Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Nine

Farloft sat on a rock outcrop he had cleared of snow and heated with dragon fire. “To your left.” He waved a wing at Snow.

The gryphon was hard at work, out on the snowfield before the large green dragon, who was leisurely laying on his rock in the sun. Snow was hunting midgins tunneling beneath his feet. “I can hear them, Dinosaur Brain,” he retorted in a sarcastic tone.

“Well, you’re not acting like it, Snowdrift.” Farloft cocked his head. “You let that one get away.”

Snow’s tail switched in agitation. “You know, you could come out here and hunt them yourself.”


Farloft stretched a paw out in front of him. He flexed his fingers and extended his claws. “My paws are too big and I’m too heavy. I would break right through and scare them all away.” He waved his paw in a dismissive way. “You’re doing fine, Twinkle-toes.”

The gryphon’s eyes narrowed to slits, but his attention was drawn back to the snow beneath his spread-out claws. He pricked his ears forward as he heard the midgin tunneling below. He raised up on his hind legs and plunged claws first, with his head following, into the snow up to his shoulders. When he raised back up he had a dead midgin in his beak. He tossed it to Farloft. The dragon caught it and swallowed it in one motion.

“You didn’t even taste that,” Snow scolded. “The least you could do is chew your food.”

“If you give me a mouthful, I’ll take the time,” Farloft countered.

Snow clicked his beak in frustration. The darn bottomless dragon would have him catching midgins for the rest of the day at this rate. He waved a wing and turned his back on Farloft.

A cloud appeared over the dragon and proceeded to dump a blizzard worth of snow on Farloft.

“Hey!” Farloft complained. “Stop that!”

“Stop what?” Snow asked without turning. He didn’t want Farloft to see the smile that cracked his beak.

***

Farloft and Snow rode the thermals high above the clouds. Their travels had taken them up over the pole and they were now adrift above the Cobalt Sea. They had been traveling for over two weeks.

Snow proved himself invaluable as a hunter in the snowy landscape of the pole. The midgins were his favorite and he eventually managed to catch enough to satisfy even Farloft’s hunger.

Now that they had reached the Cobalt Sea it was Farloft’s turn to show his talent for fishing off the edge of the ice flows. Farloft was a strong swimmer and with his internal temperature-control the freezing waters did not bother him. He had no difficulty landing large fish and seals.

“There you go, Scaredy-cat.” Farloft tossed a fish up on the iceberg where Snow sat grooming his feathers.

“It’s about time,” the gryphon said with a sigh. “I thought I was going to starve while you were fiddling around down there, Whale-Bait.” Whale-Bait was not as good as ‘Scaredy-cat.’ He would have to think of something better.

“You could take a dip for yourself,” Farloft suggested as he pulled himself up on the berg. It rocked, and Snow was forced to extend his claws to keep from sliding into the frigid sea.

“No way. It’s payback time.” He pulled the fish closer by skewering it with three extended claws. “I did my share of hunting coming over the pole. You’re the one the cold waters don’t affect. I think you must be half whale.”

Farloft stretched out on the iceberg. “Comparing me to a whale is not an insult. However, it would be more accurate to compare me to a sea dragon.” He started to carve in the ice with his claw. He had eaten his fill while hunting for this one to give to Snow.

“Will we meet any sea dragons?” Snow asked between bites of the fresh fish.

“I hope to. Lemira might be convinced to join us if we can find her, but we will see Mokum next.” Farloft pushed some of the shaved ice from his carving into a pile.

“Have you met Mokum before?”

“Once, a long time ago.” The dragon smoothed the lump of ice into the semblance of a dragon form. He picked up a larger lump of snow and attached it for a head.

“Everything for you was a long time ago, Tortoise-brain.” Snow chirped happily. That was a good one.

Farloft smiled at the new name. He did have a memory like a tortoise at times. “Well, let’s just say it was when I was younger.”

“Right,” Snow churred in a bird’s equivalent of a laugh. “Back when rocks were soft.”

Farloft grabbed the ice dragon sculpture and tossed it at Snow. The bird threw up a wing to block the projectile. When he looked up over his wing at the dragon he had challenge in his eyes. He scooped up a claw of snow and lobbed it at Farloft.

The dragon flipped a wing out to cover his face and chuckled in his deep baritone when it hit his ‘shield.’ “You will have to do better than that, Snowball.”

He shouldn’t have challenged the bird. Snows proverbial weather cloud appeared over Farloft’s head and snow began to fall only on the dragon. The dragon swiftly came to his feet and splashed into the water creating a wave, which rocked the iceberg to-and-fro like a ship in a troubled sea.

Snow dug in his claws and grabbed his fish to keep it from sliding off into the water. “No fair!” he protested.

Farloft bobbed up out of the water. “Oh, look who is calling unfair… The one who pulls his weather tricks out each time he feels slighted.”

Snow shook the water that had washed up off his paws one by one. “Truce,” he offered. “I don’t want a dunking.”

Farloft grinned toothily, as he pulled himself back up on the berg. “Truce, my feathered friend.”

Floating by Elizabeth Babicz

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