The Dragon Isles
Spring squalls, Enari decided, were more than a little irritating. Every other kind of storm built up more gradually, so that an experienced fisherman could easily read the signs and get his boat to safety. Squalls, on the other hand, made use of the variable spring temperatures to spring up out of nowhere and cut a man off from safe harbor almost before he realized the weather had changed.
Really, it was only sheer luck that the squall had driven him to a sandy beach, even if it was on an island far from the waters he knew. Enari was certain he could find his way back once the sun set and he could see the stars, but as it was only now creeping into early morning he had the whole day to check the soundness of his boat (it was thankfully undamaged) and kill time.
Drinking water would be appreciated, given that most of his supplies had been washed overboard. There was no telling if the island he'd landed on possessed any springs, but it had the right feel for it. Besides, it was something to do.
Choosing a direction at random, Enari set off away from the beach and toward the jagged rocky hills that he could see further inland. The beach itself was wide, far wider than those of his home islands, and it wasn't until he'd nearly managed to reach its scrub-dotted inner edge that he heard it.
The sound of intermittent, high pitched keens that cut off abruptly before picking up again a minute later. He wasn't certain what prompted him to make the comparison, but it almost sounded like when a crying child cried itself into hiccups.
Though no human child was ever capable of making sounds like that.
Wariness warred with curiosity for a single moment, then Enari was scrambling over the cluster of boulders separating him from the source of the noise. The moss and lichen growing in the cracks made the going slippery; Enari found himself with more than a few bruises by the time he finally tumbled headfirst into a sandy cove sheltered on three sides by the towering boulders and on the fourth by the sea.
Picking himself up gingerly, Enari glanced briefly around the cove, then stopped and looked again. Nestled in a sandy burrow near one of the largest boulders were pieces of the largest egg he'd ever seen, and a creature shrouded so deep in legend he immediately dismissed the name his mind provided. It couldn't possibly be what it looked like.
Whatever it was, it was still crying quite pitifully, interspersed with random bouts of hiccups that almost seemed as though the force of them would topple the creature over each time. Curiosity overrode caution. Enari made his way across the sands to where the baby... creature... was sprawled.
It didn't notice him until he was nearly right next to it, and the moment it did it gave a startled squeak, flapped its damp, glistening wings wildly, and promptly fell over into the sand.
The crying resumed, even louder than before.
Enari chuckled quietly and stepped close enough to haul the... thing which looked like a tiny dragon but most certainly was not because dragons were only in myths and legends... to its feet. The little not-dragon chirped and shook itself, nearly overbalancing again, then plopped itself down in the sand and looked up at him expectantly.
"What?" Enari asked, baffled.
The little purple drag- no, no, overgrown lizard with wings - chirped again and tilted its head to one side.
"Um, hello?" Enari tried.
Cheeping quietly, the little purple dragon (lizard! with wings.) sat up and poked him in the shin with one tiny foreclaw.
Still baffled, Enari looked around in hopes of seeing something that might give him instruction on what he was supposed to do when being chirped at by a newborn myth. The cracked pieces of eggshell caught his eye, still glistening with fluid, and he looked back at the waiting dragon.
"Are you hungry?" he tried.
The little lavender dragon cheeped hopefully and sat back in its furrow in the sand, waiting expectantly.
Whoops. Now how was he supposed to feed a dragon? Or whatever it was. There was nothing edible in sight, although he did still have some fish from his last catch sitting in his boat...
"Stay here," Enari ordered, getting another cheep for his efforts. It was probably just his imagination, but it sounded like agreement. At the very least, it was a different kind of cheep than those he'd gotten before.
The journey back to where he'd left his boat seemed twice as long, knowing that he had a small, helpless creature counting on him. His hands and legs showed numerous small scrapes by the time he finally made it over the boulders and back to the boat, thankfully finding his catch right where he'd left it. Enari considered it for a moment, as well as the more than a little hazardous route he'd just traversed, twice, and then looked back at his boat. The dragon's cove had been open to the sea, so there was no point in trying to kill himself if there was an easier route.
He shoved off, sailing out just deep enough not to catch on any of the submerged stones he knew lurked just beneath the surface, then tacked westward around the rocks until he could spy the small, sheltered beach where he'd found his dragon. He ran the ship onto the beach as far as it would go, then hauled his catch into his net and scrambled to shore. It wasn't until he saw the unmistakable pale violet scales that he realized the knot in his throat was due to the expectation that the little dragon would be gone by the time he got back.
A series of excited trills were the only warning he got before Enari found himself flat on his back in the sand with a not inconsiderable weight sprawled across his chest as the baby dragon licked his face and the net full of fish in alternation.
"Alright, alright. You're grateful. I get it. Get off," Enari protested, shoving (gently) at the excited creature on his chest.
Strange; he'd have expected those scales to be hard, but they weren't. They were soft, like a fish's, but lacking the sharp edges. He ran his fingers gently down the sleek dragon neck, marveling at the feel, and had automatically reached back up and done it again before his brain processed the low, trilling rumbles come from the warm body perched atop him.
Enari laughed softly and continued his stroking. "I didn't know dragons could purr," he teased.
The little dragon chirped at him, nudged his hand, then nudged hopefully at the net of fish. The implications were quite clear.
"Right, breakfast." The dragon tumbled off of him as he sat up, waiting patiently for Enari to unknot the net and offer a fish. Once offered, the fish was plucked neatly out of Enari's hand and chewed on for a moment before being swallowed, practically whole. Almost before the creature was finished swallowing, it was already looking hopefully at Enari.
"I'm not so sure you're supposed to eat the bones," he told it. "At least, I don't think cats and things are..."
If anything, the look the dragon gave him could only be described as affronted. Obviously Enari was imagining it, because not only was it an animal, it was also only a few hours old, if that.
The little dragon downed five more fish, bones and all, before giving a contented chirp and nestling into Enari's lap where it promptly fell asleep. Enari eyed the dragon in amusement and shook his head slowly.
"I sure hope your mama is as friendly as you are."
The rest of Baby Dragon can be found in the Lulu ebook Azure Seas & Dragon Isles. A link can be found in my profile.