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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: September 24, 2019      Views: 254
Chapters:
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Chapter 3 of the book Aaron's Dragons
More surprises for Aaron
"The Witch" by Cindy Warren



Aaron watched the little dragon till it was almost too dark to see it, then turned his attention to his horse. He removed the saddle and gave him a rub, then let him graze in a nearby patch of grass.

He hadn't planned on being out overnight, and his stomach grumbled. He'd eaten only apples all day. Too bad, he decided. It would have to wait till morning. It was too dark, and he was too tired. Fortunately, the late summer nights were still warm. He rolled himself up in the saddle blanket and fell asleep, his dreams filled with the little dragon.

Aaron woke at dawn, stiff and aching. Slowly rising from his blanket, he walked to the river, and saw the little dragon playing in the water. Impulsively, he stripped off his clothes and dove in. The chilly water did nothing for his aches and pains, but it did help with the dust and grit caked to his body and eyes.

"I have to go, little guy, and so do you. You need to keep yourself hid from most of my kind. You just go the way the water takes you, and you'll end up in the right place." Aaron splashed water in his eyes, telling himself it was to get rid of the last of the grit.

He climbed out of the river, shook out his clothes, found himself a handful of purple berries, saddled Demon and started the journey home. Taking one last look back he saw the dragon swimming off with the current.

Hours later, passing the cabin, Aaron felt a need to stop and check on the remaining eggs. After the usual objections from Demon he opened the door to a spectacle he was scarcely able to believe.

The lovely red patterned egg lay cracked in two, and its former inhabitant was busily chewing a hole in a pale pink egg.

"Hey, stop that!" Aaron grabbed the would-be sibling eater by the tail, and was immediately rewarded with a bite to his hand. He dropped the offender back into the sink, where it rushed directly back to the egg it had been attacking and produced a small puff of smoke and a flicker of flame.

"Hey! You don't want to cook your sister!" Aaron grabbed it behind the head, where it could neither bite nor burn him.

The words sounded ridiculous even to his own ears.
The little beast clearly did want to cook its sister. Fortunately, Aaron had saved the jug he had used to transport the water dragon. He plopped her inside, despite her best efforts to squirm loose and chew up his hand . He somehow felt sure it was a female, though he couldn't say why.

Another idea that seemed not to be his own popped into his head. He went out into the yard and found a sticky leaf, added a couple of drops of water, and placed it gently over the hole in the pink egg. Then he turned his attention back to the hatchling.

The red dragon furiously threw herself against the sides of the jug, puffing smoke. Aaron thought he saw a tiny flame.

"What am I going to do with you?" Aaron picked up the jug to look her over. He saw she had golden eyes, and a gold fringe along the back of her neck and more gold down her spine. Strong hind limbs and tail worked furiously to free her from the jug. Tiny wings, clearly not ready to fly, protruded from her sides. Smaller forelimbs with squirrel-like hands tried to grip the glass.

"You're a pretty little thing."

The dragon was unimpressed with the compliment.

"Well, you're stuck in there for the night," Aaron told her. "Let's see if we can make you a little more comfortable."

Working quickly he grabbed handfuls of fresh grass for a nest. She tasted it, then showed no further interest.
A few dead flies he found on the windowsill went in next. She gobbled them up. Soon all the windows were free of dead insects.

"I guess you're just going to have to be mad for tonight," Aaron told her. "I need to go get some grub and some sleep."

Aaron turned to leave and found his way blocked by a woman.

"Who are you?" he blurted out.

"You expect me to tell you my name?"

"Sorry, Madam, you gave me a start. I forgot my manners. Aaron of Westwood at your service. Of course, I should be properly introduced to a lady, but there doesn't seem to be anyone to do the introducing.

"I know who you are."

Aaron stared at the woman. She might have been forty or seventy. Aaron couldn't tell. Something was amiss, and he was beginning to suspect who he was talking to. Worse, he could see the sunlight coming through the door behind her. This was not only a witch, but a ghost.

"My apologies, Madam. I did not mean to intrude on you. I'll take my pets and be going."

"The dragons will stay," she said.

"As I said, Madam, I didn't intend any imposition. They're a lot of trouble. I'll take them and be out of your way."

"You must listen. I know what they are, and I know who you are. I can't speak to you for long. Two hundred years I have protected those eggs. It's not by chance you found them and brought them here. There are some things I can't do. I could not have saved the water dragon yesterday."

"You're looking out for them? What will I do with this red one?"

"I don't know yet. It's possible we can't save them all. You're here because I know you'll do your best. Most folks couldn't get any nearer than your horse did. Keep the eggs here. Where else would you take them?"

"I suppose you're right about that," Aaron admitted.

"Now go. You won't see me for a few days. The past week has used most of my energy. You'll have some luck on your way home. Everyone will believe you were hunting."

The ghostly witch was true to her word. Aaron returned home with a deer with no effort at all. When he was asked about his bruises, he sheepishly said he'd been looking at the deer instead of the tree. Nobody suggested he was too old to be hunting.




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