“Smell me? How rude!” chirps the voice. The branches of the palm tree flutter. “I happen to bathe quite frequently!”
“I wouldn’t be able to tell, with how you’re hiding up there. There’s no way for me to tell if you’re dirty or not,” responds WooFZee, ears flicking backwards in annoyance.
MeaZea nods. “He’s right, you know. If you would only come down for a little bit…”
Again, the branches rustle and shake and clack together. The hidden creature laughs – and then a bright green blur flings itself out of the tree and at WooFZee’s paws! The wolf scrambles backwards, kicking up sand as he goes.
It’s a dragon, small and serpentine. Her scales are so pale of a green that they almost look white, glinting in the bright sunlight. Two large wings sprout from behind her shoulders. They’re twice the size of her body! The dragon’s upper lips curl upwards, revealing two rows of very sharp teeth.
“See?” says the dragon. “I’m clean as can be! See? See?”
“I see,” laughs MeaZea, brushing hair out of her face. “I see a little dragon that’s very clean indeed. Who are you, little dragon? Do you have a name?”
The dragon puffs herself up in an attempt to look larger. “Little! I’m not little!” Then, after a moment, she adds, “…and my name is Antheum. You two, you’re both strangers to this land. What are you here for?”
“To explore,” answers WooFZee, with a slight wag of his tail. He’s very fond of dragons, even the small ones with large tempers. “We plan on traveling through the forest, Antheum. I’m WooFZee and this is MeaZea.”
The dragon narrows her dark green eyes. She flaps her wings once, twice, three times. “The forest, eh? Have you already found a guide?”
MeaZea and WooFZee give each other an unsure look.
“No,” answers MeaZea. “Do we need a guide?”
“You do. At least, you need one if you plan on avoiding a guardian,” responds Antheum. When the dragon snorts, faint plumes of pale green smoke curl up into the air.
There are many kinds of dragons in the world. Antheum isn’t a fire dragon. Oh, no, no, no. She’s a plant dragon – born of the leaves and the flowers and trees, meant to weave through close-knit branches and scamper among the tall grass.
“I’ve never heard of guardians,” whispers MeaZea, leaning in close to WooFZee. “Have you?”
The wolf shakes his heads. “I’ve only heard the stories that you have.”
“If you want,” says Antheum, loudly. “I can take you to the outpost by the sapphire stream? You can sometimes trade services there in exchange for a guide.”
MeaZea smiles at the little dragon. “That would be wonderful, Antheum. Thank you!”
But WooFZee narrows his eyes and lowers his head, until he is nose to nose with Antheum. “What kind of services?”
“Finding things,” responds Antheum, with gleaming eyes. It’s obvious that she isn’t saying everything. “And then bringing them back to the sapphire stream.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author