(A work-in-progress. the first part can be found here I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to your comments!)
And now, the continuation
I scratched the side of my nose while I considered his words, and my sanity. “Why do you need an ambassador?”
“To help pave the way for our return. Far too many think my kind are creatures of fiction and legend. We were once respected and feared.”
“Is that what you want, to be feared again?”
“Some do.” Barroth replied. “I see us in a different way. I believe we have a role to fill, as educators and keepers of knowledge.”
“Are there many of you?” I asked.
“More than you realize. We are not as numerous as we once were, we spread ourselves out in order to avoid attention. But as with any great comeback, many of us agree that we dragons need someone to smooth the way. That would be you.”
I scratched my nose again and listened to the washing machine fill. “I see. That’s a big job, what’s required of me?”
“Well, we thought that perhaps a visit with a few of my brethren might be in order, so we’ve arranged for you to speak with a few of our Elders about our return.”
“When and where? You won’t all fit down here and someone is bound to notice eventually.”
“Agreed. The oldest of us settled many years ago into a dry and warm region filled with caves. The Elders are too old to fly now, so it has been decided that I will bring you to them.”
Barroth studied me with his large blue eye that reminded me of a picture I’d seen once of Earth from space. “How much time do you need to prepare?”
“That would depend on where we’re going and how long I’ll be away.” I gestured toward the backyard. “Listen, would you like to sit out in the sun? There’s no one around and this isn’t the best place to be negotiating this sort of thing.”
Barroth began to chuckle. It sounded like large boulders were being gargled. “Negotiate…you’re a funny human. Outside would feel good, it’s been too long since my scales have been warm.” Faster than I could blink, he was gone and the book he’d been studying clattered to the floor.
The basement door squealed in protest as I shut it and went up the old, uneven basement steps. My backyard was really an open field bordered by tall pine trees. My neighbors had moved recently, leaving me the last house before the end of the road, so no one was likely to see Barroth sunning himself. I plucked a camp chair from beside the house and sat facing his head. He stretched out his wings on the grass, extended his neck and rumbled deep in his chest. He reminded me very much of a happy cat. I stretched out in my chair, closed my eyes and tilted my face toward the sun. We stayed like that for some time before he spoke again.
“I have missed this. I will be glad to return to the warm sand.”
“Is it true that some of your kind prefer forests and water?”
“It is. Much like your people, my kind are adapted differently for their living environments. How long will you need to prepare for our flight?”
“Flight?” I squeaked. “Like, flying?”
Barroth spread his wings and beat them against the warm air. “Indeed. That is why I have these.”
“Oh no, I can’t do heights. I’ll pass out and fall off.” I insisted, shaking my head.
He sighed a mighty gust of air against my legs. “Very well. There is another way to get there. It is faster, but cold. You will need to dress for it just before we leave.”
“Thank you. How long will we be gone?”
“That is unknowable. The Elders have a love of knowledge and information. I am sure they have as many questions for you as you will have for them. It would be safe to assume many days, but you may take only what fits in your back bag.”
“Yes, that.” He gave another mighty sigh, as if frustrated with the human in front of him.
I closed my eyes again. “Can you breathe fire?”
“I can, when I choose to. It is primarily a defense mechanism. I would have expected you to know that already, with all the knowledge humans seem to collect. You are my first, you know.”
That made me sit up. “Really?”
“Indeed. When I was young, one of the Elders would tell the hatchlings tales of a strange type of beast that walked upright without scales and wings. She said they were weak at first, but cunning as they aged. She told us that if we should ever encounter one, to avoid them at all costs because what they knew best was torture and death. But I have been curious ever since.”
“What brought you to my basement then?”
“As I said, I was seeking shelter. You did not smell like a threat and I was curious. I have left on occasion, to report back to the Elders. They agree we need someone who is unafraid, and willing to help us come out of the shadows.”
“Well, I’m not sure I’m the right human for the task, but we aren’t all torturous and deadly. Some are I suppose. But just as many are inquisitive.”
“Hmm.” Barroth hummed and fell silent.
We sat there sunning ourselves until late afternoon. Then Barroth stretched his wings and said, “I must hunt. Rodents will not fuel me for the journey back. I will wait for you here at sunrise.”
I made sure my laundry was done that evening and prepared to be away for weeks.
Just in case I wasn’t insane and really was going to confer with Dragon Elders.
I woke before the sun appeared over the tree-tops. Curiosity nibbled at me most of the night and kept sleep at bay. There was no logic in laying there wondering, so I got up and peeked out the window at the backyard. Sure enough, a large dark form waited there. I dressed in layers as I ate a hearty breakfast. By the time my oatmeal was gone, I had decided to bring along a large bag of coffee. I was a bear without it first thing in the morning and it was doubtful the dragons would have any. It was buried deep among the clothes in my pack and I closed the house up.
Barroth lifted his head as I came around the corner of the house. “Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be, I suppose. I am coming back, right?”
“Yes.” He replied.
I stopped and studied him, slightly suspicious. “There’s more to your answer, isn’t there?”
He sighed and a tendril of smoke came from his nostrils. “In the past there have been humans that came to share information. Although they returned to your world, in the end, they decided to return to my kind. I have no way of knowing if you will do the same, so I cannot give you a proper answer.”
“Fair enough.” I nodded. “If we won’t be flying, how will we get to where we’re going?”
“Dragon-kind has always had the ability to telekinetically relocate themselves. I prefer to fly, but since you are uncomfortable with heights, we will travel this way.” He replied.
“How does it work?” I asked.
“I am unsure how to describe it properly. I will fix a vision of the Meeting Place in my mind, we will be surrounded by darkness and a deep cold for a short time. But when we arrive at the Meeting Place, we will be warm soon enough. You need to empty your mind if you can, think of nothing or your thoughts may interfere and send us to a most unpleasant place.”
I swallowed nervously.
“If you settle just behind my wings, you will be able to fit in front of my first back-ridge. If you hold firmly, you will not fall off.”
I put my thick leather mitts on and sat where he directed. I tried not to think of the things that could go wrong as I held on to the muscular shoulders of his wings. Just a bit of cold and then everything would be okay.
Barroth turned his head toward me and rumbled, “Remember, empty your mind. Brace yourself.”
I swallowed my nervousness and nodded.
To be continued