Ficlet: Hatchling

hatchling

Written for the tropebingo prompt ‘accidental baby acquisition. Three characters in a fantasy world discover a surprising addition to their team.

“Um, you know that egg shaped rock.” Sullivan was peering into the bag, checking on the precious item they were hoping to sell for a small fortune.

“You didn’t break it, did you?” Helena glared him, arms folded. He shook his head.

“Not me.” He placed the knapsack on the floor and carefully folded back the flap fully. A small head poked out from the bag. Iridescent scales glinted in the sunlight. The creature opened its mouth showing tiny but sharp looking teeth and let out a wail.

It couldn’t be. Yet it clearly was.

“By all the gods,” Darcy said in a hushed tone. “It’s a dragon.”

“Nothing gets by you, does it?” Sarcasm was Sullivan’s go-to mode when he was surprised or angry, and Darcy didn’t take offence. Sullivan stared at the hatchling. “What am I supposed to do with it? Can we still sell it?”

Helena and Darcy exchanged glances. “There are rules…” Darcy said hesitantly. Dragons had been declared extinct fifty years ago, however. Was it really still illegal to sell one? In Rivera, dragons had to be reported to the Captain of the Guards (which was why it was the first place they disappeared from). In Somney, only priestesses had been allowed to possess dragons, for they were considered sacred to Somney’s chief deity.

Darcy wasn’t sure what the rules were in Thelaw, where they were currently, but he had a feeling the best thing to do right now was to not tell anyone they were in possession of a dragon.

“How can you think of selling it?” Helena gazed adoringly at the hatchling. “It’s so sweet! Besides, this is the first dragon seen in years. It’s invaluable.”

“Sounds like another word for expensive. And if it’s that important people will try and kill us just to steal it.” Still, Sullivan bent down and gingerly touched the dragon’s head with one finger. It hissed and rubbed itself, cat-like, against his hand. A forked tongue dashed out and licked at his finger.

“We should take it to Somney,” Darcy said. “It would be safe there.” That was in the wrong direction though and he knew it wasn’t going to be a popular option.

Helena knelt down and cooed at the hatchling. “Is he hungry? Is he a hungry dragon? What do dragons eat?”

“People,” Sullivan suggested, earning himself a stern look. “Well, some of them do. Did.”

Helena wondered if insects might do, while Sullivan said all babies drank milk, regardless of species. Helena wanted to give him a name but Sullivan wondered if the dragon was female, and how you’d tell – and , more importantly, was it possible to find out without losing a finger during the process.

“Some species were…” Darcy snapped his fingers, “I can’t think of the word. But they could reproduce without needing to mate. They were both male and female.”

“You’re Mr Dragon Expert all of a sudden are you?” Sullivan asked snidely.

Darcy shrugged and said in a deliberately provocative off-hand tone, “I read.”

“Enough!” Helena called. “Do not start fighting. You’ll upset little – little – what about Storm? That can be for a boy or a girl. And anyone who laughs at the name will get their ankles nipped!”

“Storm?” Sullivan addressed the dragon. It let out a noise somewhere between a bark and a quack. It seemed they had a name for the dragon.

However Darcy felt sure that finding the right moniker was going to be the least of their dragon related problems.

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