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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: December 15, 2019      Views: 137
Chapters:
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Chapter 23 of the book Aaron's Dragons
Aaron and the dragons prepare for battle
"Preparing for Battle" by Cindy Warren

Background
The dragons are coming into their own, and will soon have to help defend the kingdom in battle. Will their help be enough to convince angry and hungry people that dragon slayers should be outlawed?


After the morning's excitement was over, Aaron sat in the clearing with Duane watching the dragons. They were hunting bugs and mice as though nothing interesting had happened. Aaron found himself wishing he had their resilience.

"I'm glad they didn't wreck this place," said Duane. "It used to scare me, but now I hope I can come back here someday."

"You might. It's not as though many people want it," Aaron replied.

"When do we need to leave?"

"Tomorrow morning, I think. We have time, but I don't want to overwork the horses."

"What about the dragons?"

"I expect they'll go wherever we do. I'll have a talk with Pink tonight. I think she knows more about what the woman sees than I do," said Aaron.

"She wants you to win, but I don't understand how that helps the dragons. What does it matter to them who rules the kingdom? Kings are all the same to them," said Duane.

"I've wondered the same thing myself," Aaron admitted. "She sees something she hasn't told us."

Pink, who had been listening, chose that moment to land beside them. "She's told you what you need to know," she said. "She sees many things. It won't help you to know them."

"Do you know?" asked Duane.

"Some."

"Maybe she thinks if you help us, you'll be heroes. Then the king will want you alive. That would only work if we win."

Pink didn't answer.

"I don't know. Maybe, though I doubt a king would think like that," said Aaron. "They're dragons, they're not something he could keep in his stable. They have their own minds, and he can't control them. People will be afraid of them once they're a little bigger."

If Pink knew anything more, she wasn't saying. Brown had emerged early from her daytime hiding place, and was busy trying to enlarge a gopher hole.

"Gophers always have plenty of holes," Aaron told her. "They leave themselves plenty of ways out. They also tell a buddy where they are, in case the hole caves in." He wasn't sure about the last part, but he worried about her getting trapped underground.

A few minutes later, Brown backed out of the hole with a gopher in her teeth. Aaron was surprised. He hadn't seen a gopher in weeks. The rodent struggled and squealed, and it didn't seem Brown would be able to hang onto it. It twisted itself around, and when Brown realized it could bite her, she let it go.

The two humans expected it to dash back into its hole, but it stumbled around, confused. It was obvious the little forest dragon was not as helpless as she appeared. The others, curious, had gathered around. Aaron had been bitten by Red immediately after she had hatched, and it had never occurred to him that any of them might be venomous.

It apparently had not occurred to Brown, either. She simply stared at the gopher, until Mountain quickly dispatched it for her. She sniffed at it and looked up at Aaron.

Aaron looked at Pink. "Did you know?"

"No."

Brown looked perplexed. She knew she had not killed the gopher, but she had done something to it. She sniffed at it some more, turned it over, not sure if she should eat it, and looked at Aaron and Pink for answers. It was Duane who came to her rescue.

"You can eat it if you want," he said. "You'll need to be careful what you bite from now on. Whatever you bite will probably die. I've seen plenty of snakes catch rats that way. They eat them after. I even saw a cat steal one of the mice once. She was fine after she ate it. Sometimes people even eat the snakes. It's not like other kinds of poison. It will only kill you if you are bitten."

The Dragoyles had invited themselves to share the grisly feast, and the humans left them to it. They headed back to the cabin, sure the dragons would soon be catching mice and letting them go, to see if any of them had venom.

As it turned out, Green was also venomous, though he was content eating caterpillars and totally disinclined to bite. Red had captured the mouse for the experiment, and then eaten it herself when Green showed no interest.

"I wonder if Purple has it," said Duane.

"She'll have to find out," said Aaron. "It's good to know the smaller ones aren't helpless. I should have known they wouldn't be. I wonder what other surprises they have in store for us."

The day ended too quickly, and after a night dreaming of Blue, they were up early, packing the rest of the meat and whatever other food they could carry, along with blankets and anything else Aaron thought the men might need.

Brown, with a very round and full belly, curled in one of Aaron's saddlebags, out of the sunlight. Pink and White had decided they preferred to travel on horseback. The rest either flew from tree to tree or rode occasionally with Aaron or Duane.

Travel was easy the first day, but after that the terrain became more difficult. Knowing he would need the horses in the upcoming battle, Aaron was glad he had left time to rest them. During the rest stops, the dragons happily explored their surroundings, with Brown keeping watch at night. Finally, around noon on the third day, they arrived at the border and found Dylan and the men waiting for them.

The food, blankets, and extra horses were welcomed.

"Okay, everybody, weapons down!" Dylan ordered. "You all know Aaron. He's brought some very unusual friends to help us out. I want everyone sitting down, and Aaron is going to put an arrow into anyone who raises a weapon."

The men were confused, but they trusted Dylan, and the food and provisions had put them in a much better mood.

"Aaron and I have been planning this for a while. It's time to let all of you in on the secret. I know you've heard different, but we have a very good chance of winning this. Men, meet Aaron's dragons. They won't hurt you, but Aaron will if anyone raises a weapon to them."

Friendly Mountain flew toward Aaron, followed by Yellow. The two were happily greeting new friends, and the others emerged from the trees, landing near Dylan and Duane. The men were a little apprehensive, but curious, and none wanted to risk Aaron's wrath.

"They're called for their colors," said Dylan. "The one that looks like the sky is called Sky, and the little ones are Dragoyles. Pink and White can talk, and the others understand. They defend Aaron, and anyone they see as his friend."

"What can they do?" asked Gareth. "They're too small to be much good."

"I'll let Aaron tell you what they've done so far. It's thanks to them we have these extra horses."

Aaron, with his natural story telling ability, gave them detailed accounts of the battle by the lake, which some of the men had seen, with fire raining from the sky. He followed up with the attack on the cabin, the arrows flying on their own, and Pink's ability to create illusion, which everyone wanted to see. He saw no reason to let them know about Blue or Purple, and left them out.

"There's a black fire breather that will probably be joining us tonight. He was responsible for much of the fire some of you saw at the lake.

"Can the Dragoyles try something else?" Dylan asked.

"You can ask them."

"I'm going to shoot this arrow at the knot in that tree. Dylan pointed. I want you to make it go somewhere else. Can you do that?"

The Dragoyles chittered. Dylan had no idea what they'd said, but he aimed for the knothole. The missile did the impossible, turning mid-flight to land in some shrubbery several yards away.

The men watched, astonished. There was no wind, and the arrow should have flown in a straight line. For it to turn should have been impossible.

Next, Dylan laid arrows on the ground, and asked them to hit targets. The Dragoyles seemed to enjoy showing off, and Red, who didn't like to be outdone, set fire to them as they flew. Aaron had no idea how she did it, but he'd put out several fires before he asked her to stop.

They spent the afternoon with the dragons showing off, winning the approval of the men, and giving them hope they hadn't had that morning.

Towards evening, Black flew in, and blew a few flames at Red, which she heartily returned. Fortunately, both had thick scaly hides, resistant to burns. Satisfied with his entrance, he sent a mental image to Aaron, something he'd never done before. He showed him Purple, safe in her cave. Black had gone in with her, and they'd had to swim underwater several feet to gain entry, something a wolf or mountain lion would be unlikely to do. Aaron was relieved, both for Purple's safety, and to have Black with him again.

Brown climbed out of her saddle bag, and when it was almost dark, Aaron sent her to scout for the enemy. She spotted them a couple of miles off, and they all knew they could expect them shortly after sunrise. The little forest dragon spent a few minutes greeting new friends, and Aaron privately told Dylan about the venom. Both agreed it was not worth alarming the men with that detail, and Aaron sent the dragons up into the trees for the night, with Brown keeping watch.

The book continues with The Battle Continues. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.
Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by Mr Jones at FanArtReview.com

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