“He’s wonderful,” breathed Raven.
“He’s the first one of them all,” Fox commented. “Now tell me his story.”
“Catch that thief!”
The boy raced away from the marketplace. His bare, dusty heels slapped into the dust, each step gaining more speed than the last. Maybe this time he could make it.
Behind him, two top-heavy men raced after the boy. He grinned. They didn’t have a runner’s build, giving him the advantage. He willed his legs to move faster, and they granted him his wish. The men chasing him howled. They were going to lose to this scrawny scrap if they didn’t do something fast. The boy felt a surge of hope. At last, he could have a meal!
Suddenly, a third man broke from the ranks of his pursuers. He was a tall, lean man, with long legs and a determined face. The boy jumped in surprise and doom. This was a runner, and most of all, there was no way he could escape if he ran all out.
Quickly the boy veered and jumped up, grasping the wall for a hold. The hard material didn’t yield, and the boy plummeted back down. Oh come on, he thought, if I can just get to the edge of town…The boy dodged pedestrians, left, right, right, and left. He veered into several alleyways, but never once lost the tall man.
Finally, the boy breeched the town’s edge. There were scarcely any houses, and all of them were abandoned. And another thing: who would believe the man of what would happen next? The boy stuffed his prize, a long loaf of bread into his mouth, and jumped up into the sky.
The man skidded to the halt, barely believing what he saw.
A four-legged beast took to the sky on large wings. Scales covered the body, and the predominant color was orange-red. A long tail was spiked at the end.
It was holding a loaf of bread in its jaws.
“He raised his head to the stars, and breathed heavily. How beautiful they were. But none of them had beauty even close in comparison to this planet. The life, the elements that he hadn’t known existed, and the landscape was outstanding and exceeded his hopes.
“‘Come on Xylok, we must get you to Quon! She’ll help you get better, I promise!’ A red female hovered over him, eyeing him in panic. ‘Please! Please don’t just lay there!’
“Xylok only could gaze at her. How beautiful she was. Not even this planet of which he loved so much could compare to his feelings for her. Pain tore itself in his chest, creating a chasm between his heart and his mind.
“‘Oh Sofl,’ he gasped, ‘Sofl, Sofl, Sofl…’
“‘Don’t! Don’t do this to me! Xylok! Xylok!’
“Xylok glanced at Sofl, then to the stars, and then back to Sofl. ‘Fly. You can’t let them get you. They’re scared, but they’re powerful. Go to the Opia. You’ll be safe there. Take the whole colony and go to the Opia…’
“And the great Xylok breathed one last ragged breath. The wounds on his flank were too great, the bones in his body too broken, and his heart in his chest was too saddened by his love’s pain.
“‘Opia,’ he said with his last breath, ‘Opia.”
Fox’s green eyes were wide with the sparkle of tears. Even Raven was crying, smoothing the edges of the sketched fallen dragon.
“He was a very brave dragon,” Raven told her child.
“Braver than a lion?”
“Braver than a lion.”
“What an interesting story. Not a typical story told to a child,” a teenage girl walked in and set a basket of produce on the table. Dove glared at Raven with the soft blue eyes of her father.
“Mom you can’t keep telling her such odd stories. It’s not good for a child,” Dove scolded. Raven set Fox’s drawing on the table next to the basket.
Dove was Raven’s other child born by the same man that was Fox’s father. She was very much like her father, skeptical, sarcastic, pale blonde hair and soft blue eyes that resembled water given to merchants. She was also tall and skinny for her age, 17, but was also very elegant in figure. The men of the town seemed to fall for her at first glance, but none was good enough for her. Even if she did like anyone, Dove played a difficult came of try-to-get-me-if-you-can under the philosophy “if he doesn’t try hard enough he isn’t worth it”.
“I just say what came to me,” Raven replied, “how was the day at the market?”
“Was Basal there,” asked Fox. Basal was Dove’s new love, and Fox was old enough at age 10 to know that it would annoy her sister to frequently mention him. Dove stuck her tongue out at Fox.
“Well, there was a thief at the bread stand and the pursuer came back swearing upon everything he could that the thief transformed into a beast at the edge of town. I think he couldn’t stand the fact that somebody outran him.”
“Who was the pursuer? Don’t tell me it was Voil. The man can’t stand being beaten at anything,” Raven scoffed, rolling her eyes at the thought.
“It was. Is this another creature, Fox?”
Fox fetched the dragon Xylok and handed it to Dove. “His name is Xylok and mommy just told me his story!”
“Hm,” commented Dove, “and Xylok was the one that died?”
“Sadly, yes. He was a magnificent dragon,” Raven sighed. Dove raised a skeptical eye brow.
“Dragon?” Dove turned to Fox, baring her height over her sister.
“It’s a dragon,” she stated firmly. Dove looked at the paper again, her skeptical eyebrows knitting together.
“Weird,” she said, “Voil described the beast very much like this. But dragons don’t exist.” Dove gave Fox back her drawing. The girl clutched it to her chest and glared at her.
“Of course they do, you just don’t see them!” protested Fox. Dove smiled slightly at this, remembering the days of her childhood.
“Dragons or no dragons (“They’re real,” insisted Fox), Dove, help me make dinner and Fox why don’t you go play outside? Don’t talk to any strangers mind.”
“Yes, mama,” both girls chorused.
A dragon dropped from the sky not too far from the village, smiling to itself. Whipping his tail under his belly and drawing his head up so that his entire body aligned itself at an angle, Quiv landed heavily on the ground. Finally, he could eat!
To consume the bread on a smaller stomach, thus killing his hunger quicker, Quiv transformed back into his boy’s form. He extracted his prize from his mouth only to break bits off the bread to put back in. The sweet bread melted away in his mouth, and flavor burst onto his tongue. His stomach welcomed the food in a savoring sensation.
“Are you the thief?”
Quiv started guiltily, spinning on his heels. A girl about his age stood there, hands clasped together and eyes staring curiously but not accusingly. He relaxed some, but wondered how much she saw. Unless he was careless (which he had been when he was escaping his chaser), no one could see him in dragon form. If she saw him ‘pop’ out of midair, she might call the police on him for witchcraft.
The girl only smiled and said, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you’re a dragon.”
Quiv nearly dropped his bread if had not been his hunger.
“W-what?” Words felt odd coming out of his mouth, since he hadn’t really spoken since 3 years ago. But this girl had caught his so off guard that he wasn’t thinking.
“I can see you when you’re a dragon,” the girl sat down in the dust, and gestured him to do the same, “I see all the creatures that others can’t. It’s a bit sad sometimes that everyone misses out on them so I draw them for my kind.”
“Your kind? What are you,” Quiv asked. He didn’t sit, wanting to be able to run if he needed to. But he didn’t think he would, he was too curious as to how she could see the Mythical Races.
“I think I’m human, but I and my family have odd talents that I noticed. Aren’t you going to sit? I’m not going to hurt you, I’ve never had the chance to talk to a dragon before,” the girl reached for him, but Quiv sat down before she could touch him.
“Are you just going to ask questions? Yes odd talents. I draw stuff, my mom can give you the stories from those drawings, and my sister…well she has a great memory for things. So what about you?”
“What about me,” Quiv retorted, taking a bite out of his bread. The girl rolled her eyes.
“Again with the questions. Just talk,” she sighed, “I’ll start. My name is Fox. What is your name?” Quiv shifted, but decided that he rather was starting to like this Fox.
“Quiv. Dragons are capable of transforming into humans, if only for a day at a time.”