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Draconic ep.5 “Symphony Of Destruction”

The following is a fictionalized version of natural and human history. All that is not solid fact is a product of the author’s imagination.


Romania…

1543 CE…

Late autumn…


The mountain air was cold as ever. It seemed to sink its fangs deep into her, wrapping her up in its frigid and unfeeling coils. And she loved it.


The dragon continued to fly over the rocky and snowy peaks, totally at peace in her little corner at the edge of the world. She was an adult mountain dragon. A Romanian devil, to be exact.


Dragons as a whole are now critically endangered with only a few species of mountain dragon surviving in the most remote corners of the planet. Even then, they are still hunted for any number of reasons. These Romanian devils are the largest European species. And they are the most threatened of all mountain dragons. 


The wild herds of mammoths and sheep they once fed on have either been tamed or exterminated by man, depleting the precious food source. Not only that, but these Carpathian fliers are also persecuted under the belief that they are vermin or emissaries from hell. This female is one of the last of her kind.


The dragon continued to fly over the frigid spires, calm and elegant as ever. But this grace hid a natural system at work. 


It’s mating season, and the female has come into heat for the first time in her life.

She dove towards a large spire and then latched on to it with her clawed hands. Then, she began to scent-mark. This is a crucial part of these dragons’ way of life. If a female doesn’t mark her territory, a male will never know she lives there and may miss her. 

The female began to scent-mark the huge sharp rock using the scent glands located near her cloaca. A rancid yellow fluid suddenly splattered on the stone. To a human, it would smell like a dirty lizard cage left under a heat lamp. But to a male mountain dragon, it smelled like love. She finally left the rock and continued her afternoon stroll, flying over the mountains with the grace of an eagle and the speed of a bullet.


The next day…


SKREEEE!!! The female awoke to a thunderous screech. She stood up and began to lumber out of her frigid lair which was made up of a system of ice caves that were deep inside the mountain. Finally, she arrived at the mouth of the cave and saw what she suspected was the source of the noise: A small speck with two tiny appendages on the sides was flying over the mountains. This is a male mountain dragon. 


However, this is an African mountain drake, a distant relative of the Romanian devil. But their similar appearance might make you think one is the same as the other. However there are subtle differences. The horns of an African mountain drake are longer and sharper than those of their Romanian counterparts. And the colors of males are far more subdued with browns and grays meant for camouflage. But Romanian devils have many varieties of green patterns, ranging from dark to light. But the biggest difference is that these African behemoths are far larger, an adaptation for hunting big game like elephants and rhinos. But a male dragon is better than no male dragon.


The female sprung out of her cave and took flight, her wings flapping and carrying her toward the new arrival. This is the first time she has ever seen a male dragon, let alone a nomadic colossus from the far south. She was cautious yet excited at the same time. And the way the male flew was charming yet off-putting. He had the elegance of a butterfly yet the might and gravitas of a tiger. But something inside them both seemed to bring them together like magnets. Then they began a ritual that their kind has done for millions of years. A ceremony that started way back in the Jurassic and has endured the test of time.


They flew ever higher, circling each other with the grace of ballerinas. A smooth spiraling climb with near perfect synchronization and choreography. Finally, once they were almost above the peaks of the tallest mountains, they lunged at each other and locked talons. They tucked their wings, flipped over, and dove down at lightning speed, slowly barrel-rolling as they plummeted toward the ground. This is the ultimate test of faith. At any moment, fear could take over and cause one of them to let go. But they didn’t. Their hearts beat fast and lungs worked overtime. Their minds raced with a million thoughts a second. Yet they stayed together, natural instinct overriding the paralyzing fear. Frigid wind whipped past them, making it feel like they were on the deadliest roller coaster. They were like winged bullets that raced toward the ground, performing the final act of something akin to a heavy metal ballet.


Finally, before they slammed into the rocky and snowy floor, they separated, spreading their wings and catching the air just in time to lift them above the ground at breathtaking speeds. And then they both let out a huge blast of fire, a stream of flame that scorched the rocks black and even melted some of them. It was a testament to their bond, a charred and smoldering sign of trust.


Two months later…


The female looked on at the nest. Just as crocodiles lay their eggs in mounds of active compost, mountain dragons lay their eggs in little structures made of rocks. But these rocks retain heat well, creating the perfect incubator for their eggs. The female’s tongue was covered in sensors like a snake’s. But these were specialized to sense temperature. And right now, the female could tell that her eggs were dangerously cold.


FFffwwwoooossshhhh… The mother let out a small stream of flame akin to a blowtorch. The eggs inside quickly warmed up. As in sea turtles, the sex of a dragon embryo is heavily influenced by temperature. Warmth yields more males and cold yields more females. However, an imbalance in the sexes would be yet another heavy blow to this species. So the mother warms them, solely focused on the survival of her eggs but unknowingly altering the course of natural history.


The male had left a long time ago, abandoning his suddenly aggressive mate for the prospect of having more offspring. And maybe, just maybe, having a bit more fun. No matter, the female could raise the eggs on her own. It’s what her species was designed to do. But raising a family without a father would be many times harder. And now that she would soon have mouths to feed, it would only get worse.


It was as if the mother dragon had already leaped off the proverbial ledge and had begun her free fall to hell. But it was up to her whether she went bent and broke to the will of the fates or went out in a fiery and bloody spectacle.


Right! So, let’s review this a bit because we made a major time jump.

To simplify, the only reason mountain dragons survive is because they managed to make their home in one of the most inhospitable biomes on Earth. All while other dragons like the Galapagos sea dragon and the scarlet wendigo of Canada were wiped out by humans. And these Romanian devils, or at least the female we focus on, are about the size of a rhino or elephant. Something else I forgot to mention is that mountain dragons now naturally produce fire and it’s not the blowtorch of the Bengal forest dragon. This is the last remnant of the bioweapon of mass destruction that had evolved in the Early Cretaceous. They essentially do this by heating up their stomach acids until they release that same gas. However, when it comes into contact with air, it combusts and becomes a huge jet of flame. The forest dragons had the same thing but their environment didn’t require them to spit jets of flame. Next episode is the finale and we won’t have another time jump.

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