"Gather around young ones, it's time." Fedrick says as we all crowd him excitedly. The old master kneels down and pats the mother dragon lovingly, "Who will be first to charm then?" Each ten-year-oldlooked at each other warily, testing to see who will have enough courage to practice the skill that will bind a dragon to us. Six precious eggs lay curled in the mother dragon's tail and one of them will be my partner for the rest of my life. The thought of volunteering first goes through my head as I start to raise my trembling hand, but the boy next to me shoots his up, "I'll go Elder Feldrick!"
"Very good Theron. Come over here and pick an egg." I roll my eyes as Theron walks up to the massive she-dragon. He has been my competion since we were born. Our families were very good friends, but Theron and I have never gotten along. He was always competing with me over everything! Who could run the fastest, who could learn to charm the best, who could train the hardest, everything. It didn't surprise me that he would throw himself in first. I watch as he warily walked up, slowly took an egg and placed it on the hatching table. The mother dragon didn't seem upset as she quietly licked her leg.
"All right Theron, are you ready?" He nodded his head, sunkissed hair falling slightly into his face as Elder Fedrick took out his walking stick and tapped the egg three times. To our amazement the egg started to move. It's green speckled shell cracking lightly as Theron placed his flute to his lips and started playing the song he had created. If the hatchling is responsive, it will walk over to Theron and start to hum along with the melody, if not, then he will never have a dragon compainon. It is tradition in our village,when you reach the age of ten, you must try to find your life partner.I've only heard of very rare cases in which a dragon wasn't responsive. That was the worst hell I could have imagined, living the rest of your life in utter emptiness.
We all held our breaths as Theron played a quick, spirited melody. I was surprised at the skill he displayed as the melody sounded so much like him. Theron was lean, quick and firey, always ready to race or hunt. It made sense that his tone would match his spirit so well, but still it was amazing to hear it actually put out into song. The egg cracked and a small, horned head popped out. There was cooing from the group of girls that always followed him around as I watched the tiny red dragon crawl out of the discarded egg. It spread it's tiny wings that were still soaked with membrane and let out a small squeak. Theron played louder and the hatchling started to walk over to him.
"There you go, keep playing." Elder Feldrick encouraged as the small dragon watched Theron play. It closed it's eyes and started listening to the music before it straightened up and started humming the tune. Theron stopped playing and smiled a wide grin. Everyone clapped and I let out the breath I was holding. Even though Theron and I didn't get along very well, I wouldn't have wanted something as awful as rejection to be on him. That is one of the loniest things a person can have happen, to never meet their soul partner and spend the rest of their lives wandering around uncomplete.
"Very good Theron. Now ask your dragon his name." Theron put his flute away and held out his hands for the hatchling to leap into. Placing his hand on the dragon's head he closed his eyes and listened. The bond was forming between them already as he suddenly gasped, "Shija, that's his name, Shija." There was more applause from the class as Elder Feldrick patted Theron's shoulder, "Very well, Theron, Shija, you are one in spirit. Go forth." Theron bowed and walked proudly back to the group to watch the others meet their dragons.
"Now, who wants to try?" Feldrick asked as a few more brave hands raised. I raised mine as well as he called, "Amy, why don't you give it a go?" I smiled until I felt a tug on my hair, "Try not to mess it up fire cracker." Theron said as I glared and smacked his hand away. That was one of the things that he made fun of me for all the time. My hair was red, not the normal auburn like my father, but a bright, firey red. I was always shy about it and Theron felt the need to exploite that as much as humanly possible.
"I'm not going to mess up jerk face." I said as I turned on my heel and walked up to the mother dragon. She looked my way, and purred lightly before placing her head back down. I walked over, brushed my skirts away to bend down and scoop up an egg before placing it on the hatching table. I took a moment and stroked the smooth speckled shell, wondering what little being laid inside. Elder Feldrick tapped the egg three times and said, "Begin."
Taking out my flute, I started playing the melody I had been working on for months. In order to discover your life song, you have to meditate on it and let it flow through you. Mine represented my spirit as Theron's did for him. It was a smooth, slow melody. While Theron's was like fire, mine resembled a walk through the forest as it lifted into the air. I opened one eye and saw the egg cracking. Working hard to keep the beat as my heart was racing, I watched as the small dragon emerged. Closing my eyes, I came to the climax of my tune as the music flowed around me. Then I heard it, the small voice that matched my tune.
"Wonderful." Feldrick said asI removed the flute from my lips and looked at my partner. She was beautiful! More beautiful than I could have imagined. A small, light blue dragon with eyes that resembled ice stared up at me lovingly. I held out my arms for her to leap into as I placed my fingertips to her head, "Hello little one." I think as I hear a voice that should have belonged to an adult come into my mind,"I've been waiting for you. What is your name?"
"Amy, and your's dear one?" The dragon nuzzled closer as the woman's voice responded, "Lena." I opened my eyes and smiled, "Her name is Lena." There was a happy clapping, but I didn't hear it. All I could focus on was the small creature in my arms. Never had I felt so much love in all my life. I walked over to the group holding the hatchling that was about the size of a cat in my happy arms. A few more students went and had the same experience I did until one girl made all of us gasp.
"I....I don't understand....." She said as Elder Fedrick frowned, "Oh my." We watched as the small dragon turned it's back on her and walked over to his mother. I couldn't believe it, I knew this girl. Her name was Sarah, a shy, pretty girl who never really made much of a fuss about anything. She always sat in the back of the class and never really stood out, but to have a dragon regect her? There was a deafening silence as we all watched her world fall apart. The small dragon stepped a few more steps and stretched it's wings before roaring loudly. The mother dragon looked at her baby just as confused as the rest of us. The small dragon curled up and died there in the dust.
"But...but...why?" She asked as Elder Fedrick placed a wrinkled hand on her shoulder, "I don't know. I'm sorry. You're life song repels dragons, you don't belong here." She looked at all of as we stood with our life partners sleeping soundly in our arms. She was expelled from our classes, she would never enjoy the feeling of touching the sky. Not only that, Sarah would never feel whole in her life. I started crying for her and Lena woke up, "What's wrong Amy?" Her voice entered my mind.
"She was rejected." I explained as Lena gasped, "Oh no...." I cried and Lena cried with me, feeling my pain. Sarah looked at all of us and turned her head down, black hair shadowing her face as she walked down the many steps, back to the village. Elder Fedrick picked up the dead hatchling and placed him next to his mother who curled her tail around it, hurting in her own way. He took a breath and turned to us, "As you all have seen, this is a sad day indeed. Not all are blessed with the charm and if something happens to your dragon, you feel it as well. The only reason Sarah didn't die was because this dragon didn't bond himself with her. You now share a bond with your life partner that will be more strong than anything in this world. Take care of them, love them and they will do the same. Go my students, class is over."
We all walked down the stairs in silence, this should have been a joyful occasion, but we all felt for our friend. I looked up ahead to see her telling her parents. Her mother knelt down and embraced her, sharing Sarah's tears. Lena and I passed by trying not to cry for her anymore, she would be an outcast for the rest of her life.
Six years have passed since that day. I am a woman of sixteen and Lena is in her adulthood. Fully grown, she stands twelve feet tall and about fifteen feet long. I pat her lovingly, "Today is the day Lena. It's time to fly."