I lived alone in a mountain range far away from town. Surrounding me were many trees and animals and dragons…yes, dragons. I loved seeing the dragons fly around near the clearing where my home sat idly. They'd land in the clearing to drink from a spring supplied by a waterfall, not minding my presence, for they knew that I would never harm them. Instead, I was a painter, and I would always…always paint dragons. Most I'd sell; others I kept for myself; the rest I'd give to the dragons as presents for being so kind to me.

My home was small—miniscule compared to a fifteen-foot dragon. There were only a few rooms—a living room, a kitchen, my bathroom, and my bedroom. My living room had only one couch and a small table as furniture—the rest of the room was filled with my art supplies. My kitchen had only the necessities… a table with a single chair, counters, and cabinets. My bathroom had only a sink, a bathtub and a toilet…need I say more?

So, as you can tell, my home was fairly ordinary. My source of food came from a garden I kept around my house and a little market I go to only once a week, since I have to make an hour trip to and from my house each time. Even then, I never paid much, for I only had a tiny income.

I loved my life, and I would never have changed it for anything. What I didn't know, however, was that it was to be changed for me…

I was sitting on a little stool outside of my house with an easel standing in front of me. To the side of my painting station was a little flower—a daisy—which I was painting to sell. A smile was lit up on my face, for I was enjoying my time outside, letting the mountain air settle in my lungs. What a beautiful day, I thought.

I stopped my painting for only a moment, when I heard a giant thump. The ground shook only slightly, and I heard a pain-staking growl that followed. I got up, hurrying to the opposite side of my little house, finding a female, azure-blue dragon lying on her back with a sack close to her body.

"Oh my…" I slowly approached the dragon, not sure if she'd know who I was. When she saw me, she moved uneasily. "It's all right…I won't hurt you, I swear."

She looked at me with one of her amazing, copper-colored eyes, blinking. "Y-you are the k-kind human…"

"Yes…I'm kind…I live here in the clearing."

"P-please, I am in n-need of h-help…" The dragon opened her front claws, letting the sack drop. Worried that whatever was in it was going to break, I ran to grab it. "T-take care of my l-little one…I will n-not live m-much longer…"

"Your little one?" I looked in the sack, seeing a dragon egg. "I'd love to help…really, I would…but I don't know if I could take care of a little dragon…I don't have a clue as to how to raise one…"

"You…will be fine. I-I am sure that y-you will find out how…" With that, the female dragon took her final breath, and her body disappeared forever.

I looked at the sack, still finding it shocking that the dragon had asked me, a human, take care of her baby, which hadn't even hatched yet. "Well, I'd better take you inside, little one."

The egg itself was no bigger than a dog—maybe a tad bigger. When I took the egg inside, I placed it near a little fireplace, which I had not mentioned earlier, and made sure that it was warm. Now, how do I take care of the dragon when he comes out?

Thinking of something, I hurried to a window, looking for an animal friend that I used to help with picking up food when I couldn't leave the house. "Ata! Ata, where are you?"

A wolf howled, and my friend appeared, running toward my house. It was a gray wolf, one that I had raised when his mother was killed near my house. He had dark gray fur on the top of his body and pale white fur on his belly. His paws were a mix between the two colors, as were his head and tail.

"Ata, that's a good boy," I said, patting the wolf's head gently. "I need you to go into town and give this to the butcher." I wrote down a note to the town butcher, telling him I'll need a lot of meat. "Can you give it to him, please?" The wolf licked my hand in approval before taking the note. "Thank you, Ata."

As the wolf ran off I turned to look at the egg again, seeing that it was slowly cracking. It's hatching… I thought as I returned to the fireplace.

More and more cracks appeared on the egg until some connected to each other. The connected pieces suddenly broke off and a little white horn appeared, breaking the egg even more.

"Oh wow…" I said in awe, for I had never seen a dragon hatch before.

The little dragon was the color of emeralds, with some features being darker. His horns, claws and teeth were china white, and his eyes were copper brown, just like his mother's eyes. When he looked at me, he jumped, backing away from me.

"It's all right," I said quickly, knowing that he was unsure. I knelt down. "I'm not going to hurt you."

Looking at me in curiosity, the dragon slowly approached, and I extended my hand, letting him touch me from far away. After a moment, a smile appeared on his face, and he got close, rubbing his head on my side. I smiled, gently petting him. "There we go…I'm not bad." I'll find a way to take care of him. It'll be odd, but his mother knew that I can handle it.

So for the longest time, I took care of a baby dragon. With the help of Ata and my many animal friends, I had help going from home to town getting supplies for him. I never dared to take him into town, for I knew that the citizens would surely kill him. Instead, when I had to personally go in town, I asked for Ata and some other wolves to keep an eye on him. I named the little dragon Iro; what it meant, I had no clue, but it felt right for me to call him so.

Iro loved being with me; he'd follow me everywhere, sleep with me in my bedroom, and would watch me paint. As he grew older, I had him learn the human language, which he wanted to learn, himself. For maybe two months he learned to speak, and I grew careful with what I said, for I knew he would mimic me.

Soon, Iro grew to where he could just barely fit through the door. Knowing that he couldn't stay in the house forever, I had to keep him outside. However, I did build him a special barn-like "house," if you will, that was big enough for him to sleep in, and to protect him from the rain and storms. It felt to me that I was kicking him out of the house, but he told me that he didn't mind, knowing that I was doing what was best for him.

One day, while I was painting, Iro approached, looking a little uneasy. Noticing, I looked at him and asked, "What's wrong, Iro?"

"I am not sure, Mother," he replied, looking down. He was now almost twice my height. He lied beside me, putting his head on his front paws. "Why are we different? I have wanted to ask for a while, but I feared of what you may say." You'd be surprised what my three-year-old dragon could say.

I smiled, which quivered, for I, too, feared telling him what had happened to his mother. I got closer to him, sitting as he gently wrapped his tail around me. "Iro…I've been meaning to tell you this for a while, but, like you, I was afraid of what you might say afterward. I…I'm not your real mother. I met her three years ago, when she had fallen from the sky."

"Fell from the sky?" Iro sounded as if it were unbelievable. He looked at his own wings. "How did that happen?"

"I don't know…but that's what happened. I was painting when she fell, and she asked for me to take care of you, so I did."

Iro looked at me. "Why did you fear what I may say?"

"Well, I know that some human children get upset when they find out that they were adopted…I didn't want that to happen with you." I leaned against him. "I may not be your real mother, but I still love you."

For a while, Iro was silent. I feared that he was angry with me, but then he looked at me and smiled. "You took me in when most other humans would kill me." He touched the top of my head. "Thank you."

I smiled. "I'm so happy that you're in my life, Iro. You mean so much to me…I don't want anything bad to happen to you."

"Can I still call you Mother? For you are my mother, still."

"Of course you can, Iro." My smile widened. "I love it when you call me Mother."

After that conversation, Iro and I grew even closer as a mother and son, so to speak. But as I grew older, I knew that I was never going to live as long as he would, and I worried about what would happen to him should something happened to me.

Some of my friends from town also began to suspect something, since I rarely went to parties anymore, and I spent more time at home with Iro. I feared that they would one day visit, finding out about my dragon, and tell everyone, forcing me to get rid of him.

One day, while I was heading to the art store to sell my paintings, I was stopped by a friend, Richa. "Hey, Tia!" she said, using my nickname; my real name's Tialyea. "Where've you been?"

"Oh…I've been home," I replied, trying to sound casual.

"Doing what? You can't be painting all the time."

"Why can't I? I'm happy painting."

"But you never come to anything here in town anymore."

"I don't normally do things in town. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some paintings to sell." I left my friend, a little upset that she would suspect me of any foul play with dragons. But I knew that it was true; I was raising a young dragon without anyone else knowing, and dragons were killed by other humans. I didn't care; I loved my dragon, and I wouldn't leave him even if there were a law that told me so.

Upon returning to the clearing, I was greeted by the emerald green dragon. "Hello, Mother," he said, smiling. I, however, was not smiling, for I feared of him being found. Noticing, he said, "What is wrong?"

I sighed. "Oh, Iro, I'm worried…everyone in town's asking why I haven't been in town as often as I used to. I keep on telling them that I'm painting, but they don't seem to think it's the entire truth."

"But it is true, Mother. You paint."

"I know it is, but I've been trying to keep you a secret from others. I don't want you to get hurt."

He lowered his head, and I began to pet him, leaning my head on his. "I wish you would not worry so much, Mother. I can take care of myself should a hunter come."

"Oh my darling, I can't help it. In a way, you're my son, and I worry about you all the time."

But then, Iro looked up at the pathway, growling. "Mother, someone is coming."

I looked, seeing the silhouettes of hunters. "Iro, go to your barn. Don't come out until I tell you to."

He hesitated. "Mother…"

"Please, Iro." Iro did what I asked as the hunters grew closer. I hurried to my house, taking out a drawing pad and a pencil.

When the hunters arrived, I was busy, trying to focus on my flowerbed, where I was growing tulips. There were a variety of colors, and I had future plans of painting them. Seeing me, they approached, saying, "You're Tialyea, are we correct?"

I looked up, pretending to have not noticed them. "Oh, hello," I said. "Yes, I'm Tialyea…but you may simply call me Tia."

"Whatever," said the lead hunter; I wanted to scowl at him, but I didn't "We were asked to look around your property for dragons."

"Who asked you to do so?"

"Many of your friends did, of course. They think you're speaking with them."

"So what if I speak with dragons? They're my neighbors, after all?"

"That doesn't mean you can be near them. They're dangerous."

I overheard Iro in the barn growling when the hunter called dragons dangerous. "They only seem dangerous because everyone sees them so. Just because they breathe fire, fly, and speak our language doesn't mean that they're dangerous."

"Enough. Now, let us search your property."

Without letting me speak, they broke into the house, looking everywhere for signs of dragons. Worried, I hurried to the barn, finding Iro glaring at the house. "Iro, you have to get yourself out of here."

"But Mother, they are ignoring you," he replied. "They look like they would kill you if they are given a chance."

"I'll be fine, just keep yourself safe."

Iro still didn't move. "I am not letting them hurt my mother."

"Iro, please darling…"

"Hey, where'd that girl go?" said a hunter.

"She must be in the barn," said another. "Go check."

I heard someone getting closer to the barn. Thinking quickly, I looked out a window, and called for Ata with a howl. That actually stopped the hunter from entering.

"Sir, it sounds like a wolf's in there," he said.

"Go check," the lead hunter said again.

Ata returned my howl, running with his pack toward the clearing. When I saw him, I whispered, "Get them out of here, please, Ata."

I heard the wolves growl and the hunters gasp. Thinking of something quickly, I went to exit the barn, before Iro wrapped his tail around me. "Mother, do not go out," he said.

"Iro, I have an idea to get them out," I replied in a mere whisper.

"They will kill you, Mother. Please do not go out."

"My darling, please let me go. If you don't want to get caught yourself, please let me go." Finally, he moved his tail away from me, and I exited the barn.

The wolves were still growling at the hunters. The lead hunter looked at me, and demanded, "What are these wolves doing?!"

"Oh, sorry about that," I replied, trying to sound polite. "They're friends of mine, and this is a part of their territory…you stepped into it."

The hunter glared at me. "Get them away from us, now!"

I sighed. "Ata…" The wolf looked at me. "Come off, Ata." My friend backed away, along with the other wolves. "There. Now will you please get off my property?"

The hunter looked at the barn, which I had closed before letting them see Iro. "Let us see the barn."

"You're looking at it right now."

"Don't get fresh with me. Let us go in."

"I'm sorry, but no. Please get out of here."

The man approached me with the worst frown on his face. "You can't tell me what to do. You're a simple painter, while we're hunters…we have more money than you could ever imagine. Now let us through, or else we'll—"

But then, the doors on the barn burst opened, and Iro roared, "Get away from my mother!" He appeared standing over me, causing the men to back away in fear.

"N-no way…" the hunter said. He glared at me. "You were hiding it!"

I glared right back. "And I'm happy to do so! I told you a few times to get off my property."

"That's redundant compared to this!" He looked at the other hunters. "Get it, now!"

The hunters aimed their weapons at Iro. "If you shoot him, you'll have to kill me, as well!"

My dragon looked at me. "Mother, do not do this."

I looked at him. "I'm not letting them get you."

"Why does it call you 'Mother'?" the hunter asked suspiciously.

"You don't deserve to know why," I replied to him crossly. To Iro, I said, "Get out of here, hurry."

"I am not leaving you, Mother."

The wolves growled again, and Ata attacked, pushing the lead hunter down to the ground. In his anger, the hunter attacked back, causing the wolf to fly off, landing hard on his side.

"Ata!" I hurried to the wolf's side as he whimpered in pain. The other wolves hurried to their leader's side, as well, and Iro stood there, not sure as to what he could do. I glared at the hunter. "You've done enough damage! Get off of my property, now!"

"What did I tell you before?" the hunter replied. "You can't tell—" Iro growled angrily, cutting him off. Finding that he wasn't going to win, he finally stopped. "Fine; we'll leave." He looked at the others. "Let's go."

Once they were gone, I return to tending to Ata. There was a gash along his side, and blood was covering his fur. "Hold on, Ata," I said as I stood. The wolves looked at me, letting a few growls slip through their mouths. "I'll get something to help."

I hurried into the house, grabbing a first-aid kit I had created a long time ago. Returning to Ata's side, I used a wet cloth to gently put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. He whined in pain, causing his pack members to growl at me. "I know it hurts…I know…but this will help you." As the bleeding slowly stopped, I put new cloth on the wound, and wrapped it around his body, making sure that it protected him from any infections. He slowly stood, looking too weak to return to his home. "Ata, you should stay here until that wound gets better." He replied by licking my face.

Iro lowered his head, looking a little upset. "Mother…I am sorry," he said. "I did not do what you had asked…and now the wolf is hurt…"

"It's all right, Iro," I replied, not at all angry with him. I leaned my head against his. "You were only trying to protect me…I know." I paused. "They may come back…next time they'll have more force."

"They will not take you away, will they, Mother?"

"I don't know…I fear they might." There was one other thing I worried about—I was close to thirty years old, and the normal lifespan of a woman in that area was only fifty.

"Mother? Mother, what is wrong?" Iro asked.

I shook my head, not wanting to tell him. "It's nothing, my little Iro."

For about a week, Ata stayed in my house, not allowed to move at all while his wound healed. I gave him his food that the wolf pack would bring to him, and he healed quicker than he would have if he'd stay out with his pack.

As the week began to end, however, I began to feel unwell. I was growing faint, and there were times when I couldn't keep myself standing for a long period of time. My vision began to blur, as well, if I were standing or sitting up for a long time, and I couldn't paint as well as I normally could because of this.

Iro began to worry about me, for he still didn't know that I wouldn't live as long as he would. He only knew that I was growing ill, yet he didn't know why it was so.

One day, I was outside sitting on a chair with my head leaning backward, for I had felt better doing so, when the dragon approached me. "Mother, what is wrong?" he asked worriedly. "You are getting very ill, and I do not know why."

I looked at him, feeling tears slowly forming in my eyes. "Iro…I…I don't think I'll be living that much longer…That's why I'm ill."

"Not live much longer? How is that so? You will not leave me, will you, Mother?" I heard the worry in his voice, and it grew as he asked all three questions.

"Humans don't live as long as dragons do…and for most women, I'm considered to be very old…" I tried to sit up, but I felt lightheaded. Ata, who was outside, for he could not walk normally, was lying beside the chair I was sitting in. He licked my hand. "I love you more than anything else, Iro…but when I do die, I have to leave."

My tears trickled down my face. I saw the horror and sorrow in the dragon's eyes. "No…Mother, you will not leave…I will not let that happen!" He lowered his head. "Please do not leave, Mother…Please…"

"Oh my darling, I wish I didn't have to leave…I really wish it weren't so…"

But before I could finish, I heard angry people heading into the clearing. Iro looked up at the path, and growled angrily. "No…the humans are here…"

I looked at Iro. "Iro, you have to fly out of here…I can't let you be here again."

"I am not leaving you Mother," my dragon said. "You are ill, and they will take that to their advantage."

As the citizens from town came into the clearing, they saw the dragon near me, and I heard Richa say, "It's after Tia!"

Iro growled again, standing over me as he glared at the humans as they got closer. "Stay away from my mother!"

The human crowd stopped moving, surprised to hear him say what he said. They muttered to themselves, saying, "He called her his mother," and "Tia wouldn't take care of a dragon…"

Iro growled a third time, and I managed to stand, holding onto him for support. "So what if I took care of a dragon?" I said, getting their attention. "I'd take care of a thousand dragons, and even then I wouldn't let any one of you hurt them! This is my son, and I won't let a single person put a dagger or arrow or sword in his hide!"

Iro looked at me. "Mother, do not exert yourself."

I looked at him. "I'm not letting them hurt you, Iro." However, I grew even more lightheaded. Sweat began to bead down my face and my neck, but I continued to speak to the crowd. "If you hurt him, I swear, when I die, I will haunt you all until your dying-day!"

But then, I fell to my knees, no longer able to keep myself standing. Iro lowered his head quickly. "Mother, you need help…" He looked at the crowd, now knowing that he and I needed their help. "Please…help her…I do not want my mother to die…please…please!" Richa slowly approached, a little afraid of Iro. He saw her, and said, "I will not harm anyone if they come to help my mother…please, just help her…"

Richa came to my side, feeling my forehead, which burned as if it were baked in the sun. "She needs to get to a hospital."

"I will take her," Iro replied. He picked me up gently with his front claws, ready to fly away. "Where do I go?"

"The largest building in town is the hospital. We'll hurry to let them know you're coming."

"Thank you…" Iro looked at me and took off, keeping me close to him. "You will not die today, Mother. I will make sure that you do not die today."

Finding the largest building, he landed in the middle of a road, causing many to run screaming. Richa arrived only moments later, heading into the building to get a stretcher for me to lie in. Iro put me on, and Richa wheeled me inside. My breathing grew worse, as did my vision, while my ears grew too sensitive. I thought of no one but Iro, worrying that he would cause a big riot in town.

"I-Iro…" I said, not realizing that he was still outside and I was inside. When no reply came, I called out again. "I-Iro…"

Richa looked at me. "He's all right, Tia. We have to get you into better shape before you can see him."

"N-no…h-he can't b-be by h-himself…H-he w-will…"

"We're not going to let anything happen to him, we promise."

I was put in a room with a window that faced the side Iro was beside. After getting into the bed, I was hooked up to machines and fluid bags to make sure that I would still be alive. I saw Iro's copper eye looking through the window, seeing me. "I-Iro…" I said, wanting to be closer to him.

A nurse held me down. "You're not getting back up," she said. "You need to lie down and rest."

"B-but Iro…"

"No buts; now rest."

As she left me, I heard Iro say, "Mother, I am fine. Please do not get up."

"Y-you're not h-hurt…are you?" I asked him, still feeling weak.

"No, I am not hurt. The humans have helped." I heard more screaming. "Those are humans who did not join that little mob."

I continued to breathe heavily. I thought of Ata, and I looked back at Iro. "D-darling…could…could you please stay with A-Ata?"

"Mother, I cannot leave you."

"Please, Iro…He's s-still hurt."

After hesitating, Iro nodded. "I will be right back, though. I will bring the wolf."

"B-be careful…" As he left, I leaned my head against the pillow, finding no comfort at all. I felt my heartbeat slowing down, and I feared that I would die without my beloved son. Just a few more minutes…please, I begged in my head. Let Iro be here with me

When Iro returned with Ata, he brought him in through the window, and noticed that my heartbeat was slow. "Mother…Mother no!"

I saw him, and gave him a little smile. "M-my darling…Iro…I love you s-so much…I-I could have n-never asked…for a b-better son…"

"Mother, do not go!"

"I-I'm sorry, Iro…" Soon, I closed my eyes, and I was, for the time being, no more.

"No…Mother…MOTHER!" Iro roared in his distraught, causing the town to go in an up-roar. Many doctors came in, wondering what was going on. "Revive my mother, please!"

The doctors looked, seeing that my body was no longer moving. "I'm sorry, dragon… she's gone."


The doctors took my body off the life support that they had plugged me in only moments ago, and they gave me to Iro, who took off once he had both me and Ata, and returned to the clearing. He never left my side, lying on the ground right next to me.

I saw how distraught my little Iro was, and I knew that he would not recover as easily as many others I know would have. I had only wished that I could have stayed longer, to let Iro adjust better.

Oh Iro, I thought sadly. I know how upset you are, but don't worry. I'll always be with you…

I felt another presence around me, and I looked, seeing the azure-blue dragon. "Oh, hello," I said.

She blinked. "You did well in taking care of my little one," she said.

"Thank you. I loved him like a son. I only wish I could be with him longer."

The dragon blinked again. "You wish to be with him…you are truly his mother…"

At that moment, I could feel my heart beating, and I began to breathe once again. "What's happening?"

"You are given a special gift…in return for taking care of my little one. You now have eternal life until you wish to die peacefully."

I smiled, and said, "Thank you…so much."

As I woke, I found Iro still beside me, looking as miserable as ever. Also beside me was Ata, who lay nearby. He was the first to notice me, and he responded to me by running up to me, licking my face happily. Iro saw this, and noticed me awake; in his happiness, he roared and lowered his head beside me.

"Mother…you are alive!" he said.

I smiled as I sat up, leaning my head against him. "Yes, and I won't be leaving for a long time. I was given eternal life."

"You were?"

I nodded. "Oh Iro…thank you for helping me. I love you so much."

Iro smiled. "I love you, Mother."