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In the Dragon's Cave

A raw bone turned under foot. The pirate saw it and stopped. 
"What are you getting at!" said the loud one.

He was still. The bone was something. A kind feeling came into him and he sunk. 

It was in his hands and he had tears on his face. What had he seen? The loud one reacted first. They had to all of them be quick, not knowing when the She-dragon would return.

On the boat, at the first glance the Captain saw it had been true. The boat 'twere weighed down with the eggs.
"Had ye no room then? for where is the man called Justin?"
"He was beside himself" the loud one said truthfully.
"There be strange things in the lair of the dragon," he told them when they still listened.

Justin gradually felt a throbbing in his head. He saw above him the cave and he grew chilled.
"Have no fear man," spoke the Dragon.

The Dragon had only just returned, and though she smelled his presence she had followed the scent of her eggs to the water, roaring. Before she would track them she need rest. There was also in the cave a liquid that carefully she had set aside for her young; she needed the strength back now if she ever would find them. Then the man scent. It would be wasteful to eat him, she told herself.

"You beheld," the She-dragon said.
The man had shriveled against the wall of the cave. 
"Do not still feel the kindness?"
The Dragon eye was liquid yellow, and his own face swam in the milk caught as if in glass. The mouth did only what snakes mouths do when they bare teeth, and the Dragon's tongue almost touched him. The cave wall was cold dryness to the touch, blackened with bat dung, which he might have realized was the smell filling the lair. 
"You came for my young," She spoke again.

A hawk-like cry could be heard in the village behind the mountain. That was how they would have remembered it, but the boys and girls had been huddling with their parents since they first heard the She-Dragon roaring. She has never hurt us, they tried to assure themselves.

Justin saw her massive body turn back to him from the mouth of the cave. She stalked around her nest, rooting around. 
"Why have you come here" she said, her horned face obscured from view.

The tale Justin gave her was nothing like what I have told you in "The Dragon Story." His words came frothing to his mouth, having heard of the Dragon they had come to scout, and then possessed by a belief the eggs of a Dragon must grant great power, they had come and waited until she had gone. He was left behind, confused by what he had seen, a glimmer of something that had struck him to the core as if with fear. He saw, not the destruction that would befall the ship, no, but a kindhearted vision. During what he thought a fit, he felt himself in the woman's arms. 

"You would have to know the origin of your race," the She-Dragon said, "joint of joint, man once gave of himself for their to be another like himself. To no end, your kind wish for it back, enslaving some to yourselves, robbing of others what you think you deserve to own."

That is all the pirate knew from the Dragon's mouth. Then it reared and drank of something, then went forth from the tunnel, opening its great wings there and the ground shook.

--
A story by C.R. Spicer
(All rights reserved)

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