The pink dragon is the most intelligent, and she knows what has been going on in the kingdom. It's up to her to take charge and keep her siblings in line.
The water dragon had told Aaron that the pink one would know. He sincerely hoped so. Despite his many misgivings, he tilted the jug so that the red dragon could climb out.
Her attitude had not changed. She perched on the rim of the jug for a moment, then, hissing and flaming, she launched herself directly at her newly hatched sister.
The pink dragon was ready for her. Catching her sister in an eagle-like talon, she tossed her directly into the pail of water Aaron always kept on standby. Furious, the red sister thrashed about in the pail, trying to flame, but the water had quenched it, and after a couple of minutes, seemed to dampen the attitude as well.
Aaron considered helping her as she thrashed about, clearly uncomfortable in the water. His hand was still painful from his previous encounters with her, so he decided to leave her be for a bit. Perhaps she needed to be put in her place.
The water seemed to cool her down somewhat, and she discovered she could brace her tail against the bottom of the pail and climb out. She perched on the rim, glaring first at her sister, then at Aaron.
"You will stop this," said the pink dragon. "Carrying on like you are nine different kinds of crazy will bring slayers from all over the realm. I know you are not insane. If you are going to put us all in danger when we leave here, I will kill you myself."
The red one jumped of the pail and slunk over to a sunny window ledge. To Aaron she seemed to be sulking.
Aaron sat, his head spinning, wondering if the feisty little one was really in danger. The little mountain dragon climbed into his lap. Aaron scratched him on the head and under his chin. He seemed to enjoy it.
Still perched on the sink, the newest hatchling looked them over, sizing up Aaron and his friendly little companion. She looked again at her red sister, then closed her eyes and seemed far away for a time.
"You have done well," she said. "All are safe."
"Huh? Me?" Aaron was startled.
"I'm just figuring things out as I go along."
"Your decisions have been sound. The water dragon is safe. The fire spitter has done no harm."
"You seem to know a lot, considering you have just hatched. How is that?" Aaron asked.
"We dragons are not like you. We are in the egg for a very long time. We are able to learn much before we hatch. It was necessary for me to communicate with the spirit woman, and with you, so I learned."
"I'm pretty sure the water dragon said a few words," said Aaron.
"The water dragon talks to you in your dreams. It's important you listen. Do not forget when you wake."
"I will remember. Will the others talk?" Aaron asked.
"Some. They may take more time to learn. They may also find other ways to communicate with you."
As if to confirm that, the dragon in his lap nudged his hand, asking for another head scratch. The red dragon moved to a sunnier spot, giving him a dirty look. Aaron couldn't tell if she was angry or jealous.
"You know you're going to have to let them go. They are not pets."
"I haven't thought ahead," Aaron admitted. "I haven't had much chance. I don't suppose I can keep them, but I'll sure be sad to see them go. You too. Even the little red devil."
She turned and looked at the eggs in the sink behind her. "It looks like we're going to have a little tree dragon pretty soon."
Aaron picked up the one in his lap, set him on the counter and examined the eggs. He saw the smallest egg, a bright emerald green one, had a deep crack and was about to hatch. He looked over at the window sill. "You want to come too?" The red dragon made no reply.
Aaron walked over to her and held out his hand. "You want to check out the new kid?" She hissed and flamed before she climbed onto his arm.
"You try to cook anybody and you're going back in the water. Understand?"
She jumped from his arm to the counter top with no hissing or flaming. Clearly she did understand.
Aaron and the dragons gathered around, waiting. Before too long a little emerald green dragon tumbled out of its egg. He stood up, flapped his wings, fell over, and tried again. Amber eyes with black slits for pupils gazed at the assembly watching him.
"Aaron, do you have any of that food left?" asked the pink dragon.
Aaron did. He offered some to the tiny newcomer, but before it could accept it, a red streak snatched it away.
"You want to go back in the jug? I know you can understand me. Knock it off," said Aaron.
She whipped her tail against the tin pan, splashing water on herself as she gulped the morsel. Obviously irritated, she jumped from the counter and scurried back to the window ledge.
"She doesn't seem to care much for water," Aaron said, laughing. The newcomer appeared to be laughing too, and fell over on his back again. Aaron offered it another bite. This time the correct mouth gobbled the food.
"I can't tell if it's male or female. I couldn't with the water dragon, either. With some I just know, but not those two. Is there a way to tell? Aaron asked.
"They're neither, yet. They'll decide when they find a mate. Until then it doesn't matter. That's quite common with dragons."
"Oh," Aaron had never heard of such a thing, but then he'd never met a dragon before. He picked it up, looked it over carefully, and placed it next to the water. It took a sip, climbed in, and deciding it didn't like it, jumped out in a hurry, making a bigger mess on the counter top.
"It's so small," Aaron said, still looking it over. This dragon's forelimbs looked as strong as the hind ones.
Tiny wings gave him a birdlike appearance, but he didn't resemble his pink sister much. His body was shorter, with a flatter tail.
"That one will be flying in a couple of days," said its sister. "You can release it then."
"Yes. He lives high in thick pine forests. He'll be safer there than here. The spirit lady has warded this place well, but there are no guarantees. Don't worry, most of us know what to do." She cast a glance at her feisty sister.
Aaron looked at the slant of the sun coming through the window. It was getting late.
"I must get going. I should try to get a bird or two on my way home. Make things look normal for as long as possible."
"Yes, you have much to do tomorrow." She walked along the counter top, exercising her wings. "The spirit lady has told you. You should sleep, and remember to listen to the water dragon."
With that, Aaron whistled for his horse, who grazed quite contentedly when the witch was not around, and made his way home, even managing to hunt a partridge and a rabbit on his way.