Curiosity and wonder filled them to their bones. The turquoise, red, and yellow pools of steaming water fumed exhaust angrily from the earth. It contrasted from the wooded mountainside they were used to. Down here, it felt like they were standing on a giant snoozing dragon who was waiting to be awoken. If they stood still for long enough, they could almost feel him breathing in and out. Vibrations echoing through the earth and steam escaping from holes in his scales. Mother told them stories about him.
Still, it made them nervous, and they hoped the great protector wouldn’t wake up and find them there or eat them. It’s the first time their mother brought them this far down the mountains. She’d told them to stay hidden near the hot springs. The steam would conceal them from view. She taught them how to hunt and now they’d have to do it on their own.
“When do you think mother will be back?” Shadow curiously rolled around in the red clay near the forest. They’d lost track of the time, not knowing when she’d left them. Shadow lifted her sandy maroon covered wings.
“I don’t know.” Smoke shrugged. Smog came from his nostrils while he thought. They couldn’t speak out loud to each other, but could hear each other’s voices in their minds.
“Maybe mom left us?” He lifted himself up. His amber eyes contrasted with his inky scales.
“She wouldn’t do that, would she?” Shadow tilted her heard. Her green eyes were sharpening with panic. Smoke spread out his wings and ran ahead. Soon his wings caught onto the wind and he flew through the steam and swerved into the blue sky. Shadow watched her brother circle the sky from the ground. She didn’t want to believe that their time had come. When a dragon got to be two winters old, it was customary for their mother to bring her whelps out into the wilderness to fend on their own. And then she’d leave them. She swallowed hard, hoping it would dull the ache in her heart.
Smoke’s wings spread wide as he slowly landed near her.
“Did you see her?” She asked. He shook his head.
Shadow looked at her claws and sighed. A puff of smoke came from her snout.
“I know this is hard, but don’t worry. We have each other and I promise I’ll take care of you.” Smoke wandered over to Shadow and licked her head with his rough forked tongue.
© 2020 Devin Joubert. All rights reserved.