I. i up. glance me made flapping and rustling great a paragraph, important
particularly of conclusion the to coming was I As peaceful. it all in but
rustle, occasional gave around wildlife trees The paper. white onto thoughts my
away scrawling quietness, sat IntroductionsHTMLHEAD
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BODY"Hi!"/I the great behemoth above me called. I"Hey Starskimmer."/I I
replied, only mildly puzzled. Starskimmer is my dragon, or, rather I am her's,
pupil and friend, but she is one of two dragons I am well acquainted with.
Imagine a person five feet tall, standing with their arms and legs out. Imagine
behind them, a great eye that tall and wide. That is the beginning of
Starskimmer. How long she truly is, I am not quite sure, though it be miles from
nose to tail-tip. Now, picture that great eye as just a normal part of a huge
face, as big as a room. Then beyond that her mammoth of a body, and wings twice
all that. Difficult, I know. Aside from size, she is a deep royal purple, with
white flecks down her back. Her nose begins with a small horn protruding from
it, great smoking nostrils, below that a smiling jaw with two teeth showing, a
jaw that could open up rather wide and spout flame. A horse-like head, sort of,
two cat-eyes and two more horns atop her head. Earflaps, and then between the
two horns, ridges that continue on, smaller and smaller until the very tip of
her tail. Great wings somewhat like a bat's, with the same long, bony structure
holding the leathery tendons into a somewhat defined shape, wings which, to
support it, are twice in length and width of her body. She has four limbs, two
frontal arms and back legs. Her arms end in great steel-like claws, four and one
smaller one facing backwards like a hawk's. Her backlegs are somewhat like a
cat's or a dog's, the inverted knee, but, replacing the paw is a drawn-out claw
and again the last one facing opposite. A long, sinewy tail that served many
uses, most of them associated with vanity. She is a scaled dragon, a
warm-blooded reptile. Perhaps, her kind may even be the major link between
dinosaurs and birds. Most of her genus are the same, though colours vary
greatly. Starskimmer herself has a pleasant disposition, she is amiable and
kind. I think she could not stand to be in a cramped cave, she prefers the
outdoors and great fields with stretching sky above. She keeps horses and
unicorns (yes, unicorns) She thinks humans taste unpleasant and stringy (I am
not sure on what occasion has she tried one) but make good friends. As with most
of her genus, she has great inborn magic skills, which she has been so kind as
to teach me. I am a mage-in-training, a Dragon's Kin. Dragon Magic is very
strong, very potent, very helpful, and very exhausting. Luckily it gets easier
with practice. Within her family, large even for dragon standards, they practice
magic by oral incantations, manifested in great glowing spheres in various
colors. One then hurls the orb at that which one wishes to perform magic on, and
it is done. The more one uses this technique, the less one misses. I shall
explain further as I go along. I"What are you doing?"/I She asked. I"I'm
writing." "I can see that. What about? Why?" "Its relaxing. Therapeutic."/I I
had just had a squabble with my sister which left me angry. I" I'm going to
get this piece published"/I That was a determined statement, not an
observation. I"It's about dragons." "What about dragons?" "Descriptions and
such. If I do it right, I might get a lot of money for it." "I see. And then
it's published as fiction so you will not be looked on as a blasphemer or a
psychopath or anything. Good racket. But I need to show you something. It's
important. Besides, it's been awhile since you've visited."/I I sighed. I did
so love writing, and the need to place down my thoughts seemed imperative.
Nevertheless, if Starskimmer said it was important, it was important. And it
would be fun to visit. I"Okay. Spitfire, too?" "Yup."/I She picked me up
with one immense claw and deposited me on the spot between her wings. She rose
into the air, did a spiral and flew straight, as if expecting to pass through
something. And we did. Though I could barely tell, we flickered out of my world,
and into another. Dragons travel Iinter-dimensia/I, between their own world
and many others, including their original home, Earth. I cannot sense anything
in between, only the dragons know that it is not completely instantaneous.
According to something that I'm pretty sure has to do with quantum physics,
there is not just the infinity of space in our dimension, but an infinite
numbers of other dimensions, and infinite number of Earths, or Earth-like
planets. Due to severe amounts of slaying and constant re-discovery of habitats
and hideouts, dragons relocated to one of the paralell-earths. The gravity works
the same, the air does not. There is less oxygen, even at small elevations. I
believe in valleys and such, the grass will collect oxygen, not just give it
off, in a shield above them for their co-habitors, all the 'regular' animals
that preside there. But it looks pretty much the same. As soon as we arrived, I
gave a mental call and beside us Spitfire appeared. Spitfire and Starskimmer are
sisters. Spitfire is a bright orange-red, shade variations depending on lighting
and area. She is about the same size as Starskimmer, but she is rather
hot-tempered, barely thinks twice about who or what she is devouring, and loves
a good battle. She is an excellent flame-dragon, hence her name. She is not too
aggressive, though her anger runs deep. I"Hello!" /Ishe bid me as she flew
in quick, tight circles. I"Starskimmer has quite a 'new discovery' . Nothing
exciting, but intriguing indeed."/I I could only wonder at what the two of
them had found, and I settled down on a rock, intending to be told. II. Travels
I"Oh no no no, don't sit down!"/I Starskimmer said. I"It would be no good
explaining it to you, there is nearly nothing to explain. You have to see."/I
I"Will we travel far?" /II inquired. I truly wanted to get back to my
writings. I"Oh, no not very. Just up to the Northern Woodlands." "I thought
you really don't visit there." "No, we don't. But that's where the discovery is,
silly!"/I Spitfire just kind of snorted and lay on some rocks, which meant she
was interested in whatever it was but not enough to fuss about it. I"Okay,
then. Can we get going?" "Yes. Climb on." /II settled onto a comfortable spot,
ready to travel, as I had so many times before, a-dragon. Dragonback can be very
uncomfortable if you are not used to it, and you can be bumped straight off. But
in the right spot it is positively exhilarating, usually between the two wings,
just behind the head, or just behind the shoulderblades. The scales ran back
like shark's skin, so as long as you do not rub forward hard it felt smooth.
With the body heat these creatures give off, it could be blizzarding just a few
feet from it and you could be plenty warm tucked beneath two skinflaps. In
planetary flight the dragon will need to flap it's wings only occasionally, they
are very good at trapping air, so dragons glide easily. And they love aerial
tricks and stunts, especially if accompanied by a passenger; makes it all the
more exciting. Loops and twirls and drops and chases and spins; they are masters
in the air. Truly, though, Starskimmer and Spitfire's breed at least have wings
designed for spaceflight. They claim that atmosphere is heavy, puts pressure on
their mammoth wings. Also, they can breath fire in space, so I reason they type
of fire is not the sort we know at all, needing oxygen to kindle it. We took off
with a jolt, a jump into the air, then a outstretch of wings and then we were
off. There were a few great ups and downs for a moment while she pumped her
wings, like driving over hills quickly, then she glided. Spitfire came in from
behind and over, darted in front, a challenge. Considering this would be a
longer-than-usual flight, they decided to enjoy themselves. Don't get me wrong,
riding on the backs of such an immense creature can be disorienting and
nauseating. I could barely contain my stomach when I first flew, and I'm good
with those kinds of things. But, once you get attuned to it, when your head
stops spinning and your insides stop revolting, it's just plain fun. First
Starskimmer just lashed her tail around, like a cat. ( They do a lot of things
in a feline way. I have two cats-rather, again, two cats have me, or just live
in my house- and it's amazing how similar they can seem sometimes, mostly when
they're stretching and sleeping.) Then she leaped at Spitfire, who narrowly
avoided being pushed into a fall. She only laughed and flew under, giving her a
momentary advantage, because Starskimmer had to turn around. Suddenly it struck
up a memory of a battle scene from IDragon's Blood,/I by Jane Yolen. It was
like that, except they never paused and it was friendly. The same sort of
darting maneuvers, though. You see, even before I had met dragons, I had read
about them and had wanted to meet them. Good fortune that I did. Extremely good
fortune, almost a coincidence, but I knew that there was no such thing as
coincidences. Ok, I know that sounds like an IX-files/I thing, but it's
Btrue./B Next time something strange happens, see if you can find underlying
patterns or reasons. It's nearly impossible at first, but I can detect them OK
now. Anyhow, I clung on tight to the ridge right in front of me as Starskimmer
and Spitfire nipped at each other. Then Starskimmer dropped, and did a weird
sort of cyclonic spin that always made me laugh giddily. She blazed past the
ground and was off in a flash into the distance, far ahead of Spitfire. I turned
back and saw her look bemused, then she quickly sped to catch up with us. I
laughed happily at the thrill and joy of this, and you would too. Oh, how I
would like to take you a-dragonriding. Human companions are something I always
crave, new friends. I hummed to myself a little tune I made up as I went. IOh,
I would take you a-dragon, a-dragonriding Oh, we would go a-dragon, upon a
dragon's back Far and free into the yonder, we would travel wide between
wingbeats we would speak, upon the tough dragon-hide Oh, but would you be
afraid, my friend, of sharp claws and long teeth? Would you cower beneath If we
went a-dragon?/I I was famous(perhaps infamous) for making up such little
ditties day and night. I love to play with words in my head, and though I be
'musically challenged', I still made up songs. Let's see... IPerhaps a gentle
mare, a worthy, steady steed? Or a machine made out of iron and wood? Travel
light or travel heavy heading far or near come only with me, my friend for the
only way to travel Is a-dragonback!/I I felt it such a shame I had left my
paper behind, as primitive as it was. So instead I leaned sideways-only a little
bit, too far and I would be off- and saw where we were. Rising mountains, rocky,
but with some trees. We were heading towards the manor of the Dragon Council,
not a pleasant bunch, half of them stuffy and old. They were the overseers of
major events and affairs, and I had encountered them more than once. What was
most frightening, is that whenever I was pushed into the center of that great
hall, surprisingly I lost all my stage skills. I love acting and audiences.
There are just some people who catch you off guard the same way a two-by-four
catches you in the head, and last time I was reduced to severe stuttering and
coughing. No matter, though. I wouldn't have to go there now, so I left the
memory to drift. The most frustrating thing about it, though, was that a few
days later I had thought of a million better things to say and do. Does that
happen to you? With a mental nudging, Starskimmer glided closer to the ground. I
breathed in the sweet air of the pool below me, eyes closed. I heard a very
peculiar sound, and opened my eyes to see two water-nymphs, bedecked in glittery
green and blue dresses and hair decorated with seaweed, arguing over what seemed
to be a very ordinary river-rock. The left nymph, with purplish eyes, dropped
the rock into the pool-bottom, causing both nymphs to push and shove, trying to
get in the water ahead of one another. I laughed and swung my feet about a
little. I had an urge to say "curiouser and curioser!" like little Alice.
I"Starskimmer, I didn't know you had nymphs here!" "We don't, originally."
/Iinterjected Spitfire. I"Some have wandered in. The more dragons, the more
they travel in and out, the more other...things..can get in and out too. Wear
and tear." /Ishe said. "Okay." I replied. You see, dragons are not very
exclusive about their portals, and some other creatures could sense where they
had been between the fabric of space-time. The best way I can think to describe
it is this; Imagine a great dragon flying headfirst towards a peice of strechy
the dragon pushes harder and harder the material streches in that
direction, and then, POP! the fabric rips and the dragon lands, in his
destination, after flying through the hole in the not very
accurate, but it's the best way I can think of. Of course, since humans don't
have those kinds of capabilities, all I feel is leaving, then arriving.I've only
had it described to me. Spitfire interrupted my mental muddlings as she dove to
the ground like a hawk, wings folded and claws landed a
couple hundred yards away. I"I was hungry."/I she said by way of
explination, as her great tail lashed out and nearly knocked me to my death. I
clung to Starskimmer's back. I"You better be careful what you eat. There's
foriegn things wandring in and out, you wouldn't want to get sick or
enchanted."/I Spitfire murmured.I"It was a simple deer. I swallowed it
whole. Not like a feast or anything."/I Since dragons are so large, their
appetites are equally their thousands of teeth, they tended to
catch small(relatively) things and swallow them whole. Personally, I can't stand
meat. I am a vegetarian, but mainly because I object to meat plants, animals
born to die..when huting, the animals had a chance of escaping. I haven't eaten
meat for 2 years, and I'd probably not eat hunted meat, just because I'd get
sick. But I don't look down on predators, especially the feirce, intellligent,
beautiful kind. Tigers, orcas, dragons.. I smiled to myself as I placed dragons
in my 'normal' catergory of creatures. They didn't even live on our earth! I
slowly inched my way up to Starskimmer's neck, because I was getting bored.
I"Off again?" "Off again." /Ishe replied. Spitifre streched her back leg and
darted off in front of us. Starskimmer took her time as she rose, higher and
higher, then glided. Together they sung a dragonsong I couldn't particicpate in,
one because old dragon songs were sung deep in the throat, practically their
stomach, some vocal cords I did not have, and also because the words were
incomprehensible. They were some sort of archaic language, maybe not even a
language. As I nearly got winded by a tree, I asked I"Why do we have to fly so
close to the ground?"/I Most of the time when dragons took long trips the rose
to just above the atmosphere and flew a short way, then back down to their
destination. It made the trip short. I"We're not supposed to go past the
Speaking Woods." /Ishe grumbled. Starskimmer and Spitfire were, at least by
dragon standards, relatively young. They had gotten into difficult situtations
with the Council before. I"Why not?"/I I asked I"Council prohibits it. So
we are gonna hafta land and walk for quite a ways." /II gave an internal
groan. Dragons were a hassle walking, always knocking everything over,
disturbing everything, and they got cranky. I"Why'd they prohibit it, the
wyrms?"/II said annoyedly. I"That's what we're going to show you, if you
haven't forgotten!"/I She laughed. Well, this ought to be interesting. I just
prayed we didn't get caught-as I mentioned, I'd been in trouble with the Council
before, and passing boundaries was a serious charge, especially for a non-native
human. III. Grounded We flew straight for awhile, then adjusted our course
north-northwest. It grew colder. These types of dragons, at least, hated the
cold. They lived mostly in the south, and they had left the northlands alone
until recently. Past the Speaking Woods was the Lakes of Truth, Power, and
Healing. That was the farthest I had ever been. The land, I could see, rose into
a small mountain range and then sloped back down again into a valley, and that
is where the horizon lay, for now. I"Time to walk."/I proclaimed
Starskimmer. She and Spitfire landed at the same time, knocking over quite a few
trees. I can guess what you're thinking. You're wondering How could such large
creatures be unseen on the ground? Well, you see, since dragons rarely, if ever,
stay on the ground for long, so any dragons guarding the borders would be too
far up to notice. We walked, startling the wildlife and brush. I"Im tired.
Could we eat?" /II asked. Even though I hadn't been flying, you had to walk
rapidly to keep up with these giants. I"Wait. We have to get past the
restricted line."/Isaid Spitfire. I"And be silent!"/I berated Starskimmer.
I muttered a small personal spell that would make me the equivalent of
'invisible'. It was very hard to shift to clear, but this spell would cause
outsiders to simply not notice me, and even if they did, not care and not think
about it at all. Spitfire and Starskimmer did the same, and three large spheres
of shimmering deep blue energy appeared, and were each individually pushed into
their creator's bodies. Now let me explain. The Speaking Woods are so named
because, well, the trees talk. It is really fascinating, and a good waste of
time, to just lean against a tree and listen to the forest speak for hours.
Well, actually, most trees speak if you know how to listen, but this forest
spoke to everyone-magically inclined or not. And, unless you announce your
presence, you will be ignored because the Speaking Woods is always busy. But we
really did not have much time to stop, not if we wanted to get to Starskimmer's
place in time. I walked, cautiously remaining inconspicuos,because even with the
spells, if a dragon guarding the borders were to recognize us, we would be
captured. It is much more difficult to hide your specific self-ness from the
world, especially when you,that self, is being searched for. So we all hoped
that we were not missed, and continued to stomp through the great forest. It was
a deep green all around, even the sunlight seemed a lime color. Everything
stirred, all the wild flora and fauna, going about their business of life. And
everything was Idifferent./I With so many fantastic creatures, the forest
absolutely smelled of magic. In fact, I was probably the creature out of place.
Any humans that wandered into this planet were considered fair game and were
often eaten before any had a chance to look around,let alone settle down and
multiply. A great deep purple tree-bark, roots, leaves and branches-mingled with
it's green cousins. A bird nearly as tall as me with four wings yawed at a great
furry something bristling in a birch. Starskimmer and Spitfire stepped the
draconic equivalent of daintily to avoid tree-crushing with their steps. I had
to dodge and dart to avoid injury. I could have climbed onto Starskimmer or
Spitfire but riding them while walking would be like trying to hold on to a
heaving mountain. I"How long must we walk?"/II complained. I"Oh hush.
Unless you wish to get gobbled up by the Council for your fourth
discrepancy!"/I Spitfire teased. Even though my calf muscles grew sore, I
stayed quiet, wondering if the Council actually Bdid/B eat humans for
blunders. I was certainly not at their good wing. We walked for quite a while
until I saw a small clearing. I rushed over to it, and almost missed the great
black shape looming just before a stream. It was a cat,about eight or nine feet
tall. Cats were usually not a big deal, especially with two dragons on your
side, but the Queen's Cats we shielded from most types of magic by heritage,and
by the smug air around this gray-tipped one indicated it was certainly safe. It
darted it's fierce yellow eyes over me as I stopped a few yards from it.
Spitfire crouched down to get a good look at it. The cat stood up,walked
arrogantly towards me,stopped five feet away so I could feel it's warm breath
and sense it's distaste for me. "What's this human?"It's voice crackled.
I"She's Bours./B" /IBoth Spitfire and Starskimmer's voices called.
"Humans are a lot of nonsense. I could," it said,licking a paw idly and looking
at me from the corner of it's eyes with the faintest glimmer of greed "Take it
off your claws for you." Starskimmer placed me beside her great bulk
protectively. They could not say outright that I was their companion, for such a
thing was usually considred disgracing to upper-class beings and who knew what
side the cat was on. I"She is none of your concern."/IShe said as Spitifre
growled deeply. "Oh,but I think she is.."It said as if I were some temptation.
At that point I got annoyed, and stalked up to it. "And what if I am here by my
own accord? I am a free being. What if my visit is valid, cat?"I scowled. In
that instant the great feline stuck out one large paw, and,claws extended,
knocked me to one side like a now-useless toy. "Then you are even easier game."
It's tail twitched eagerly. I muttered my most creative curses under my
,there we no scratches. Spitfire took two steps and stood
over me. I"You,cat, may be invulnerable to our magic but certainly not to our
physical abilities." /ISmoke filtered out through her nostrils. The black and
gray cat appeared indifferent, but I was almost certain it had mortal fear as
well. It groomed it's tail increasingly slowly, then turned to face me. It said
not a word, just stared as if it already owned me. Wanting not to waste any more
time,Starskimmer walked on ahead. I and Spitifre followed. I paused only for a
quick drink in the stream, watching and fearing the feline behind me all the
while. It smiled showing it's sharp teeth and went back to preening. I ran up to
the back of Starskimmer and stayed in between her and Spitfire for the rest of
the walk. Once we entered a more flowered part of the woods Starskimmer informed
me that we would soon be safe from any patrollers. Spitfire huffed and glared up
at the sky. The sun seemed to crawl towards the horizon, and I was growing more
and more tired. I"Can we now stop?We're nearly safe and.."/II trailed off as
I bent over,exhausted. I"Alright. I'm hungry as well." /IAt this mention
Spitfire shot off to find her own prey. Starskimmer spotted a safe
clearing,picked me up and deposited me in it. I"What is there I can eat around
here?" "I'm not sure. I haven't been here in a long while. Hang on while I look
around."/I I was happy to rest. I settled into a comfortable bank and stared
lazily at the growing leaves. A little way off I heard a happy rumble from
Spitfire as she found what must have been her third helping. I chuckled and at
the same time felt sorry for the animal. A monkey-like creature with sharp
features dropped beside me, chittered,pulled at my hair, and ran off almost
before I had time to react. IWhat was that?/I I wondered. The sunlight
danced happily across my cheeks and I smiled. The grass seemed thankfully void
of insects and the soil was soft. The trees were surprisingly quiet compared to
the ones we had already passed,by not silent. A few of them seemed to have
reddish tints in bark and leaves, and some had blue. And the woodlands strached
on and on in a way that was hard to find on our Earth. /BODY/HTML