Friday, 21 April 2017

Dragon Diaries - R is for Rebekka - A to Z Challenge 2017 #AtoZChallenge

Dragon Diaries

elcome to my contribution to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2017:


So, what does that mean? Well, each day, I'm going to tell you about a dragon - a dragon inspired by a name that I generated randomly using a name generator (I haven't looked up the derivation of any of these names, I have just run with how they make me feel, their sound on the tongue).

I'll tell you all about my Dragon of the Day, and share some flash fic about their lives. Any genre, any character, any look - prepare to be surprised and (I hope) entertained by my dragonly inspirations :).

~
Previous Posts

R is for Rebekka

The Rocky Mountains offer Rebekka (or Bekka as she prefers) a wilderness she loves to the ends of her toes. She’s a hunter, her mottled grey and brown scales giving her the perfect camouflage to allow her to  live by her skill and her wits. She lives alone in her cave, only crossing paths with others of her species for gratifying, but brief encounters, or the odd game of one-up-dragon-ship around a friendly campfire.

It’s a rough life, especially when the winters close in, but she wouldn’t have it any other way than waking up in the morning with the fresh scent of life in her nostrils and the woods teaming with possibilities for the chase. The rush of the hunt is like no other. Rebekka is wild and she likes it
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Nesting

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The wolf howls coming up the valley was the first inkling Bekka had of something unusual unfolding in her locale. The pack sounded excited, that meant a kill, but there was something else in their calls as well. Making her way silently through the trees, she stopped on the ridge where the forest opened out and looked down onto the grassland below. What she saw made her blood boil: the mammals had one of her own on the ground, fighting weakly for her life, skin torn and bloodied where the wolves were tormenting her.

Bekka screeched her indignation and launched off the ridge, swooping rapidly down on the pack. Behind her call came fire, and the pack scattered as she scorched the earth at their feet. Like the weak things they were, the wolves ran from her flames and Bekka landed wondering what had made them so bold with her cousin. She roared after them, making sure they ran away with their tails between their legs, but then swiftly turned to her injured companion.

It was even worse than she had feared from the ridge. The smaller female, a dappled horn-crest, was mostly lying on the grass, a large gash down her side and wolf bites all over one side of her body. Her other wing was crumpled under her and her body was curled around protectively. Bekka was not a sentimental creature, but when she looked into the other female’s eyes, she knew she was too late, and the loss hit her immediately. She swiftly closed in, shielding her fellow from the final bays of the wild dogs with her wings, but there was nothing more she could do.

The horn-crest dragged in a ragged breath, lifting her head with an effort that showed in her wrinkled brow.

“Help,” she simply asked and Bekka nodded, even though she knew there was nothing she could do.

Instant relief flowed over the other female, her head dropping back down, her eyes closing, and then her body partially uncurled. As the bloodied dragon breathed her last, Bekka finally saw what the horn-crest had been protecting: cradled in her front claws was a grey-brown egg.

An egg, a bloody egg! Bekka sat down rapidly as what she had just promised a dying mother hit home. She checked desperately for any signs of life, she nudged the female, listened for breathing, but there was nothing. She leapt backwards, flapping wildly as the egg slid out of its mother’s dead claws.

For a long time, Bekka just stared.

Yet, she was a practical dragon, and eventually her situation sunk in and Bekka had to act. The wolves would be back soon if she didn’t do what was necessary, so, concentrating on practical things, she bent her head down and picked up the egg in her jaws. She’d never done anything like that before, unless she was eating the egg that was, so she nearly dropped it as she backed off from the female’s body. Prudently, she decided to place the egg on a clump of gooch grass for safe keeping as she turned back to the matter in hand.

No dragon was going to be carrion for wolves, or the birds of prey that would soon descend, so, drawing in a large breath, Bekka held it for a few moments, letting her fire build to its hottest. Then she breathed out one long, intense breath, engulfing her cousin in the only type of flame that could free the dragon’s spirit from her worldly body and send her to the other world.

The flames burnt orange and purple, leaving no scent, just quickly reducing flesh to ash to be carried on the wind, and Bekka was not sentimental, so she bent down, picked up the egg in her mouth again. Making sure she had it securely this time, she took off and headed back to her cave.

*

Children were not something on Bekka’s agenda: she controlled her encounters with the males whose company she enjoyed to exclude the possibility of offspring, so, to say she had mixed feelings about the egg she placed down on her hoard of animal pelts was putting it mildly. There had to be a father somewhere, all dragons that were raising kids bonded for life; she’d have to get the word out, but, right then it was beginning to get dark and wolves were howling in the valley about their lost kill. There was nothing else for it, for one night at least she was going to have to incubate the bloody egg.

Bekka stoked up her fire at the cave entrance, since she was taking no chances with those damn wolves that night. Then she looked down on the dull brown ovoid in her bed. She knew enough to know it had to be kept warm, or the baby inside would die, but there was also something to do with mother’s magic that she wasn’t really clear about. Still, there was nothing else to be done, so, stepping around the egg, being extra careful not to stand on the damn thing, she tried to position herself over it. Tentatively she then lowered herself until she felt the smooth surface resting against her breastbone.

She shifted around a bit, holding herself up, worried she’d break the shell. Then the oddest thing happened, a warm sensation cascaded out from her chest and she instantly settled, her body cradling the egg just so. Bekka had never felt anything like it, the thrill of the hunt was a completely different feeling, but the puff of bliss that flooded through her was just as good. A stupid little sigh on her tongue, Bekka laid her head down on her skins and sleep drifted in.

*

“Beks, you in there girl?” the familiar tones of Marshal Bennet drew Bekka from sleep, but she was reluctant to open her eyes.

A lovely warm feeling was sitting on the bridge of her nose, making her as content as she’d ever been and she didn’t want to leave it behind.

“Beks!” the call came again, louder and more insistent this time and so, finally, she opened her eyes and lifted her head from her nest.

The nice sensation ran from her head, down her spine and out through the rest of her body, and she purred as she sat up properly, which was kind of a surprising noise for her, and woke Bekka some more.

“Here,” she managed sleepily and blinked at the large black dragon who appeared round the entrance to her cave.

His brow was furrowed, his gaze alert, which brought Bekka all the way from sleep and the previous evening came back to her. She sat up a little straighter, not altogether comfortable with their local marshal finding her in bed.

“What do you want, Bennet?” she challenged.

“You responsible for the scorch back down the valley?” the officer asked, nodding his head back outside.

Bekka nodded and explained with one word, “Wolves.”

Bennet nodded his understanding - there wasn’t a single dragon in the mountains who would have left another to the mammals. Then he waited.

“Female dappled horn-crest, injured. They’d done for her by the time I found her,” Bekka expanded, shaking her head and trying to clear the rest of the fluff in her brain.

“And you didn’t think to head down and let us know?” the marshal raised one eyebrow.

Bekka opened her mouth to explain and then remembered what she was about to admit. Hunters didn’t go around incubating eggs, not when they had a reputation to maintain, but it was way too late to hide it now. Feeling her chest and cheeks heat up, Bekka lifted herself off her charge and replied shortly, “Couldn’t - night coming in. Before she died, she asked me to…”

She didn’t finish her sentence, because Bennet had seen the egg. His eyes widened, he huffed smoke from his nostrils, but he didn’t quite laugh.

“Well, well, Beks, this is a new side to you,” the marshal, it appeared, could not resist a small dig.

She shook herself again and growled, “You’d have done the same thing, Bennet, and don’t call me Beks.”

Bennet waggled his head noncommittally.

“The boys are gonna love this,” he teased again, but Bekka ignored him.

“Who was she?” she asked, finding herself leaning down and nosing the egg over before making sure she was close enough to still keep it warm.

“Camper from over the ridge, her and her mate wanted to get some peace and quiet for their hatching and strayed into wild dragon territory. Got themselves attacked by mountain dragons not as accommodating as you, Bekka,” Bennet replied. “We’re rounding them up, and there’s a daddy back there real beat up, but who’s gonna be mighty relieved to see at least his youngun’ made it.”

“City folks should leave the mountains to us who know them,” Bekka sighed, sad that this little one would grow up without a mother.

“Well, thank you for looking after this one, Bekka, but I can take it from here,” Bennet continued and a jolt of shock caused Bekka to shiver.

Her immediate instinct was to huddle down and snort warning smoke at the marshal: she resisted it, but only just. Instead she checked, “You got a warming pouch?”

She could not deny she was a little dismayed when Bennet pulled the bag round from his back and opened the flap with his mouth. It took quite an effort to make herself reach down to the egg as, for the last time she took it gently between her jaws. She put it carefully down into the thermal pack and then did not resist the urge to nuzzle the drab shell one more time.

“Bye little babby, back to you papa,” she whispered, not caring that Bennet was watching her closely.

When she straightened back up, the marshal was still regarding her and there was an odd little look in his eyes that changed the set of his normally severe features. Bennet was a friend, sometimes one with benefits, but Bekka didn’t quite know him in that moment.

Then it was gone: he blinked, she looked away and suddenly he was moving to close the pack and place it back between his shoulder blades.

“Well, be seein’ you, Beks,” the marshal replied hastily and was on his way out before Bekka could respond.

She followed him to the mouth of the cave and watched his big, muscled body take off with one beat of his wings, but then she made herself turn away from Bennet and the unusual night she had spent with the egg. She felt slightly foolish: she was a hunter, a backwoods dragon, she didn’t do babies, or relationships...or did she?


~

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5 comments:

  1. Great character development! I think something's stirring inside her. Nice to know the egg was returned to its daddy, but maybe once hatched it can come and visit its "auntie". Very cute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) And yes, I think something is changing for Rebekka and maybe Bennet too :)

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  2. Lovely moments in this story. Love Rebekka's early awkwardness, and then... not so awkward. Great stuff. :)

    A to Z 2017: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

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