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 Dragon Feathers!?! - #4

Science FictionSherlyn Meinz
AlienLove Staff Writer

The following day, Aunt Hildie again surprised Bianca with the announcement that it was time to meet a “few” other dragons. Bianca was wild with excitement, Annaw was no less pleased. Wilanona seemed even more delighted than the others, they could hear her singing. Of course, it was her suggestion, after all. It had been a while since she had had the chance to frolic with other dragons, now that Hildie was getting older, they traveled less. Aunt Hildie called Bianca’s parent’s and told them they were going to be spending the day at a Fair. Since things seemed to be going so well, Bianca’s parents eventually agreed to let her stay with Hildie for the rest of the week.

Bianca and Annaw were extremely impatient to go, Annaw flying around the house squawking, “Hurry, hurry”, only causing Aunt Hildie to become more distracted and dithering. Eventually, however, they got off. As they closed the door behind them, standing on the porch, Bianca wondered aloud, “Where do dragons hold a Fair? And how ever are we going to get there?”

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Hildie laughed, “Remember Bianca, I told you that dragons can carry riders. Annaw is obviously far too small to be ridden, but Wilanona can easily take both of us and Annaw too if she tires!” As they walked out to the back yard, Wilanona alighted eagerly, her front leg outstretched like a ramp.

Bianca was a bit taken aback at how spryly Aunt Hildie leapt up on Wilanona’s back. The child was slightly more hesitant, but Wilanona’s leg actually made for surprisingly easy mounting.

The child grabbed onto Hildie’s waist as Wilanona took off, her eyes closed for a moment, but then she consciously opened them - she didn’t want to miss a moment of this. She watched as the ground receded, but as Wilanona flew, her speed increased rapidly. Her neck provided a good wind shield, and soon the ground was no more than a blur.

When Wilanona began slowing, they were far above the ground, and it was hard for Bianca to make out where they were. As the large dragon slowly spiraled downward, the land below became clearer – a enormous, mountain-enclosed canyon. A medium-sized dragon flew in tandem with them for a few moments, singing a greeting. Soon Bianca noticed other dragons both above and below. The Fairgrounds were dotted with numerous dragons and people. But it was not like any Fair or Festival Bianca had ever seen or heard of before. There appeared to be contests, games and booths, some for dragons, some for humans, and some for partners, spread over the necessarily huge space – some of the older dragons were rather large.

For the first hour, Bianca walked around, most of the time, with her mouth hanging open. Annaw was not less impressed. Great Aunt Hildie was lively and excited as she met up with old friends, both human and dragon. They were all excited to be a part of this gigantic Dragonfest.

In one booth there was a woman who asked if Bianca had saved and brought any of the feathers Annaw had shed. She had not, besides, Annaw was too young to have done much shedding yet. The ancient woman told her to save the feathers when they fell, at the next festival a bracelet for Bianaca could be made from them. She whispered, “You know it is supposed to bring very good luck for both you and your dragon to wear a necklace or bracelet made of their birth feathers.”

Bianca smiled, she liked that idea. Before the question quite formed in her mind of whether there was something of hers that she could give to Annaw, the old woman continued, “Save your hair dear, from your hairbrush, and when you have it cut. I can make a bracelet or tassel of it for your dragon as well!”

Thanking the woman kindly, Bianca realized she had lost sight of Aunt Hilde. “This is my first time at a Dragonfest, I can’t see my Aunt anymore, I don’t think Annaw and I are quite ready to go it alone yet.” The woman smiled and shooed them off, adding, “Don’t worry child, your dragon will be able to find your aunt anywhere here.”

Indeed, Annaw led Bianca directly to her aunt, as the woman in the booth predicted. They spent hours walking the Fair, meeting and talking to others. There was only one other girl, and three slightly older boys, near as young as Bianca at the Dragonfest, with their partners. Aunt Hildie left them to get acquainted as the day wore on.

Hildie had some arrangements to make, that she didn’t want Bianca to know about. At Hildie’s age, one was never sure if they would awaken to greet the next morning. She wanted to make sure that someone else would be available to step in, if needed, in guiding Bianca. The child was much too young to go it alone for at least several more years.

Intent on her mission, Hildie didn’t notice until too late that she had crossed the path of some young dragons testing their flying skills. In her haste to get out of the way, she tripped and twisted her ankle. She cried out and Wilanona was immediately by her side.

Annaw squawked to get Bianca’s attention, pulling on her shirt to hurry her along. By the time she reached her aunt, there plenty of people available to help. Bianca felt terrible, as if she could have somehow prevented it. When Aunt Hildie saw her distraught face, she laughed. “Just what we needed, my dear! The sprain really isn’t too bad, but we might just be able to make this work in our favor. Perhaps your parents will let you stay for the summer to help me out, now that I am injured. What do you think? Would you like to stay the summer?”

Before Bianca could answer, a doctor interrupted with some ice packs and “dragon tea” to help with the pain. He then pulled Bianca aside and asked her how she would feel about spending the summer with her Aunt. Did she really want to do so? "Other arrangements could certainly be made," he told her, "dragonpeople take care of their own."

Bianca assured him that she would be very happy to stay with her aunt, that she had been worried about having to go back home too soon, when there seemed so much to learn. Her aunt was right, she realized, the situation provided a great opportunity for her to ask her parents’ permission to stay.

It was decided that the doctor would contact Bianca’s parents to update them on Hildie’s fall and to suggest that someone, perhaps her niece, should stay with her a while, till she was more able to get around.

To be continued...

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