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Deborah Cullins Smith

"The Dragon Egg" by Deborah Cullins Smith

SciFi/Fantasy text 7 out of 18 by Deborah Cullins Smith.      ←Previous - Next→
 
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A little girl defies her parents and the other villagers by hiding a dragon egg in her secret hideaway in the woods. She soon learns that dragons don't stay little for long.
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THE DRAGON EGG

By Deborah Cullins Smith



Mine!  All Mine!  Thought Jasmine with a giggle.  She ran a gentle fingertip over the rough surface of an enormous orb.  Dragon eggs were incredibly rare, and she really shouldn’t have stolen it.  The mama dragon might become just a tad cranky, but Jasmine banked on the supposition that perhaps dragons couldn’t count.  The nest still contained three golden-red eggs.  Surely three baby dragons would be enough to keep her busy.

A shiver raced up and down Jasmine’s spine.  Retribution would be swift and brutal if the mama reptile chose to vent her wrath.

“But maybe,” Jasmine whispered to the egg, “if I raise you as my very own baby, you won’t become mean like the others.  You could even protect us from your brothers and sisters.”  

She nodded her head, smiling brightly at the image that flashed in her mind.  The whole village would clap and cheer as her dragon glared angrily and bared its teeth at other intrusive monsters.  Those dragons would screech and flee in terror when they saw her astride the back of her personal guardian!  She would love him, feed him, then train him when he grew older.  Once the tribal leaders saw what she had accomplished, they couldn’t possibly be mad over one little broken rule, one stolen dragon egg.

For a brief moment, Jasmine’s seven-year-old face blanched at the formidable visage of her Mother towering over her own thin form, angry creases deepening between fierce eyebrows.

“Jasmine!  You shouldn’t wander off like that!  What if raiders came through the village?  I can’t protect you if I can’t find you!”

“Jasmine!  Just look at your gown.  Another tear.  Do you think cloth grows on trees?”

“Jasmine!  You’ve stepped on your Father’s new plantlings!  Do you want to ruin the garden?  What will we eat this winter without a harvest?”

But Jasmine raised her chin in defiance and the fearsome phantom image of her Mother vanished.

Jasmine patted her egg and fluffed the nest of soft moss and leaves, which she had gathered to cradle her treasure.  The grotto was Jasmine’s secret hideaway, the one place in the world where she could escape the scoldings of the adults.  It lay deep in the forest, far from prying eyes, and her egg would be able to hatch in safety.  Jasmine often brought wounded animals or orphans to her sanctuary and nursed them tenderly until they were well enough or old enough to survive on their own.

There had been a baby squirrel, which she named Persimmon.  Its mother had landed in the family stew pot.  Jasmine had whisked the babe before her brother could shoot it, and she had hidden it in her little niche, refusing vehemently to give away the location, even after the application of a willow branch to her backside.  When it was old enough, she had released it in the woods.  She could only hope he had not fallen prey to someone else’s soup pot.

Then there had been three baby sparrows, knocked from their nest.  Two died, despite her tender ministrations, but one had finally flown from her grotto.  Her heart had all but burst with pride as it took to the trees.

She’d been hard pressed to explain the bloody little teeth marks on her fingers when she had rescued a young fox from her father’s traps, but she, too had gradually come to trust Jasmine enough to allow the girl to tend her wounded foreleg.  Jasmine named her Cecelia.  Before long, the little fox had dashed away, stopping only once to blink her large brown eyes at the human who had saved her life.

The egg rattled and a hairline crack appeared under Jasmine’s tiny fingers.  She gasped in surprise.  So soon?  She jerked away as the egg rattled again and the crack became a fissure that widened from bottom to top.  Tiny claws appeared at the edge of the crack, and Jasmine almost forgot to breathe as she witnessed a new life form emerging from its shell.  An eye peeked out at her and a soft cheep echoed against the stone walls of the grotto.

“Come on, my little darling,” she cooed.  “Come on out.  You can do it.”

One golden eyeball blinked, then stared at Jasmine as a greenish-brown snout poked through the shell.  Another squawk revealed a row of sharp little teeth and the creature pushed his head completely out, revealing his second golden eye and spikes along the top of his head.  His curiosity matched Jasmine’s awe as they stared at one another.

Jasmine’s finger petted the tiny head, and discovered that the spikes were soft and tickled her knuckles.  She giggled and touched the small snout.  The dragonet nosed against her hand and chattered softly.  Jasmine giggled again.

“I’ll call youuuuuuu…” she thought hard for an appropriate name.  “Giggles?  Because you made me laugh?  No, no…” she said with a shake of her golden curls.  “Not scary enough.  No one will believe our village is protected by a dragon named ‘Giggles’.”  She thought again.  “What aboooooout…  Incense?  You’ll burn up other dragons and save us.  No, no, no… that’s not right either.”

Her frown deepened as she pondered her dilemma.

“I know!” she exclaimed as her eyes lit up and she clapped her hands in delight.  “Luminious – because you’ll light up the skies!  Once you learn to fly, that is,” she amended quickly.  “Besides, you are a dragon and your name must sound grand, for you will be the biggest and the best.”

The baby dragon shook off the remnants of his shell and flopped on the ground in front of Jasmine, wings flapping awkwardly on the mossy bed.  Jasmine scurried to the riverbank and picked a handful of berries, which she fed to the tiny creature one at a time.  It pecked at two berries, then its eyes drooped wearily.

“Poor babe,” murmured Jasmine.  “Being born is hard work, isn’t it?”

She removed a few pieces of the eggshell from the moss and placed a handful of berries nearby.

“You can eat these until I can come back to feed you again,” she said, petting the tiny head gently.  Then she ran home through the dense forest foliage, her heart beating with exhilaration.  I have a dragon! she thought as she ran.

Jasmine faced a stern scolding and a few snaps of the willow branch for disappearing again, but she considered it a small price to pay for the secret she held so near to her young heart!  She took her punishment meekly and still managed to sneak away one more time before sunset to check on Luminious.

Jasmine was awakened in the middle of the night by dreadful inhuman shrieks and her Mother’s urgent hands on her shoulders.

“Wake up, Jasmine!  You must run and hide!”

Jasmine heard the horns of the village alarms.  Watchmen only blew the horns when there was danger from raiders or…  her stomach flip-flopped…  of dragons!  Jasmine ran from her home, her small hand clinging to her Mother’s larger one.  A glance over her shoulder revealed an angry female dragon unleashing blast after blast of hot, fetid fire as she swooped over the village time after time.  Thatch roofs burst into flames and everyone ran for the trees where they could hide.  

Jasmine’s heart sank.  I guess she can count after all.  And this is all my fault.  What will the elders do to me, to my family, if they find out?

The men shot arrows and threw spears, but nothing seemed to stop the raging fury in the night sky.  A lucky slice by Elder Andrew’s sword ripped through the beast’s right wing, and a volley of arrows finally pierced her breast as the dragon plummeted to the ground.  Three of the strongest men in the village took axes to the body of the dragon, while the rest began dousing the flames to save what structures they could.

As the ‘all clear’ was given, the women and children crept back out of the woods to join the men in drawing water from the well for the fires.

“What could have caused the dragon to attack us?” asked Clarissa, the blacksmith’s wife.

“Our people have not encroached on a dragon’s territory for some eight summers now,” whined the plump village midwife.

“Nay, ‘tis only been three summers,” objected Dinara, the tanner’s wife.  “Remember the year when young Brendan tried to steal a dragon’s egg?  None has dared venture near the mountainside since.”

Jasmine felt the blood drain from her face and was thankful for the darkness of the night that hid her blush.  She glanced at her Mother, then quickly away again as she saw those sharp maternal eyes searching her trembling soul.

Surely she would not, her Mother was thinking.  But she did not ask the questions that might reveal her daughter’s complicity in the matter.  She was well aware that Jasmine had hiding places in the woods, but not even Jasmine would be foolish enough to play with a dragon’s fire…

    *        *        *        *        *        *

Jasmine stayed in the forest longer and longer each day, for her dragon was growing rapidly and seemed to require more and more attention.  At first, Luminious greeted her with curious cheeps and tilted his little head from side to side when she talked to him, just as though he understood every word.  After a few more berries and a bowl of water, he would curl up in her lap and sleep before awakening hungry again.  Jasmine smiled as she stroked the creature’s small head, for it was working out as she had planned.  The dragonet loved her and someday he would protect her village.  They’d never have to suffer another dragon attack like the one that had burned the roof off her home.

As Luminious grew, his appetite required more than berries.  One morning, Jasmine returned to the grotto to find the desiccated remains of two small squirrels.

“Oh, no!” she cried.  But when she tried to remove the carcasses, Luminious screeched furiously and snatched them from her hands, swallowing the remains in two large gulps.  Jasmine shook her finger and scolded the dragonet.  “No, you mustn’t…”  She stopped.  Her own family lived on meat.  Who was she to tell a dragon he could not hunt.  “Oh, very well,” she sighed.  “If you must eat meat, at least you don’t expect me to catch it for you.”

She sighed and pasted a smile on her chubby little face.  “It’s alright, Luminious.  I’m sorry I scolded you.”  

She petted his head and he nuzzled her hand.  That was the first moment she realized that his scales were hardening, and his spikes were no longer soft as goose down.  Still he seemed tame, and she knew she’d done right in claiming him for her own.  He was the future protection of her village.

A few weeks later, she returned to the woods to find the trees around her grotto blackened and the smell of burnt wood subtly blended with the wild herbs and the sunlit stream.  A tremor tickled her stomach, but Luminious seemed happy to see her, as he always was.  He was the size of a large dog now, but he still tried to cuddle up on her lap.  This time, a small puff of smoke escaped his nostrils as he exhaled, and scorched her skirt, leaving a small brownish-gray stain.

“Oh, dear,” said Jasmine.  “How am I going to explain this burn mark to my Mother?”

Luminious just looked up at her with those curious golden eyes.  They walked to the stream together, and Jasmine tried to wash out the stain.  It wouldn’t wash away, but they played together and splashed in the water until Jasmine forgot all about the brownish mark.

“What have you done to your gown?” her Mother asked with an exasperated sigh.

Jasmine’s face blushed to the roots of her hair.  “I-it’s just mud, Mama,” she stammered.

“You are worse than ten sons, Jasmine!”  Her mother thrust her second dress at her.  “Change into this and I’ll scrub that one this afternoon.”

“But that one is too small,” whined Jasmine, not wanting to give her Mother the chance to examine her dress too closely.

“Well, that’s too bad,” said her Mother angrily.  “You shouldn’t have been rolling in the mud.  Take it off NOW!”

Jasmine sighed and did as she was told, her mind running through a series of lies that might be believable.  It seemed she’d had to become more and more adept at lying since the dragon had come into her life.  She tugged the old gown over her head when she heard her Mother gasp.

“Jasmine!  This is not mud.”  Her Mother’s tone was deadly serious.  “This is a scorch mark.  Have you been setting fires in the woods?”

“No, Mama,” said Jasmine.  At least in this matter, she could be truthful.

Her Mother watched her closely, looking for signs of deceit as she continued.  But this wasn’t Jasmine’s usual scolding.  There was a small thread of fear in her Mama’s voice.

“I know you like to rescue animals, Jasmine, but… well… you… haven’t rescued any… dragons… lately, have you?”

“No, Mama,” replied Jasmine in a small voice.  Well, it was sort of true, she thought to herself.  She had indeed stolen a dragon egg, but it hadn’t been a rescue.

“Jasmine,” her Mother spoke hesitantly this time.  “Dragons look cute when they’re young.  But there is no beast quite like them.  They are not… tamable.  They might act like you’re their friend.  But dragons are deceitful creatures, and they will turn on you sooner or later.”

Jasmine said nothing, but her eyes glared out at her Mother.  Luminious loved her!  He would never turn on her.  Mama was wrong this time, and Jasmine was going to prove it.
 
“You do understand what I’m saying, don’t you?”

“Yes, Mama,” she said, with ill-concealed anger.  “I understand.”

    *        *        *        *        *        *

Each day, Jasmine was more and more convinced that Luminious would be her village’s defender.  Soon she would take him before the Council and show them how tame her dragon was.  Luminious was the size of a great stallion now, and endowed with a powerful appetite.  She rarely went into the grotto anymore; it was filled with the bones of more and more animals, and the stench was nauseating.  

Instead, they played in the woods and splashed in the stream.  Luminious was learning to fly now, and Jasmine loved to ride on his back as he glided through the trees.  She still did not allow him to fly above the tree line for fear that he would be seen and shot down.  But Jasmine loved to feel the wind whipping through her hair, enjoyed the exhilaration of soaring even a scant six or seven feet from the ground.  Someday she would ride Luminious right into the village square!  Then they would know she had done the right thing.

Still, the smell in the grotto bothered her and she wondered what she could do to change the eating habits of her dragon.

The day before the fall feast, a yearly celebration in the village after the crops had all been harvested, her Mother had spent all day turning out the beautiful golden loaves of bread for which she was well known.  With such an abundance, Jasmine decided her Mother couldn’t possibly miss two loaves.  She wrapped them in her apron and scampered into the woods the moment her Mother’s back was turned.  She wanted to be certain that Luminious would like the bread, for she planned to ride him in to tomorrow’s feast day celebration.  If he did indeed eat the bread, she could slip out with several more loaves in the morning.  Better to bring a full dragon to the village than a ravenous one!

Luminious stood upright on his hind legs and soared a good ten feet high now.  His green and brown scales rippled and glinted with sunlight, and his claws were over six inches long.  He was a marvelous sight!

“I brought you a treat,” Jasmine said, eyes shining with anticipation.  “Mama’s bread is the best in the village.”  She broke the first loaf in half and held it up.  Luminious nipped it from her fingers and chewed before gulping it down with a snort of pleasure.  He screeched happily as she laughed and held up the second half.

“I knew it!” she crowed with delight.  “I knew you’d love Mama’s bread.  Everyone does, you know.”

She held out the second loaf to break it, but Luminious dipped his head quickly and ripped the whole loaf from her hands with his teeth.  Pain shot through Jasmine, and she stared at her dragon as he sat back, the loaf in both forearmed claws.  He munched slowly on the first big bite, his eyes flickering at the new sensation.  He seemed to stop and stare at his newly acquired treat, then plucked a red-stained slice of something pink from the loaf.  He licked the fleshy tidbit, then gulped it down and roared with approval.  

Jasmine’s body shook as she looked down at her hands, now slick with blood.  Her index and middle fingers on her right hand were gone, and the smell of her own blood caused her breakfast to heave to the back of her throat.

“Mama!” she wailed as Luminious swallowed the second finger, chewing with a connoisseur’s appreciation.  He eyed her with fresh interest in his glowing, golden eyes as he slurped the blood from his sharp talons.  Jasmine’s fear and horror mounted as she watched the great beast lick his lips in anticipation.

←- Defeated | Just Another Pet Story -→

DateNameComment 
17 Aug 200645 Kim Smith
Ok first you make your own grandson to be the notorious bad boy of the village then you kill a little girl. No more late night horror movies for you young lady and no more M. Night Shamalan either.;P

:-) Deborah Cullins Smith replies: "But I live alone, and you don't visit often enough -- so I guess I'll watch whatever I want WHENEVER I want... **teeheeheeheehee** ~ the evil Grandma (ok, I'll make him the hero in the next one!)"
17 Aug 2006:-) Emma-Jane C. Smith
I probably would have done the same thing if I'd found a dragon's egg... although at the first moment it was naughty I would have dobbed it in so it didn't eat me! ^_^

But then again if I was a dragon I wouldn't have stayed with a human girl 'cause she'd be different to me. I'd seek out others like me.

Hmmm.. you've got me thinking with this cleverly crafted story! ^_^

And the most dangerous thing I did with animals was transport all kinds of creepy crawlies (including poisonous spiders) outside so they weren't killed by my rampaging family.

I used to love saving daddy-long-legs from their webs and putting them outside before mum came along with the broom! ^_^ I think they are my favourite of all spiders... them and taranchulars (or however you spell it!)

:-) Deborah Cullins Smith replies: "**shiver** I DON'T like spiders. Think I could deal with a dragon better than I can with spiders. I'm right there by your Mum with a broom and a can of insecticide! Anyway, I'm glad my dragon gave you something to think about, Em. Thanks for stopping in to comment, Sweetie! I always love to hear from you! ~deb"
17 Aug 2006:-) Chris A Jackson
Waa Hoo! First comment!

I do love this... Reminds me of all those dangerous things I brought home as a kid... Black widow spiders, snakes, poisonous salamanders... Well, they didn't eat me, but they did bite!

1 Deborah Cullins Smith replies: "Look at you go! I SAW that sexy little flamenco dance! **evil giggles** Glad you liked it, Chris! Thanks for taking the time out to give it a comment. But **cracks whip** back to Scimitar Moon now! I'm ready for more! ~deb"
12 Nov 2006:-) Peter F. Blair
My, what a tasty treat! Nothing like a good pun to go with a good story (well, I thought it was good anyway)...

I'm glad I read this. Looking forward to reading more!

:-) Deborah Cullins Smith replies: "A word to the wise.... never read from my library after a big meal.... **mmmmmuuuuuwwwwaaahaaaaaaaaaa** (Where is that evil laughter coming from???? I just had this shelf exorcised last month..... **shrugs** Musta' missed one... 2 deb"
22 Mar 200845 Anon.
thats real good u should go 2 skool for that and keep up da good work c u on flixster

54 Deborah Cullins Smith replies: "Thanks. I think I’m a little past the school bit.... I’m an old gal!"
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'The Dragon Egg':
 • Created by: :-) Deborah Cullins Smith
 • Copyright: ©Deborah Cullins Smith. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Dragon, Egg, Fire, Girl, Village, Woods
 • Categories: Dragons, Drakes, Wyverns, etc
 • Views: 1400

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More by 'Deborah Cullins Smith':
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Defeated
Picnic
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