Gorod watched the dragon breathe on her eggs with fascination. The stream of fire was thin, and had hues of gold, blue and green in it. The eggs glowed and pulsated. They must be ready to hatch pretty soon.
"Come on Gorod, I'll show you the hole to the meadow."
Talos grabbed the younger boy's sleeve and pulled him toward the back of the cave. Gorod's head turned back to watch the dragon as he walked.
"Is she dangerous, Talos?"
"She's a dragon. I suppose she is, It's in her nature. I've watched her from the mouth of this cave, but I've never seen her prey on humans or their animals. I suppose she chooses not to hurt us."
Gorod followed behind, his young eyes opening wide with curiosity and interest at everything that he saw. The main cave area was enormous, but it got slightly smaller the further back they went. Talos appeared to be following a long beam of light that played and eddied along the floor.
"Where is that light coming from Talos?"
"It's coming from the hole in the wall. The daylight glimmers off the stones in the floor. After sunset, there are rock formations hanging from the ceiling that glow in the dark."
Gorod took a closer look at the stones that he was walking on. They glowed white or green, some were blood red. Some were blue.
"What are these stones? I've never seen anything like them."
"I suppose they're precious stones, diamonds and the like. Dragons are known to have great treasures in their caves."
Talos continued walking on the glittering stones, with no more care than if the floor was solid dirt.
"How did you get here Talos?"
"Her ladyship rescued me from the wolves on the mountain. My father was a shepherd. I went up to the high pasture with him to bring down the sheep and their spring lambs, but we couldn't find any. There were only mangled carcasses. The wolves had eaten them all."
Gorod stopped a moment to catch his breath. Talos stopped also.
"What happened after you found the dead sheep?"
"My father was furious! He started a big fire and pulled what was left of our sheep a small distance away, then we waited for dark. When the wolves came for the sheep, my father shot flaming arrows at them with his long bow. He killed many, but they kept coming down from the mountain.
" It had been a harsh winter, and they were starving. In the end, they over ran us. My father was killed, and I would have been too, but her ladyship swooped down and set the wolves on fire with her breath. She picked me up as she picked you up, and brought me here."
"How long have you been here?"
"Two full seasons."
They finally arrived at the farthest reach of the cave. There was a spot of glowing light about three feet off the floor. Talos went to it and knelt beside it. Gorod followed him and knelt also.
"I've tried reaching through to the other side, but the loose stones keep coming down. If I hold up the stones, do you think you can squeeze through?"
Now that Gorod was not in the full glare of the daylight coming through the hole, he could see that the opening might just be big enough for him.
"Alright, I'll try."
Talos put his upper body into the light and blocked it off as he reached his right arm through the hole.
Gorod dove through the opening without thinking. There were a barrage of small stones that covered him, but they were neither big, or sharp. When he was all the way through, he somersaulted onto the grass.
"You did it, you did it!" Talos cried with joy. "Now take all the loose stones away."
Gorod removed the loose stones by handfuls as Talos did the same from his side. Finally, both boys stood in the bright sunlight of the meadow.
The ground shook for a moment, and the dragon's eyes and snout appeared in the opening. Talos laughed and ran to her.
"We did it your ladyship! Now I will get you some fruit."
He patted the part of her snout that protruded from the hole, and ran toward the nearest tree. Its' limbs hung low, heavy with fruit.
Gorod tilted his head and looked at the dragon curiously. He rather liked her face. It looked...kind, somehow. He smiled and ran after his friend.
He caught up to Talos, who was picking ripe fruit off the tree.
"I'll bring these to the lady. She likes fruit."
Why doesn't she fly down into this meadow and get all the fruit she wants? For that matter, why didn't she open the hole for you from this side.?
"I don't know for sure, but I think this meadow is enchanted. Maybe it won't let dragons, or any other predators into it."
"How do you know this, Talos?"
"I just do. I've always been able to see what's going to happen a little ahead of time. I knew about the wolves and the sheep. I knew that father might die. I ran after him, tried to pull him back, He wouldn't listen. He said that if the wolves were that bad, then he had to protect the village."
Talos spoke about his father with deep sadness. Gorod remembered his own father and brother, wondering if they had set out to find him.
When their arms could not hold any more fruit, the boys took their bounty to the dragon, who watched quietly from the opening. They set their arm loads down in front of her, and she picked one up delicately, munching slowly.
Each boy took a fruit and began to eat as well. It was sweet and filled with juice. It slaked not only their hunger, but their thirst as well.