Everytime she put on the necklace the visions began. She had been able to take their intensity only briefly. Who could take a dragon puffing in their face? Any moment she could be toast. The speed which she used in removing the necklace was all that saved her, she thought. Only later would she learn that it was the dragon playing with her . . . . .lulling her into a sense of security by giving her a false feeling of control.
He knew what she did not. He had seen a mark upon her at birth. No amount of caution would ever keep her from finding him. But he had decided that the wait, centuries, had been long enough. Time to make himself known. Time for eggs to hatch.
The necklace felt warm in her grasp. Strangely, it always felt warm. She should have sensed that this was peculiar. But, she had always enjoyed getting it out and on in such a hurry, that the little things such as warmth didn't register. Only later . . . . .
She fondled the little treasure as she slipped on a simple top, brushed and flipped her hair about. She was unaware of the tiny grin, then grimace as the necklace was shifted from skin to cloth. One more look in the mirror to admire the recent purchase. The jeweler, when seeing her admire the dragon, had promised that this tiny creature would behave if she would only take him home. She had laughed at the gentleman as his eyes widened into deeper slats with his slow, knowing smile. She not knowing, not then, that he could mean anything at all with this light sales banter, placed a credit card in his hand for the adoption.
She had decided to go back to the same small shops near the little dragon's former owner. As much as she enjoyed displaying her purchase, she also exercised caution by slipping the tiny creature beneath her top, between her breasts, just even with the rosemark. The dragon rejoiced.
As she browsed the curious little shops that morning, she may have been aware of the warmth of the little dragon. It had not bothered her, or come to mind sheltered as it was between her breasts, this little warm dragon. Muggings and purse snatchings had been a part of the area that she now shopped in recent years. So, if the dragon crossed her mind, she made no move to retrieve him from his glorious perch.
A couple of hours and several packages to show, and she had her fill for the morning. The quaint little jewelry store was already replaced by a card shop. Collectibles and stuff. The kind with numbers and bats, and helmets. She just wasn't interested in even going in and asking how her store could have been replaced so quickly. She really felt relieved in a way because she was sure she would buy something else too expensive like the little creature now hiding between her breasts. She reached to retrieve him, but thought better as two rough boys rocked and rolled by her on the narrow sidewalk. Enough, time to go home. Eat peanut butter or salad. The smell of grease and oil had been with her all morning as she had worked her way through the foreign shops. The little dragon had been oblivious to all but her heartbeat and his place in time. Time, it was time . . . .
Her small car slipped in and out of the narrow streets as she took a short-cut home. She had spent so much time in town lately. Why not take a drive? That idea sounded even better when she saw a fast food stand offering pitas. Something different for a change. Something to nibble on as she took a long overdue drive in the country. Ten minutes and many attempts to get an order correct, she was finally on her way out a long neglected stretch of highway from her childhood. She decided to head for an old picnic area that had a cave as a former family attraction when she was a child. A family playground nearby would make it safe enough for her to picnic. She nibbled on pieces out of the pita. Then gasped as something seemed to nibble on her . . . . .
Wheeling into the picnic area, she almost fell out of her car. Between her breasts, the necklace had become hot. No one was around to see . . . . she had raised her top to check, and saw a small trickle of blood coming from the rosemark. And, and, and the dragon was changing, growing, pulsing before her eyes. In seconds he was stepping away from her...eye to eye. Then larger, and larger, he dwarfed her. Then scooped her into strong limbs and headed for the long, unused cave. A backward blast from his smoking mouth reduced the little car to unrecognizable cinders all over the parking lot. This was a day for festivities at the local school. No one with children would have been playing at this park today. His time had come, this dragon, the curse was lifted. She had set him free. He would be sure to tell her about it when she finally regained her senses again.
When she came to, this woman used to reality, she had real trouble realizing the situation she was in at that point. She reached slowly to her scalp, feeling for lumps or bumps that would tell her she had recently hit her head...that might explain all this. As her eyes grew used to their surroundings, she looked to see where she might be. It seemed this place was somehow familiar from her childhood. Then she remembered the cave. What did not make sense was the giant beast at the entrance to the cave. At first she thought him sleeping and that she might escape somehow. Then she realized that it followed her every movement with one large eye. She reached for her tiny dragon and could not find him....then she started to remember........
A sob escaped her lips. She had not meant it to, but had just reached a limit. Her life had so many twists and turns lately, and this was the strangest. At the sound of the sob, the dragon spoke. "Don't cry, my lady." "I really mean you no harm." His voice was almost soothing. "Oh please, my lady, I sincerely need your help." She thought about her car, about being dragged in this cave, about all that she knew of that had happened earlier. "You bit me," she finally claimed. "You bit me!"
"Well, I had to," he contested. "It broke the curse." "What curse?" she challenged. "Will you eat me next?" "What more do I have to endure before you do away with me," she was sobbing at this point. "I need you to help me get my mate back, my lady." "You are serious," she countered. The thought of another dragon out there somewhere just finished her thoughts of surviving. She was sure they would divide her up and pick her bones clean. And, yet the idea of this dragon having a mate he needed help recovering appealled to her. She had lost what she thought was to be her soulmate. Someone to help her find him might make her world right again. She felt a deep ache for herself and a new understanding for this dragon. "Tell me about her," she asked.
And he did...in detail. He told of their love for each other until she was envious for what this female dragon could have from this great male dragon. So she asked, "When was the last time you saw her?" Oh, she sat in rapt attention listening to him up to this point. "Several centuries ago," he heaved a great sigh. She lost her demeanor at this point. "You have to be joking!" she exploded. "You aren't serious with me, are you?" He calmly waited for her to see that he had not moved or lost his composure. "You ARE serious," she finally admitted. Then she listened until the sun disappeared and the cave was immersed in darkness...well almost, there was a slight glow of light from this great dragon as he just kept talking, telling her of his grief.
"You hear of great magicians who do astounding feats of magic," he moaned. One such magician had been his owner when he was a tiny familiar dragon. He had been devoted to this magician. He learned what a powerful force this magician could be. For a long time, he pleased Maldalorios. As he matured, Maldalorios was not pleased to see that this dragon had become attached to a young female dragonet, Felicious. Over time, the great dragon had taken much in the way of verbal abuse from Maldalorios over his dear female dragonet. Then Maldalorios started taking liberties of insulting this sweet little female. Maldalorios wanted total attention. He also knew that he would never have an end to it if he somehow managed to hurt this little dragonet darling of his dragon. So he contrived a great scheme with some other magicians. This little female was a familiar for a lesser magician who knew nothing about all this plan. There was a challenge to secret this little female dragonet away and make it seem it had happened by some event of nature. The chore was to find her and the prize was some small trinket. Centuries went by and no one claimed the trinket...no one tried except for her beloved, this great dragon. He tried so hard to find his beloved, that Maldalorios put a great curse on him...and this great dragon became the trinket. Maldalorios felt that his dragon would forget his foolishness about Felicious, and he would have his dragon back. But Maldalorios had never known love.
Maldalorios became a little older, a little meaner, and only a little feeble. In the meantime, Tagoreous was learning all his magic. He needed the proper soul to practice it for him. He was determined to have his lady back. Not bound by laws like humans cared to make, he knew that his love would have a clutch of eggs, and that both of them needed to take care of this brood. Dragons are so rare...especially dragons like this one. So he had learned that he must find the proper soul to help him. And, this he did. Now he had her sitting in front of him. How to explain to her what he needed to teach her. How to take her back through the centuries. And could she practice the proper magic to find his love. He had such a short time to convince her of all that was necessary. And how to answer her questions. Would she believe him if he told her she would also find her beloved again?
"I need to go to the restroom," she broke his concentration on all these questions. "Yes, yes, certainly," he agreed. "Can you see well enough to make it out there and back, or should I escort you?" he asked. "What?" "You would really let me go there and trust me to come back?" "Yes, AnnLeigh...we have to start trusting each other sometime," he quietly stated. "You know my name, what is yours, dragon?" "Tagoreous, but you can call me Tag." "Thank you, Tag, I will come right back, I promise." "I know you will, AnnLeigh, I trust you." "But you are not a prisoner here, AnnLeigh. We are here to help each other now." For some reason, she reached out to touch his great body as he slid out of her way so she could leave the cave. Her beloved had been missing only a short time. She grieved for this great dragon who had been alone for centuries. She would help him. She felt driven to help...but why?
He began by explaining the rosemark.......
But then stopped himself and told her to go on to the restroom. She was a little miffed that he was going to let her go out in the dark alone...and surprised at this feeling. But, as she looked out, she could see that the place was very light. Several security lights and lights to the baseball diamonds had come on. Where was everyone? She did not have children, so could not know that they were all watching a fireworks display about now at the local school. Even the switch worked for the lights in the restroom. Her little car was not in the parking lot. She only had a vague memory of some fireworks there. Then she headed back for the cave. As she walked back in the cave, she could see the dragon putting what smelled coconut oil on his leathery hide. He seemed to have very adept fingers to work with what was a tiny bottle for him. He inquired if she needed some lotion for her hands. "No thank you," she graciously replied. He explained that he had found this bottle near one of the baseball diamonds. "If I had my car", she was careful on reminding him, "I could go get plenty more for you". "Sorry, about your car, my lady...but I can fly you anywhere you want to go". He beamed a broad grin at her at that last revelation. "Fly?", she said in almost a whisper.
"I barely stand riding esculators and elevators", she peeped. "I even stay away from the windows in tall buildings," she moaned. "And, you are talking about flying," she groaned. "Why don't you just make toast of me now!" He could see her shed a tear at that last. "My lady, maybe I should tell you more about the rosemark," he soothed. And she found a place to sit on a low ledge in the cave. He had her attention again. He talked long into the night. A few times she would ask questions. For the most part, she sat in rapt attention. At one point, she realized she was talking with a dragon, and she could not get over how her life had changed...or how it was destined to change just because of the rosemark. She finally told the dragon she needed to sleep. "Tag, I just cannot keep my eyes open any longer...please forgive me," Sensing her fear at being someplace unfamiliar, Tag reassured her he would be watching as she slept. She was his answer to life. He did not want to scare her by telling her of the great magicians, other dragons, and things of his time he did not even care to think about unless he had to. He knew that he could not have his life back unless she joined to help him. He watched her long into the night and early morning...and considered how best to tell her.
With morning, he knew that she would be hungry. Time for the first lesson. He could see her start to awaken. "AnnLeigh?" "AnnLeigh, we need to get you something to eat," He hoped he would not have to explain his feeling of need again when he blasted her car the day before. Having it sitting there would have brought questions from others coming to the park. And, he thought, might give her a reason to keep trying to run from him while he was trying to explain what he needed. She never mentioned the car again. "I want to teach you how to ride a dragon, AnnLeigh." He could see her eyes widen, but then he got no argument. "I had a dream, Tag..." He waited for her to explain more, but she was silent. "Please show me what you want me to do, Tag." "Just don't drop me," she pleaded. Maybe the spirit of the magician Felicious had been a familiar for was still trying to help the two of the out. He had not felt the presence of that spirit in a long time. But, then he had been enduring the curse also put on him by Maldalorios. He slowly reached over and lifted her gently and placed her on his back. He told her to get comfortable and hang-on. And, he also told her to let him know when she wanted a break. He could feel her get a firm grip. He was at the cave entrance in a few strides, and outside in a few more. He could feel her get an even firmer grip...and then he took off. Leathery wings and strong limbs, taking them up and away. He always relished a flight, but remembered his novice rider, so settled on a quiet airstream and glided for his destination. An isle where he could find wonderful things just ripe for the picking to start her morning. He hoped she enjoyed the ride and the destination. At some point, he realized that she was humming, and then finally singing. Yes, Felicious had a lesser magician, but a good person, nonetheless. And he was right...not all people are trecherous like Maldalorios. Tag listened to her joyful song and tried to commit the words to memory as he heard them.
"I am getting sleepy again," she complained. He told her it was the thinner air up where they were flying. "Tie a knot in my mane and hang on," he commanded. His use of a command woke her up. She had worried that all her pulling on his mane, and the thumping and bumping she had given him with her knees and heels were making him sore and unhappy with her. So she asked. "No, my lady. I am most glad for your company. And, I hardly feel you sitting there. So please don't have me lose my first rider in a long time." She could feel him chuckle at that remark. The blue water gave way to a lighter shade and an island came into view. Suddenly, they were surrounded by snow. "What kind of island grows fruits in snow?" she exclaimed. Then she realized it was not cold...not snow after all. It was ash. "Oh dear!" Tag seemed to cry. Felicious and I loved this isle. The volcano must be taking it faster than we thought. I had hoped to bring her back here before it was gone." The last was so sad to hear out of this great dragon. AnnLeigh hurt for him. Her empty stomach also hurt. He looked at her and sensed this.
"Time to find something for you to eat," he perked up. "I hope some of the wonderful rare fruits are still here," he seemed to brag here. "Some of the most wonderful fruits are here but nowhere else in the world...so let us see what we can find." With that, he zoomed right in past the volcano so that AnnLeigh could see the great molten contents. Tag flew in next to what looked like the ruins of some ancient temple. AnnLeigh loved to paint. She wished she even had her camera to make pictures of this sight. She was already seeing more in a few hours than she had seen in her lifetime. Silently, she though to herself that she had been fortunate to have met the dragon, Tagoreous...that is until she thought about what she needed to do to replace her car. "My lady, do you need help getting down?" This woke her from her daydream. "No, Tag." "Is this place filled with wild animals and strange people that might make a meal of me?" "No, my lady, just fruit here...and beautiful views," he replied. "We had hoped that the volcano would enlarge the island, not send her back to the sea, Felicious and I did." AnnLeigh was amazed, a fruit eating dragon that was in love. What next?
Once again he scooped her up in powerful, agile limbs, and she could feel him as he lifted off. The idea of flying before had petrified her...now she admired how he could maneuver anywhere he seemed to want to go. Even through she had worn the little dragon, she had thought little of what a real dragon might be like. She found that she felt secure anywhere on this dragon; her fear of falling off diminished the longer she rode. Then Tag seemed to want to teach her something. Well, it was much later that she took it as a lesson. He tipped when she least expected it and she fell off. High in the sky, she was falling out of control, when suddenly he had her in strong limbs again. His speed was blinding at that moment, but he had her securely in his grasp again. She stayed mad, but impressed for hours with the lesson.
Finally, he took her to a part of the isle that had beautiful trees growning all down the side of one hill. As he flew, he lectured, like she would listen, and she did listen. The lesson in flight had just been a little too much for her. But she did listen as he told of each exotic fruit...the taste and texture. She thought of him going a little overboard on the nutrition values. He was a regular nutrition expert, this intelligent dragon. But, then she remembered her recent lectures to co-workers. This is one of her stories they would never accept. And, just how much did he know of her when he was the necklace..."all of it, my lady," he answered her silent question. She was so tired that she could not remember if she had asked that question aloud or not. She really wasn't quite sure of anything right now. Her boyfriend, who was now missing, had always said that she needed more adventure in her life. Well, now she had a good start.
Tag ask her to climb back on if she was not too tired. He was such a polite dragon. She did as she was bidden and he once again took to the air. Such power in this dragon. She wondered why one just did not see dragons anymore, but decided not to ask that question of Tag. Once again, he circled the isle and gave her a chance to look at such a beautiful place while they were there. "I hope that it lasts until I can bring my love, Felicious, back here," you could hear the catch in his voice. "Like your beloved, my lady. I would like to bring them both back here." "Tag", you could hear the catch in her voice now. "How did you know about my love?" "Our beloveds?" he corrected her. Then he heaved a great sigh. She would not press him anymore at this point. The rest of the trip was quiet...nothing but the sound of great leathery wings carrying them on their way. She wondered at their destination, but stayed lost in thought about another dragon, and what it would have to do with her beloved.
He told her he would give her a chance to rest...stand over her and keep watch. He cautioned her to run to him if he sounded the slightest alarm. They were, he said, in the land of The Host, the Fey, and the wampus cat. Also, he would rather not have a certain magician know that he had returned...at least, not for some time. It was important to catch Maldalorius unaware. He needed to locate his love, Felicious, and guarantee her safety. AnnLeigh could see he had really thought about all this...."for centuries," was his answer to an unspoken question.
"You know," she informed him, "that you are not like other dragons at all." He beamed. "And, my lady, what do you know of dragons?" She had spoken too soon without a ready reply. "Maybe dragons have changed some in all the time I have been a trinket," he mused. "Trinket?" "That was an expensive trinket!" she reached for where it used to hang. "And you bit me!" "I am truly sorry, my lady," he began to hang his head. "Next time I will get a Pegasus or something," she threatened, knowing it was past time to do any good now. She was also trying to figure out what a Pegasus might do to her other than take a tiny bite. Maybe kick her, or flog her with its wings. At least Tag had not done any of that. "What is it like being a trinket, Tag?" "Confining," a moan escaped him. She considered that it might not be a good idea in being so forward and asking him some of these questions; but always found him polite to her. "And the magician, Maldalorios, never thought I would ever figure a way to get to the Rosemark," a slow smile spread across Tag's broad mouth. But he was a very smart dragon. He had studied the magician's craft...and he also had the lesser magician, Felicious' dear owner always doing what he could to help him...even in spirit. Tag had a suspicion that Maldalorios may have hastened the little magician's demise. No matter, Tag would see him called to answer all charges.
Night started to descend in real blackness around them. There was no moon or stars. This was not a pretty place. There were howlings, and growlings, and what sounded like the thundering of hooves. Off a distance was what sounded like the leathery flapping of wings. Tag was afraid of nothing, but wanted to guarantee AnnLeigh's safety. AnnLeigh was sure there were things out there that even Tag could be fearful of, but did not ask. Tag had found a cave nearby in the karst topography. He loved to teach her. He said caves everywhere made it what was called "karst," If she kept listening, she could have a doctorate in "dragon," she teased him.
They seemed to be safer in the cave, but AnnLeigh also listened to the rustling of the small critters around the place. She was exhausted, but could not sleep. Finally, he moved over and took her in strong limbs and promised her the safety of a place to sleep. She was so grateful that it did not occur to her that she could have made an easy meal that way. But she trusted Tagoreous. Somehow she believed this tale he had told her. Or maybe, it was just that she wanted to believe in romance one more time in her life. She thought of her beloved, and craved to know what had happened to him. Those were her last thoughts as she drifted off to sleep.
Not set in immediate present, but also not limited to any certain dates, eras, eons. Total fantasy in that regard.
Not set in immediate present, but also not limited to any certain dates, eras, eons. Total fantasy in that regard.
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