Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Four

Farloft sat on his haunches patting his paw impatiently on the floor. “If you take much longer packing I will have wasted the week I made by ‘jumping’ here, Snowflake.”

Snow squinted his eyes at the old dragon. That had been a pretty good 'name shot.' He would have to think up a good one in response. He tossed his fire making tools of flint and iron into the tubular pack he inherited from his Grandfather Storm. “You can’t expect me to just take off without the proper supplies.” He ruffled his feathers. “You’re the one who said you thought we could be traveling for up to six months. Or have you forgotten, Dinosaur Brain?” He grabbed two large furs off his sleeping platform and began to roll them up. “What happens if we get separated? Unlike you, I am not a walking torch. I need fire-starter and a few comforts from home.”

“You keep this up and you won’t be able to get off the ground with that load.” Farloft waved a paw at the pile the gryphon was creating in the middle of the floor. “And I, for one, do not intend to help you carry it.”


“I can out fly you any day, loaded or not. You’ll be begging me for these warm furs when we get further north, Lizard. It is blasted cold up there in Fur and Frost country.”

Farloft just shook his head. It was no use trying to talk sense into the young gryphon. He would live and learn. The old dragon expected to see him give up his hoard of items within the first week of travel. From years of experience, Farloft knew it was best to travel light. He decided to relax and let the gryphon continue to pack his meager worldly possessions.

He laid down and curled his tail comfortably around him. “Well since I can’t talk you out of packing your extensive hoard, why don’t you tell me about how you saved the Fur clan leader’s son, or was it the Frost clan’s?”

Snow was tossing fur after fur to one side off his platform and onto the floor, obviously looking for something. His voice became muffled with his head buried as he dug through the soft things of his bedding. “Fur and Frost clan as it turned out. I was out hunting. The midgins are plentiful in the crevasses of the Fur clan’s land. The little beasts are too small and fast to make them worth hunting for the larger dragons, but they make a tasty meal for a fast gryphon. I can pick up a week’s worth in a couple of hours.”

Farloft shook his head at Snow’s spotted tail as it switched back and forth sticking out from beneath the furs. The gryphon was nothing more than a lump under his pile of bedding. “All right, enough of the bragging, I know you’re fast. I concede that point, Bird.” Farloft drew in the dirt absentmindedly on the floor of the cave with one large claw. “Get on with the story.”

“Ahhh… there you are.” Snow backup out of his pile of soft things with a scroll in one claw. “Grandfather Snow’s journal. It might come in handy.”

Farloft had to agree, that might be worth carrying. He knew his old friend used to jot down observations and information of all sorts in it. “Indeed,” he agreed, “and you were telling me about the rescue,” he prompted, as Snow stepped down from the platform and slipped the scroll into the pack.

“Ah, yes, well, I saw a Frost dragon with her three hatchlings at the edge of the Great Divide. The water was relatively calm on the river that day and she was teaching them how to catch fish. At the time I didn’t know who she was. I just knew from her build and pure white coat that she was a Frostie, and that she most likely had a Furry mate, because two of the hatchlings looked like her, slim and water worthy, but the third was several shades of gray stripes, stockier and obviously a Furry hatchling.”

Snow looked around the cave, but didn’t seem to see anything else he was inclined to add to his pile. He sat down and started tying the furs to the pack as he continued. “The female Frost and her two young ones were in the water. The little Furry was on the shore watching when I heard the snow on the mountainside above rumbled and gave-way. The female, it turned out her name was Kaida, was underwater with the other two pups. When she surfaced I could see she was going to be lucky to get the two she had away in time without going ashore for the third.”

Snow paused to pick at something in the feathers of his right wing. Farloft knew it was a ploy. He was stalling to build the suspense. Gryphons were almost as talented at telling stories as dragons.

The old dragon couldn’t help, but rise to the bait. “Go on,” he urged impatiently.

Snow slipped the long flight feather through his beak and then shrugged it back into place. “Well, I tucked my wings and dove. Kaida saw what I was up to. She knew she would get them all killed if she went for her little furry, so she trusted in a stranger, took her two and dove for safety in the river. I flew down and snatched the little Furry from the bank. We watched the snow cascade down and dump its load in the river creating a surge, and peppering the river with snow and ice broken from the shore. I was fearful for Kaida and her pups, but after the torrent settled they all three came bobbing to the surface. Frosts are strong swimmers even at a young age.”

Farloft nodded his agreement. “They are indeed.”

“Of course, if the Furry had become waterlogged, he would have drowned, so it was good I was there. Kaida insisted on me following her home to celebrate and tell her mate, Fafner, about the event. Turned out they were the Fur/Frost clan leaders. Descendants from the original clan rebels Zodic and Austere.”

“This is good news,” Farloft breathed with a sigh. “I believe I probably met one of their elders when I was last in Skyhaven. A furry named, Trekk, owned a pub there with a human family as partners. I intended to spend just one evening there waiting for a winter storm to pass, but instead spent the whole winter. I was mesmerized by Trekk’s stories. He was an inspiration.” Farloft grinned at the memory of the pinto marked furry dragon with the dual colored eyes of sky blue and copper. “It will be good to see that little village again. Living there that winter with dragons and humans in harmony is what drew me to settle in Kerth years ago.”

Snow clicked his beak excitedly. “You are going to be so surprised. Skyhaven has grown a bit over the centuries.”

***

Farloft hardly recognized Skyhaven when they arrived five days later. If it had not been for his unfailing internal compass, he would have sworn he was in the wrong place. Snow was right, he was surprised by the village. No… It was not a village any longer. Where once there was a small gathering of humans and dragons living in a valley at the foot of the massive falls of the Great Divide, at the junction of the Westridge and the mighty Ice mountain ranges, there was now a bustling city.

The cliff faces of both ridges were studded with caves and contained two massive rookeries for dragons of every discernable color and pattern of furry coats. Like the domestic cats at home in Kerth they sported everything from stripes to spots to solid, and from blacks and grays to ginger golds and creams.

The village had overflowed onto the plain below which appeared to be kept free of ice and snow by a team of dragons. As the traveling duo approached, they could see them melting snow from the area with their dragon fire to clear the way for their fellow human Skyhaven dwellers.

“Surprised?” Snow chirped.

“Indeed.” Farloft tipped a wing to glide into a clear landing area on the plain below. He thought they could walk up to the city. Perhaps meet some friendly folks on the way, as he had in the past.



“Good day,” Farloft greeted in his deep baritone to the first furry he encountered.

The large calico turned from his duties clearing snow from the street and responded to Farloft with a grin that did not reach his large green eyes. “Good day.” He barred Farloft and Snow’s way.

He was about the size of Snow which made him a good five feet shorter than Farloft, but that didn’t stop him from looking intimidating. He bristled out his guard-hairs to the maximum length, his tail grew to three times its size, and his ears were laid back. The glint in his green eyes announced he was ready to fight. Two more Furries appeared from overhead to land on either side of the calico, one was a striped male tabby and the other a leopard spotted female. They were joining up ranks to block the street.

“We haven’t seen a Sun Scaler in these parts for many years,” the female said. “You are welcome, but only if you uphold the peace.”

The Dragonic Wars were fought here centuries ago; the Fur and Frost clans against the Sun Scale and Serpent clans of the far southern regions.

Farloft gave them a toothy grin in response to their challenge. “I am not a Sun Scaler. I am Farloft from the Kingdom of Kerth at the south end of the Westridge mountains. This is my friend, Snow.”

Snow extended a paw and bowed politely.

“I believe you might have heard of him.” Farloft placed a companionable wing over his friend. “He saved Kaida and Fafner’s hatchling a few years back.”

The intimidation melted from the three Furries like the snow beneath their paws. Their coats smoothed to a flat surface and they all three looked a bit contrite.

“We apologize, my friends. It is not often we see strangers this far north and very rarely scale backs or gryphons except on the wing during a hunt.” The female said with a bow of her head.

“Apology accepted, and no offence taken,” Farloft replied. He pulled his wing back to his side. “We were on our way to see if we could obtain an audience with the ruling pair.”

“You are lucky,” the calico spoke up, “they are here – just back from a trade mission.”

The tabby who had said nothing at this point approached Snow and came so close they were nose-to-nose. “Thank you,” he said.

Snow’s eyes narrowed. “Royster?” he asked.

“I never got to properly thank you for saving my life,” the tabby said with a purr of affection in his voice. “Mother fed us and whisked us all off to bed so fast that night.”

Snow moved up beside the youngling and placed his wing over the dragon’s back to give him a companionable squeeze. “Farloft… Let me introduce you to Royster, the hatchling I saved.”


Farloft by WolfoolArt of DA

2 comments:

  1. I'm confused. "Fur and Frost Clan" is one clan, not "Fur Clan" and "Frost Clan", two clans?

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    Replies
    1. There is a Fur and a Frost Clan. The two clans live in separate areas, not too far from one another. In recent times, the two clans have mixed and often have just one ruling couple. One from the Fur Clan and One from the Frost Clan. You can read the background story here for free: http://theresasnyder.blogspot.com/2017/09/fur-and-frost-dragon-love-story.html

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