Understandably, people were having some difficulty with aspects of my story about Herensuge’s journey with his 7 sisters. This “prelogue” is by way of explanation. Functioning as a prelude and partial epilogue, this story is a “fill in some gaps” exercise and a thought piece should I ever expand this to a longer story including Ledda’s return to the wilderness to raise the nestlings with Herensuge.
In dragon lore, the practice began with the rise of man. Never content, ever striving humankind forgot the connective energy between all things and nature. A dragon’s heart has always beat to the pulse of the earth. Guardians and stewards of the environment, dragons became concerned at the rate by which human folk consumed all that was natural around them. After a high council, it was decided to use an enchantment granted to the dragonkind by a powerful mage a millennial ago. Until a nestling came of age, it could take human form. Thus, it could be exchanged for a human child – a changeling. A dragon in the midst of human folk. The human child became a thing of nature, well tended and cared for within the dragon’s wilderness and lairs.
If their nestling was well-treated, if the people of that place respected the earth, then the dragon-to-be could chose to remain in human form, but with the heart of a dragon. Someone to see wrongs righted, to protect the children and the earth. The human children came of age in the natural world of dragons and knowing no other, celebrated as their siblings elsewhere might.
Any mistreatment or disrespect to or sensed by the changeling meant when that nestling came of age, a dragon with wild emotions and an untamed spirit emerged. Perhaps a vengeful dragon or a playful one, but a dragon none the less. Man’s fear of what he could not tame or understand caused him to strike out – and the dragon to strike back. Some nestlings now dragons escaped, their home lair imprinted upon them. With a roar, and a great flap of wings, off to home and wilderness.
For the humans, there rose the dilemma of how to discern the changelings from the rest. There was no dragon test, such as there were tests for witches. No measuring stick, no indication until it was too late, until the inner dragon had been unleashed. A child might be fey – but that alone a changeling did not make. No brimstone burps. No errant wing deployments or attempts to leap off high places. No affinity to gargoyles on cathedrals.
Town councils, in some cases, hired mercenaries skilled in the art of clearing dragon’s nests and recovering children to solve the problem. With the human children returned, the changeling could be dealt with.Or all children coming of age were locked in gaols or dungeons til the birthday passed. Other places, exiled – allowed back only if appeared “human” in nature, spirit, and form. These did not bear the strong heart of the dragon; yet humans remained blind to this telling feature.
Thus was the way between humankind and dragonkind when, under instructions from his dying parents, Herensuge set out on his journey with his seven sisters. For JD’s Microfiction Challenge Journey