Oct 15, 2019 2:39 PM
Dragon Hatchling Margaret (in a world derived from Golden Treasure: The Great Green)
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That is definitely something edible-smelling! There's strong traces of it all around the base of the tree just above her hatching-place, and the thin grass is matted flat. Trails of scent lead off in multiple directions, but a dragon's nose is keen and can find the freshest.

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Stalk stalk stalk. She starts trying to move quietly so the edible thing won't know she's coming until it's too late.

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There it is, in a small patch of scrub! It is a Treetail, small body and a long brown tail, moving over the ground and sniffing for fallen nuts and berries. Its heart beats quickly, faint and quiet even to such keen ears, but so quickly. Th-th-th-th-th-th- It's not afraid or even particularly alert. 'Small creatures live and die faster than large ones' is one thing her Creator said to her.

She is many times larger than it. It smells and looks and sounds delicious, and weak. She is perhaps two lengths of her own body away from it, and it seems as yet unaware of her.

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She inches closer, gathers all her energy, and leaps on the treetail with claws and teeth!

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It notices her and turns to flee, darting into motion while her leap puts her in midair for a brief moment!

It's sprinting towards a tree, but she's right behind it!

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Does it think it can escape a child of the Draak? Hah! She's gonna get it!

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She can get it! It's quick for its size, but its size is tiny.

With a single crunch, it stops trying to run. Or doing anything else. There is a primal exultation at the taste, at the successful hunt.

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Excellent! Hunting is great. Exploring is also great, though, she's going to explore a bit more.

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She is in a forest, and there are all sorts of new and interesting sounds and smells around. The birds above Sing simple messages into the air, complaints and demands and warnings. "New Draak! New Draak!" echoes through the forest.

She could go up to the top of the hill she chased the Treetail down from, or towards what sounds like it might be a stream, or left into a deeper and darker section of forest.

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She wants to go to the stream first!

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The stream contains slow-moving and clear water, faint scents of many kinds of beasts, weird tiny beasts that fly around or crawl on the ground, and new varieties of plants.

...And smooth round stones which the water cascades over. They're pretty. There are a lot of them, though. Not very rare. So only the very best specimens in the thousands of thousands of stones would be worthy of being called 'treasure'.

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She drinks the water, experimentally eats one or two of the tiny creatures (she doesn't expect them to be at all filling, but they might taste good), then turns her attention to the stones. Many of them are beautiful; perhaps one or two will be especially so. She evaluates their roundness, their smoothness, the elegance of their single or banded colors, considering dozens of them one at a time. Maybe among the subtle variations will be one which is truly unique.

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This one is too lumpy and this one is not shiny and this one has an ugly white splotch and this one has a rough and bumpy surface and this one would be good except it's brown and this one has a crack almost splitting it in two and this one is too flat and this one is good but not great...

One of them has a thin band of white crystal in the middle!

One shines with an almost-green sheen and is exceptionally smooth and almost a sphere!

She smells a faint sign of some kind of large animal wafting in on the wind! It demands attention and promises danger.

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She grabs the two high-quality rocks and tucks herself between a pair of fallen logs, where she can see a bit but not be seen so easily. Then she waits for the large animal with mixed eagerness and trepidation. She's going to see something exciting--maybe a present predator, and maybe future prey.

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It's a large fur-covered beast, lumbering slowly into view. It walks like nothing could possibly bother or threaten it, soft whufs of breath echoing through the forest.

This is a Lesser Lumberer, the black-furred kind of great forest omnivore. It is a voracious eater that will consume almost anything it can digest. And right now, it bends its head low and drinks thirstily from the stream.

She could Sing to it, perhaps. Attempt to converse. The larger beasts and many kinds of birds are supposed to be fairly smart - not as smart as a Draak, but more intelligent than Treetail, at least. Then again, deliberately getting the attention of something so much bigger than her innately feels like a Bad Idea.

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How about instead of doing any Bad Ideas she just watched curiously, and quietly slips her nice rocks into her throat pouch in case she has to book it. 

If it stays there a while, the temptation to Sing to it gets stronger.

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The large creature drinks deeply for several long minutes, sniffs at the air and looks in her direction (aaah it smelled her maybe!), then whufs and wades into the water and across the stream, seeming to consider her unimportant.

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Well, if she isn't important to it, it isn't important to her either. She scampers off the other way, looking to go somewhere she hasn't been yet. Since that's most places, it shouldn't take long.

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The forest is pretty big! There's more forest, and slightly hilly patch of forest, and a clearing, and more forest, and a particularly dense patch of forest, and more forest. She comes across some strange-smelling plants, some dead-smelling plants, a few small creatures that run away, and a lot of birds chattering at each other. They say things like, "MY tree! Mine! This is my tree, I have lived here for a year, you find another one!", or, "Building a nest this time of year is so difficult, there aren't enough small twigs around, I should have started sooner but there was that storm and I was hungry," or, "Another of our kind was Destroyed here in the past when they landed on the ground to look for food! Don't do that! Especially because there is a baby Draak over there!"

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Huh, the birds have noticed her. They have a point about her being dangerous to any birds on the ground, at least when she's hungry. She looks at the one that mentioned her presence.

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It hops to a closer branch, lower to the ground, moving twitchily and looking around a lot.

The Song is more than a simple language, but a way of transmitting mental images and concepts. Like the rushing orange joy when she was first spoken to by her creator, each beast leaks its own color and emotion into what it sends. The bird (which has pretty blue feathers that would make a decent little treasure) sends thought-images in weak but rapid bursts each dominated by a single driving emotion. Caution, curiosity, hunger, fear.

"Draak Hatchling, you have much to learn about the world. It is good for small creatures to be allies of large creatures if the large creatures can be trusted. My kind, the Bluewings, tells stories of being friends with a Draak called Eyes and Claws. They say that the guardian of the forest hunted many kinds of flying clawed things and prowling climbing clawed things, keeping them from becoming too many. They say that the Bluewings watched what happens in the forest and spoke those rumors to Eyes and Claws in return so that he would decide to protect them and refrain from hunting them when such a thing came to a choice."

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The hatchling sings back to the bird. "That is a good story! Eyes and Claws sounds wise. It would be good to have allies and know what was happening everywhere in the forest."

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"Eyes and Claws was wise and mighty. You are too small to protect us, but you might grow up to be big. Or you might be destroyed first. I cannot know for I am but a simple bluewing and cannot predict the future. But I will tell you a small secret, so you will remember the Bluewing Pact if you survive and grow mighty. There is a small cave dug into a small hill, made by a Badger for her hatchlings. I have passed by it for the past five days and seen no sign of any creature living in the cave. The hatchlings are now grown and journeying coldward. The empty pocket in Earth's body has been abandoned and might be claimed by a wise Draak Hatchling."

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"That is a good secret. When I grow to be wise and mighty, I will remember that you told me." It's hard to sound solemn and formal when you're tiny, but the hatchling gives it a shot anyway.

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"By the time you are grown I will have died. I have seen many years already and gotten as wise as a Bluewing might get, and my body fails me! But my kin all know this story, and my hatchlings will all know this story, and if you speak to them in ten years they will remember you. I will fly to the cave now and you should follow me!"

And the little bird takes to the air, pausing on branches here and there to allow the little dragon to catch up.

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