Challenge #01771-D310: Helper DragonsteemCreated with Sketch.

in #fiction7 years ago


This post: -- TheDragonsFlame

Eldarol Vale, the sign read. Here there be dragons. And it was amusing since Elderol Vale was the Pet Dragon capital of the world. The best breeders came from Elderol Vale. The best breeds came from there. The most sincere and severe show judges grew up there, and knew what was good for the animals. In smaller print, the sign boasted, Zero rapes since the Year of the Eternally Staring Owl.

Dragons may be small, but they were good guardians of their owners. They could go from soppy, half-asleep pet to whirling ball of sharpened and angry pain in instants if they felt their owner was threatened. Maidens trained them to sit on their shoulders. Mothers kept them next to their babies. The anxious or the fearful had little to be afraid of with a dragon clinging lovingly to their body heat.

Legends tell of enormous dragons. Bigger than cities. Sleeping on hoards of gold or gems. But those were laughable. Everyone knew that dragons never got larger than a housecat. And they would guard anyone and anything they got attached to. They also came in handy for lighting fires. A dragon was second only to dogs as being mankind's best friend. They were also ideal for allergy sufferers, since they had no fur or dander. Something Faline was looking forward to.

She had come here, looking for the best. To the safest village in the world. Looking for something that would help her face the world. Every witch, cleric, and healer had said that a dragon as a companion could help cure anything. And since that was the general philosophy of every expert she had consulted, she had come here. At great expense to her purse and soul. Doing everything she could to feel secure during her first time away from home for almost two decades.

She had a cleric with her to cast Calm Emotion when things got rough. She had a bonnet that cut off most of her field of vision and a veil that protected her from the vision that she could see. She had a soft, fuzzy toy to grip whenever the world frightened her, which was often. She had little intricate toys to occupy her fingers and distract her from anything and everything new and uncertain which might disturb her. Which was just about anything outside of her carefully-arranged home.

Messages had been sent. The Dracocoeur family knew all about why she was coming. There had been abundant time to prepare.

And still... Faline freaked out. She could never nail down why. Perhaps the coachman opened the door too quickly. Perhaps the sounds were unexpected. Perhaps it was all the new things happening at once. Either way, she was gently escorted between the curtained coach to the plush parlour of the Dracocoeur estates under the haze of Calm Emotion.

The spell lifted and they gave her her calming tea. Just the right temperature. Let her have her plush cushion to hold until she was more at ease. Faline had not been completely at ease since she was four. It was only after she said that she was ready that Omandi Dracocoeur began introducing her to different exemplars of dragon breeds. Guardians and Nannies and Firestarters, and many more besides. There were pretty ones that looked like decorations but would keep the nastier, possessive types of male at their distance. There were ones that were miniatures, and others that were comparatively massive.

And there was one that sort of crept into Faline's lap without anyone being the wiser until the little creature started licking Faline's hand. She'd thought the weight was her fluffy cushion, but it was this smaller-than-average piebald dragon with stunted wings and a raucous purr when Faline petted it.

"That is so strange," said Omandi. "Piewhacket's never come out of hiding like this before."

Piewhacket was what the dragon breeding profession called a sport. The runt of the clutch and not well-formed. Her genes were not what they sought when looking for a saleable companion. Her wings were stunted, and she couldn't glide like her siblings. The most she could do was settle to earth like a chicken, flapping madly all the way down. She had uneven patterns to her multicoloured scales and quite the antisocial demeanour.

And she was all over Faline like she was a long-lost friend.

Faline laughed for the first time in a decade. Felt a warmth in her heart that banished half of her fears on the spot. She even felt secure enough to remove her bonnet. At which point, Piewhacket shot up to her shoulders, sunk her claws in, and purred like continuous, distant thunder.

"You've been claimed," said Omandi. "She's not just your dragon, you're her human. This... just happens sometimes. I know better than to take her off you, but if you need another for protection..."

Piewhacket's scales were smooth like tiny marbles. Her purr was a reassurance. An anchor. If this shy little creature could be comfortable and confident, then there was no reason for her to be scared. "I think... I think Piewhacket might just be exactly who I need."

They tested it, of course. Facing the outside without a bonnet or a veil. Stepping outside with just Piewhacket to protect her from fears imagined and real. Walking along open paths. All insurmountable obstacles for Faline, just the day before. She even went down the road to the nearest market carts. Laughter bubbling out of her lungs.

Faline was still scared of the world, but with Piewhacket with her, she had a good reason to become more confident.

And after she went home with her new dragon, some ignorant lout made the mistake of asking Faline if the smile was for him. Piewhacket came out of her apparent torpor in instants. Shrieking and snarling at the interloper. Hissing and seething. He backed off fast. Every man alive knew that a dragon re-enforced a 'no' better than a chastity belt. The predatory few who still existed despite everything derided maidens for having dragons at all. Or went after some who hadn't worked out what a lovely dudebro repellant that a dragon embodied.

Fortunately for those unlucky few, the ladies with dragons tended to arrange themselves to be nearby ladies who still lacked them. Especially on public festivals. Faline joined the number of guardian ladies, making friends with a few young women who believed some of the bad words about dragons - spread about by the dudebros, as 'sheer co-incidence' would have it.

Piewhacket was the best advertising for dragons who ever lived. Considering what she did for Faline.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Nihongo]

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