jexia: (Me me)
[personal profile] jexia
Dragons are not fertile creatures by nature; their brooding happens rarely, and takes many years. So when M'rtaka was heavy with egg, she searched long and wide for a haven that could sustain her through ten years of guardianship. She found a place, with high cliffs where the sun clung to the rocks, overlooking a wide plain where the herd animals gathered to drink from the cool, green river, and there she laid her eggs.

Most queen dragons lay one or two eggs, but M'rtaka was in the prime of health. Her four eggs, each of a different hue, were a truly prodigious clutch. She curled around them, guarding them through the night, and through most of each day, except when she would stoop on whistling wings to the plain below to kill, and to feast. And so the seasons changed, hot to cold, cold to hot, hot to cold.

The humans came.

M'rtaka sprang from the cliffs, talons bared, and the humans collapsed to the ground in fright. They were a ragged bunch, in poor condition, ill-fed and stringy. One of them, with the rare gift of dragontongue, cried aloud, "Oh, great one! Spare us and we will serve you!"

They didn't look tasty. M'rtaka stayed her killing blow and uttered one word; "How?"

The one with speech replied, "However you need."

M'rtaka leapt into the air, her powerful wings thundering through the air, and returned to her cliff-top abode. She curled around her eggs to contemplate the situation, gazing down upon the tiny humans.

Eventually apathy or exhaustion overcame their fear, and they staggered around making preparations for the night. They slept in the shelter of the cliffs, and M'rtaka watched with the same unceasing alertness she gave her eggs.

*

When the morning light struck the cliff-top, M'rtaka soared aloft, arcing into the wind. She monitored her eggs, and the humans, but she also searched for evidence to confirm her suspicion.

When she found it, she plummeted to the plain. The humans again cowered in fear, but the one who could speak crept forward. "How can we serve you?

The sleek dragon folded her wings. "You will hunt for me. At least two beasts, every evening. More, in time."

The human bowed. "Yes, oh great one. It will be done." The other humans muttered, but began collecting what meagre implements they had.

M'rtaka extended her front foot, the claws only half-sheathed. "And the humans who follow you- they seek to hurt you?"

The motley group froze in fear, but the speaker bowed again. "Yes, oh wise one." M'rtaka scented fear and uncertainty. "Will you... will you protect us?"

"It will be done! Now fulfill your duty!" M'rtaka roared, and sprang into the air.

*

The humans hunted through the heat of the day, their tools ill-suited to the purpose. At last, they managed to bring down two beasts, a nursing dam and her calf.

Evening shadows streaked the ground before M'rtaka returned. She gnawed half-heartedly at the calf, showing little appetite.

The speaker approached timidly. "Are they not acceptable, oh wise one? A thousa-"

M'rtaka growled, and the speaker froze into silence. "Enough with the 'wise one' and 'great one'. My name is M'rtaka, and there is no greater name. You humans may take the cow. I have protected you, and now you must grow stronger so that you may serve me better."

Hunger overcame fear, and the other humans bustled forward to start butchering the beast. M'rtaka turned her back, and lumbered to her eyrie. Her belly was deliciously full.

The preparations below took on a festive air, and what could have been just a meal became a celebratory feast. At last the humans slept, bellies stuffed into shocking protuberances on their depleted frames.

*

Months passed. The humans built shelters, and started to accrue tools and experience that made their hunting trips more successful. The budding settlement prospered under M'rtaka's watchful eye.

The humans grew healthier, but the belly of the speaker grew faster than most. When M'rtaka spoke, the speaker's stomach would jump and twitch, stretched and extended by something inside.

One night, when the moons shone bright and full overhead, the nocturnal stillness was broken by groans. The groans became screams; the screams became silence; the silence became a chorus of wails.

In the morning, M'rtaka descended to the village. No-one stood to speak to her.

*

Years passed. The humans multiplied, with little brown bodies skipping through the shallows of the river.

They hunted, still, but nobody spoke to M'rtaka, and she could not make them understand. The beasts grew scarcer and more cunning, and there were more humans to feed. With shifty eyes, the humans offered only one beast.

M'rtaka ate it, demurely, and flew to her nest as always.

When no-one died for their failure, they grew bolder. If a hunt was especially successful, they might offer two, but otherwise it was one...or sometimes none. Yet the humans grew fatter, sleek and healthy.

The dragon brooded, fussing over her clutch. The shadows within the eggs grew clearer each day, the shapes within coiling and shifting as the shells thinned.

She had no way to tell the humans that she needed more food. A dragon's pride is paramount, and so she refused to break the bargain by hunting for herself. Soon the hatchlings would emerge, ravenous and keening. If the humans would not meet their side of the bargain, they could serve in another way.

Date: 2015-01-28 08:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] i-17bingo.livejournal.com
The eyes are my favorite, but the different colored eggs are a pretty close second. And I mustn't forget to mention that the leaves were also quite inspired.

In short, this is gorgeous.

Date: 2015-01-28 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bleodswean.livejournal.com
There simply are not enough good dragon tales around! I loved the ending!

Date: 2015-01-29 03:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fodschwazzle.livejournal.com
She seems to have a knack for the cultivation of humans for food. The dragon voice was rather good (regal, threatening, and motherly), and the sense of perspective was a nice human/reptilian slant.

Date: 2015-01-28 07:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] i-17bingo.livejournal.com
They didn't look tasty.

I like how this is her main justifications. Dragons, amiright?

... she also searched for evidence to confirm her suspicion.

I'll be honest, this wasn't my suspicion, but I feel like it should have been, considering their desperation.

It was the dragon's perspective of pregnancy that was my favorite part of exploring the rise of this small civilization from her P.O.V.

Date: 2015-01-28 08:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] i-17bingo.livejournal.com
It did pretty well, I have to say.

Date: 2015-01-29 02:10 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-02-01 08:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
The length of time until hatching works very well-- the relationship with the humans has the ability to evolve into where the humans take the situation for granted, but have forgotten the original bargain and/or its importance.

Also, it would seem, that dragons are not tame.

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