A Girl and her Ring
It all started on a hot, summer night.
Children were playing tag in a park, among a huge “castle” of playground equipment, packed with slides, ladders, and bridges to utilize for their escape. A dog was restlessly yanking on its owner, yipping playfully, as they walked by, its eyes on another dog, sitting quietly next to the bench with an old man, reading a book.
I was sitting on a swing with my headphones on, pondering to myself about this world I grew so bored of. Why is everything so original, here? I asked myself, kicking at the ground below me. Finally, I backed up and let them fly forward, as I embraced the wind in my hair. I kicked myself forward until I could go no higher, embracing the force, with my eyes closed.
The sun beating on my face felt great. I would have enjoyed it more, if it had not been for the sound of a clearing throat. I opened my eyes and looked to the swing next to me.
There was a little girl, looking to be about 6 years younger than me. Her green eyes bore into mine, with curiosity. “Do you believe in dragons?”
I looked at her, puzzled. Judging by her age, I decided to play along. “Of course, I do. I wish I could BE one, some days.”
She handed me a ring. I was not sure what her intentions were. “What are you doing?”
“Put it on,” she replied, swinging, “but I must warn you, I have no idea how to come back to our world.”
“But if this is true, then how are you here?”
She shrugged, dragging her feet to stop herself from swinging. “I just woke up, and I was me again.” With that, I watched her skip away, humming a song I did not know.
I spent the entire trip home, debating whether her words were true. After all, she had to have been in that creative stage in her age. Even I have been there. Finally, I took the courage to put it on.
What Have I Become??
Have you ever been on a merry-go-round?
Remember that feeling of being dragged along with the gravity pulling you forward? It felt like that. No matter how many times I tried to move, gravity did its own bidding to my body.
The scenery was awesome, though. I felt like I was in a race car, as I watched everything blur past me. I was not sure how long this happened, but it felt like it was too long. My limbs felt like they were gripped by some mad man, who enjoyed shaking kids into the air.
Finally, the blur stopped, as I noticed I was headed for a painful skid along the ground. Instinctively, I tucked myself into a ball and closed my eyes, embracing the pain to come.
I had to have been rolling for at least twenty seconds. My back landed along a huge boulder, sending me flying one last time, finishing the blows on my stomach. After shaking off the wind being knocked out of me, I finally took the courage to open my eyes.
I saw a strange, new world, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Trees wore bushels of leaves in shades of lavender and pink. That boulder I hit was connected to a mountain, with red-brown shades of dirt, clay, and stone. The clouds in the sky were also just as weird, with thin shades of oranges, stringing spirals in various sizes and directions.
With a groan, I reached my arms out, only, they were no longer the arms I was used to. I had green scales, with long claws at the tips of my scaly fingers. The ring was gone. “What on earth?” I roared, trying to stand up. I wasn’t sure why, but I couldn’t stand on my now-scaled feet, for the life of me. Something behind me moved. I jumped about two feet in the air, landing with a tremendous boom. Trees above me rustled.
I looked at the thing behind me again, realizing it was a tail, the same color as my arms and legs. How was I able to stretch to see behind my scaly body, like this? Then it had occurred to me. I was no longer a human. I had become a dragon.
At first, I was thrilled. I have always wanted to know what it was like to be a dragon. I looked at my back once more. Sure enough, I had wings. Excitement welled within me. I could fly!
I tried to move them, finding myself in need to move a muscle I never moved before. Imagine being able to “pop” your shoulders in a pivot, toward and away from your spine. It’s just like that. Another challenge was moving my tail. As human, I never had to move muscle in the dead-center of my butt, but after some practice, I was swinging it, with ease.
Okay, maybe I swung that tail too hard ONE time. With a sharp crack, my tail sliced through a nearby tree. I couldn’t believe how far it flew. I kind of laughed at myself.
I was so caught up in my new changes, I didn’t even realize there was a small squirrel staring up at me, from a tree nearby. It literally took a nut it dropped to snap me back to reality. Obviously, it didn’t hurt, but it still brought my attention. I turned to face it. “I’m a dragon!” I laughed, wagging my tail.
The frozen critter nodded its head at me, with its mouth agape. Wait a second, it understood me? “Did you just understand me?” I asked, cocking my head.
Again, with the “what’s wrong with you” kind of nod. I had to agree, I probably DID come off as strange, right now. But at least I could find more out about this place.
“Protector, are you okay?”
“Dragons are the Protectors of the Forest?” the squirrel replied, scratching its ear with a forepaw. “Any of this ringing a bell?”
I must have stood there like a simpleton. “Listen, I was given a ring by a little girl, in my own world. I put it on and now I’m this dragon.”
“Ahh, that makes sense, now,” the squirrel nodded, feeling better about its surroundings. “You’re a reincarnation of the Forest Dragon, Yrus.”
Flying: It's Not as Easy as You Think....
I began to wonder why I was tricked into coming here.
I thought about my parents, back at home. If time didn’t freeze from where I was living, they’d be worried sick by nightfall. Especially in seeing as once I’d be home, I would have to watch over my 1-year old sister, Elysia. It was a Friday night, and they wanted to head to the bars, tonight.
Now that I had become a dragon, I wondered how funny it would be, returning to earth the way I looked. I imagined the SWAT team, using tanks and helicopters to try and bring me down. How else would a human react to something the size of a tyrannosaurus rex, in the modern ages?
After my encounter with the bewildered squirrel, I decided it was time to begin to see what I could do. I found myself with the ability to reveal a spade at the end of my tail, just like Drago did in the movie Dragonheart.
When it was time to start learning how to fly, I climbed the mountain to the top and practiced flapping. The wind made the trees sway like the start of a thunderstorm. The faster I flapped, the lighter my body started to feel, until I finally felt my four legs, levitating from the ground.
It still wasn’t enough. My claws were “tiptoeing” along the ground until I reached the end, where I managed to tuck my wings back and face-dive down the side of the edge.
The burst of air felt good on my body. I felt my lungs expanding for more air, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I spread my wings out, just before I reached the base of the mountain, and hovered. Just the tip of the wings flapped, and I finally found out how to maneuver the ways of the wind.
Some trees were tall like pine trees, but bare of any leaves, wide enough apart to practice weaving between, them. Once I made my path through, I flapped hard, with my head facing up. I climbed higher and higher, watching the puffs of clouds dissipate around me. The moisture felt cold in my lungs, until I hovered once more, before creating a loop dee loop and dive combo.
I loved to dive. I loved the wind against my scaly hide. I loved the sound of flapping from the thin membrane in my wing flaps. The only part I didn’t like was the feeling of my lungs, shrinking as my altitude lowered, quickly. The ground was approaching, faster and faster. I attempted to pull my wings out for another levitating hover, but something had hit my left side. Failing to keep my balance, I tumbled to the floor.
I could hear someone laughing at me, as I weakly raised my head at a pair of black claws, attached to the body of a black dragon. “I knew you were still as clueless as ever, Yrus,” the dragon groaned.
An Unexpected Visitor?
Beady, yellow eyes looked down at me.
“Little brother,” he growled, allowing me to get back onto my feet (or should I say claws?). “We need to band together. If you can’t help me defend my neck of the woods, then how are we going to keep our forest safe?”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” I replied, swinging my tail at him. Naturally, he dodged with ease, shaking his head with disappointment.
“Another one bites the dust, eh?”
I lowered my head. “How many reincarnations am I, must I ask?”The dragon raised his head and roared in laughter. “How many times we come back has nothing to do with how strong we are,” he replied, holding his heart with his claw. “The only part that is disappointing about all of this is becoming re-acquainted with my own brethren. Yrus, I am Zephyr. We are under attack by an apocalypse.
”I wondered how I looked, my large mouth hanging open like a misunderstanding fool. “Um, mind if we fly?”
Zephyr nodded, taking off to the skies. I followed behind, spinning, spiraling, and diving along the way. I continued to listen intently. I might as well do what I can. I have nothing in this world to “live” for.
“Three dragons of True Power control our world. Angria, the Dragon of Light, Planys, the Dragon of Earth, and Grythe, the Dragon of Death. Something has caused them to battle among one another. They’ve been fighting each other for over 4 centuries.”
“That’s a long time.”
“Have they reincarnated like we have?” I wondered, spiraling around my brother. With a quick tilt of my wings, I glided next to him.
“Surprisingly, no,” he replied, diving to the earth, below.
I wondered if they were able to see our world, from then. “Can I ask you something?”
“Indeed,” he replied, opening his wings and landing. I followed suit.
“Were you guys ever able to cross dimensions?”
“Like time travel?” Zephyr asked, tilting his head.
“I don’t know? What year is this?” I wondered. Perhaps my own theories were deceiving me?
“We are standing in Earth’s age of 10,000. This is the Age of the Dragons.”
I had SO MANY questions to ask.
One of my favorite subjects in school was history, after all. I just hoped Zephyr could handle my badgering thoughts. “I’ve been wondering how, exactly, we can go back in time?”
“We ALL can’t go back in time,” he laughed, preening his feathers. “Why do you ask?”
“I want to know so much more,” I replied, eager to learn as much as I could.
“History in our dimension told us about what mankind had done wrong.”
“Okay, brother, I’m going to have to stop you right there,” he sighed, stretching out like a cat would, after his nap. “Mankind has ALWAYS done wrong.”
“But we learned so much!” I insisted, only to be hushed, once more.
“And have HARMED so much,” he replied, walking away. “Keep in mind, I was human once, as well. I’ve seen many things before I’ve come to our world.”
“Then tell me,” I begged, cutting in front of him to a dead stop.
Zephyr sighed. “What you would call my ‘transition,’ it was during the time our dragon apocalypse had started. In my time, we were at war. I suppose it could be why I’ve managed to stay alive for so long.”
“Stay alive?” I screamed. “As far as I have just found out, I have vanished from my world, since 2020!”
“Ooooh, that was one hell of a good example as to what I mean about mankind, child,” he laughed. “Your ‘generation’ had played too many God games, then. You were so focused on saving every soul you could and inflicting fear upon those who needed to become controlled, you made your entire ‘government’ fail. Money became obsolete. By the time 3500 hit, you all MUTATED into dead-like, mindless creatures.”
“That’s what you called it, then, yes,” he replied, “And to save your kind once more, you injected so many viruses and animals’ blood into your bodies. By 7000, you grew scales and inherited wings. At first, you were all ridiculed when born with these wings, but you wiped out whatever near-dead animals you’ve lived with and took over. Little by little, dragons looked the way we are. We ARE humankind’s creation.”
My mind was blown. “How does this explain the dragon paintings we’ve created, so many years ago, in this case?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Zephyr replied, stomping his back foot. “Those who COULD warn mankind went back and tried to deter everything from happening. Humans just DON’T listen, so we let nature take its course.”
“But if we ARE derived from mankind, then how can we trust each other?”
Zephyr glared at me. “That’s just the question, isn’t it? With all these years of selfish acts, how can we tell if we’re being selfish now?”
My mind hurt. I wanted to see if I could find out WHY these dragons were fighting. “I want to talk to someone who can travel back in time.”
Zephyr laughed. “There were only a rare few who can do so, including Angria, Planys, and Grythe. Your first bet would be to head north. The murky swamps are home to Syveth. Rumor has it, she knows a bit about time travel.”
“Thank you, brother,” I was about to leave when he cut in front of me.
“Hold on, Yrus,” he grunted, putting his foot down. “You can’t abandon your jungle. We must protect our land.”
“I understand that, Zephyr, but think of it this way. What’s a little bit of ‘animals in on it for ourselves’ manner of care, until I solve an even bigger problem?”
“What ‘bigger’ problem?” he argued, confused, and frustrated.
“You said so, yourself! It’s the apocalypse. If we don’t stop the war between these major dragons, we’re going to lose our lands, anyway.”
Zephyr looked like he was in deep thought, as he stepped back. “You make a valid argument. I’m not sure how you are going to use time travel to stop this war, but maybe you have a right direction in fixing this. I will keep watch of your forest for any major events. If something happens, I will send a sign for you to come back.”
I thanked him and flew north, as fast as my wings could carry me. I knew my curiosity would be able to change the way things had turned out now. I just had to get to the bottom of this…..
The Key to Meditation
It took me a full day’s flight to make it to the Northern Swamp.
Eagerly, I landed on firm ground, among thin, dead pine trees, tall enough to poke just over my head. I knew I was big, but it was nice to see trees that were just my size.
The water made me think of a lake, filled with algae and dead brush. I looked among the huge, cat-sized lily pads, occasionally seeing frogs and toads, each the size of three-month-old bunnies. Snakes as thick as apples swam around the edges of the water. If they were too close to a frog, you would hear their prey drop into the water, with a large, echoing “sploosh.
”What amazed me the most were what looked like logs, laying all along the river. It took a second glance for me to realize that they were some sort of crocodile. “Syveth!” I called, still amazed with how decay could look so good.
The biggest crocodile in the lake started to approach me. It wasn’t until it had gotten closer to shore, that I realized that this snout was about the size of my own. Another “head” followed close by, along with another. Once the head was before me, with white teeth and snout finally dragging along the shore, I noticed that the two “heads” I had seen were of the dragon’s back.
“Why, Yrus, I haven’t seen you in ages,” the woman-like voice cooed, followed by a hiss. Emerging from the water, I noticed I was looking at a crocodile-lizard, who held a body two times as long as mine. Only, my muscle mass made her look thin and scrawny.
“I want to know more about time travel,” I explained, cutting to the chase. Something about this dragon made me feel like she would betray me, some day. I felt strange, as she circled around me, sniffing my body.
“Did you forget how, my young apprentice?” she hissed, mouth grinning. Her teeth were covered in algae and barnacles. The smell was not so pleasant, either. “For me, I use the water. Water tells time.”
I thought through on that, for a moment. Water is always traveling. “Refresh my memory, my friend,” I replied, curious about my homeland. Clearly something in the woods was my own pathway into telling time.
“You told me it was trees. Whether they live or they die, their stories reign true. Whether it be the wind among the leaves, the ring of a trunk’s age, or the amount of time dirt had aided a tree to grow, however, is up to you to remember.”
“Why do you ask?” she wondered, uncertain as to what I had been aiming for.
“To end all conflict,” I replied, as I flew away. It was time for me to meditate in the forest I must protect.
My return didn't turn out as great as I had hoped.
Zephyr was nowhere in sight. Smoke was rising from the center of my newly-gained territory.
I flew above the location as quick as I can. To my surprise, I was hovering over three cyclops, sitting at a fire. Gathered around the fire, I noticed they were cooking a large hog. Tied to the ground behind them, I saw my brother.
A growl from my throat had caused them to spot me, but I didn't care. I was not going to let them harm my brother.
"What are you doing in my forest?" I demanded, feeling the rage building up within me.
Zephyr looked up at me, shaking his head, violently. "GET OUT!" he shouted, fighting with the ropes around him. "They don't understand our language, Yrus! Go save yourself!"
Great, I thought, feeling what I thought was fire within my lungs. To my surprise, I released a wind storm. Why couldn't it be fire?
I decided to make do, as I created a huge tornado below me. Branches flew and whipped along my brother, as the rope around him became more and more ratted. "GET OUT!" I shouted, darting spears attached to ropes, below me. As long as I kept them distracted from what I was intending to do, I knew we could face them, together.
I flew by and snagged one cyclops, rising into the air as high as I could. Ignoring the pain in my claw from his club banging into it, I continued to dive higher. If he makes me lose my grip, at least he could be falling to his death, I thought, fighting through the pain.
Finally, it gave way. Hovering high, I noticed him fall onto his comrades. While he remained still, the others pushed him off of them. Enraged, they shouted up at me, blind to Zephyr's successful escape. He hovered to my level and nodded his head, in respect. "Thank you."
"Let's just finish this, brother," he replied. The air grew sharp, crisp, and full of energy. Lightning flashed around him, and ideas flew into my head. While I watched him shock his enemies below, I blew them out of our woods and into the plains. For the first time, I had managed to team up and fight for my land.
I'll be honest, if felt victorious...