The Dark Times

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The Dark Times; Part 6

'A dragon's egg?' whispered Aituár, eyes wide in awe. She watched as the Licorne carefully touched the egg with the tip of his spiral horn.
'There is still life in it' said the unicorn's voice in her head.
'Will you nurse it?'

'What do you mean, nurse it? As in... as in hatch it? How? I don't even know what to feed a dragon!' said Aituár in despair.
'Just keep it warm, and make sure you are the first thing it sees when it breaks through the egg shell' said Licorne.

'But... but... what do they eat?' asked Aituár, as she wrapped the egg up in her woollen tunic and carefully put it into her shoulder bag.
'Anything' answered the unicorn, 'but it had better be something it can find itself once it has grown up. Be careful what you feed it, though. A dragon that eats stone will get a heart of stone!'

With a deep sigh Aituár reluctantly agreed to take care of the egg, despite the myriad of questions spinning around in her head.
'Is there anything more you can tell me about dragons?' she asked nervously.

'When they are born, all dragons are golden in colour, but later grow up to be either a red or a green dragon', answered Licorne.
'A green dragon can swim under water and has a nasty bite, a red dragon can fly and breathes fire - both of them have a nasty tail that can break through most things, even walls, once they have grown up.'

'Now we must hurry' said Licorne's voice in her head.
'Climb up on my back, but be careful with the egg!'

Aituár climbed up, and the unicorn trotted into one of the tunnels. This one seemed to lead upwards.

After an eternity of darkness, where the unicorn hadn't stumbled even once, Aituár could finally see light at the end of the tunnel. When they emerged, it was into a forest, with trees and soft grass and the sun shining through the leaves. Aituár felt relieved - this was so much better than the dark mountain!

'This is where we must part' said Licorne. 'I must go back, and you must go on'.

Aituár felt disheartened at hearing this, she had dreaded this moment, but she knew it was inevitable.
'Head south, and you will come to a village' continued the unicorn, 'where you will find shelter and friendly people'.

With this, he turned around and disappeared into the tunnel again. Aituár squinted up at the sun - probably midday. She started walking, with the dragon's egg heavy in her shoulder bag.

Suddenly Aituár stopped, sensing rather than hearing something in front of her. She hid behind a bush, and carefully parted the branches to peek through them.
'No use to hide, I know you are there!' said a deep voice.

Shaken, heart beating, Aituár stepped forward, and saw a strange sight; a bearded man who seemed to be winking at her, with two black ravens on his shoulder. Then she realized he wasn't winking - he was one-eyed!

'Uh - greetings stranger...' said Aituár nervously, in a feeble attempt to start a conversation with the odd apparition, whose single eye seemed to be zooming in on her shoulder bag.

'Me knows what you has there!' said the man, and this time Aituár was sure he was winking at her, 'but me is not telling anyone!'

With this, he suddenly disappeared - one minute he was there, and the next he wasn't.

Baffled Aituár looked around, but saw no trace of him. She shrugged, and then continued on her way, following what seemed to be a narrow path, but more carefully now - she didn't want to be taken by surprise again.

To be continued


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