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    Book of the Month Contest Winner 
 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: February 9, 2020      Views: 179
Chapters:
 ...18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 

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Chapter 26 of the book Aaron's Dragons
The dragons meet the people
"The Dragons Come Home" by Cindy Warren

Background
Aaron has raised the dragons, and they have helped him win the battle for the kingdom. Now people know about them, some are afraid, and would like to eat them. He must convince people to accept them.


"Will we ride into town with them?" Aaron asked as they approached the palace.

"I think that would be best," said Dylan. "You can't hide them any more, and if people can see them and meet them, they will not fear them quite as much. Then you should take them back to the cabin for the night."

"You are going to see more people than you've ever seen before," Aaron explained to the dragons. "Some will be afraid of you. That's not what we want, so you need to be as friendly as possible. People look out for their friends. Can you do that?"

"We can do it," said Pink.

Mountain, who was naturally friendly, flew back and forth between the men, excited. White perched on one of the pack horses, unimpressed.

"White?"

"I know. They must like us so they won't try to kill us. I can do it."

"I hope that you will soon find out that there is more to liking someone than not trying to kill them. That might be the way it is with a few people, but I think you'll find most really like having you around. We do."

As they approached the palace, people soon saw them and crowded around, eager for news.

"We have won," said Dylan. "I don't think we'll have any more trouble."

Cheers erupted from crowds as Dylan and the men rode in. It wasn't long before someone noticed the dragons mounted on pack horses toward the center. Green and Sky sat on Aaron's shoulders.

"What are those?" someone asked.

"New friends," said Dylan. "They helped us win. In fact, we couldn't have done it without them."

"Can we eat them?"

"Didn't you hear me? Do you want to eat friends who helped us win?"

White flew over and landed on the horse behind Dylan. The horse jumped a little, but it was obvious he was used to the dragons.
"We don't eat people," she said. "Why would you eat us?"

The man took a step back, startled.

"Y-you can talk?" he stammered.

"Of course." White glared at him. "What did you expect?"

"I guess we won't be eating you."

Aaron decided it was time to intervene. "Nobody's eating anybody. You can come and say hello to them. They're friendly to anyone not looking to have them for dinner. They saved our hides back there, and I will defend them if necessary. I trust it won't be."

The men were greeting friends and family, and the story of the battle soon spread. People crowded around to see the dragons, and for their part, the dragons were curious about all the new sights and sounds. Mountain and Yellow were eager to greet new friends. All seemed comfortable meeting new people.

"What do they eat?" somebody asked.

"Mostly mice and bugs," said Aaron.

"We got plenty of those."

When an older brother dared his younger sibling to feed a caterpillar to Black, and the child timidly offered it to him, Black took it gently from his fingers. After that all the children wanted to feed him.

"It's perfectly safe," Aaron assured apprehensive parents. "In fact, they're quite protective of people they like."

Soon bugs of all sorts were being picked from trees by eager children and fed to the dragons, who graciously accepted them. That set the mood for a celebration. The enemy had been driven back, and the dragons were on their side. Though a few hungry people would have liked to have them for dinner, none were willing to challenge an armed knight to do it.

Black had taken a liking to the little boy who had been dared to feed him. The little guy had been so scared, and had done it anyway.

"You fed him already." A bigger boy gave him a shove. Suddenly Black was between them, squawking loudly. Black had no words, but his message was clear.

White translated anyway. "He thinks you were brave," she told him. He likes brave. Pushing you was not brave. He didn't like it."

Hearing himself called a coward, the older boy moved off with a dangerous look on his face. Duane noticed it.

"Keep an eye on him," he said. "He's trouble."

Keeping an eye on him, however, proved difficult. The boy disappeared from sight. They soon forgot about him.

As the day wore on, Aaron could see the dragons were growing tired of all the attention, and just as he was about to take them home, a rock flew from behind and hit Black's new friend on the neck. A second rock hit Black.

Red and Black looked at each other, and then at the Dragoyles, who chittered excitedly. The two dragons flew off in the direction the rock had come from. They soon located their target. They had promised not to hurt anybody, so the two dragons had hatched another plan. They had been sitting and allowing themselves to be stuffed with bugs all afternoon, and their bellies were round and full.

Seeing the dragons overhead, the boy took aim with his slingshot, when it suddenly fell from his grasp. The hot, stinking mass that struck him between the eyes was not particularly painful, but it caused him to squeeze his eyes shut and hold his breath. A second mass struck the top of his head and trickled down into his ears. He tried rubbing it out of his eyes with his knuckles, and only succeeded in spreading the mess to his hands. He ran off cursing, presumably in search of some lye soap and water.

The crowd roared with laughter when they realized what had happened. The boy had fired a rock at a small child, and was getting no sympathy. The dragon he'd hit had taken his own unique brand of revenge, and along with his sister, punished him without really hurting him.

"Those guys have good aim," said a voice in the crowd. Of course, he had no idea the Dragoyles had helped direct the landing.

"I wouldn't want them mad at me. Might have to take a bath," someone else said.

It was all lighthearted. Consensus was the kid had deserved what he got. The dragons were not monsters to be feared.

It was time to go. Aaron knew they'd had enough, and he had things to take care of at the cabin. He called them together and set out with Duane.

The dragons were happy to fly free and catch their own food. Though they were naturally curious and fascinated by all the activity they'd never seen before, by the end of the day they were tired of it.

Back at the cabin, they found things pretty much as they'd left them. Duane set to work making a vegetable stew.

Aaron removed the eggs from the root cellar. The sink soon held eggs again, roughly three dozen. The dragons all gathered around.

"They won't be like you," Aaron told them. "They're chickens. I don't think you'll be impressed. I'm no farmer, and I'll probably have to find a place with a chicken coop, but you heard the woman. They can't stay in the root cellar any more.

"It's too cold for them," said Duane.

Pink stared at the eggs. She clearly had no idea what chickens were.

"When will they hatch?" she asked.

"I have no idea."

"We'll have to keep them warm," said Duane. "It's the wrong time of year for them. I don't know how warm. We always left it to the hens to look after them."

"I think we're going to have to find someone who knows what to do," said Aaron. "Dylan promised he'd ride out tomorrow. He knows some local farmers. In the meantime we'll keep the fire going. The nights are getting pretty chilly."

"It's going to make some people pretty happy once they start laying their own eggs," said Duane.

Pink looked at Duane. "Eggs will lay eggs?"

"No, silly. They'll hatch first. They grow fast, and then they lay an egg every day."

"Every day? How can it lay an egg every day? How many days?"

"They just do. They lay eggs every day for most of their lives."

Pink stared into the sink, looked at White, who made no comment, and back into the sink, in anticipation of the wonderful Chicken, who could lay an egg every day for most of its life.



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