Jun 03, 2020 9:30 PM
Dragon Hatchling Margaret (in a world derived from Golden Treasure: The Great Green)
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The little dragon keeps up as best she can, scrambling over roots and dodging around shrubbery.

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The bird gives her plenty of time. The forest thins as they go, the underbrush more sparse and the trees smaller.

It turns out the abandoned badger den is in a small berm near that stream, further south than the hill she hatched in. It looks like a nice place to hole up in.

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Excellent. "Thank you! This is nice."

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"I do not know what makes caves nice, but my secret is now told. I have no more secrets for you, new hatchling. Go live your life. May you be blessed."

The Bluewing flies off.

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"May you he blessed too," she says to the departing bluewing, but she isn't sure if it hears her. She turns and considers her new den, and whether it would be improved by digging it a bit larger or concealing the entrance a bit better.

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It would be nice if there were a long tunnel down into the Earth and the den were at the end of it, and maybe if it was a bit bigger, but having any den at all is much nicer than not.

Concealing the entrance might be nice, a pile of loose easy-to-dig dirt would make it hard to tell anything's there if you're not a Ruby Draak.

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Then she'll dig it out some more until she gets either hungry or tired, and the resulting dirt will naturally end up in a pile at the entrance. 

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Tiredness is slow to come and the hunger never really went away. One Treetail will not really sate even a hatchling Draak. But it returns to its original urgency, a quiet reminder to destroy-consume-eat.

When night comes she has increased the Den's size by half again, making it big enough to turn around in without brushing the walls if she keeps her forelimbs close and her tail curled. The disturbed dirt piled loosely does indeed make a good concealment, at least from a distance.

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What a nice den. The hatchling resolves not to destroy bluewings unless it is her only option to survive. But that sounds unlikely; there are plenty of other creatures in the forest for her to consume instead. Since she's more hungry than tired, she decides to try her hand at night hunting--perhaps she can ambush something in its sleep.

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It's really hard to see at night. Her nose is good, but most of the smells are unfamiliar, and it's hard to track things to where they sleep. A lot of things seem to sleep in the tops of Trees, too, and she can't climb their vertical bodies. The path back the way she came remains clear in her mind always, and not just because she can smell her own trail - she seems to have an innate memory of where she's been.

But not everything's sleeping. There is a thing that smells more delicious than Treetail just over there, making quiet sounds as it chews on something plant-y.

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Mmmmm. That does smell good. Time to see how silently she can move in the dark. 

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That mostly depends on how careful she is! She can move quietly but not in total silence.

The delicious smelling thing comes into view. It's clearly related to Treetail, having a flatter and less bushy tail but a similar but slightly larger long body and small limbs. It doesn't seem to notice her stalking it.

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Slightly larger is good; it'll be more filling that way. Unaware of her is also good. She creeps closer. Creep creep creeeeeeeeep pounce with teeth and claws and bite out its throat!

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It is VERY DELICIOUS! Probably the most pleasant thing she has experienced so far in life!

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!!! How wonderful! Omf nomf nomf until it's reduced to polished bones, which she then tries biting.

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Draak-Kin can eat bones, apparently, though with a bit of difficulty. These are little bones, which helps make them a series of chewy chasers, a nice end to the meatier meal. The furry skin and flat tail are much less palatable. Chewy and tasting of dirt and unpleasantly fuzzy.

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Slightly disappointing. But now that she's tried all the bits, she knows what to eat first next time and what to only bother with if she's really hungry.

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She's getting very tired, going back to the den and sleeping is probably a good idea.

The next morning, the world is open to her exploration! The forest is kind of samey but there are a few interesting things to investigate, like a buzzing hive of Tiny Creatures, a pond where tall birds like to fish and have conversations, and a faint wispy hint of a strange scent to the far north, something vaguely compelling but totally unfamiliar...

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The hatchling was planning to go watch the tall birds for a bit, but that scent is too interesting to ignore, and if she waits she might lose it. She heads off to the north.

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It's a solid few hours' walk to a place where the scent is stronger. The forest is thinner, dryer, in this direction. As she wanders, the scent stretches out in a wide line. There almost seems to be a clear boundary, where the strange smell is marked most clearly. As if-

And then after she has been wandering through the area for a while, another Draak falls out of the air a few hundred feet away, swooping into a graceful stop. They're big - bigger than that Lumberer she saw at the stream - and very well-groomed. Every feather is perfectly straight and fluffed-out, all their claws are the same length and free of scratches or blood, the long tail ends in a fluffy puff of colorful feathers, there are no scars like in the mental image of her own Creator, shown to her in the egg.

They're beautiful, powerful muscles covered by a perfect clean skin of feathers arranged into soft symmetry. They're also a picture of the serene might of an adult Draak, from tail to teeth, which makes them scary.

 

"This hatchling is not known to me. It is of the Ruby Clan. It resembles the Thief. It smells like her. It is intruding. Does it come to steal my things? Does it come from curiosity? Does it not know Tradition? Does it not realize how to recognize the scent of a claimed territory? I suppose it might not, being very young, and its Creator not known to be conscientious. Its Creator may have forgotten important pieces of education."

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Eep. Wow, definitely, but also eep.

"You are right; I did not know what I smelled was a claimed territory. Only that it was strange and I was curious. I do not intend to steal, nor to depart knowingly from tradition."

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"It is surprisingly prudent, to qualify that it does not intend to depart knowingly from Tradition. Your curiosity has found me, hatchling. What else does it seek? Know that many questions will not be answered without proper payment, and one so small is likely to have little that interests me."

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"If questions are expensive, perhaps I should pay in advance. What do you want that I might have?"

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"You are free to ask incessantly until you annoy me too much - I will tell you the price of answers before actually answering, but I promise my knowledge will be worth the trade. Whatever small shiny treasures you have managed to glean in your few days thus far might suffice for a minor question or two."

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