"Marina, come over here."
My uncle's whisper pulled me out of my daydreaming as I tied together a small crown of flowers. He lay by the cliff side, covered by the tall grass, cautiously waving me over. I pulled up my skirt and tried to stay quiet as I walked to him. My footsteps were clumsy since I was too short to climb over the rocks hidden by the grass.
"What is it, Uncle Storm?" I quietly asked.
He put a finger to his lips and pointed to the other side of the canyon. We had been sitting here since early morning, waiting for whatever was hiding down there. I crawled closer to the edge and peeked through the grass. I suppressed an excited gasp as I saw what was there.
"Isn't she beautiful?" My uncle whispered. "Such a fantastic creature."
A beautiful dragon lay on a ledge on the cliff wall, its vibrant green scales shimmering in the sunlight. It stretched on the rock, revealing gigantic wings and a spear tipped tail. It was everything I had imagined from the old stories the elders would tell us.
"How do you know it's a girl, Uncle Storm?" I asked.
He pulled a notebook out of his travel bag and pointed his pencil to an opening in the cliff wall.
"Watch right there." He said.
By the opening was a charred carcass of, what might have been, a sheep. Two little figures came out of the darkness of the cave, yawning and stretching out their tiny wings.
"She has babies!" I quietly exclaimed, "Look, uncle! Aren't they adorable?"
The tiny dragons crawled over one another, fighting to get to the carcass first. They bit and scratched at each other until they began eating their breakfast. Their mother lay quietly nearby, her eyes open and scanning the surroundings for any threats. I wondered if she knew we were here. If she did, she obviously didn't see us as something to worry about.
My uncle mumbled to himself as he hastily wrote in his notebook. I had always wondered what he had written in there, but when I asked he just told me it was his research. That much was obvious to me. Uncle Strom, or uncle storm as I liked to call him, had dedicated his life to learning everything there was to know about dragons. He had traveled all over the world, studying every one that he came across, and when he came back around the village, he would bring me along with him, much to mother's dismay.
I continued to watch the baby dragons as they played, after finishing their meal. Although I couldn't tell if they were male or female, I had given them names based on the colors of their scales, and guessed what sex they were. One of them was a bright teal color and was slightly bigger than his sibling, I named him Gessol. The smaller one had pretty green scales, just like her mother, I called her Mayvi. They played together like young pups, constantly wrestling and making whining noises when one was too rough. Their mother continued to lay in the sun, like she had not a care in the world.
When a few hours had passed by, my uncle put his notebook away and patted my arm.
"Come on, time to go home." He said.
"Can't we stay a little while longer?" I asked, "Please, Uncle Storm?"
He smiled at me as I pouted, clearly not falling for my puppy eyes. He opened his mouth to reply, when a spine chilling roar came from the sky. A shadow cast over us as a large, black, dragon flew down into the canyon.
"Quickly, Marina, we have to go now!"
My uncle grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. I took one last look at the family below that I had been watching all morning. The mother dragon stood protectively over her young, coaxing them back into the safety of the cave. She roared at the intruder, baring her large teeth, and took flight after it.
I ran away as fast as I could, Storm's grip on my arm forcing me to keep up with him. Dark shadows past over us as the dragons fought each other. I looked above me and watched the mess of teeth, claws, and blood. It was terrifying.
I tripped over a fallen tree, falling out of my uncle's grasp. The ground shook as the battle of the beasts continued behind us. I felt a heat on my back as the roars continued, bit I was too afraid to look. My legs were tired and I couldn't breathe anymore. Storm pulled me to my feet and carried me on his back. He ran for the forest, hoping the trees would provide us enough safety to escape. All I could smell was smoke as the trees caught fire. The thick cloud started to surround us. My uncle ran faster, gasping for breath, trying to outrun the fire.
The roars became lower the further we got from the canyon, but my uncle didn't stop running until we reached the low stream where his horse was tied. He fell into the water, face first, gulping up the cool liquid. I climbed off his back and sat on a nearby rock. He sat up, gasping for air, a mixture of sweat and water dripping down his forehead and into his beard. He wiped his forehead and looked behind him.
"We should be safe now." He said breathlessly.
"What happened, uncle?" I asked, "Where did that black dragon come from?"
"Don't worry about that." He said with a smile, and picked me up off the rock, "I'll tell you about it some other time."
He lifted me onto the saddle of his horse and untied it from the tree branch.
"Just promise me something." He said.
"Don't tell your mother about this."