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|A short (yes) text (supposedly) written by a biologist while following a very, very interesting creature...||
Southern Karzimmountains, Third of New spring, 1658 after Armitain
Pano Undelin, Biologist, Celdarn
Right after dawn I leave for my usual hiding-place to await the departure
of the female. According to my estimations the time soon must come for
the eggs to hatch and it's with risk of my own life that I will venture
into the cave. The villagers I've been staying with calls me crazy that
even consider moving in these woods that they think are "cursed". I've
let them believe that I am studying the local wolf packs but if they knew
my real intentions they would surely try to stop me.
I lay down to wait for the female early. My hideout lies an assuring bit from the cave entrance and the female's excellent sense of smell. Would she sense me it would probably mean an end to my dear life. With a view of the cavern and the clearing of the woods right beside the entrance I can easily see my objects of study and their protector. No one has before come this close to a nest, and there is definitely no one who has ever seen a hatching.
The sudden blink of light catches my attention. It's the female who carefully peeks out of the cave. Her metallic skin catches and reflects the dim sunlight and creates interesting patterns of lights and shadows on the ground. She's a fine example of av Virax Dracus Draconum Metalli Argenti, only the head must be nearly two metres long and the chill blue eyes looks cautiously at the surroundings. When the female takes a step out in the clearing I can see that she is about 11 metres long and the six tail-spikes are all intact. Her muscles bulge under the thick, silvery skin's tight scales as she stretches out her still tired legs. With a last look at the cave she spreads her enormous wings and with a powerful leap she is in the air and flies off to hunt.
After I've made sure that the female has left I carefully crawl up to the cave. The ground around the entrance is hard and firmly trampled and in the air lies a thick but indistinguishable stench. A rich smell that pressures the mind but yet isn't all that uncomfortable, a scent that reaches into every part of your body and touches it, the smell of "age" that commoners so brutally call it. The smell of a dragon. Shivers flow along my spine the closer I get to the cave itself. On the ground I can se scales the female must have dropped while scrubbing her body against the walls.
I gather courage and venture further into the cave that isn't as dark as I would have imagined. The sunlight from outside reaches in here too and gives shapes and forms to the darker parts of the cave. The ceiling is high above me and the tunnel is wide, broad enough to fit at least two members of Metalli Argenti. Then the tunnel opens up into a large cavern. The air here is heavy, thick and filled with new scents. Not just the rich smell special for Draconum but also different odours of life and death. A warmth quite unexpected shudders in the air. This heat probably originates from the cadavers and rotting plants that lies piled along the walls. Their decomposing requires a lot of energy and produces as much warmth.
In the centre of the chamber I found what I've been looking for, what I'm risking my life for. On a bed of half-rotten plants lies two barely meter long eggs. Their shells are matte and vary in different speckled shades of grey. The eggs are a bit elliptic in shape, like birds' eggs, not as round as reptilian eggs. The both eggs have been carefully imbedded in rotting plants. Perhaps that is how they are kept warm, as the female is far too huge to lie on the eggs herself. I dare to touch on of the grey spheres. It's warm and the shell is kind of leathery, not at all as hard as it seems to be.
Startled I draw back my hand as the egg begins to move under it. A tiny shudder, that's all. The egg is still. Just as I begin to imagine that it was just a trick played by my tense mind the egg moves again. As a faint twitch. Without warning the shell is stretched out, just above the ground, but seizes just as quickly. The egg has begun to hatch and the little creature inside has started its struggle to get out of its prison. The egg shivers again and the shell is stretched further this time as the battle inside intensifies.
Slowly a small tear appears in the surface and I can begin to see a glimpse of a small grey nose. After many hard struggles the tiny creature manages to get its round head out of the egg. It opens a pair of big, pitch black and pupil-less eyes and blinks hesitatingly. Then it opens up a mouth already filled with small sharp teeth and draws its very first breath. It puts a pair of small feet between the shell and the head and tears up the leathery egg. Soon the new-born hatchling can crawl out of its prison and happily shakes its head.
The infant is just slightly bigger than the egg is has just left and a large part of the body consists of the round head with the huge eyes. The skin has a matte, greyish tone and gives no hint on what colour the dragon will have when it grows up, as I had hoped it would. A pair of very small wings, simply chubby hands with thin membranes between the fingers, sits right behind the short and stubby neck. The little creature tries to stand up but just as it stops to swing back and forth it gets to heavy by the head and tumbles back onto the ground. The young dragon is so filled with life where it tries to get a grip of its on body. The large, black eyes examines the surroundings with curious, and intelligent, eyes and even fills me with warm parental feelings.
And so the other eggs also starts to shiver heavily and soon another baby dragon is born into the world. Oddly enough it's smaller than its sibling and wobbles around on the ground beside the nest in a drunken way. The older of the hatchlings watches the new-born with a look I cannot describe. Perhaps it's interest, curiosity or lack of understanding? It don't take long until the youngest one gets a grip of itself and proudly walks around the nest with the head hold up high, full of life.
Then something very strange happens. The older of the baby dragons stands up on its hind legs and when the other one comes in reach it throws itself on the youngest of them. With a clumsy thump it lands on the back of the smaller sibling and starts to chew on its neck, slowly but not carefully. The hatchling begins to scream in panic, a high pitched and screeching sound that tears into my ears. I cannot understand what has caused this. The little creatures that were so full of vitality seem to be locked in a battle of life and death. The youngest one screams frantically and I start to fear that the female can't be that far away.
The subdued sound of wingflaps from a very big creature confirms my suspicions and suddenly I find myself trapped between the chamber and the approaching female. I avoid the battling hatchlings and try to hide behind the nest, the only thought I can make out of all the suggestions and ideas in my panicking and terrified mind. I can still hear the cries from the youngest dragon as the sibling continues with the torture. I desperately try to understand why the hatchling is acting like this. What drives these creatures of life and death to battle their own already after birth?
Everything silences and I feel a cold sensation along my spine. I can sense the presence of the female dragon in the cavern. The heavy smell of age surrounds me and presses against my head. An indescribable fear is slowly nestling deeper into my conscience. Dragonfear. I can barely control myself enough to continue to write. The chamber now feels incredibly huge and I damn myself for being foolish enough to go here. Reluctantly I begin to sweat and breathe heavily. I fumble with the pencil but manage to get the hold of myself.
The females clear breathing and deep sounds can be heard from nearby. I can hear both hatchlings chirp and sound, two creatures, one stronger and one weaker and more sporadic. I start to regain hope. The female might not have noticed me after all. Maybe she will take her young and leave this place. Perhaps…
Then the females muffled sounds stop. The chamber is silent except for the irregular chirps from the young ones. And my writing. To late I…
Southern Karzimmountains, Twenty sixth of Autumn, 1661 after Armitain
Iben Undelin, Biologist, Celdarn
The cave is long since abandoned even if the dried shells still remain
in the nest. Along the walls rotten cadavers lie in piles and one can no
longer see their origin. You cannot even make out what has been animal
and what has been humanoid.
My brother's documents, that Iben now complete, have been found near the nest. After many days of tough reading and rewriting have I figured out the text on the last pages, the ones Pano wrote before his death, that were stained with blood and dirt. What has happened to Pano Undelin, may Bhraan have mercy on his soul, remains a mystery even though it seems as if he has been slain by Virax Dracus Draconum Metalli Argenti, as both his documents and other evidences points to this.
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