dragons and the skin harvested thus far for any more young’ns. It was just the five. Knowing they would not survive on their own, I tucked them away, completed my part of the quest, and began my trek back down the mountainside. 

 

     Once my duties were completed in the town below – informing those in charge of the cleared area, hitting the marketplace, thanking those that helped me in my search – I returned home with my earnings and the hatchlings – scarcely a month old if I were to guess. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to do with them, which is where my partner Makaila came into the mix. 

 

     The day she came home with dragonskin was enough of a surprise, though I really shouldn’t be surprised at the random things she brings home from a hunt anymore. Things you and I would never believe. I still don’t half of the time and just leave Leyhiera to her own devices. Better not to know some of the trouble she gets into, and I worry enough about her already. But when she surprised me with my own dragonskin armor set (though mine is more decorative), I had a feeling something was up. It wasn’t long before she told me about the babies, or rather, handed me one. My immediate internal reaction was how much of a very bad idea it was to have baby dragons, especially inside the house, but once she explained where the skins and hatchlings came from, I relaxed slightly. I fought for a while not to have them in the house, only imagining how wonderful that could go, but then holding the littlest boy changed my mind. Many people claim love at first sight, even for babies. I wasn’t one of those, but holding him is what changed my tune. The little runt felt so perfect, so small and cool in my hands, the scales so smooth, I couldn’t help but hold onto him a little longer. He still had his father’s scale in his maw. I was holding a creature that most human beings will never see in their life, and are lucky to even hear about them. I was hooked. And then a little longer turned into somehow I was raising these five. 

 

     I must say, I really did step up to the challenge. For someone who didn’t want kids and lost a lot of valuable objects and sleep in those early years with the nest, I think I handled it very well. They were growing strong and healthy, and she trained them. When my other partner a few states away mentioned wanting to adopt one, we agreed, passed along what we were learning, and sent the larger non-twin to her. He has been thriving as well with his newly adopted brother, and since then, well, we keep bringing home more! Even the Westerns, which didn’t surprise me at all when they came home with her. I was ready for the challenge this time. 

 

     I don’t take any from a nest that doesn’t need to – if they’re perfectly healthy and happy in a nest and the parents aren’t causing any problems, they stay, but I make sure now to check for a nest any time I do have to hunt one. I also keep an eye on nests as they develop, just in case any should fall behind and need assistance. 

 

     And I raise the little cuties she brings home, any age. Most of them we raise and re-release when they are able to live on their own, though we do adopt them out sometimes to other caretakers as well or let my mom (grandma) have a day with them. It’s always a joy watching them grow up. 

 

     So then, when will you adopt your first baby dragon?