Kira Rattles a Drakon
A Short Story
By IA Mullin
Kira froze at the edge of the meadow. She knew the forest was dangerous. Everyone in the village said so. There were wild cats and bears, poisonous plants, and other dangers that she could not foresee. There were even drakons, chimera, griffins, and cyclopes, although the adults didn’t believe in them. Still she had come into the forest. Grandmother would be furious if she found out. Grandmother had told Kira not to let the little kitten out of the yard, and if the kitten did get out, not to follow it into the forest. But she had. Rattles was a gift to her from her father, the merchant. She was her best friend and companion. They had to return before nightfall when Grandmother would come home.
Kira peered around the tree and watched the meadow carefully. She had seen Rattles come this way. She knew open meadows were even more dangerous than the trees. She couldn’t see anything moving, so very slowly, Kira took a step out of the trees into the tall grass. A deep growl shook the forest, seeming to emanate from the very ground. Kira clutched her chiton, trying to still her frightened trembling.
Slowly Kira turned and looked around the small field. Still nothing moved. No deer, no bears, no big cats. Not a hare or any birds. Even the insects had stilled. She took a step forward, and when the growl did not come again, she took another. Her only wish was to find her kitten and hurry back home.
A slight movement caused Kira to stop and look closely at the huge rock pile by the stream. An eye stared back. An enormous, poisonous green eye. A full grown Drakon’s eye.
Kira gasped and fell to the grass, hiding her face.
“Why have you come?” rumbled a deep grating voice.
“Please, Great Drakon, don’t eat me or turn me to stone,” Kira squeaked.
“That is not what I asked,” growled the Drakon.
“I’m sorry,” Kira stammered. “I was just looking for my kitten. She ran away into the trees and I want to take her home.”
“Stand up then and look. I will not harm you today.”
Kira was unsure. Everyone had always told her not to look a Drakon in the eye or he would petrify her. It was also known that young maiden was a favorite meal. Yet she had seen his eye already, and he had said he would not harm her.
Could he be trusted? Or maybe it was a trap?
Kira took a breath; she had to find her kitten. She raised her head just a little and looked more closely at the rocks.
“Oh!” she gasped in surprise and stood up. “You are beautiful!”
The great Drakon half lidded his eye, pleased with her reaction. She studied his sinuous body, easily longer than three trees were tall. His emerald green scales flecked with obsidian. His short powerful legs ending in sharp, curved black talons as long as her arm. His long finned tail wrapping around the large moss covered rocks. He was perfectly camouflaged. He flicked his green forked tongue at her and she flinched. She looked shyly at his head, a flattened wedge like a giant snake resting on the ground. His eye, larger than she was tall, had a black slit pupil dividing the great orb into two crescents. And there on the scaled ridge above his luminous gaze sat the black and copper kitten.
Kira covered her mouth with her hands in surprise, then giggled as the little tortoiseshell kitten wrapped her tail around her paws and started to purr. The Drakon’s eye narrowed to an angry slit.
“I see nothing funny! Why do you laugh at me? Am I not the most impressive creature you have ever seen?” the Drakon growled.
“Oh, yes you are, Great Drakon,” Kira replied seriously. “I only laughed to see such a tiny kitten content and proud to sit above your luminous eye. I did not mean to offend you.”
The Drakon relaxed, satisfied by the girl’s awe of him. He tried to study her more closely, but the creature on his head was blurring his vision.
“I do not like the way it is vibrating,” grunted the Drakon. “Get it off now.”
“Rattles, you silly little kitten, come down here,” Kira called sweetly.
Rattles stood and stretched, and then leaped lightly down the Drakon’s snout to the grass. The kitten rubbed around Kira’s ankles and mewed happily.
“Rattles? That is a strange name for a tiny creature. Why do you call it that?”
“I named her Rattles because of the way she stands with her back arched and her tail wiggling up in the air when she wants attention. Like now,” Kira answered smiling at the kitten’s antics.
“Silly creature indeed,” muttered the serpent sourly.
Rattles ran through the grass, chasing shadows. Kira smiled as she watched. The playful kitten swatted a flower. A slight breath from the Drakon sent the flower swaying. Rattles crouched, golden eyes wide, watching the flower. Then pounced, attacking the flower with claws and teeth, before bouncing back again into the tall grass to hide. Kira laughed as another slight breath brought the kitten back to once again attack the flower.
The Drakon looked as if the activity was foolish and annoying, yet continued to blow the flower several more times to entice the kitten to play. Finally tired of the game, Rattles ran to the Drakon and rubbed her length along his sleek jaw.
“She likes you,” Kira smiled.
The Drakon flicked his tongue out tasting the air. He liked the girl’s smiles and laughter. His warm huff of breath lifted Kira’s golden hair and sent it wafting back from her face in a fine golden spray. Kira laughed unafraid as Rattles twined around her legs, once again mewing for attention.
“Great Drakon,” Kira said hesitantly. “I see you here, and I have been told your kind and others are a danger in the forest. The adults of my village tell stories of you but I can tell they do not really believe you exist. How can they not believe?”
“Adults can only see what they want to see, child. They are afraid I might be real and so they tell you stories so you will be cautious and safe. Yet they also fear me and so they tell themselves I am not real and do not recognize me if they see me. They do not wish to see me, so they do not.”
“But I was afraid, and I saw you. How am I different?”
“You and the other children are not yet as afraid of me. You wish to know if the stories are true. You are brave enough to seek out your fears, so you see me and believe.”
“If you are real, as I see you are, are the other creatures real too?”
“Perhaps, although we may not be what you expect. You will have to discover the truth for yourself.”
“Oh! I wish that I could meet many creatures if they were all nice like you.”
“I am not nice!” huffed the Drakon angrily. “I would eat you right now if I had not fed well this morning. The creatures of the forest are dangerous. Those stories hold some truth.”
“I am sorry. I suppose I should be more cautious.”
“Indeed you should, you have been amply warned. Now, go. Take that silly little creature home and leave me in peace. I wish to feel the last rays of sun on my scales before night comes,” the great serpent huffed irritably.
“Thank you, Great Drakon, for being merciful,” Kira replied quietly.
She scooped Rattles up in her arms and walked to the edge of the meadow. There she paused and looked back at the resting Drakon, his great eye half lidded. She smiled to herself, then turned and ran toward home, hoping to make it before the sun set.
“We shall meet again, little ones,” predicted the Drakon to the empty meadow.
He sighed contentedly feeling the sun on his scales and his gold buried beneath his belly. Gold was everything to a drakon. He spent his whole life gathering treasures to his hoard. Yet as he lay there, he thought of his visitors. They had not acted as he had expected. The kitten had been fearless and friendly. The girl had conquered her fear of him to the point that she spoke freely to him. They had surprised him, easily began to trust him, and even shown him a shy tenderness. He had made the choice to mark them with his breath. They were bound to him now, part of his beloved treasure.
He was confused about his quick decision. He was not prone to impulsiveness. So why did he feel so content to have claimed them? He pondered his feelings and reviewed his memory of the brief encounter. His whole body tremored in surprise as he realized that these two insignificant creatures might actually like him. They had enjoyed his company, and he was even more rattled to acknowledge his own feelings of fondness. Not just his greed to claim something so beautiful and golden as he had first assumed, but a true desire to share their companionship.
He lifted his great heavy head into the air and tasted his connections to the girl and her kitten. They had reached home safely and were happy. He knew their lives would be interesting, after all their fates were now irrevocably bound to his. Being bound to the fate of a magical creature was not always easy or pleasant. He was concerned that they might resent him, but had no doubt in his being that he had made the wrong choice. He was confident that they would be strong enough to overcome all the challenges life would throw in their path, and he would be with them to help them.
He sighed again content and drifted off to dreams full of new visions. Visions filled with his two new treasures. Rattles, the playful kitten with the bright golden eyes, and Kira, the brave, kindly girl with the hair of spun gold.