Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.
- Hal Borland
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The dog sat on the furry doormat. The door frame made a big screen for his entertainment. He relished the wind before the big rains. The dog liked the chilly weather before the downpours. He was startled when the owner of the house sneezed loudly. The dog yapped back at her. The girl smiled as if she understood what the dog wanted to say. She sat on her favorite rocking chair by the window. The stony walls of the house were now starting to feel like icy surfaces. The hot chocolate with the marshmallows swirled around in the cup, as if the hot chocolate knew of the weather brewing around it. Fiona took a deep breath and enjoyed what Mother nature had to offer her. The cabin she was currently residing had been a home to her and her dog for many years. The woods around, the window that had a direct view of the waterfalls, the gazebo that faced the ominous woods and a short trail that led to the lake nearby was everything she needed. However that day, her dog seemed a little off. It was as if the dog had sensed what was happening in the near future.
The downpours started with a big whoosh of the winds. The surroundings, now fragrant with the petrichor, inspired the girl to grab her raincoat and walk to the lake. But she resisted the urge to run off while the muddy ground was being splattered by the unforgiving rains. She was going to go back to the comforts of the rocking chair when she heard a thunderous growl. To say that she was scared would be an understatement. She grabbed the dog’s collar and pulled him back. She shut the door with a loud boom. She hurried to the kitchenette in the far corner of the cabin. She grabbed the kerosene lantern and returned to her window seat. The dog curled at her feet sensing that she is scared. Soon the dark clouds loomed the skies and she had to use the lantern beside her. The small cabinet beside the chair now held the weight of the heavy lantern that grasped the light that flickered in the glass boundaries. She was slightly relieved as she regained the sight of the familiar surroundings and the wooden door that kept the horrors of the forests away from her.
Though she loved the musky scent of the forest, Fiona was not fond of being a dinner to the wild animals that lurked around. She quivered as the door stuttered but still held on the hinges on the doors. Her voice quavered as she asked in a weak voice, “Who’s there?” She was almost afraid of the answer she might get. But when her question was returned with a small wail, she knew she had to muster up some courage. She took a deep breath and made her way to the door and opened the wooden barrier a little bit. She was surprised to find no one outside. And she was completely gob-smacked when she saw what was on her doorstep.
With a bated breath she peered upon the little pile. And then she saw a tiny tail swishing about. Then a pair of wings opened up to show her the face of the creature. The creature then stretched out on the wooden plank and nuzzled at her feet. She couldn’t be more awed at the situation she was in. What she saw in front of her was a baby dragon, perfectly fine with black wings and a black tail and three golden stripes on his forehead. His anatomy fitted the descriptions she had read in many Irish mythologies. She had heard the stories that her ancestors were regarded as the protector of the dragons for centuries. She always thought that they were just exaggerated myths that were created to entertain children. And in the current situation, at the exact moment, she believed in every mythology, every legend, and every bit of the stories of her ancestors. As she was gazing at the baby dragon at her feet, the dog came running by her feet and growled at the intruder. As if alarmed by the tiny growl, the baby dragon opened its eyes. She saw the shade of ocean blue and grey mixed perfectly with each other. The baby dragon was unaware that the dog in front of him was actually threatening him. The mystical creature sniffed the dog’s scent and nuzzled his muzzle in the dog’s neck. She amusedly watched the two creatures interact. She wanted to laugh at the various emotions that flitted in the dog’s face.
It was unnatural and practically impossible to find a dragon on your doorstep. She knew that. She was aware of the fact that not only this cute little creature was of a predator species but one of the ginormous creatures that were always portrayed as the antagonist in many of the folklores that she had heard. It was indeed peculiar to find a baby dragon but at the same time she was fascinated and enthralled by the mere knowledge that the dragons existed. She was so curious about the dragon that she was contemplating of taking the beautiful beast inside her house. She knew it was madness to even entertain such a thought but she couldn’t help but feel enchanted by the mere antics of the dragon as he played around her dog. What a pair! She thought. The decision was already made by her heart, but her brain had yet to process the possible hazards and dangers that her actions will entail.
Throwing cautions to the winds, she picked up the baby dragon in her arms and carried him inside. The dragon kept his paws on her hand and wings closed. The dog followed the girl into the house as well. She made dragon a makeshift bed of hay and fodder beside her bed and the dog’s bed. Tomorrow morning, she would have to take out her bow and arrows and hunt. It would have been a lot better if the dragon would just slurp some of the milk. As if it gave her the idea, she brought out a carton of milk and poured milk in the dish and offered it to the dragon. She was astonished to actually see the dragon slurp the milk happily. And in that precise moment, she knew that whatever may happen in the future she wouldn’t ever abandon or give up on the baby dragon.
Outside, the weather had not gotten any better. It seemed like she should expect a storm tonight. Thank heavens that she had stocked her pantry the day before. The downpours seemed oblivious to the unexpected event that occurred at the cabin. The raindrops pattered outside, the trees swung around on the rhythms of the unforgiving winds. Inside, the dog and the dragon had settled beside each other and were fast asleep. The black skies cracked and thundered as she got the idea of the dragon’s name – Thunder. It was all fitting, she thought.
The ordeal had taken a toll on her body. She found her way to the bed and fell into a deep slumber, relinquishing the last of her worries to tomorrow.
The stony walls of the cabin resonated with a infectious laughter of a four-year old child. The fireplace cackled as the girl enjoyed its warmth. She was watching the embers fall out, when she heard a familiar voice behind her, “Time for bed, li’l one.” The elderly lady knew that it would be long before she would be tucked in the comforts of the blankets. But she tried nonetheless. The enthusiastic girl wobbled her way to her Grandma’s feet and asked in a singsong voice, “Can you tell me a story??Just one? Please”
How could she deny her favorite girl!, She sighed. “Just one, Missy. Then off to bed.” She carried the little girl to the rocking chair by the window. Her granddaughter sat in her lap, and she began,
“It was a time long ago, when our ancestors used to live together. Our culture was blooming and flourishing. Master Stoorworm, the ancestor of the Doman-hill clan kept peace between the neighboring lands. Master Stoorworm was a feral warrior and admirable chieftain. Everything was good. But one fine day, Master Stoorworm was approached by an unknown druid. No one knew where he came from or what he wanted. It is rumored that the druid came hooded, so that no one could see his scarred face. Some people said that he came to warn the chief of the danger. Some said he cursed the clan when he entered through our gates. Some said that he needed a hiding place for a secret. Some thought that the druid had come to take a test of the clan in face of danger. And other rumoured that the druid actually wanted to hide something so important that it would make other people question the fine line between myths and history. Some people said that as the druid exited the gates, a vicious creature swooped in on the clan.
At this point, the girl had climbed on the cabinet besides the window and was going to jump. “Swoop!! Here comes the dragon”, the girl yapped happily. She jumped knowing that she was going to fall in her Grandma’s safe hands. The elderly lady laughed at her antics. She had narrated this part many times before and every time, the girl showed some different tricks. “Come here, li’l one, We are getting to your favorite part.”
The girl settled and the story continued,
“The ferocious creature was like none the clan had seen before. They were gob-smacked. But Master Stoorworm stood stoic in the face of adversity. Many wanted to kill the beast. But the master had wisdom like none other. He approached the beast steadily. The creature peered through his big beady eyes at the man approaching. The slow movements showed no signs of harm.
The dragon calmed down. Master Stoorworm stood a staunch stance and bowed. As if the dragon understood the gesture, it bowed back. People of the clan were astonished. Their admiration for their chieftain strengthened. From that day, he was regarded with utmost respect. When people feared the mere mention of the vicious creatures and the horrific tales that were spun by the travellers, Master Stoorworm had been one of the few that had remained fearless of the dragon. At that time, the dragon used to plunder and destroy anybody and everyone that crossed their path. The numbers increased and the threat to humanity increased. Though the dragons never hunted humans, the cattle were their prey and they never liked interferences when they hunted. However, Master Stoorworm was one of the few valiant warriors that believed that the druid as well as the dragons visited the Doman-hill clan for a reason and they never actually meant any harm to the ones that were amiable to co-existence.
And since then, the clan believed that the dragons were actually the protectors. They tamed the dragons, fed them and took care of them. And like any other creature on the planet, the dragons were satisfied knowing that the people they were protecting actually cared of their welfare. And so the history was made as the Doman-hill clan became most powerful clan with the strength of fifteen dragons with them.
One day, suddenly the Dragons all disappeared leaving no traces behind. It all came as a shock to the people of clan. The subjects cried and grieved at the sudden loss and the departure of their beloved pets. But then, the druid came back. This time people were eager to hear his words.
Master Stoorworm asked,“ What brings you to the gates of my clan, yet again?”
The druid from under his hood answered,
“Fate has brought me here. The dragons that had protected your clan these many years will continue to do so. Here, amongst the highlands, they were at great risk. Know that a dragon will come to each of the descendant of Master Stoorworm who had handled the situation of perilous danger so efficiently. Every generation, the dragon would serve the clan as a repayment of the care shown towards the beast by your people.”
Other clans never believed that the dragons actually existed and often referred the Doman hill clan as the Dreamweaver. Soon, It was a folklore that every time a royal dragon was born, a druid would hand it over to a descendant of Domanhill clan. The other dragons would follow the lead of both the human and the dragon. The clan was later shifted to the mountains. Rumors were they went into hiding from the fear of exposing their secrets to the world. But...”
The girl yawned, but still gazed out of the window with a sleep face, “Only time would tell if the myth is true or not.” The girl completed the story. She had heard the Lore almost everyday and it never failed to bring satisfaction to her curious mind.
“In time, I would get a dragon.” She said, “wouldn’t I?”
Her Grandma laughed and carried her to the bedroom, “Yes dear, For now, hold on to that thought and sleep. There will be a time when you will bring great difference to our clan. Goodnight Fiona!” She tucked her into the bed and she was asleep.
Grandma sat by the window, rocking slightly in her chair. Outside the window, she could see the black dragon near the waterfalls with his family. For now, they were all safe up in the high mountains, both the dragons and the clan.
She woke up with a start from her rough mattress as if it suddenly pricked her. She was sweating profusely. She blinked repeatedly until she regained her sight of her surrounding and calmed down by the the thought that she was still safe. But not any longer. She would have to descend down to the lowhills and notify the clan. Her clan had been her priority since she had taken up her responsibilities of the chieftain. She had handled every threat so well that her valour had scared many warriors for they never knew that a girl could be so ruthless and brutal. Many had called her names that she dared not remember. It was because of the young ones in the clan that she had shifted to the cabin high up on the hill. The fear oozed from their eyes as the children had watched Fiona take a lead on the hunting trip. Ian, the Druid had recommended her that the cabin would be beneficial for the surveillance too. Tomorrow, she would have to take a trip down and notify the clan of the legacy that had been, yet again, bestowed by the spirts upon the Domanhill clan. She was safe up here. Safe from the cruel words that had sliced through her heart. Safe from the mind games the fearful looks of her clan played with her delicate sanity.
But now that Thunder had entered her life, her responsibilities had doubled. The stony walls of the cabin could no longer hold her safe. The other clans would soon know and they would demand to execute the beast because they too are afraid of the power that rested within her hands.
These thoughts swirled on her mind as she absently made her way around the cabin to do her morning ablutions. The dragon and the dog were still sound asleep. What a family she had here, she mused. A clan that had faith in her to protect them from any danger but still feared her for her brutality, a dog fiercely protective of her that he almost threatened a dragon, and a baby dragon with such a beautiful eyes that she would kill anyone who even thinks ill about him. She sighed. It was gonna be a long day.
Later she had a meeting with the elders of the clan. They were petrified when they got to know that she had brought that baby dragon with her. They knew that the folklore had destroyed many relations of the clan to the other in the world. The mere stories of the beasts had complicated things for the clan. It was almost three decades that the dragons had vanished from the face of the earth. The mountains no longer were home for the clan or the dragons. The elders outright rejected the idea to make the dragon a part of the clan. They wanted to kill that little thing and end the matter once in for all. But then, Thunder opened its stormy eyes and everyone in the room was in awe. He was a majestic beast. Her second in command broke the impending silence,
"Chieftain, Ye gonna keep this beauty, right?"
Fiona grinned. This was byfar the easiest negotiation ever. Those ocean blue eyes had captured the hearts of the warriors. Besides, she had already made up her mind. If the other clan had issues with Thunder, they would just have to deal with it.
With that, she was wondering if the clan would still accept her for who she was or they would just frown at her rebellious deeds. Her ancestors had been so responsible that no one had ever waged a war against a clan. They had always sorted it out verbally. Even when, the dragon was bestowed upon the chiefitain, they had always tamed the wild spirits of the dragon. But she had different plans. She planned to let the dragon grow and flourish according to its own nature.
That night after many years, she had first relished the hearty meal with her clansmen in the Great Hall. After the death of her Mother and Father, she had been somewhat recluse. She only talked to those who approached her or those who needed her help. But now because of the baby dragon, every man, woman and child had seeked her out to just catch a glimpse of the new dragon. She was enjoying.
Just then, the elder of the clan stood up from his seat. He was an old man, with a big red beard, a bald patch of his head and big beady, twinkling eyes that welcomed anyone who approached him for advice. He was one of those people who had supported her no matter the circumstances. He took the goblet of wine in his frail hand and spoke, "Attention everyone! Today, we've gathered to celebrate the joyous occasion of arrival of the dragon in our clan. For years now, our clan had been known as the protectors of the beast. And we shall continue to uphold the tradition. Our chieftain, Fiona Stoorworm had always looked out for our benefit. She has fought for justice and avenged the brutal deaths of the previous chieftain and killed many just to protect our clan. And she had proved that she doesn't pose a threat to her own clan as many amongst us believed her to be. She had been in exile for seven years. Its time you understand that Fiona here is as good as any ancestors that had brought peace to the clan. Do we agree on this?" He asked the crowd. Soon the hall roared into life by many Ayes and hoots.
"By the authority of the spirits, I welcome Fiona Sophie Stoorworm back into the Domanhill clan as its chieftain. I hereby urge you to vow that you shall nurture and safeguard the tradition and cultures of the clan and take up the responsibility of protection of your clansmen."
Everybody silently awaited by response
"I solemnly vow." Fiona uttered.
"Welcome back, Chieftain Fiona. Good to have you back." The elder greeted smilingly.
"Also, I hereby announce that the spirits had once more smiled upon us and bestowed with the little beauty named Thunder. To the adventures ahead!"
Soon the goblets were refilled and the dances had begun. Everything around seemed so surrealistic. It had been her dream to be a part of the family again. Her clansmen had accepted her. She had finally gotten. The legacy she always wanted as a child. At that precise moment, she had everything she needed. A family, A dream and many adventures ahead.