The Dragoness Backstory: Fanfiction

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And the riders begin to fly

It was full-blown spring now, and with it my spirits grew brighter. Things were looking up. I had Shadow, Miss Amy, and Conner here and Lisa kept in very frequent contact. We'd come up with a code of sorts that allowed us to talk to a certain extent about our 'scaly friends.' I wished she could be here. She would have been thrilled at it all, especially now that Oak had basically given me free reign to choose new riders.

I'm pretty sure he expected me to flood the woods with humans by the end of a moon, but I surprised him (and myself) with how withdrawn I was. Human though I am, I do have a bit of dragon in me--how else could I become a Draconian?--and that dragon-bit wasn't too keen on sharing. Though I only very reluctantly admitted it, I guarded my territory (which included land and people) even more jealously than Oak. I went about four or five months, I think, almost to the end of spring and the beginning of the summer holidays, before I found someone else that piqued my interest. But that will come in just a bit--and it is coming, I promise. But something else happened first--two somethings, actually, and I'm not sure which is more important, because they both completely reshaped my world.

Let's go with the happy(ish) one first, cause I'd rather not deal with the bad news right out of the bag.

Okay, so I basically adopted two girls.

It's not bad! Or crazy! I promise! Just let me get through my story!

So I was wandering around, minding my own dragon-business, when suddenly my dragon ears (horns, nubbins...Night Furies have some weird anatomy) picked up something strange. I frowned and tilted my head a bit to try and catch what it was. Any vibrations they picked up from the wind and creature noises and trees I was used to. But something else, I didn't quite know what, was disturbing them slightly. It was coming from....ahead and a little to the left.

I stepped back, but I had heard it too late. There was the crashing, crunching sound of underbrush being pushed away, and out stepped two young girls.

I'm afraid both parties were guilty of some shrieking.

They were quite obviously sisters--they both had the same caramel-streaked hair and clear blue eyes. The younger one, who couldn't have been more than four or five, had a slight dusting of freckles on her nose. The older one, probably around ten or eleven, had a long, strong nose and a fierce expression. Both were smudged with mud and grass, and had a wild, hungry look in their eyes.

"W-what are you? What are you doing here?" the older one demanded.

"I could ask the same of you," I said, relaxing my wings and drawing them into a less threatening position. I frowned a bit. They looked like they'd been out in the woods for days. 

The older one pressed her lips together stubbornly. I waited with my eyebrows raised for one of them to break.

Finally the little one peeked out from behind her sister. I crouched down. "Hey, there."

"Are you gonna eat us?" she whispered.

I reeled back a little. That hurt. "No! No, I'm not gonna eat you, I promise. I'm not a monster."

"Well, that's what you l-look like," said the older one bravely.

And that was like a knife, but I managed to keep my voice even. "I know what I look like. Are you guys okay? Where are your parents?"

The girl's brave front crumpled. "They...they don't want us anymore."

I bit my lip. "Oh. Did they...tell you that?"

She shook her head so hard her hair flew into her face. "I heard Mommy yelling at Daddy, and he said so. So me and Joy decided to leave."

Ohhhh. So they had overheard a fight, and had run away. "But why did you come here? Don't you have...I dunno, cousins? Grandparents?" I remembered a time Elliot had threatened to run away to Gramma's if he didn't get dessert.

The girl's eyebrows furrowed. "No. We like birds and squirrels, so we came to live with them."

I stood and paced. I couldn't send them back home when I didn't know where they lived, and it didn't sound like home was a very safe option anyway. I could take them up to the La Luz trailhead at the Crest House--people were always around and someone would be able to call Social Services. But I didn't want them to end up in foster care--too many fictional books had warned against it.

But the only other option would be....I bit my lip again, harder. Well, Oak had said I could bring riders. He never specified the age.

"You know," I said slowly. "I know some pretty nice caves, with a good view, that are next to some trees that have birds and squirrels. And...something else. I could help you with food and maybe get you some new clothes." I did have a little money from when I used to babysit and teach piano. Hopefully mom wouldn't notice me buying clothes ten sizes too small, though the thought brought a searing stab of guilt.

Her eyes widened. "You mean...live here? With you?"

"Not with me," I said quickly. That would cause a whole world of trouble. "But I do know a few places. Would you like to see them?"

She nodded firmly. "Yes. Joy would like it, too." Joy peeked out again and stared at me solemnly.

"Okay," I said. "But to get there is a really long walk. Would you mind if a friend helped us get there?"

"What friend?" she asked suspiciously.

I smiled. "My little Shadow. Would you like to meet her?"

I didn't wait for a reply. I didn't want to hear her response. Instead I let loose an undulating dragon cry, a summoning that consists of your name, the name of the dragon you are calling, and the word 'Come!' The girls plugged their ears in shock.

"Now we wait," I told them.

We didn't wait for long. Shadow came bounding in  and skidded to a stop. "More humans! What are they doing to you?" She snarled and her ears went flat on her neck. Joy squealed and her sister gave a muffled shriek.

"No! No, they're nice," I said in English, so that the girls could hear. "This is Joy and..."

"Gild.ie."

'Gild.ie?"

Gild.ie kept staring at Shadow. "Well, it's M-matilda, but e-e-everyone calls me Gildie."

"Ooohhh, okay," I nodded. "I get nicknames. You can call me Ness. It's short for 'Dragoness.'"

Shadow inched forward. "Why are you talking to them? I thought you didn't like humans."

"I like humans," I corrected. "But I don't like letting them see me, because they might think I'm a monster."

Shadow bristled. "Then what are they doing here?"

"They don't have anywhere else to go, and the Frostfangs have some nice cave openings that they never use."

"Wait, wait, you mean we're going to live with...with...dragons?" Gild.ie's face was ashen. "Wait--Joy, come back!"

For Joy, when she had squealed, had not been scared. Surprised, yes, but not scared. And now she was standing in front of Shadow, gazing up with wide, adoring eyes.

"I love you," she said, and they were the first words I'd heard her speak.

Shadow gave me a wide-eyed, what-do-I-do look. I just shook my head and laughed. Joy was now clambering in-between Shadow's forelegs and was crouching in the hollow created by Shadow's sitting body. She smiled up at us, a gap-toothed, cheeky smile that set off the wild gleam in her eye. "Me like."

Gild.ie hesitated, then turned to me. "What was that about a cave?"

I showed them the Frostfang cave. An older female had recently lost a couple draklings to a freak tree accident, and after a few minutes, she warmed right up to the funny little humans and insisted they live with her. I gave up trying to argue and reminded her that they could only eat 'blackberries, raspberries, and water. NO MEAT, humans can't eat it the way dragons do...and no mushrooms! I'll take care of the rest of the food and the clothes (human-wrappings, literally).'

Gild.ie probably would have fought harder, but one last look at Joy seemed to seal the deal for her. Joy was exploring their new 'home' and new 'mother' with wide-eyed enthusiasm, every now and then smiling that peculiarly innocent, yet fierce, smile.

So that's how I ended up (sort-of) adopting two little girls. We started a garden that Gild.ie took to, and how to cook meat over a fire (which I would be called upon to start and help with again and again). It was strangely satisfying, having someone to care for, and I...loved it. I was protecting them, and they were loving their new world. Gild.ie formed a tight bond with a two-yead-old Bronze Firescale named Sunrise. Sunrise was still small, about the size of your average mountain bike, but they had the best of times together. Even so, Gild.ie seemd hesitant among the large, terrifying residents and tended to stay close to the cave, or Joy.

Joy seemed to blossom. The first week, she still clung to Gild.ie when I was around, but I watched from a distance, and what I saw was...wow. She had no fear. Something inside her seemed to know the what the dragons were, and she loved them for it. She was restless, always clambering around their new momma, Iceshard, or squealing and flappng her arms around with the Terrible Terrors and any young dragons she met--a small Bronze Firescale and a new-born (only ten months old!) Deadly Nadder being her favorites. Gild.ie seemed content to watch from a distance, but occasionally she would join in.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Joy was learning, slowly but surely, how to understand Dragonese. I was pretty sure I saw her answer a dragon's questions by her actions at least twice, and once I had even caught her struggling to squawk out a few words in a Deadly Nadder accent. That might become a problem, a human being raised by dragons, but I let it go....for the time being, anyway.

 

Wait, what bad news?...Oh, that....I'd been hoping you'd forget.

Waaeelll, the woods were getting some regular visitors. Not just regular hunters, but people who seemed to be looking for something. They came every week, guns and tranquilizer darts in hand, grim-faced (at least to me) and determined. They were smart and quiet, and it was getting harder and harder to catch them every time, to take their guns and break them. Sometimes, and these were the scariest times, I only saw them when they were leaving.

The Flickerwings tried to keep me updated, but it was hard for them to tell all these new faces and scents and people apart. They couldn't get it right all the time.

And what scared me the most, though I tried not to show this, was that they didn't look like regular hunters. They brought scanning equipment and set up cameras that I would have to carefully approach and destroy. 

There was no way around it--they were looking for something, and I had a very bad feeling about what exactly that something was.

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*screaming loudly* YAY! 8D

8D So cute! and those hunters....intrigue....*anticipation intensifies* :D :D :D

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*screaming louder than hooky*

O.O oh my...

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Screaming in a deep and terrifying voice

Just to make everyone else scream more. Hehehe!

 

Aww I love what you did with Joy! and her imitating the dragon sounds is perfect! I forgot to add that to her little bio- she LOVES imitating animal noises. It's like we were on the same page ^^

 

Concerned about these 'hunters' though. they dont were >gulp< suits, do they? Or answer to the name Smith? Cuz those are the WORST kind D:

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I DID say it was perfect for her ^^

Is that a pocahontas reference? That's all I can think of.

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You did didn't you?

No, it's just a secret agent/government thing ^^

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First Flight

Tuesdays and Sundays were my only days off from 'mothering' and creeping around stalking these strange not-hunters. I welcomed them with RELIEF.

One Tuesday, sometime late April, Conner had a question (of course).

"Do the dragons fly?"

I snorted a little, but it was a fair question. He hadn't seen any of them take off. "Yes, they can, but they don't generally do so in broad daylight."

"Well, then why do you?"

I chewed my lip. "I hate running, for one thing. For another, it's quicker. I stay close to the trees and I'm small enough that people can easily mistake me for a bird from far away. Dragons...not so much." Plus, that was starting to become my preferred method for scanning for intruders...

Conner nodded. "Okay, but you said 'generally.' So dragons sometimes fly in broad daylight."

I narrowed my eyes. I could see where this was going. "...well, sometimes, the clouds get low enough for us to take off and land without being spotted."

"Sort of like now?" he pointed to a peak about a mile away, which was currently covered in fog.

I sighed. "Conner, if you want to fly, all you have to do is ask."

"You always get on my case about being nosy!" he protested.

I had the grace to look sheepish. "Well, you are. But wanting to fly isn't nosy. It's not like you're asking about--"

"IS there something to ask about?" he said quickly.

"Never mind. Point is, the answer is yes--IF you can find a dragon that will take you."

"Oh..." he bit his lip. "Well, I was hoping to ride Shadow, actually..."

I went completely rigid. Thankfully, Shadow asked what I couldn't. "Why me?"

Conner squinted a bit. "You know I don't understand you very well yet."

"Yet?" I finally got my tongue back. "What do you mean, yet?"

He shrugged a little shyly. "Well, I've picked up a few words here and there. I know they call you Dragoness."

"You're saying it wrong," I said, rubbing my forehead. "Jeez, first Joy, now you."

"Who's Joy?" he asked suspiciously.

Oops. "Someone. ANYWAY, Shadow asked why...why her."

He shifted, seeming to know he was treading dangerous groud here. "Well, I was just thinking that I don't really know any other dragons that well..."

"You never spend time with any other dragons," I pointed out as reasonably as I could.

"They're not interested," he pointed out equally reasonably. "Otherwise you would have been shoving me at them."

Hmph. Well, it was true. "It's just....Shadow....she's my dragon."

Shadow pressed up against me, purring. "Yes, I am."

"But you never ride her."

"I have wings of my own. I need to use them."

"Well, I don't."

I blinked hard. It was true. He needed a dragon and Shadow needed a rider...a true rider.

Shadow nudged me. "You know if he rides me, you're still my rider, right? It doesn't change anything. I'm yours and you are mine. It's just....a time-share type thing (time-share is their term for a symbiotic relationship). He rides me, but you are my rider."

Oh, crumbs. This was the hardest thing ever, but....Shadow was right. It took more than just sitting on a dragon's back to be their rider.

Conner was watching us steadily. It looked like he had gleaned a bit of what was happening. "I just want to fly," he said quietly.

I stiffened, suddenly remembering the fierce burst of emotion I had felt, watching Miss Amy and the Terrible Terrors. That had been what drove me to befriend Conner, and 'adopt' Gild.ie and Joy.

"Okay," I said slowly. "You can ride her, but I'm her rider. OKay?"

Conner's face broke into the hugest grin. "Okay."

Ten minutes later, we were standing on the edge of a cliffish ledge, peering up at the roiling white. Already the wind was fierce and searingly cold.

"I....I'm not sure I'm ready for this," Conner said in a small voice, as he peered up at the might of the sky.

I was so tempted. I could agree and that would be that. But he wanted flight--needed it, if I was being honest.

"You'll be fine," I said. "Just hang on and enjoy the ride."

He clambered on to SHadows back and we leapt into the living wind.

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Yay!

Yay! Hessa fly! Hessa needs to fly!

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No, wait!....now you've done it

After that, Tuesday was flying day. There was usually enough cloud over for that to happen. I think we only missed one or two weeks between the beginning of spring and the middle of summer. Of course, once the summer heat started to creep in, all those lovely morning clouds disappeared to make way for the rolling thunderclouds of late afternoon storms.

"Uh...cant we just go flying anyway?" Conner asked when I made the reluctant decision that we couldnt fly that day. "All we have to do is get above the rain and we'll be fine. "

I pointed at him. "That right there is why I'm not going to be letting you fly on your own until you're twenty-two. It may not show on the ground, but there's ALWAYS lightning in storm clouds. The only creatures crazy enough to fly in that are Skrills, and that's only because they have a slight resistance to ekeltricity. Not enough to save them from a lightning strike, mind you, just enough to make them feel safe."

Conner frowned. "Don't you mean 'electricity?'"

I grinned. "Nope, ekeltricity. Once read, never forgotten. Arthur Weasely was a genius. You wanna have a splash war?"

Shadow heard and bounded over, eagerly hissing and squealing that yes, we should go, and yes, she'd be happy to help me utterly drench Conner.

Joy and Gild.ie were thriving. I had been super worried about how to take care of them, but what with the garden and the meat the dragons supplied, they weren't exactly wanting in the food department. In the meantime, I needed to get them some proper shoes and socks...they had taken to going barefoot. And Joy DEFINITELY needed more clothes, but at least Gild.ie was enjoying my old t-shirts and shorts.

We would play in the creek (I always made sure to bring some eco-friendly soap to give them at least some semblance of a bath) and have play fights with Shadow and whichever of her little friends Joy decided to bring.

Gild.ie was finally beginning to relax. It was awesome watching her interact (albeit hesitantly) with the other Frostfangs. She seemed to get along quite well with the Northern Shortsnouts, too.

 

I was scrolling through the news on my phone like I always did, checking for signs that people might be noticing the increased dragon activity, when I came across a tiny article that said, "RUNAWAY GIRLS CAUSE BITTER DIVORCE."

Suddenly I had a very bad feeling in my stomach. My heart began to pound. I clicked on it. Up the heading popped, along with Joy and Gild.ie's pictures.

My heart stopped. I scrolled through, skimming. Alcoholic father...no wonder they'd ran. But the poor mother...from the snippets they posted, the poor lady was frantic with worry. After the lawsuit, she'd lost her job as a vet in one of the local clinics, and since her husband had somehow gotten the house, she was now homeless.

I sat back in my chair, breathing hard. This wasn't right. Joy and Gild.ie deserved to be in a home with a parent who loved them....and I'd ruined their only chance at it.

Or maybe I hadnt. Seized with a sudden determination, I scanned the article again, memorizing their mother's face. The Flickerwings could help me look. They didnt like the city, but they would come if I asked. They'd come even quicker if I told them it was for Joy's mother.

I took up down the mountain, flying low. It was late afternoon now, the light uncertain.

Something zipped into my hair, something with needle-like claws and a chirping voice.

"Hey, Flicker," I said. "What is it?"

Flicker gasped for breath. "Joy! Gild.ie is yelling and screaming, and Joy is--"

He didnt get any farther. I veered towards the Frostfang cave and beat my wings as hard as I could. Terror pumped through my veins. It was the hunters, they found them, or some hikers tried to take them and the Frostfangs got involved, and Joy was......I flew even faster.

By the time I got to the cave, I didnt bother slowing. I just dove through the leaves and twigs and skidded to the ground.

"WHAT IS IT? WHAT HAPPENED?" I demanded fiercely, looking around. "WHAT ATTACKED?"

Gild.ie came out of nowhere, eyes wide, and grabbed my hand and started tugging. "Ness! Ness! I dont know what happened, you have to fix her, she was playing and then she started screaming and I dont know how to fix her!" She was practically hyperventilating.

I followed her as fast as she could lead, up over a rocky hillock and then down a grassy slope. We barreled out of the bushes and I sucked in a breath.I KNEW it had been a bad idea to let them play with the dragons.

Orange-blue wings sprouted from her back, and a tail covered with spikes and capped with a barb curled down from underneath her tattered dress. A crown of spikes decorated her head, and her laughing eyes were no longer blue, but yellow. She was playing, as calm as could be, with the Terrible Terrors. I stepped back in shock.

"NooonononononoNO!"

"You can fix her, right?" Gild.ie asked anxiously.

I looked at her miserably. "Gild.ie, if I could fix that, dont you think i would have done it by now?"

Her eyes clouded with horror.

"Joy....she didnt know what she was doing," I said heavily. "She must have....done the thing that transforms you by accident. I dont know how she learned it, it's supposed to be secret. But shes stuck now...permanently."

Gild.ie looked like she didnt know whether to scream or to cry. I didnt know, either.

Joy saw us and came over. "Look!" She cried joyfully. "I has wings now! I'm a dragon too!"

"No!" I said sharply. "You're not a dragon. You're still human. Just with....a few extra limbs."

"Is that what you tell yourself?" Gild.ie asked indignantly. "She is NOT human anymore, and neither are you!"

"I still think and act the way I always have, and so will she," I said as evenly as I could. "This just...complicates things." Many, many things. Oh, what had I done? "You guys are going to have to be much more careful now. And, Gild.ie...."

"Yes," she said stiffly. "She's still your sister. Don't push her away. She needs....she needs to know what it means to be human."

Slowly, Gild.ie's face softened. "I know. I wont...it's just...I was hoping we could go back home someday, and now..." she began to cry. "I just wanted to go home."

Tentatively, I reached out to hug her, then decided against it. "I know. I know." And if I had my way, she'd soon have a home to go back to.

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BORKBORKBORK!

GASP!

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ANOTHER DRACONIAN!

What dragon is she? O.o

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YES THE POOR CHILD

She's a Deadly Nadder Draconian :P sorry, forgot to mention.

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Gasp

I didn't know you wassa gonna make her a draconian! o.O She canna fly now :D

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Hehe actually....

No, she cant. Since humans develop slower than dragons, she wont be able to fly until shes around 12-13. Her wings aren't strong enough to get her off the ground.

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Ahhhhhhhhh

How old is she now? I've forgotten XD

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*crash-lands like a boss*

She's only five. So she has a good....oof, around a good 7-8 years before she can really fly. Since her birthday is coming up (4th of July) it's more like 6-7, but eeesh....still....it also depends on how, um, big she is. Shes pretty small, so she might even be able to get off the ground as early as 11.

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Nuuuu!

To have wings and not fly! D: a terrible thought. Joy wouldn't let that get her down though. I bet she's already started climbing up trees and jumping out of em. xD

 

ha. That reminds me of when I was little. Our neighbors had a weeping willow tree that cascaded into our yard. I'd rip branches off, hold as many as I could in each hand and jump off the tallest point of our playset flapping my 'wings' wildly. Sometimes I imagined that I stayed in the air just a little longer ^^

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I know :P

Yeah, they have to keep her away from cliffs for a while...

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Searching for mother

I crouched on the clifftop and shoved my hair out of my face. My slit-sharp pupils scanned the glittering city below carefully.

It was eleven o'clock on Tuesday night, when most everyone was asleep--except for me and the dragons.

I glanced at the dozens of Flickerwings and the three Terrible Terrors I had managed to recruit. Some had balked at the thought of venturing into the filthy, stinking, extremely dangerous and forbidden human city. But once they heard it was for Joy and Gild.ie's mother, they joined immediately.

I tugged my phone from my belt and scrolled to the picture I had saved from the news article. I held it up. "Can you find her?" I asked.

The Flickerwings crawled onto my hand and arms and examined the photo carefully with their beetle-bright eyes. Slowly, the answer began to rise. "We CAN," they hissed. "We can, we CAN..."

I shifted to put the phone away, and they burst into the air with a buzzing of wings to hover near my head.

I grinned fiercely at them. Maybe Gild.ie was right. Maybe I had changed. The old Ali would never have dreamed of doing something like this.

I stood. "Then come!"

They swarmed over my chest and neck and hair, needle claws prickling into my skin. I dove, swift as the shadows, towards the city.

I never tired of this feeling, the rush and terror of seeing the world twisting up towards me, before my wings heaved down and I was slipping through the air like a leaf through a current.

All too soon the flight was over, and we were descending. I beat my wings as softly as I could and looked for a dark, unlit alley to land in. Unfortunately, in the part of town where I was pretty sure she lived, there were plenty to choose from. We would have to watch out for gangs.

I slipped down and let myself drop the last three feet, bending my knees to absorb the impact.

"Find," I whispered, and the little blurs of the invisible dragons took off and spread out into the night.

I crept from corner to corner, scuttled from alley to alley. By three, we still hadn't found anything.

I tried not to get discouraged as we took off and up, back to the safety of the mountain wilds. It was only the first night. We still had Wednesday and Thursday before we would have to wait through the weekend.

But Wednesday came and went and we still found nothing.

Halfway through Thursday night I began to panic. Gild.ie was barely keeping it together. If we didn't find her mother before the weekend, I could see a full-fledge panic attack on the horizon.

Three o'clock came and went.

"Keep looking," I said. "we will leave soon, but keep looking."

At three-thirty, still nothing.

At three forty-five, I slid down a black alley to rest and try to bring my panicked breathing down.

I heard a soft snore echo from further down. I looked, and my dragon eyes made out the faint outline of a sleeping somebody, huddled in a blanket.

My foolish heart dared to hope. It was too high-pitched to be a man. Could it be?

I cautiously edged into deeper shadows and bunged a rock at the wall.

The skittering clatter-skitter-snap woke the somebody up. They sat up, their face still half in shadow. "Hello?"

I almost laughed. Definitely a woman, and the tilt of her head and curve of her lips were very familiar. They didn't just match her picture--I could see Gild.ie and Joy in her.

"It's okay," I said soothingly. "I'm a friend."

She half-gasped and scrambled back.

"No! Really!" I didn't move from my spot. I wasn't quite ready to have to go through the whole yes-I-have-wings-and-a-tail-and-my-eyes-look-weird thing just yet. "I'm pretty sure you're who I've been looking for."
"And that would be...?" she said suspiciously.

I swallowed hard. Time to go all in. "The mother of Gild.ie and Joy."

Silence. And then the shadow flew at me, so fast I barely had time to raise my forearms to block her before she landed right on top of me, shoving my shoulders down and slamming my skull into the ground.

"Where are they??? What have you done to them???" She hissed with all the ferocious danger of an angry mother.

I couldn't stop a groan from escaping my lips. My head was aching where it had hit the concrete.

Her grip tightened. "Answer me!!!"
I shook my head groggily. "Lady, I can't tell you anything if you're going crack my skull open every time you ask a question."

"I asked you where they were," she said in a very dangerous voice.

"They're happy and safe," I said as reassuringly as I could. "They tried to run away to the woods. I found them a good place to stay and I've been taking care of them ever since."

Her hands went slack. I pushed her off of me and dragged myself into a crouch. Ooohh, my head. I could already feel the prickle of hair rising on top of the ginormous goose egg I was going to have in a few minutes.

I heard a sharp cry of fear, and I realized my wings and tail and ears were easily visible. Whoops.

"What are you? And why did my children even agree to go wherever you put them?" she asked in a horrified whisper.

"I'm a Draconian," I said, wincing a bit. Her voice was echoing unnaturally in my skull. "A human with some dragon, er, appendages. And Gild.ie didn't really want to, but Joy was weirdly excited about it all, so she went along with it."

The woman seemed to have accepted the fact that her life was making absolutely no sense anymore. She sighed and rubbed her forehead. "That does sound like them," she murmured. "Okay, take me to them."

I winced. "I...can't."

She growled and moved forward threateningly.

I skittered back before she could tackle me again. I was starting to see where the girls got their gumption. "I didn't say I won't," I added hurriedly. "They're up in the mountains. I can't carry you, and I don't drive, for obvious reasons. You'll have to walk deep enough into the mountains that I can get a dragon to take you to--"

"A DRAGON???"

Oooh, she was NOT going to like this. "There are dragons everywhere in the mountains. They're actually very nice, but they're pretty territorial, which is why I'll need to be there to show you the way. Otherwise they'll freak out and try to protect the girls from you."

As soon as the words were out of my mouth I knew it was a mistake. The woman's eyes bulged. "MY CHILDREN ARE LIVING WITH DRAGONS."

"Shhhhh!" I hissed nervously. We were in a human city, after all. "Like I said, Joy was super excited."

"Why can't you just bring them to me?" the woman asked. "I'm pretty close to getting a house with my savings fund, and I've almost secured a job with another vet service."

"That....won't work. Just trust me on that. You'll know why when you meet them."

Her eyes brimmed with worry at that, but she didn't ask any more questions. "Well then. I will see you this afternoon."

I nodded seriously. "I hope so." I couldn't stop the tiny bubble of euphoria from lighting a tiny smile on my face. "It's such a relief to finally hear that, Gild.ie's been really missing you."

The woman blinked. "Really?"

I smiled, a bit softer this time. "Yes. They're your children, after all." I felt a slight pang at that, but I shoved it aside. They were her children. The needed their real mother.

I watched her take the words and wrap them around herself like a suit of armor. I turned to spring. It was close to dawn, I could feel it. We needed to get back.

"Wait," she said.

I paused.

"My name is Ellen," she said. "What's yours?"

I smiled. "Call me Ness. That's what your girls do."

She nodded, slowly, warily.

I saluted and took a running start before leaping as high as I could and beating down the air.

Flurries of little wings buzzed to a rest on my back as all the Flickerwings that had been hiding from Miss Ellen came flooding back.

I let my head tip back and the cool air rush over it. Dawn was here, and I was so excited for the day ahead.

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Ahh

I like Ellen (if her name stays Ellen) she's an interesting character! Might not be too excited to see what's happened to Joy, though :/

 

As usual well written. You have a nack for atmosphere. Still thinking about those 'hunters' tho... know they're coming back... and bringing sciency government frens with them I'm sure D:

 

PS- the subject says Finding Mothe ^^

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Hmm......maybe Sandra?

Thank you! And those hunters...yesh....they bad for business XD

Ack! I’ll go change that!

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I like the name Ellen, ik one XD

Oooooooo, looking forward to what's gonna happennnn o.O

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Same

Here here! I say keep her Ellen. It's not a commonly used name in fiction, sounds nice, and it does not (to my mind) have a predisposed disposition- Meaning it lets the character decide what their personality is ^^

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*thoughtful squinting* >_>

Hmm...<_<

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Ellen it is, then!

*leans in next to hooky* >__> watcha lookin at?

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I like it! 8D

*scoots away and curls into thinking ball* Nothing for you to see <_<_<_<_<_<_<

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Raptors Assemble!!

Of course. :)

Nobody disturb Hookie, there is wonderful ideas and theories that need to be made. Move along, move along..

 

 

*excited raptor noises*

 

THIS IS SO GOOD!!!!

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Wait....she's alive?

SHE'S ALIVE!!! (I haven't seen you around for a while, so heyo again!)
Thank you!

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Raptors Assemble!!

Kaiser made me double-post. :P

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*Screaming with everyone else*

Hello, don't mind me, just going to track this... (I just spent the last few hours reading this and I can't stop no why is it over I need to read more gack I'm dying now. You're such a good writer, the story just comes to life! I can't wait to see what comes next!)

~Ginger

__________________

Welcome!

(Siggy Under Construction)

 

I know my name is a bit confusing, so let me explain. I am Ginger. I have a sister whose main Viking is named Jaxomis. Originally we shared this forum account, but my sister recently made her own account as Fuzzy Kitten, so this is now only mine. So please, just call me Ginger! ^-^

 

 

In Order:

​Ginger's Viking Section

​Blackout The Night Fury's Section

Some Random Stuff!

​~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ginger's Viking Section!

​First off... My Vikings!

My main Viking is

Ginger Selson:

​ 

Extras about appearance: Ginger has a small, faint scar on the far left side of her jaw. She also wears a short necklace with a Peridot in the shape of an Eruptodon.

Personality: Ginger Selson is very shy around humans. She absolutely loves dragons, and has learned Dragonese. She has two sides to her personality. The side most people see is quiet, gentle, and would never start a fight. Her other side, the one only her dragons and her best (human) friend, Jaxomis, see, is strong-willed, brave, and will face danger to protect her friends.

History: Ginger Selson is the daughter of two Defenders of the Wing. However, at one point, her parents were going to get some supplies for the Defenders and they took her with them. Unfortunately, their ship was attacked by pirates, and the only survivor was Ginger. Ginger's mother, upon seeing that the ship was going to be taken by the pirates, placed Ginger in a water-tight basket and set her afloat. Ginger drifted to Berk, where she was found by Mulch and Bucket during one of their fishing trips. She acquired her scar while in the basket. A sharp strand of the weave scratched her jaw while she was being buffeted by the waves. She was only 13 months old at the time, so she was taken in by a Berkian woman who had just had Jaxomis 5 months before. Ginger grew up as Jax's sibling, and they have grown to be very close friends. When she was 10 years old, she began attending the School of Dragons. In the 6 years since then, she has become a talented Dragon Trainer. She is currently 16 years old.

​Game Information: ​UDT Star!(big platinum star), 1850+ Trophies, 64 Dragons.

Clan: ​The Messengers

(Now Leader)

           ​            

Main Dragon: Skyfrost

​-Breed: Woolly Howl

-Gender: Male

​-Level: 37

​-Personality: Protective, loyal, brave, and makes a good companion. Sky likes being with Ginger, and flying with her is his favorite thing. He can be a bit bossy and stuck-up, but he has a good heart and intentions.

Other Dragons:

Silverlight- Adult male Monsterous Nightmare, Ginger's first dragon~~~Tsunami- Adult female Thunderdrum~~~Galaxy- Adult female Typhoomerang~~~Jungle- Adult male Sweet Death~~~Firewing- Adult female Moldruffle~~~Illusion- Adult female Changewing~~~Flare- Adult male Moldruffle~~~Firestorm- Adult male Typhoomerang~~~Scythetail- Adult female Devilish Dervish~~~Vortex- Adult female Devilish Dervish, not tame~~~Spinstrike- Adult male Whispering Death~~~Iceheart- Adult male Groncicle~~~Seafoam- Adult male Thunderdrum~~~Bramblethorn- Titan female Deadly Nadder~~~Wavecrash- Adult female Sand Wraith, Ginger's second favorite dragon~~~Twist & Turn- Adult female Hideous Zippleback~~~Copper- Adult male Razorwhip~~~Sunset- Adult female Death Song, not tame~~~Obsidian- Titan female Razorwhip, not ​tame!~~~Snowflurry- Titan female Woolly Howl, not tame~~~Magnet- Adult male Armorwing~~~Chaos- Adult male Screaming Death~~~Spottedleaf- Adult female Hobblegrunt/Threadtail~~~Cindertail- Adult male Singetail~~~Goldriver- Adult female Eruptodon~~~Emberspark- Adult female Flame Whipper~~~Echo- Adult male Mudraker~~~Nettle- Adult male Triple Stryke~~~Springcoil- Adult male Grapple Grounder~~~Cloudcutter- Adult male Timberjack~~~Mischief- Titan female Terrible Terror~~~Lava- Adult female Gronkle~~~Starspirit- Adult male Silver Phantom~~~Flash- Adult male Speed Stinger, not tame~~~Fire, Water, Earth, and Air (The Gang)- Adult male Snaptrapper~~~Anemone- Adult female Shockjaw~~~Whiteout- Adult female Snow Wraith, not tame~~~​Tumbleweed- Adult female Buffalord~~~Dawnblaze- Adult female Fireworm Queen~~~Blizzardchaser- Titan male Woolly Howl, not tame~~~Vigilant- Adult male Elder Sentinel~~~Thunderclap- Adult male Skrill~~~Puddlesplash​- Adult female Windwalker~~~Waterwake- Adult male Scauldron~~~​Thistlebush- Adult female Prickleboggle~~~Dartfang- Adult male Grim Gnasher~~~Ravenwing- Adult female Night Terror~~~Bullcharge- Adult male Rumblehorn~~~Tigerstrike- Adult male Deathgripper~~~Winddancer- Adult female Stormcutter~~~Vex- Adult male Smitten Hobgobbler~~~Jet (Ruffrunner)- Adult male Night Light~~~Volcano- Adult male Fire Terror~~~Earthquake- Adult male Crimson Goregutter~~~Frostbite- Adult male Shivertooth~~~Pebblescale- Adult female Raincutter~~~Jadeshimmer- Adult female Scuttleclaw~~~Glade & Grove- Adult male Ghastly Zapplejack~~~Crestrider- Adult male Tide Glider~~~Steadfast- Adult female Sentinal~~~Clashcrown- Adult male Chimeragon~~~Pouncer- Adult male Night Light~~~Ashcloud- Adult female Smokebreath~~~Cometstorm- Teen male Flightmare~~~Shiverbolt- Baby female Skrillknapper

Other Vikings: 

*Quicksilver Catspaw​- Goldleaf's brother. He has the ability to change from a human(Quicksilver/Silver) to a cat(Quicksilver/Quick). He also has an amulet that allows him to morph into a Razorwhip(Mercury).

​-Dragons: Oceanmotion: Adult male Shockjaw~~~Chaos and Confusion: Adult male Hideous Zippleback~~~Mossfire: Adult female Eruptodon~~~White Bitetight: Adult male Smitten Hobgobbler~~~Mercury: Adult male Razorwhip (Stand-in for Quick's morph)~~~Deadly Medley: Baby female Death Song

*Caracal Pounce- Cara, for short, is a undeveloped female character.

​-Dragons: Mistlight: Adult female Flightmare~~~Flashfire: Adult female Deadly Nadder~~~Quickstrike: Adult female Deathgripper (Main dragon)

*Finn Howler​- A underdeveloped male Berserker.

-Dragons: Ghostlight​: Adult male Flightmare~~~Screech and Howl​: Teen male Hideous Zippleback

*Jayla the Ranger​- Jay is my Ranger's Apprentice inspired character. She is a new character.

-Dragons: Oakleaf: Adult female Sand Wraith~~~Bullseye​: Teen male Deadly Nadder

​~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blackout the Night Fury

​Blackout is Ginger's Night Fury OC. Blackout is a wild Night Fury who lives where Night Furies are more common. He is fierce, proud, and never backs down from a fight. He looks more or less like Toothless, but he has blue eyes and a lighter birthmark on the left side of his forehead. He's really just for RPs and art.

          

*Edit by me*

*Base by MagaboltPhoenix, filled by me*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Random Stuff!

Things I like: Dragons, cats, dogs, equines (I'm a proud longear owner/fan!), HTTYD 1, 2, and The Hidden World, RttE, Riders/Defenders of Berk, Tuffnut, Hiccup, Toothless, Trollhunters, 3 Below, most animals, hanging out with my sister, watching movies and shows with my sister, Warriors, The Ranger's Apprentice, Wings of Fire, The Dragon Prince, reading, drawing, playing SoD, browsing through things online, being with animals, DRAGONS, Survivors, The Inheritance books, Rick Riordan's books, Keeper of the Lost Cities, and did I mention reading?

Also, in case you were wondering, my Hogwarts house is Ravenclaw, with a strong Hufflepuff leaning!

   Image result for Ranger's apprentice          Image result for warrior cats

 

Bye!

 

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Thank you!!

Thank you! I'm glad you like it! Hopefully I can add another chapter/post/section this week.

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More?! Maybe soon?! *Whooping* Bring it on! :D

You're welcome! ^^

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That was one loonngg day

I made it back to the cliff and collapsed for a little bit, just to catch my breath. I had flown lower and longer in the past three days than in the entire time I'd had wings combined.

I checked in on the girls (who were still sleeping) and then went to talk to Oak.

"Gild.ie and Joy's mother is coming to pick them up today," I rattled off wearily. "I don't know how long she'll be staying, but once they've figured out what to do now that Joy is a Draconian they'll be gone"

Oak flared his wings in surprise. "Gone? So soon?"

I shrugged. I didn't really want to get into it.

Oak whuffed grumpily. "I thought you liked them."

"And I know you did too," I said. "But kids need their family."

"We are their family."

I paused as I was about to fly away. "not really." It hurt to admit, but it was the truth.

"But in the way that matters," he persisted. "Don't let that end."

Dragons are the most loyal creatures on the planet. Oak just could not understand why I was giving the girls up, after all this time taking care of them...which was all of three months. Man, that really did feel like forever.

"Okay," I said, thinking fast. "Then come with me to escort their mother. See how happy she makes them. And then you'll see."

"Humans," Oak grumped. But he agreed.

I flapped wearily over to my house after a quick hello-how-are-you-doing-cool-so-am-I-see-you-in-a-bit with Shadow. Schoolwork seemed to take f o r e v e r. Maybe because I kept falling asleep through the more boring bits. But I got it done in time to fly back up the mountain and meet Oak near the main mountain trail.

"you look terrible," he told me.

"Great," I grumbled, combing out my crazy hair and rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. "The dragon giving the human fashion advice."

Oak ululated a laugh.

"Shhh," I hissed. He gave me an annoyed look, but quieted. Maybe I should have been less abrupt, but we were near a human hiking trail.

Speaking of humans, where was Miss Ellen?

A loooonnggg half-hour later, a small, scraggly figure with a ragged pack on her back picked her way up to where we were. I waited, impatiently fidgeting, as she approached.

"Miss Ellen!" I hissed when she was close enough.

She jumped and whirled.

I beckoned frantically. Her eyes brightened and she clambered up the steep slope to where we were hidden in the bushes.

"There you--" she spotted Oak. Her face went white.

"Miss Ellen, this is Oak, the alpha of the wylde--er, pack. Oak, this is Miss Ellen, Gild.ie's and Joy's mom."

"Why did you start making weird sounds?" Miss Ellen asked suspiciously.

"I was speaking Dragonese. Come on, let's get your girls."

Okay, that was a low blow of misdirection, but it worked. Her jaw set firmly. "Good."

We walked until Oak finally got sick of the slow pace and offered us a ride.

"Enjoy this," I told Miss Ellen as we clambered onto his back. "This will never happen again."

"Never say never," Oak rumbled mysteriously. He shook back his head and started to run, a rolling, unstaedy gate that threatened to dislodge us at any moment.

I tightened my grip on his fur and tried to breathe through Miss Ellen crushing my wings and ribs. If this was what riding a dragon was like, I decided, then I didn't like it very much.

Oak was at least enjoying himself. He rumbled a low laugh whenever I squeaked, that's for sure. Finally we made it to the Frostfang's cave, where he slowed and let us off.

"Gild.ie? Jo-oy!" I called.

Other than the breeze and the birds, all was quiet.

"Where are they? I though you said you knew where they were." Miss Ellen's voice was accusing.

"Welll, more or less," I cringed. "They do like to play, but they're fine." Unless they ran into poachers. "Gild.ie! Joy!"

"Coooommmiinnngg," echoed Gild.ie's voice from the cave. I breathed a sigh of relief and Joy's giggles added to the mix. "Just wait a sec, we're coming...."

Miss Ellen gasped and wrapped her arms around herself.

"They're okay," I promised. "They've really loved it here."

She gave a tremulous smile. "They're okay."

I hesitated. Maybe tell her now? "There's just..."

"Yes?" and there was Fierce Mom again.

Nope. No amount of bravery was going to save me. "Ummmmm--"

A gasp came from the cliff face.

Gild.ie stood in the entrance to the dark cave, tentatively, almost afraid. "...Mom?"

"Gild.ie!" Miss Ellen surged forward.

"MOM!" she cried joyously, and then they were hugging and laughing and crying.

Oak made a satisfied purring sound and nudged me.

"See? This is why," I whispered. "They are family."

Oak shook his ears and grunted his not-so-happy assent.

Gild.ie was now tugging Miss Ellen towards the cave. "Mom, you gotta see, we have the coolest nest, and Snowflake lets us--"

"Snowflake?" Miss Ellen asked sharply.

"Gild.ie!" I yelped. "Maybe don't bring the new human into the Frostfang's nest? Joy will come out in a bit."

Her brows furrowed. "Oh. Good point." Her enthusiasm was only curbed for a moment, though. "JOY! MOM IS HERE!" 

I winced. "Or just announce it to the world, that works too."

She laughed and I smiled back. I had been forgiven.

A squealing streak of blue scales and blonde hair shot forward and tackled Miss Ellen. "Mom! Mom! Mom! You're here! Hooray!"

Oh no.

Miss Ellen had her eyes closed for the hug. And then she frowned and opened them. They went wide and I swear her irises contracted. "JOY!"

Joy was dancing around, chattering obliviously. "Mom, you'll never guess! Gild.ie and I built a nest and we played tag and sang and Ness let us play in the water and--"

Miss Ellen shot me the most murderous look I have ever been on the recieving end of. I raised my hands defensively and would have strategically retreated if Oak hadn't blocked my way with his tail.

"Mom," Gild.ie tugged. "Don't blame Ness."

My eyes went slack with shock. She was defending me?

"She didn't mean for Joy to go feral." Ouch. "And she fed us and made sure we were happy and now you found us. It's okay."

Joy was still talking. "--and then we made a flower crown and I rode Cherry to the Night Fury nesting place and--"

"you did what?" I asked sharply.

She immediately assumed a stern expression. "You know I don't understand you when you talk like that."

That sounded suspiciously like Gild.ie. I raised my eyebrows. Gild.ie shot me a sheepish look. "What? don't."

"Well, I know you do," I grumped at Joy. "And I've told you to stay near the cave when I'm not here! It's dangerous out there."

"Oak said I could," she pointed out reasonably. "he's in charge."

It was my turn to direct a withering glare. 

"Well, I am the alpha," he said. "They wanted to explore. How could I deny them that?"

I rubbed my eyes wearily. "Well, then, maybe it's a good thing you guys are going home now," I told the girls. "I don't know how much longer you guys could have stayed here without someone spoiling you silly."

Joy's eyes went wide. "Home? But I thought...."

"What, honey? What is it?" Miss Ellen pressed worriedly.

Gild.ie bit her lip. "I think she thought you would stay here, with us."

Miss Ellen blinked several times. "Oh, honey....I can't do that. Adults need to have jobs to make money. Otherwise you won't have a house or clothes or shoes or--"

"Maybe not the shoes," Gild.ie interrupted. "But everything else sounds good."

"No, you need shoes," I said firmly. "Especially after summertime."

She continued like I hadn't spoken. "And we need to live somewhere where we can have a car so we can go and buy those things. I'm sorry, but we can't just live in the middle of the wilderness."

Joy scrubbed at her eyes and started to sniffle. 

Miss Ellen's face fell and she hesitantly pulled Joy close. She buried her face into her mother's shoulder.

My eyes were narrowed and I was thinking hard. "...you said you were a vet, right?"

"I think I might have mentioned it," she squinted suspiciously. "Why?"

The corners of my mouth began to tug into a smile. "I think I know what you could do."

 

A week later, a vet by the name of Ellen had taken up a position in a clinic in the small town on the other side of the Sandias from the big city. She had rented (and was planning on buying) a small cabin farther up the mountain and was commuting to work every day in a tiny, beat-up Carrola. She spoke of two little girls who she loved very much. One went to the local elementary school. The other was schooled at home by a friend of hers.

I liked my new job, and so did Miss Ellen. The dragons liked her too. It was nice to no longer have to worry about a torn membrane or a fractured bone be a permanently grounding event.

Miss Ellen was officially part of the pack.

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*Gasp* More writing to read! :D

OooOOoooo.... Never say never... <.< Hmm...

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Hmmm

I'm gonna be watching you, Oak *Shifts and flies into a tree*

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Relax you guys XD

I'm going to edit and add more to the end, I had to cut it short for the night. But it's nothing big, Oak just means he's warming up to the idea of having humans around. Oak is the least nefarious of all the characters in here.

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*Dies for Hookless* XP

This is soooooooo good!!
And OAK IS GETTING USED TO HUMANS?!
I dreamed of this day!! :D

(Actually, no I have not, but I have wanted it to happen!)

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Where IS Hookington?

Aww yes, he is! There is actually a range of attitudes dragons take towards humans that can be divided into four stages. Oak is transitioning from the second stage to the third. Shadow is transitioning from the third to the fourth. I'll describe them more on the gallery thread.

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Hookington?

Oooh! That's actually really neat! I'll have to check that out once it is made.
Again, REALLY good chapter.

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Aww yes the girls need their mom^^

I like Oak. He likes to keep everyone on their toes but truth is he's a big softy- literally xD

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Yesh they do

He and Ness are very similar. Both are rather prickly to outsiders and like to keep to themselves, but once they get attached there is nothing they wont do to keep them safe.
And shhhhh! XD Northern Shortsnouts are sensitive about their fur! They get teased by the other dragons!

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Oof ok o.o

Don't want to hurt his feelings- or be on the recieving end of his wrath xD

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Sleep deprived derp comin in hot *flops on the ground* xP

*passes out in a bowl of mashed potatoes next to Nessington's foot* Present...

Squishy: *furiously eating mashies and sitting on my head* I like this :3 :D

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Aw I sorry Hooky

Dont know how I missed this. I hope you're feeling better by now? And I'm glad you like it ^^
I'll try to have another chapter up by tomorrow. No promises, unfortunately.

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*drowning in writing, art, homework, and life issues* :'C

I may or may not be slowly wilting away due to issues of life and sleep deprivation...and maybe Squishy died....I don't know yet...*pokes Squishy*

Squishy: *in a bowl of mashies* :I

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Aww

Squishy can't die! Who will torture Spiderman if he's gone??

And hang in there >.< Thanksgiving and winter break are coming!

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Oh look, a floating potat in the bathroom...thats totally normal

oof...true...x'D Squishy's surviving on milkshakes and cool things at the moment...and meme compilations....X'DD *glances at poor Spideyboy*...heheheh....>x')

Thank you xD Even though I haven't had to do any school for a few days cuz of bad illness... :P But yeah xD...I like warm weather though... :CC

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Raptors Assemble!!

Ehe...

Yeah. Poor spidey. DX 

(XD)

 

T o t a l l y n o t m y f a u l t

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*screaming loudly and with purpose*

Heheheh...I mean...I let you do it to xD

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The Hunters

Okay, okay, FINE, I guess I have to talk about the bad stuff too. Why can't life just be dragons and cloudy skies?

Because humans are annoying, that's why.

I already mentioned the people who were leaving cameras and bringing dart guns. Well, you guessed it. They were here to document  wildlife! Yaaaay. Apparently they'd been getting strange readings from the dragon territories and were excited to see what they might find. At least, that's what two younger ones were saying--I overheard them while stalking. No judgement--they were in my territory.

After losing enough cameras, they mercifully stopped installing them. But they did start coming more often, about three times a week, and never at the same time. They also brought rifles as well as dart guns. This was a bit of a problem, seeing as I took care of Joy in the mornings now, so the stress was starting to get to me.

"You okay?" Miss Ellen asked in concern.

"Fine! Couldn't be better! Why do you ask?"

She looked a little unsure. "...never mind. No reason."

That would have been less worrying if Miss Amy hadn't asked essentially the same thing a few hours later.

Overprotective mothers. Worrying about their own kids is never enough.

I decided to take my mind off the increasingly-dangerous-looking new wildlife hunters and the start of hunting season with a splash war. Conner wasn't there that afternoon--something about getting a gadget for a summer trip. So it was just me and Shadow, and I can't say that I was terribly disappointed. Nothing gets to you more than seeing someone else ride your dragon.

We stomped and sprayed and laughed. No one plays better than a dragon. After we were thoroughly soaked and had expended all our hysterical energy, we waded back to the shore.

"Alright, what should we do ne--" I never finished that sentence.

My foot stepped down into a soft bit of bank. Something clicked, and then the world flashed by in a streak of color and noise as a chain dragged me into the river.

Now, like I have said, this is in the middle of a desert. This was more of a stream than a river, only twenty feet wide and barely six feet deep. The only problem with that is that I am not twenty feet long or six feet high.

All the chirping and shushing of the birds and trees cut off as my head jerked underwater. Everything was green-gray and murky. My head struck something hard and slimy. I don't remember the rest very well, just flashes of movement and color.

All I know is somehow I ended up on the grassy bank on the other side, coughing too hard to sit up. Shadow was growling and whining and patting me and sniffing, trying to figure out what was wrong.

I tried to wave her off, but it was a bit difficult, seeing as my lungs were burning, my body felt like lead, I had a k.iller headache, and I was sopping wet.

I rolled over and saw the remains of the metal chain, broken into pieces by Shadow's strong jaws.

Oh, and I had just almost drowned.

Finally, finally, the coughing subsided, and I could sit up without dislodging up a lung.

"Thanks," I rasped weakly. The grating of speaking the Dragontongue started another round of k.ill-my-throat.

Shadow nosed her head onto my shoulder and curled around me protectively. "Humans," she growled darkly. "Traps and tricks and--" she said a word that isn't a curse word (dragons don't HAVE curse words) but expresses something kind of like IHATEIHATEIHATEBADBADBADEVILINEVERYPOSSIBLEWAYIHATEIHATEIHATE.

Something like that.

I couldn't exactly disagree at the moment. Something about almost dying really turns you off to human traps and tricks.

"Yeah," I agreed hoarsely. "Might not be having as many splash wars in the near future." Wasn't sure I'd even want to, after that. At least not for a while.

I don't know how long we crouched there, my shuddering slowly subsiding, until I felt up to flying back home. A quick visit to Oak and all the dragons were warned to go drinking in pairs. That way if one got into trouble, the other would be there to rescue it. 

I was more worried about the girls, but Oak promised that he wouldn't let them near the water, no matter how much they begged.

It wasn't until I was saying goodbye and heading home that it all hit me. I must have been in shock, because I sort of spiraled out of the sky and collapsed on the ground, gasping and fighting back tears.

Humans had just set a trap. In my territory. And it had almost cost me my life.

Why? Why why why why why?

I didn't want to face the truth. 

They weren't innocent scientists. Well, SOME of them were. But the ones in charge certainly weren't.

They were hunters. And they wanted my dragons.