Ffar away in Times-Gonebye, there was a very special village called Strood. Thanks to the hard work of its people, it had grown in size, and wealth, to become the finest village of all the villages in the land. Just a few miles away, craggy mountains rose to the sky and each night giant columns of flame burst from their peaks.

The villagers believed that the mountains were the home of many Fire Gods and everyone stayed well away from them. Although they feared the Fire Gods, and were scared that their homes might be burnt down, the villagers knew that the Flaming Mountains kept them safe, on that side at least, from attack by bandits and thieves.

Once a week, to please the Fire Gods they left food at the bottom of the mountains and on those nights, they huddled together in fear as they watched as the flames came down from the mountains and moved towards their village. However, each week the flames stopped at the food and, in the morning, the food was gone! As the villagers had lots of food, they were happy to make this payment in exchange for their safety. Then it all changed!

Upon hearing of its wealth, an army of bandits and brigands started to raid the village. Very soon all the wealth was gone but for weeks afterwards they would still turn up and demand food: the very food that the villagers needed for themselves and the Fire Gods! With only a few cattle, sheep and horses remaining and very little food left, the villagers were no longer able to feed everyone. Something had to be done!

About this time, a shepherd was risking his life in the fiery mountains. He was looking for a missing sheep and, although he failed to it, he discovered a glimmer of hope. He had found what appeared be a small pass through the mountains! He shouted out with joy as he realised that it could be a way to freedom. A pathway to a New Life!

The shepherd dashed back to the village and told the others of his find. They chatted amongst themselves for a short time then, with no other choice, they all decided to flee to the mountains, even at the risk of being burnt to death.

A few days later, just before the bandits were due to raid their village again, they left their homes. Their eyes were full of tears but their hearts were filled with a New Hope. Horses and carts, carrying sleepy children and what little food they had left, led the way as they moved quietly towards a clearing at the entrance to the mountain pass. A few hours later they were camped there, waiting for the sun to rise and for the Fire Gods to stop their searing flames. Would this small passage between the towering peaks be their way to a New Life, or Death in the flaming fingers of Fire Gods?

Meanwhile, as was usual, on the mountain peaks some dragons were going about their nightly work of standing on their hind-legs and belching flames into the sky. Of course, this was the reason that the villagers thought that there were Fire Gods. In fact, the dragons were only hoping to scare humans away from their mountains and their baby dragons, and the weekly feast that the humans left was a pleasant bonus! Many years before, to escape from being hunted by the dreaded dragon-slayers, they had moved to the mountains and were living in the mountain caves.

When the villagers lit fires to keep warm, the dragons that were on duty became afraid that the humans were going to attack them and they called to the others for help. Within minutes, more than eighty dragons were roaring and belching flames that covered the tops of the mountains and threatened to engulf everyone. The villagers thought that the mountains were about to erupt, so they knelt down and prayed that they would be spared.

On the other side of the mountains was a second ridge of mountains and, between them, a large fertile plain. In one of the large caves that faced onto the plain, an elderly grandmother-dragon was looking after several dragon eggs. Suddenly, the gentle smile on her face turned to a look of despair as the roaring of the dragons echoed around the mountains.

The cave shook and eggs began to roll about and she frantically rushed around trying to stop them from rolling out of the cave. However, unseen by her as she was pushing the others to the back of the cave, one of the eggs rolled straight out of the cave, across the path, and down the side of the mountain towards the plain.

(Now, two things you must realise about dragon eggs in Times-Goneby, the first is that they are very tough and the other is that, as these dragons only come out at night, their eggs must only hatch-out at night. A dragon is not as scary in the sunlight and is therefore easy prey for any wily dragon-slayer.)

Next morning the villagers were eager to get on their way, hoping to get through the mountains before the Fire Gods were aroused again. They slowly journeyed up, down, and finally out of the mountains and arrived in the fertile fields by a river. Quickly everyone made themselves comfortable on the thick layer of grass that covered the plain and fell into a deep sleep. None of the villagers heard the dragons roaring and belching fire towards their old deserted village and the dragons could not see the humans asleep by the river.

Next day some of the adults searched the area to see if there were any wild animals about, but found only a pleasant, peaceful land, trees full of fruit, and fields of flowers and grass. They decided that this was to be their new home and they set about building their homes and creating a new village. Meanwhile, the children were sent out to collect mushrooms, berries, and firewood.

Ryan, a cheeky little lad of eight, decided to go that little bit further away than the rest and wandered back to the base of the mountains. As he searched among the large rocks that had rolled down the mountainside, he came across the dragon’s egg that had rolled out of the cave on the previous night.

Ryan had never seen an egg that was so big. It was higher than he was tall and at least three times as long as that! He could hear a scratching sound coming from inside of the egg and began to hit it with a stick but nothing happened. He found the largest rock that he could lift, stood on a rock above the egg, and dropped it. Still the egg was unmarked but, as he moved closer, he thought that he could now hear a low growling coming from inside the egg.

Suddenly, with a loud crack, the egg split open and a head appeared. It was a strange, scaly head with large eyes and a long nose! Ryan had never seen anything like it before and fell backwards in shock. The two parts of the egg were pushed apart and a baby ‘something-or-other’ wobbled out. Ryan was spellbound and unable to move. He gazed up in amazement as the fearsome ‘something-or-other’ lumbered over to him.  He closed his eyes in fear, certain that he would be eaten.

Then he felt it thump against him and a hot breath blew against his face. Finally, he opened his eyes to find that the newly hatched ‘something-or-other’ had sunk to its knees, rolled on its side and cuddled-up to him. The creature obviously thought that Ryan was its father! Ryan realised that the strange creature was not going to harm him and he hugged this new discovery.

He smiled with delight and the baby ‘something-or-other’ smiled back. They were friends, the young human and the baby ‘something-or-other’! Ryan wanted to rush back to show his new friend to his parents, but the baby, worn-out by the effort of breaking out of the shell, was tired and he was pinned to the ground. With the darkness of the late evening enclosing them, both were soon asleep.

Next morning as the sun rose above the mountains, Ryan and his ‘friend’ awoke. “Come on,” said Ryan to his new friend, “get up, I must get back to my parents, they will be wondering where I am. I want to show you to them and them to you.”

Slowly the unusual pair made their way through the fallen rocks and trees until they arrived at a clearing with a small stream. Ryan drank from the cold, clear water. He then washed his face and then turned to talk to his friend. However, the baby ‘something-or-other’ had wandered away and was busily eating. Ryan walked over to see what his friend had found.

“You’re eating the flowers!” exclaimed Ryan. “People don’t eat flowers.”

His friend stopped eating, looked up, and smiled.

“You’re enjoying them, aren’t you?” Ryan added. The smile grew wider and the long eyelashes fluttered.

“Well, I suppose it is all right, as you’re obviously not ‘People’. I wonder what you really are, perhaps someone in the village will know. What shall I call you? I am called Ryan and you should have a name. Now, let me think. You have long eyelashes and a very big smile so you must be a girl! You eat flowers.

I could call you Flora. No, it doesn’t suit you. Petal? No! Blossom? No! I suppose, as you like to eat daisies too I should really call you Daisy.

Yes, that’s it, Daisy!”

The ‘something-or-other’ stopped eating, turned, smiled again and Ryan knew that he had chosen the right name. They now continued their journey as Ryan and Daisy, an unusual two-some.

Meanwhile, having been told by Ryan’s parents of his absence, the villagers set out to search for the missing lad. They split into pairs and one pair noticed the bushes moving a short distance away. To their amazement, a gruesome creature appeared with the missing lad on its back.

“The fierce creature has captured Ryan and is taking him to its lair,” whispered one to the other.

“I’ll go and get help,” said the other. “Follow them but leave a trail so that we will be able to find you.”

As he ran back to the village, he shouted out to attract attention and, very soon, a large group of villagers were discussing how they could rescue him. Within minutes most of the village had returned and suddenly someone shouted out: “Monster! Look out there’s a monster coming!”

Sure enough, in the distance something long, slow and covered in scales was wobbling its way towards the group. It was Daisy and Ryan! The crowd turned to face the threat with fear in their eyes but Ryan quickly called out that he was safe and that this was no monster that he was riding on. It was Daisy, a friendly baby who had kept him warm throughout the cold night and had now brought him safely to them.

The villagers were still wary, even when Ryan slid from Daisy’s back and rushed to his parents. They cowered back as she sat down and moved her head from side-to-side to get a closer look at them. Then they almost died of fright when, in smiling, her lips exposed two rows of large, sharp teeth. Three of the men went to a cart and searched through their books to find out what this strange creature called Daisy really was. They returned a little later.

“Run for your lives,” screamed one of them, “the creature is a Dragon!”

“It’s a deadly dragon,” shouted another, “we will all die! It will eat us alive, or burn us to death.

Kill it! Kill it!”

By now Daisy was very scared, she saw the angry looks on the villagers’ faces and breathed out. Unfortunately, when dragons are scared they breathe out flames and smoke to protect themselves and, although Daisy was only a very little dragon, to the villagers who had never seen a living dragon, the flames seemed immense.

“Kill it quickly before it kills us all!” One of them screamed.

Another added: “Quickly, get spears and swords!”

By now, everyone was scared including Ryan! However, he was only scared that his precious friend Daisy might get hurt or even killed so, to protect her he climbed onto her back again and hugged her around the neck. He put his hands around her neck and pushed his face close to hers.

“Look! Look!” he shouted. “She is safe, she is gentle, she is my friend and she can be yours too, if you don’t hurt her. Please give her time to prove it!”

He sobbed as he clung to her scaly neck. “Don’t hurt her, please don’t hurt her! She is my friend.”

Ryan’s parents, fearing for his safety, stood in front of Daisy. “Stand back!” The order to the villagers came from Ryan’s dad.

“Can’t you see that there’s no real danger. It is only a fear in your minds of something you have never seen before. It is fear of the Unknown. Give my son and this creature the chance to allay that fear. Be wary, but don’t be scared.”

The villagers eased back, some began to mumble but none attacked and, as soon as calm was restored, Daisy stopped belching out flames and Ryan dismounted. Within a few days, Daisy had made friends with the children of the village and they climbed on her, tickled her tummy, and led her around the fields like a pet dog. She even had the adults growing to like her, as they found that she was the quickest and easiest way to light a fire or boil water!

Time passed quickly as the villagers built their homes and tended their livestock and fields. They had even built a special hut to keep Daisy warm on cold nights. When everyone was settled-in and they began to appreciate their new surrounding they realised that they needed a long-term plan to protect themselves against attack and held several meetings.

However, no-one  could come up with the solution. During this time, Daisy had grown quickly to become almost as big as her hut. She had always loved to have the children play with her and now that her wings were fully-grown, and she had learned to fly, she could take them high into the sky.

Ryan’s parents regularly fed her with tasty food and she enjoyed her life but she wondered why she was different from them; and the cattle, and the sheep, and the horses and the dogs. In fact, she was different from everything! It made her feel lonely and the loneliness made her very sad. During the daytime, she was too busy to worry about it.

However, in the quiet of the night she often lay awake wondering why she was the only one of her kind. She knew that Ryan had loving parents, as had all of the other children, but she had no-one. Why? Who were her parents? Where were they? Did they know where she was?Did they even know if she was alive? Did they care and did they love? There were too many questions and not a single answer.

One night the questions beat so hard in her head that she decided to go out of her hut and walk around the fields. The night sky was clear and dark and, as she looked towards the mountains, she could see red glows reflecting though the peaks. At first, she thought it was lightning but then she realised that there was not a single cloud in the sky. ‘How curious’, she thought, ‘now that I can fly I will go and see what it is.’

Soaring high above the mountains Daisy could see everything. Dotted throughout the peaks bursts of fire were shooting upwards and as she glided down she saw that they were coming from creatures like herself! ‘My goodness,’ she thought, ‘I am not alone, there are many others like me, but what are they doing and why are they out at night?’ Daisy landed beside a small group of dragons that were making their way down the mountainside.

“Who are you?” roared one of them. “Why are you here? You are not one of us. Do you come from the far side of mountains?”

Daisy explained where she had come from and why. She then asked why it was that that the dragons were standing on the mountain tops and belching fire.

“It’s to scare the humans,” one replied. “It stops them from attacking us. They think that the mountains are alive with fire and leave us food to protect themselves. They do not realise that us dragons are making the flames and that we are more afraid of them than they are of us! They keep away and we are fed. It means that we have become creatures of the night but we are safe.”

Daisy was invited to join their feast and return with them to their caves. When they arrived at the caves, the other dragons met them and, when she explained what had happened to her, they realised that she must be from the egg that disappeared on the night of ‘the big rumble’.

“Why didn’t the humans kill you?” asked one dragon.

“How did you escape?” Asked another.

Daisy told them of how Ryan had rescued her, how everybody loved her, and how she loved them.

“But humans and dragons can’t live together”, said one of the dragons. “They kill us, sometimes just for sport!”

“Not all humans want to kill us,” replied Daisy. “Not when they get to know us and realise that we are not a danger to them. They love me! Perhaps one day they will learn to love you too. It will be light soon, I must leave now but I will return to learn more about you — I mean us –, and tell you the good things about the humans.”

Daisy took off and glided down from the caves to her hut, arriving just before the villagers awoke. She went quietly into her hut to sleep but her head was full of thoughts about her new adventure and the dragon families high in the mountains. She loved being with Ryan and the other humans but she really longed to a member of a dragon family and do the things that dragons normally do. How could she do both?

The search for an answer kept her awake and, before she had a chance to rest, Ryan, and the other village children arrived to take her out to play. Busy with playing, she had no time for her thoughts. That evening as she rested the villagers held a meeting to discuss how they could protect the village.

Daisy could hear everything that was being said by the elders as they huddled around a big open fire close to her hut. Some recalled that, before coming to the valley, they had constantly lived in fear of attack by bandits, while others pointed out their worry about the mountains consuming them in fire. They did not want this happen again but no-one knew how to remove their fears forever. No-one that is but Daisy!

The next night, as everyone lay sleeping, she quietly made her way to where Ryan slept and tapped on his window. Ryan awoke and crept out quietly to find out what Daisy wanted. She knelt down, he climbed on her back, and soon they were soaring high into the mountains. As they soared and dived over and among the peaks, Ryan could see that what everyone has assumed to be the mountains on fire was really dragons belching flames.

He was a scared, but not half as scared as when Daisy glided down and stopped next to one of them! The other dragon stopped belching flames and looked at Ryan perched on Daisy’s back and began a long conversation with Daisy. Ryan clung tightly to Daisy’s neck, more in fear of the other dragon than of falling off, but then he realised that it was a friendly conversation and he relaxed. Whatever Daisy had said seemed to meet with the other dragon’s approval and soon both dragons were gliding down to the mountain caves where most of the dragons lived.

At the caves more dragons crowded around to get a glimpse of Ryan and, as they seemed only to be curious, he got off Daisy and wandered among them. He could see no fear or anger in their eyes, in fact the faces seemed to be smiling, as Daisy’s did when she was happy, so, when one of the knelt down Ryan climbed on its back.

The dragon quickly took off and, fearing for his life, he held on tightly. He need not have worried because the dragon quickly glided gently back to the others. Soon they were all lining up to give the human a flight into the starry sky. By the time that he had ridden on most of them, Ryan was exhausted and fell asleep as soon he had climbed on Daisy’s back for the long flight home.

In the late afternoon of the following day, just as the sun was setting, a dark object appeared in the sky and was noticed by a villager. “There’s a dragon coming!” he screamed. “Run for your life! Run! Hide!”

Ryan, on hearing the noise, looked up at the sky and then ran over to Daisy. He climbed on her back and quickly they soared up to the other dragon and, together, they glided down to the village.

“Look everybody!” exclaimed Ryan aloud. “The dragons want to be our friends. Come closer you will not be harmed.”

The villagers edged closer and Ryan told them of his adventure of the previous night. He had been afraid to tell anyone before, as they might have thought that he had been dreaming. By the end of the evening the villagers had realised that the dragons did want to be friends and the dragon, with his belly bulging with tasty food given by the villagers, realised that not all human were bad and wanted to kill him.

He flew back to the others full and contented. The next day, three dragons arrived, played with the children and were fed by the adults. When the sun went down, the dragons flew the elders into the mountains to show them the display of fire that they had thought had come from a Fire God.

The elders were impressed and realised that, if they were friends with the dragons, they could have the peace and safety that they all longed for. The humans could provide food for the dragons and the dragons could protect the humans! Over the years, the dragons and the humans lived a safe, peaceful life in the pleasant valley hidden in the mountains. Daisy was very happy now that was re-united with her family and was still able to be friends Ryan and the other children.

All of this was due to a caring young human called Ryan and his love for Daisy, a dragon who was awake when she should have been asleep!

The End  talewagger

The Talewagger can be contacted at: thetalewagger@hotmail.com

This story was written for his grandson Ryan.

Copyright reserved.
No part(s) of these publications may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system, or translated into any language in any form by any means without the written permission of the author.