“What kind of monsters should we be wary of? Is there any that we should watch out for?” Hailstorm asked. Shadow knew that he’d probably already read about every dangerous monster on the whole continent, but it was still a good question. Shear smiled and nodded, grateful for the chance to prepare them as much as possible.
“There are a few nasty ones. The magic zones where dragons live are full of dangerous monsters and other creatures drawn there by the mana in the area. Dragons are no exception. Many tribes can live almost entirely off the magic in the air when inside one of these zones. We still need some actual food for nutrients, but mana gives us energy and charges our magic. Some monsters can exist entirely on mana alone. For example, in every tribe there are different elementals which are made of pure magic and whatever element happens to be around. There once was a time when ancient mages could make elementals but that was more than 200 years ago.”
Shadow was awed that such powerful dragons once existed. He wanted to ask about them but Shear had already moved on.
“Monsters are very different depending on where you go so I can’t say much about them. Some of the more common dangerous monsters are wyverns, which are small dragon-like flying creatures that hunt in packs and can easily overwhelm a dragon who wanders into their territory. Krakens and other large sea monsters can drag dragons underwater and drown them. Basilisks can kill anything that looks them in the eye for too long. In some places there are even brightly colored insects that can kill a dragon with poison from just one bite. In the Sky Wing magic zone there were massive terridons with wingspans twice that of a dragons who would dive down on unsuspecting dragons from above,” Shear shivered at the memory.
“So, until you know what dangerous creatures live in a magic zone be very careful. Especially since you aren’t full grown dragons yet,” she finished. Everyone nodded, trying to remember everything she’d said.
“C-can I wrap my arms around you?” Aurora asked sheepishly.
Shear smiled gently and nodded with a tear in her eye as she opened her wing to receive the hug. Aurora walked up and leaned in as she wrapped her arms around Shear’s neck and cried. The rest of the dragonets all crowded around Shear and hugged her together while Shadow stood off to one side awkwardly. Shear spread her arms and wings as far as they would go around the dragonets and squeezed them tight.
“No matter what happens I want you to know that I will always be your guardian. Even if the whole world turns against you, I will protect you. Now go and do what you have to do. Be free and support each other through the difficult times ahead.” She released them and looked back in the direction of the cave.
I wonder how I’ll explain this to the wings of protection. I doubt they’d accept that it felt wrong to keep them trapped in that dark cave any longer. Perhaps… She thought as she readied herself to take flight, but Shadow interrupted her.
“Wait! Shear I have an idea.” He said quickly. As he listened to her thoughts he’d looked around and found something that might solve her problem.
“Here take these.” He said offering her some white death berries he had found nearby.
“What are these?” Shear asked curiously as she took the berries.
“They’re called white death berries.”
Everyone looked at him with horrified faces.
“Wait, wait! They won’t kill you! If you have too many then they can kill a dragon, but a few of them will just put a dragon to sleep for a while. I used about ten to put Quake to sleep so six or seven should be enough for you to convince Quake and the Wings of Protection that you were knocked out just like Quake was.” Shadow explained. The shocked looks were replaced by concern and worry, but Shear smiled at Shadow and put a talon on his shoulder.
“Thank you. With these I won’t be blamed for your escape,” she said gratefully, understanding why Shadow was giving her the berries. Shadow nodded solemnly and Shear nodded back. Then she turned to the other dragonets.
“Take care of this one. There might be more to him than you realise,” she said glancing at Shadow and giving him a wink before taking a deep breath and launching into the sky to fly back to the cave.
Her last words sent Shadow’s mind into a whirlwind of questions. Did she know about his ability to read minds? Did she think he had some kind of future sight? Or was she simply saying that to encourage the dragonets to befriend him?
All these things swirled around in Shadow’s head along with the other dragonet’s thoughts that he was trying to ignore. He was so focused on what was going on inside his head he almost missed the talon on his shoulder.
“So, what are you doing to do now?” Boulder asked. Shadow shook himself. This wasn’t the time to worry about what Shear had meant. First he had to figure out what he was going to do now that the dragonets were free.
“I-I’m not sure. Until today I’ve always lived in the forest, hiding from everyone just in case they tried to kill me. I suppose I’ll just go back to dragon valley and wait for Jarid to return,” Shadow said with a shrug.
It felt strange to simply go back to his old day to day life now that he’d done something so exciting. His adventure had been short but enjoyable and he’d been able to help the dragonets. That was good. It would be a bit lonely without them though.
As he was thinking this Hailstorm walked up and started staring at him with a strange kind of strained face. Shadow was puzzled for a moment before he heard the flurry of thoughts streaming out of Hailstorm’s mind.
Hold back, don’t ask, he probably doesn’t want a lot of questions right now. What is dragon valley? How come he seems to know us if he’s never talked to a dragon before? No! Don’t ask! Don’t even think about asking who Jarid is or how he survived or what kind of powers Night wings have! He was nearly trembling as he tried to hold back all his questions.
“I’m sure you have a lot of questions. Just go one at a time and I’ll do my best to answer them.” Shadow said, smiling at how Hailstorm had to force himself not to ask questions. Hailstorm nodded and was able to calm down somewhat.
“Ok. First, how did you not get killed with all the other Night wings, and who raised you?”
“My mother was a princess in the Night wing kingdom but my father was not someone she was allowed to mate with and so she fled here in order to protect me. She was wounded and crashed here in the forest. Jarid found her there and my mother made him promise to raise me. She gave him the knowledge he needed to raise me along with my egg. Then Jarid hid as the dragons that had been chasing her arrived. They were about to kill my mother and Jarid tried to stop them, but they knocked him unconscious. In a rage my mother used her dying breath to slash the attacker in the face, but he turned and killed her right after. I hatched just as Jarid woke up and he raised me as his brother.” Shadow explained. The other dragonets had crowded around to hear his story and looked excited as he finished.
“Wow! That’s so cool! Your brother must have been so brave to try attacking a full grown dragon on his own like that.” Gale said excitedly.
“What kind of dragon is your brother?” Tempest asked. Then in dawned on Shadow that he had forgotten to mention that small detail.
“Oh, Jarid isn’t a dragon. He’s a human.”