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The Scrobscyr Dragons - Chapter 1

Updated: May 28, 2023


Fritha, fighting dragon, is on brooding leave until her hatchlings are old enough to join the youngling wing.

Fritha loved all her offspring with a deep and abiding devotion, from the youngest hatchling to the mature dragons with broods of their own. But today she had to admit that her current brood were getting on her last nerve. They were just at the age where they were starting to whirr about the glen on their stubby little hatchling wings, and all five had been going in different directions all morning. To be fair to them, that would normally not have bothered Fritha at all. She loved the hatchling stage when they were still completely dependent on her and full of baby cuteness. The little wings, the semi-coherent thoughts, the soft, soft hide and the diamond bright eyes that had not yet taken on a hint of the rich adult colour. But she had had an itch between her wings all day and she had learned to trust her itches. They usually meant something was wrong. Her mate, Cerneric, and their Fighting Wing had learned to trust Fritha’s itches too. The last one had heralded a night raid on their patrol area by the Lunenwyc clan and the result had been a short and bloody dragon-fight.

Retrieving Aethelswyth from the edge of the lake yet again, Fritha thought how much she missed her Fighting Wing. The camaraderie and banter, the adrenaline surge during fights and raids, the exhilaration of stretching wings and muscles to the limit in a one-to-one dragon-fight, flames spouting, talons clawing. She relished the breaks when she took brooding leave to raise a clutch of young ones, but she was always glad to get back when the hatchlings were old enough to join the Younglings’ Wing and she was free to be a fighting dragon again. Also, if she was being brutally honest, to have some adult conversation. The little ones were entertaining and loveable but not exactly intellectually stimulating.

Around noon her close friend Blaedswith brought her own latest brood to the glen to play. They were about the same age as Fritha’s hatchlings, and at least it stopped her little…blessings from zipping about like demented mayflies. Blaedswith was in Fritha’s Wing when they were not brooding, and for a while they gossiped about their comrades, but Fritha’s unease was clear to her friend.

“What’s the matter Frith?” Blaedswith spoke mind-to-mind as dragons do. “You’re wriggling about like a youngling with an attack of dragon-lice.”

“I’ve got an itch between my wings.”

Blaedswith always took Fritha’s itches seriously.

“Not again! Do you think its danger for the Wings or nearer home?”

“Not the Wings I don’t think, but it doesn’t feel like something with the brood either. I don’t know, just can’t settle… and if Aethelswyth flies up to that crag one more time today I’ll… do something!”


“I don’t know! But it’ll probably be something we’re both sorry for!”

Aethelswyth is the liveliest of Fritha's brood and is always getting into mischief

Blaedswith and Fritha had just rounded up their broods for a spot of lunch when Celwyn and Ethelwald, two of Fritha’s previous brood, who would soon graduate from the training wings to fighting wings, appeared over the grey rock shoulder of the mountain and landed in the sheltered glen that fronted Fritha and Ceneric’s cave system. They had a one day pass from their Wing and had come to see Fritha and the new brood. They were happy to join the combined families for a light meal of black grazer, and to help make sure the hatchlings shared fairly and didn’t choke on the meat. They had scarcely licked the last of the blood from their muzzles when a young dragon approached and almost tumbled into the glen. She was in a state of breathlessness and dishevelment that suggested she had nearly overflown her young muscles in her haste.

Fritha and Blaedswith hurried to the distressed young dragon who, in spite of heaving sides and trembling wings tried to give a proper report.

“Dragonet Sideburg of Training Wing 4 Mestra Fritha, Mestra Blaedswith. The Snotingaham clan have raided us at Training Post 4 and we think they’ve taken some of the younglings from YW2.”

“You think? Who thinks? Why aren’t you sure? What were the younglings doing so near the border?” Blaedswith had offspring in Youngling Wing 2.

“Please, I don’t know. The training master was killed or injured in the raid, I’m not sure, and the rest of TW4 and YW2 are holed up in the caves at Training Post 4” stammered Sideburg. “YW2 were visiting our wing on one of those training experience trip thingies. We were showing them some of our drills when the Snotingaham wing came out of the cloud cover. They were flaming and everything. The Training Master and his second flew straight up to meet them with some of us older trainees and the other masters took the rest of them with the younglings into the cave, but the Snoters caught some of the younglings and flew off with them before we got there. The Youngling Master sent me to tell you ‘cos you’re the nearest cave. I’m to go on to all the local caves after you and gather a band of adults together to get the younglings back.”

“Where is the nearest patrol?” Fritha had automatically gone into fighting wing mode and now took charge. Her previous brood were in a different training wing and she didn’t have the same personal stake in this that Blaedswith did.

“ I’m not sure Mestra, but I think they had gone South because we had intelligence that the Lunenwyc lot were planning a raid.”

A long time ago, when Fritha and Cerneric had left Fritha’s parent’s cave to found their own family group, the one thing they had been concerned about was the proximity of their new cave to the Eastern border of the territory. It was the nearest and best cave system available and they had not wanted to move too far from Fritha’s family, but they had never ceased to worry that something like this might happen. Cave systems in this area were not much sought after, in spite of the excellent volcanic systems that warmed the caves and provided hot bathing pools, because of the danger of raids from neighbouring clans.

Fritha turned to her two trainee offspring who were listening, goggle eyed, to the exchange, and fixed them with her steeliest look.

“Can I trust you two to look after the hatchlings?” she enquired.

“Yes Mum!” they chorused. They were excited at the responsibility and at being part of these stirring events, but equally intimidated by the knowledge that if they didn’t keep the bunch of nine hatchlings safe, and reasonably out of mischief, they faced an unknown but probably heinous punishment.

Fritha moved her steely stare to the trainee, who had now recovered her wind.

“Go on to all the local caves you can find and tell them to meet at the rendezvous point ASAP. Then report back to the Youngling Master. Which way did the raiding party go when they left?”

“East by south Mestra.” Nodding at Sideburg to get going, Fritha laid a supportive wing across Blaedswith’s back.

“Buck up Sweetie, we need to get a wiggle on. There’s no time to wait for the others at the rendezvous point, we’ll go straight after the raiding party. At least we can try to find out where they’re heading, even if we can’t get the younglings back ourselves. I’ll call Cerneric to help us.”

As Fritha and Blaedswith rose into the air, their huge, copper coloured wings beating strongly, Fritha sent out a call to Cerneric, as only mated pairs can . It was a terrific effort to speak at a distance and not something she would use to ask when he would be home for tea, but useful in an emergency.

“Where are you?”

His reply sounded rather muffled, as though he had his mind on other things.

“Fighting Lunenwyc raiding party. What do you want?”

This rather ungracious answer didn’t offend Fritha. She knew how hard it was to fight and talk, even at close range. She didn’t want to risk distracting her mate and get him injured, so she cut short the conversation.

“Slight problem at this end, but we are on the case. Be safe!”

The two females didn’t speak as they beat eastward. Both were wondering how on earth they were going to get the younglings away from the enemy, even if they could find them. Blaedswith was worrying in case it was her youngling who had been taken and Fritha was hoping that a) Blaedswith would hold it together if it was one of her brood that had been taken, and b) that her two trainees would keep all the hatchlings safe until she or Cerneric got home. She deliberately didn’t consider the possibility that neither she nor Blaedswith might make it back, but it was there in an unacknowledged corner of her mind.

It was a fairly short flight to the eastern border and the two females made a hasty stop at the Trainee Post to consult with the Youngling Master. He was a kind and experienced warrior, still of fighting age, and had organised the younglings and trainees to prepare a first aid post for the dragons wounded in the brief fight. The Trainee Master was gravely wounded, his assistant slightly less so. The older trainees had tried to help in the fight and several of them had also been injured. The Assistant Master had been able to say that the raiding party had made off with five of the younglings and headed east by south, as Sideburg had reported. The younglings were still alive when the dragons flew away with them as they had been heard screeching. Apparently the raiders had dived out of the cloud, scattering the mixed group of younglings and trainees, surrounded the party of younglings in an obviously rehearsed move, grabbed one or two younglings each and had flown off with them. It was the youngest ones who had been taken. The older ones were better at ariel manoeuvres and had begun learning to flame, and would have been much harder to catch and subdue. The trainees had not been targeted at all.

It seemed inevitable that Blaedswith’s youngling was one of those taken. The female took the news well and Fritha could tell that it hardened her determination to go after them, come hell or high water. The two friends asked the Youngling Master to tell any dragons who turned up to form the rescue party that they would scout ahead and try to locate the raiders. They cut off his argument about the advisability of the idea by simply taking off, leaving him in mid sentence.

“What do you think Fritha?” asked Blaedswith with commendable calm, as they crossed the border.

“Well its not ideal, but we can’t wait for the others. Could be hours before they get here”

“Yes, I know that, I mean do you think they’ll kill the younglings or keep them alive?”

“They’ll use them as leverage to gain something from the clan. Its in their interest to keep them alive”. Fritha hoped her mental tone conveyed complete confidence in this didactic statement. In reality she had no idea what the raiders hoped to gain, other than to draw the Scrobscyr clan over the border, and possibly demoralise them by killing some of their younglings. It was unlikely that the raiders believed that the Scrobscyrs would cede territory in exchange for a handful of younglings, even though family and clan well-being was at the heart of their social system. A terrible despondency waited to overcome her when she had time to stop and think. She was thankful that thinking was, for the moment, out of the question.

The two females flew steadily south by east, keeping careful watch on the ground beneath and sky above. Fritha had no real hope of finding the younglings with nothing more than a vague direction to go on, but doing something was better than doing nothing. She didn’t think Blaedswith was thinking about it at all. Just flying on nerves and hope. Suddenly Blaedswith veered to starboard.

“This way!”

“How do you know?”

“I can feel Wulfrum”

Fritha wasn’t sure if that was possible or if the wish was father to the thought, but she followed her friend.

“He’s screaming for me.” Blaedswith’s tone was anguished. It was not usual for dragons to hear their offspring’s thoughts from a distance, but Fritha supposed that if mated pairs could do it, at a cost, then there was no reason why a youngling in mortal terror should not be able to reach his mother.

They flew onwards for some time before Blaedswith angled downward, her long sinuous neck swinging from side to side, scanning the ground. Her glittering emerald eyes missing nothing.


Fritha spotted a commotion in a grassy area just ahead. It was a small group of dragons, who seemed to be struggling with something on the ground. Before Fritha could suggest that they should land and plan their attack, Blaedswith was diving steeply, her wings half folded to increase her speed. With a mental shrug Fritha folded her wings and followed, crossing her talons and hoping that Blaedswith knew what she was doing.

The very speed and unexpectedness of their attack was their biggest asset. The sudden appearance of two angry female dragons startled the group of raiders and it was a moment before they could react. The females didn’t dare flame in case they caught the younglings, but they raked their talons across any part of a Snotingaham dragon they could reach, as they did their first pass. The dragons on the ground instinctively threw themselves down to avoid the attack, and the five younglings they had been attempting to control took their opportunity and whizzed out from underneath the wings and claws of their captors. The younglings took off in all directions, while the raiders, collecting themselves, took off in pursuit of their captives and to fight their attackers. With the younglings out of the way Fritha and Blaedswith were flaming for all they were worth, hovering above the knot of discomforted dragons and trying to keep them on the ground. They were not entirely successful. One dragon sank back with a wing membrane crisped. He would not fly for a while. Another caught a gout of flame in the eye and reeled, screaming, but rallied a moment later and leapt into the air to join his comrades.

For a few moments there was a bedlam of flame, talons, bellowing, screaming and a strong smell of burning hair and scorching flesh. Then the conflict resolved itself into a tight dragon-fight between Fritha and a male of the raiding party, while Blaedswith took off after the scattered younglings, followed by two raiders. Another raider was flying strongly away to the south, presumably escaping. A tiny corner of Fritha’s mind hoped he wasn’t going for reinforcements. The rest of it was occupied in trying to fly in a tighter circle than her foe so as to singe his behind. At last the raider broke and fell away from the circle, hoping to dive out of range. Fritha had been waiting for just that moment, and a slight movement of his neck muscles gave her the cue that he was about to act. She sideslipped hard to port and caught his unprotected belly in a blast of flame as he spun away. Cutting off her flame to avoid the backdraught, Fritha righted herself and looked around the sky. In the distance to the east she spotted Blaedswith and her two pursuers. The female was pulling away from the two behind her, and Fritha lost no time in following. The two Snotingaham dragons were smaller than Fritha and Blaedswith, though they appeared to be fully adult. At any rate Fritha was overhauling them rapidly, when one looked behind and they both veered away to the south. In a few minutes Fritha saw Blaedswith dive towards the ground and followed her down.

At the edge of a vast tract of forest Blaedswith was cradling her youngling. Tears ran down her face, making dark tracks through the copper fuzz of her hide, and the youngling’s little talons were clutching her chest as he tried to burrow into her. There was one other youngling crouching under a tree and Fritha gathered her in for a comforting cuddle. Both dragonets were very young and clearly shocked and terrified by their captivity. It was some time before the females could get any sense out of them, and even then they couldn’t say where the other three younglings had gone. Fritha and Blaedswith wasted no time asking questions about what had happened. They each picked up a dragonet in their arms and took off. Circling over the grassy plain and along the edge of the forest they looked for the missing younglings. The trees in the forest were huge, their trunks could not have been encompassed by the wings of three dragons, and their dark green evergreen canopies stretched far above. Thick branches grew quite a long way down the trunks and curved upwards to lift their foliage into the light. Fritha reckoned that a dragon could fly between the wide spaced trunks if they absolutely had to, but she fervently hoped that it wouldn’t come to that. The thought of trying to escape pursuit by weaving between trees, avoiding those branches, while clutching a frightened dragonet gave her cold shivers.

Eventually they spotted two more younglings huddling together just within the forest, and they landed and added the two to their bag. One of the younglings said she thought she had seen the fifth dragonet flying west towards the border, but couldn’t be sure. While that was a good thing in principle, more cold shivers went down Fritha’s spine at the idea of a youngling flying alone through enemy skies. Fritha and Blaedswith knew that the younglings wouldn’t be able to keep up, either in speed or endurance, on the long flight home, so they had to find a way to carry them all. They were a bit too big to carry one in each foreleg, a very tiring thing when flying, so one youngling had to climb on each female’s back and cling between her shoulders, where they would not impede the movement of the great wings. Fritha encouraged her passenger to lie as flat as possible, drape his legs down her neck and back and dig his talons in as far as possible. Dragon hide, though soft, is thick and tough, but it was extremely uncomfortable to have sharp dragonet claws anchored in it.

Fear of reinforcements turning up at any moment spurred on the females to take off as quickly as they could. For a while they flew steadily, though not quickly, to the west. They would hit the border south of where they had crossed it, but getting into home skies as quickly as possible was the priority. This part of the Snotingaham territory seemed to be sparse heather moorland, with rocks pushing through the vegetation over large areas. They had left the coniferous forest behind, and from this height could see many dark tarns and meres spotting the landscape. The valleys between the rolling moors looked boggy, to judge from the types of reedy grasses growing in them, and the mountain range that marked the beginning of Scrobscyr country rose forbiddingly in the distance. Although they looked inhospitable, with high jagged peaks, bare and snow covered, the lower slopes were green with forest and mountain pastures, and to Fritha they meant home. Warm dry caves, lush grazing lands on the high plateaux and the plains beyond the mountains, holding herds of juicy grazers. Most importantly, her family and her mate were there. She could hardly control the impulse to fly as fast as possible to get back to them.

They had been flying, carefully, for some time when Fritha caught movement from the corner of her left eye. She couldn’t swing her neck around too much for fear of unseating her little passenger, but she turned her head as carefully as she could. Her heart sank as she saw a group of dragons approaching from the south. There were four or five of them, flying in a ragged group. With a quick word to Blaedswith, Fritha redoubled her efforts. They were too far from the border to make it over before the enemy reached them. Both dragons strained to fly faster. At that crucial moment Fritha felt the youngling on her back begin to slip. There was nothing she could do but try to land before he fell off altogether.

“Keep going! Get Wulfram and Cwenhild safe!” she yelled to Blaedswith. With one quick, startled glance over her shoulder, Blaedswith surged away towards the border, while Fritha glided down to the plain below. She could feel young Dungeld slipping further and just as her feet touched down he tumbled from her back. She hastened to pick him up. He was not injured but was clearly not well. His hide had turned a funny shade of greeny-grey, quite unlike the copper colour of a healthy dragon. There was no time to go into what was the matter. Fritha shifted Mildritha to one arm and instructed her to cling on tightly. Flinching as the sharp talons dug into the tender hide of her chest she gathered Dungeld as well as she could into her other arm and turned to take off.

Horrified she saw two Snotingaham dragons diving on her in a pincer movement. There was neither time nor room to take off. In another second or so she would be caught between two flames and there was little hope of her or the dragonets surviving that. Her thoughts flew to her hatchlings and her mate. A tiny seed of resentment sprang up in the depth of her heart that she would die for some other mother’s offspring and not see her own grow up or ever again share a loving embrace with Cerneric. In a nano-second the seed had grown into a roaring flood of fury that seemed to pour into her legs and wings. Somehow she leaped into the air and flew vertically upward, head and body pointing directly at the sky. She would never know how she did this normally impossible feat, but somehow she shot up between the descending dragons just before they let out their bursts of flame. She was pursued upwards by screams of pain as the two dragons flamed each other.

Fritha did not stop to look. She headed for the nearest cloud cover. There were great piles of thunderclouds overhead and, in spite of the risk, she plunged into them. Flying into a thunderstorm was not a sensible thing to do in anyone’s book, but it definitely ranked higher in Fritha’s estimation than staying to bandy words with a parcel of annoyed dragons. She hoped to break through the clouds quickly and into free air, but she found that they were too thick, apparently stretching miles into the sky, and after a few moments she levelled off and turned once more to the west. She couldn’t carry on at that level of effort for long, particularly burdened with the weight of the younglings. The air grew turbulent and she saw flashes of lightening arcing ahead of her. The cloud was heavy with moisture and it felt as though she was swimming through a rough sea. Little Dungeld was heavy in her arms and she hugged him as close as possible with her trembling muscles, desperate not to let him slip away.

A lightening bolt cracked past her right ear and she instinctively swerved away from it, into a patch of turbulence that caught her and sent her tumbling end over end. Clutching the two younglings to her she felt her wing muscles tearing from the strain of trying to stop her fall. She was dizzy and disorientated, no longer sure which way was up, except that the direction she was falling in must be down. Just as she was on the edge of consciousness and her grip on the dragonets was beginning to fail she tumbled out of the cloud and into open air. Spreading her great wings as best she could she slowed her fall enough to right herself and glide down to land. If the enemy caught her now it was just too bad, she needed to regroup before carrying on. When she was on the ground she laid the two younglings down and peered at them. Neither were a very good colour now, but Mildritha was awake and once she had been thoroughly sick, began to recover quickly. Dungeld was still a funny shade of green and was unconscious, but she couldn’t tell if he was worse or not. There wasn’t much she could do about it now, so, having scanned the sky for enemy aliens Fritha wearily gathered up her burden and took off again. Her wings ached from long flying and felt strained and bruised from the thunderstorm. Rain was falling heavily and visibility was poor. The water on her hide and wings felt soothing to the various scratches and welts she had sustained, but flying in rain was not much fun, unless it was in a romantic context. And even then she’d rather have a nice warm, sunny day.

Darkness was falling, hastened by the thunderstorm and Fritha’s strength was beginning to fail. Her last meal had been the light snack at lunch, now a long while ago, and she had a hollow trembling in her insides. A feeling of weakness stole over her, and a cold sweat broke out on her hide. She knew she couldn’t take time to hunt and definitely couldn’t leave her little companions to do so, but she wasn’t sure if she could make it to the border without food. Suddenly she heard a faint bugling call. It took a moment to register that it was made by a dragonet. Circling back over the plain she heard it again and from this angle, located its source. It was the work of a moment to land, and she was immediately assailed by a youngling throwing itself against her. The little dragon stammered that she had flown away from the “bad dragons” and had tried to go home, but was so tired she had to stop and then couldn’t remember which direction she had been flying in.

Fritha praised her for staying put and found that her name was Hildegard. Glad of a moment to rest herself, Fritha kept scanning the sky while she comforted the young one.

“Do you think you can fly a bit further if we don’t rush, Hildegard?”

“I certainly can! It was only that I got lost. And I’m dreadfully thirsty”

“Well, you’re a brave one, aren’t you? I’m thirsty too. Lets find some water, shall we?”

After a drink at a handy tarn, they took up their trek towards home and safety once more.

Labouring onwards through the streaming dusk, cold, wet and miserable, Fritha’s concentration was not what it should be. She was suddenly startled by a shriek from the little dragonet flying at her side. Twisting her head she saw a dragon diving out of the low clouds on her port side. Instinctively she threw herself into a side-slip, evading his rush. Before he had pulled himself out of his dive she was labouring upward towards the clouds, calling to the youngling to follow. She knew that, tired and burdened as she was, with Hildegard to look out for, she wasn’t going to make it to the cloud cover before the enemy caught up. Glancing down she saw him climbing behind her. From this angle he would be near enough to flame her from bow to stern before she could evade. Even as she strove for that last extra ounce of strength, a familiar voice sounded in her head.

“Roll, Fritha, roll over! I’ve got this one.”

“Cerneric! Take care, don’t burn the little one!” Relief made her wings feel weak as she instinctively obeyed her mate’s yell and rolled away from the oncoming dragon’s flame. Somehow she kept going as she came back onto an even keel and turned her long neck to see what was happening behind her. Cerneric’s powerful flame had caught the raider amidships and he, with a terrible shriek fell out of the sky, automatically curling up around his burned belly. He landed with a crash on the moorland below and didn’t move again. Hildegard had been far enough away to miss Cerneric’s flame and she now fell in behind Fritha.

Cerneric is Fritha's mate and also serves in a fighting wing.

Cerneric and Fritha glided a decent distance away before landing. Fritha gently laid the two younglings down before embracing her mate with a mixture of love, relief and exhaustion that made her tremble like a willow leaf in a wind. With the feel of Cerneric’s soft, warm hide, his sheltering wings wrapping round her and his strong arms holding on to her so tightly, Fritha began to feel strong again. Some of her weariness had been lack of hope, she realised. Far too soon the mates pulled apart and turned their attention to the dragonets, who, in varying degrees of dishevelment, lay on the heather around them.

They found that Dungeld was still unconscious, but Mildritha and Hildegard, with the resilience of young dragonkind, were beginning to recover their spirits. Both were tired, and Fritha and Cerneric decided that she should carry Hildegard on her back to give her a rest, while Cerneric would take the two smaller ones. Not wishing to risk being found by others of the frustrated raiding party, the two dragons took off. Mildritha clinging gamely to Cerneric’s back, while he cradled young Dungeld in his arms.

It seemed a long flight to Fritha, but it can’t have been that long before they finally crossed the river that marked this part of the border between the Scrobscyrs’ territory and that of the Snotingaham clan. Not daring to stop so close to the danger zone they laboured on for a while, into the first of the mountain ranges that graced their territory. At last Cerneric spotted the cave system of a mated pair that both he and Fritha had flown with in the fighting wings. They glided down through the darkness to land in the sandy crater in front of the main cave. The dwelling was situated in the side of the crater of a dormant volcano, and the sand was black, powdered lava, with grass around the edges of the crater. Cerneric called out to the family within the cave, identifying himself and courteously asking permission to land, even though they’d already done it.

Aethelred and Aemma rushed out of the cave, full of welcome. They and their various offspring gathered round to hear their visitors’ story. As they finished telling their adventures, one of the young adult offspring looked at his parents and took off, flying north west.

“Wulstan will bring the nearest fighting wing to search for the rest of the raiding party. You must come in and eat and rest before flying home” said Aethelred, ushering the whole party back into the enormous main cavern of their home. The floor was pleasantly warmed by the dormant volcanic activity below their feet and all the weary visitors collapsed, bellies to the floor, to soak up the heat. All felt chilled to the bone after the weary flight in the rain.

Aemma and Aethelred brought food for the party and all but Dungeld began to recover strength and spirits. Fritha laid Dungeld on the warmest part of the floor and began trying to trickle blood from the carcasses into his mouth. Holding the liquid in her mouth and gently lifting his lip with her fingers, claws carefully retracted she dribbled the blood into the gap behind his canines Fritha. was worried about choking Dungeld, but after a little she saw him swallow. One of Emma’s trainee-aged offspring whispered something to her and Emma approached Fritha, deferentially. Dragon etiquette demands deep respect between younger and older generations who are not related and Aemma was speaking on behalf of her offspring.

“Fritha, one of my sons has some skill at healing. Will you permit him to hold the youngling?”

“Of course, I would be most grateful for his help” Fritha replied, with due formality and courtesy.

“This is Aldmar. I know of no other dragon with his gift, but he has proved many times that he is able to help those who are sick.”

Aldmar approached and inclined his head respectfully. The formalities being satisfied he picked Dungeld up and snuggled him closely, sitting on his haunches and holding the little dragonet against the warmth of his belly. Aldmar closed his eyes and rocked gently back and forth. Fritha could swear she felt a gentle hum in her blood and see the faintest blue mist swirling round Aldmar, but she wasn’t sure if it was just the after effects of exhaustion and stress. She laid her head on the sand and closed her eyes, just to rest them for a moment. She was awoken a little later by the arrival of a wing of dragons, on their way to search for the raiders. Although they would not necessarily attack the raiding party on its own territory, they would make sure that it had not turned back onto Scrobscyr land. Fritha and Cerneric explained as best they could where the fight had taken place.

When the fighting wing had taken off Fritha looked around for the younglings. All three were sleeping peacefully on the warm floor of the cave. Dungeld was a normal colour again and his breathing was regular and deep. Aldmar sat beside him, keeping watch. He looked tired but content. He ducked his head briefly as Fritha came over.

“He is sleeping peacefully, Mestra Fritha. He was cold, and in shock, but his humours are restored now and he will wake up well and strong.”

“Thank you, Aldmar. You have a powerful and valuable gift!” A deeper colour crept into Aldmar’s copper cheeks. The dragon equivalent of a blush.

“I feel blessed when I can help someone Mestra. I hope to be able to be of help to those who are injured in the fighting wings one day. I am a trainee at the moment.”

“The fighting wing that you join will be blessed indeed. Do any of your fellows have this gift?”

“I know of one other Mestra, but there is one who can sense the approach of dragons from a long way off and two who can move things without touching them, and many of us can talk to other dragons at a distance.”

“Do the Elders know of this?”

“No-one except our friends and other trainees know. We didn’t think it was important enough to bother the council with. Mum knew about my healing, but only in the last few weeks.”

Fritha raised her eyes to the heavens in motherly exasperation.

“I think this may be one of the important things the council has heard in years boy!” she remarked as she turned away.

After a brief conference with Cerneric, Aemma and Aethelred, it was decided that Fritha, Cerneric and Aldmar should go to the cave of Randolf, the Leader of the Council of Elders of Scrobscyr, to inform him of the new developments in the trainees and of the status of the rescue party. Both Cerneric and Fritha were on the Council at present. The parents of the three rescued younglings had been sent for and Aemma and Aethelred would look after them until their families arrived to collect them.

Although Fritha yearned for her hatchlings and younglings she flew doggedly beside Cerneric, the trainee between them, towards the cave of Randolf. Cerneric cast her a sly glance from the side of his large, faceted sapphire eyes.

“Nice one, Sweetheart. You really kicked bottoms today”

“Thank you Cerneric. I was focussed on bringing the youngling’s back. Not sure what I did do to be honest.”

“Well the look on your face when I found you, I wouldn’t have argued with you!”

“You always were a sensible dragon.” Replied Fritha demurely, giving Cerneric a flirtatious look out of the side of her eye.

Landing at Randolf’s cave system they found quite a bustle going on. As Leader of the Elders, Randolf was de facto war leader, and messengers to and from wing leaders were landing and taking off regularly. Another dragon was briefing the outgoing ones, and two others were receiving incoming messages and referring the most important ones to Randolf and two Elders where they sat by a large fire in front of the cave entrance. Fritha and Cerneric strode over to the fire, followed rather timidly by Aldmar. Randolf greeted them warmly and thanked them for coming, before asking for a report of the raid and its aftermath.

After hearing the two dragons’ succinct reports, Randolf eyed Aldmar with interest. He expressed no doubt about what he had heard about the young dragon’s abilities, accepting Fritha’s word without question.

“Well, youngling, you are going to be extremely useful to the fighting wings.” He remarked cheerfully. “Do you know where your Training Wing is now”

“Yes, Elder. They are near the Northern border” replied Aldmar with deep respect.

“Right then, go and find them, explain to your Trainee Master that I need you and all others in the wing with unusual abilities to report to me immediately. Ask the TM to send messages to all other TWs within reasonable distance to find any trainees with any extra gifts, and send them here. All TWs in the clan are to be reached in this way. Return here with all despatch bringing those identified from your wing. Is that clear?

Aldmar summarised the instructions he had been given and took off immediately in a flurry of wings and excitement. Randolf gestured Fritha and Cerneric to join the circle near the fire.

“Randolf, did Blaedswith and the other two younglings get safely back?” asked Fritha.

“Nothing has been heard of them Fritha” the older dragon replied gravely. “We fear they have come to harm.”

“Why have they done this?” exclaimed Cerneric. “I don’t understand what the Snotingaham clan gain from it. All they have achieved is to annoy us and make it certain that we will retaliate. With knobs on! And was the attack by the Lunenwyc lot connected to this or was it a coincidence?”

“If it was it was a dashed convenient one!” answered Randolf robustly. “I can’t believe in a coincidence so helpful to the Snotingaham clan. Unless they had separate intelligence of the Lunenwyc raid and decided to use it as cover for their own foray, it seems likely that the two clans have reactivated their old alliance. This goes far beyond the casual raiding we have had for the last while.”

One of the other Elders looked at him, violet eyes glinting in the firelight.

“What do you think that means, Randolf?” she asked. Randolf nodded soberly towards her.

“It means we must prepare ourselves. We are at war.”


Fritha, Aetheswyth and Cerneric can be found on my stall in Oswestry Market and in my online shop on this website

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