All the other dragons thought Harold was just a mischievous adolescent, but Harold always found himself looking for an adventure. Harold was always getting himself in trouble by leaving the nesting grounds. The rules were that until you could pass the flying test, you were considered a nuisance and had to stay at the nesting grounds. Harold couldn’t pass the flying test because he was couldn’t land well.
When Harold came out of his egg, he came out coughing fire and tripping over the shell. Most other hatchlings flew clumsily out of their egg, barely able to blow smoke from their nostrils. The nesters, female dragons who were designated to take care of the dragon eggs, laughed at Harold’s attempt to simply walk out of the shell. Harold fell out of his egg and landed awkwardly on his back right claw. He collapsed onto the floor and the other baby dragons circled around him and blew smoke at him.
Harold knew that if he didn’t get up quickly he would be considered a lamed dragon. Dragons were born with the instinct to be better than the other dragons, but he didn’t feel that urge. He wanted to be himself, not what others wanted him to be. Just as one of the other dragons lunged forward to snap at Harold, he stood up, though in pain, and blew fire at the snapping dragon.
Dragons have very thick scales so the blast didn’t bother the dragon, but newly hatched dragons weren’t supposed to be able to blow fire until they were a few months old. The other hatchlings backed off quickly and no longer bothered the lamed dragon. As Harold attempted to walk, he quickly found that he couldn’t walk like the other dragons. While they took steps and raised their knees almost to their stomachs, Harold’s knee wouldn’t bend further than halfway. There was no pain, it was just how it bent. Harold walks with a limp, and when he landed after flying, he would always collapse to the ground.
While growing up, the other dragons would laugh behind his back but that didn’t matter to Harold. He knew that he was who he was for a reason. When the other dragons started collecting jewels, gold, and other “shinies”, Harold would tromp around the nesting grounds and pretend to be on an adventure. The dragons council talked to each other about Harold’s behavior, and discussed the possibility of exiling him out of the nesting grounds. He was lame and didn’t act like a normal hoarding dragon. Some argued that if a dragon was exiled from the nesting grounds, they would have no chance of survival. Others built on this and said that it would better the chances as a whole if they had no one needing protecting.
When Harold heard the rumors about being exiled, he was determined that if he was to be exiled, he would go on an adventure and never look back! After days of anxiously awaiting his exiling, he couldn’t take it any longer. He blew out a large plume of fire and rose into the air. He roared at the others and yelled to them that he was leaving on his own terms, and there was nothing they could do about it. He flew away from the nesting ground and dove into the valley below.
Harold had never seen the valley, but he had heard stories of villages that took two flaps of adult wings to cover. To Harold, that was an amazingly large village, as adult dragons only had to flap their wings if they weren’t gliding with the wind streams. All Harold had ever heard was stories from the nesters about life outside of the nesting grounds, stories of humans and their hostility towards each other and dragons.
Why a human would ever want to harm a dragon was beyond Harold. Dragons were peaceful in nature. Dragons were only hostile when someone or something threatened their pile of shinies or their eggs. The stories told of humans always wanting a dragon’s treasures, and the legend says that humans will kill their own to get it! It was absurd to think of that kind of brutality amongst the dragons.
As Harold flew over one of the smaller villages, he overheard some of the villagers yell in some language he didn’t understand. He was curious and decided to swoop down and take a closer look. When he was close enough to the village that he could see the straw on the roofs of the villagers houses, he hovered and listened. At first the language the humans were speaking sounds like a garbled mess but soon the dragon felt different, as if something in his mind flipped a switch and he was able to understand the humans talking.
The dragon was the main point of topic, they were scared of him and with that fear was something else that he couldn’t understand. The words themselves meant nothing to him, but the feeling he got from the words scared him. They were using words like “Kill” and “Slay”, which caused him to feel uneasy. The dragon lifted himself back into the airstream and coasted further out away from the nesting ground. The sun felt good on his wings and he could hear the ocean splashing on the rocks on one side of him. On the other side of him, a plume of smoke rose in the air.
Harold tilted his wings and body towards the smoke to investigate what was happening below him. The smoke was very dense in the air around him. Knowing he had to land, he tried to find a open area so he didn’t hurt himself in the process. He found a patch of tall grass and tried to land as easily as possible. He’d almost gotten the hang of it after many attempts to find the right process of landing on his good legs and easing into his bad leg.
Harold landed at an angle, hoping to relieve any stress on his bad leg, but found that he was going too fast. His bad leg hit the ground before any of the others and instinctually he pulled his other legs up. He landed on his side and folded his wings out, like he had to do many other times to prevent them from being damaged. He shook his head and let out a frustrated roar. No matter how many times he’s practiced landing, he could never get it right. He wished he only had three legs, because at least them he could have an excuse.
He stood up slowly and looked around in the smoke filled area. He heard something in the distance, but couldn’t make out what it was. He walked towards the sound, hoping he could catch what it was. The smoke was getting thicker as he closed in on the sound. Finally he was able to understand what it was. It was a female yelling for help, and a man yelling at her. The emotions he retrieved from the woman was desperation and fear, while the man emitted hatred and something Harold had never encountered before. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly what the feeling was, but he knew it made him feel scared for the woman.
The trees to the woods was barely spaced out enough for Harold to fit through, but he was determined to find an adventure when he first set out and an adventure was waiting for him in the woods. Harold roared into the woods and began walking through them to find his adventure.
– This is the end of part one, check back tomorrow for the second (and last) part of this short story –