And now I'm continuing the story even further....
I flew, my dragon wings pounding, to the Cave, my full-dragon species'* home, situated under a large mountain. I landed just outside and sett my prey down gently on a rock. The female two-leg just sat there, pale and shivering. "Be still," I teled** her. Her eyes widened, not being to to having someone tele her, and she sat still for the moment. But she soon started fidgeting. "Still!" I teled her again, growling and puffing smoke. I put a brain-freeze on her, slowing her mind until she entered a coma by taking control of her mind (it only works on small animals and humans). Then gripped her shirt with my teeth and entered the Cave. I ducked under the first stalactites, then, as the ceiling slowly rose higher, I straightened little by little until I entered the Main Hall. It rose at least a hundred feet into the air an stretched the same horizontally.
Gahmor, the air-head of the breed, walked up to me, gold scales shining, licking her lips as she smelled the little human. "A treat?" she teled, obviously not remembering what night it was.
"It's the Giving tonight, Gahmor." Any cub(?) would know that, I added secretly.
"Oh. Right. Duh." She made a gagging sound, which was her version of giggling, and followed behind me.
(Here's a little more-okay, a lot more-)
We traveled the great length of the Main Hall, passing many branches leading to homes of all sizes. I didn't stop when we reached mine; my scales were shiny enough already from flying through the misty clouds, and my serrated claws were still well sharpened. I was ready.
As we reached the end of the Main Hall, we entered the Narrow, the part of the cave that forced everyone to walk slowly and single-file so as to avoid large masses of enemies to attack the other end at once. Awwag and Stree, the red-scaled twins, were waiting at the far end of the Narrow, that day's guards to the Entrance.
"Nightfall," Awwag, the one on the right and the larger of the two (just a little bigger than me), hissed. Yeah, he didn't really like me. He purposely swung his large armored tail across the Entrance, blocking my way in.
"Aw, shake a wing, Awwag," Stree teled and groaned. "Everyone's allowed inside tonight." Awwag huffed, but didn't move.
"Seriously, Awwag, I will make you move if you don't do so of your own will," I tele to him, knowing with some satisfaction that, as I was older and had already received the gift of Fire, and as he was not of age yet, I could easily leave him singed and smoking in some dark corner.
His hard gaze never left mine as he slowly, slowly drug his tail across the floor, scraping the rock with his scales and widening the gap to which I would cross. As I walked pass, he made a gesture at me, scraping three claws through the air towards my neck, stopping before he got too near. It was no petty insult, and extremely rude.
"Do that to me in front of the Maw tonight, and you'll never feel the warmth of your own flame," I tele, huffing smoke to bring my point across.
The Entrance was a massive, pie-shaped rock, standing on its side like a circular door. It reached from ceiling to floor and side to side, a hundred feet long either way. Several engravings, plus the names of all past Maws, etched the surface in a beautiful pattern. It represented years of careful carving done by the finest artisans, plus it numbered the years our race had been under one leader, after the Chaos, the dark times.
Stree and Awwag pressed the center, releasing a lever, which then lowered it slowly, supported by a series of ropes and rocks. It landed with a thud. As the ceiling was fairly here, we flew over the giant rock, not stepping on it as was customary. To walk on the door meant having no respect for the names written there. As the giant door raised behind us, I stopped a moment, always awed by the sight of the Hollow.
The Hollow was a huge room, stretching so far the eye could barely see either side, much less the ceiling. It was populated by hundreds of depresses in the ground for dragons to lay, as large groups were often needed for the goings-on that put this place to use. Already many dragons filled the holes. At the far end was the Maw's throne, a large rise in the ground with a flat top for the matron to rest.
And on top lay the Maw herself. She was small for her age, like me, but made up for it with a strong look and equally firm personality. She wore the deepest green scales ever seen, a rare scale color in itself. On her head she bore a silver diadem, and on her tail a silver spike. Since we were at a formal gathering, she also wore her armor, thousands of silver scales mimicking her own so as to provide easy movement. But, personally, I also thought that she wore the armor because of what was to happen, considering what had happened in the past. Behind her a little ways was a silver gong.
At the bottom of the throne was the Ring, a large circle of special white sand--crucial for the event to come--and in the center sat a young purple dragon, soon to be joined my Awwag and Stree. I flew to a larger depression, just to the left of the throne, setting down my prey. Along with her, there were two large deer and a bear, also in a trance. I surreptitiously glanced at some of the others as I displayed my prize in front of them; catching a human wasn't always easy for younger dragons, as humans usually watched over the younger ones with the utmost care. I was going to get some notice and praise, for sure. I quickly looked up at the Maw, but she didn't seem to notice me. She was looking straight ahead, waiting for the twins to finish with the door after letting everyone in. I set the girl down with the animals and settled in a place a little ways from the Ring; I was smart enough not to get too close.
When everyone was inside the Hollow, the twins set the door upright, supporting it with several large stones. Then the flew to the Ring, joining the other dragon in the center and looking up at the Maw.
The mistress stood, then thwacked the gong with her spike, sending all growls and grunts into silence. "On this night," she teled everyone at once, "we once again celebrate the glory of the Young becoming one of us. We come to see the skill and worth of these young ones. We will see if we have trained them well, have taught them everything needed to live and prosper. Everyone, welcome to the Giving." There was no cheering, no stomping, just silence. To the Maw, such things were pointless; we all knew what she was going to say, anyway. She did the same thing every moon-cycle there were one or more young dragons of age to receive the Gift.
"Please ready yourselves, my students." The Maw gestured, and three large, white dragons stepped forward, each carrying a small set of armor. The Young fitted themselves into them, then turned to face the Maw again, each at the edge, waiting. Pleased, she then readied herself. Carefully, she blew a stream of greenish fire into the center of the Ring, heating it until it was searing hot. "Eat," she commanded, and the Young, hesitantly, stepped forward. Awwag was the first to open his mouth and chomp down on the hot sand. He swallowed quickly, then let out a loud roar of pain as the sand scorched his throat. The others did the same, then ate a few more bites, until the Maw signaled for them to stop. "They now have the mighty gift of Fire, for they have eaten the heated Sand. Let us see if they can put this gift to good use. The rules: Do not pass outside of the Ring of Sand. Maiming is allowed, but do not kill. You may fly, but you must still stay within the boundary. To win, your opponents must surrender. If they are justly beaten, yet refuse to surrender, they will have their Gift taken away. Anyone who kills another will also have their Gift taken away. Go."
The young dragons were a little caught off guard by the sudden order, but quickly obeyed. Awwag slammed his body into the purple dragon, which clawed at his wings. Stree, testing his new Gift, sent a ball of reddish flame towards Awwag, who jumped and flew away before it hit him. Sparks flew everywhere, and the dragons closest to the circle were rained with little balls of fire. The other dragon scrambled away, getting its tail armor heated by the fireball. Enraged, it charged Stree, who sent another ball of flame towards the angry dragon and flew upwards. At the moment he'd forgotten about Awwag. the big dragon crashed on top of him, sending them both to the ground with a thump. They wrestled, but Awwag pinned his brother under him. The purple dragon then clawed Awwag's back, making him shriek and fly aside. The Young purple one started scratching Stree tearing large gashes in his wings. The smaller twin yelped, scratched his attacker's eye, then sent a small wave of fire over the wounded Young spraying the audience again. Awwag finished the job by picking up the purple one, flying to the center and dropping him onto the still-hot sand. The little dragon wailed, but before he could flap away, the larger dragon pinned him to the ground. "I surrender!" the poor dragon teled, even before being asked. Awwag looked up at the Maw, and she nodded. He let go, and the little purple dragon flew past the boundary to one of the white dragons, which took his armor off and flew him to a tub of water laying nearby.
Stree, having been nursing his wounds, stood and awaited his remaining opponent. In a flash, Awwag had Stree tightly pinned to the ground. "Surrender," he teled, snarling.
"Not yet," Stree answered as he blew hot fire into his twin's face. Awwag stumbled backwards, howling, and Stree wrapped his tail around Awwag's front leg, yanking him to the ground. Then Stree placed his two front paws around the big dragon's neck.
"Surrender?" Stree was almost purring as, Awwag having been stunned by the sudden blast of fire. nodded. (I'm going to continue a little later....)
(And later is now-)
Stree slowly get Awwag stand. The larger dragon looked at his little brother with utter hate, then backed away, blowing smoke reddish from his snout and mouth. I seriously expected Awwag to win, out of strength, which was all he really had. Maw must have thought the same, for she raised her head a little in surprise. Then she grunted an approval at the outcome of the fight. She then proceeded to tele, "I am proud to announce the winner of the duel. Stree, son of Storm, congratulations. You three are no longer Young; you are now officially one of us. Welcome. You three may proceed with the meal." They would now prepare what the others, including me, caught for the special night, by using their new Gift, and then they would eat as one of the group. The three contestants, the purple wincing in pain as it joined the others, gathered around the hole with the live prey.
"Stop!" The voice was real; it wasn't teled. We all turned around to face a small figure standing alone on this side of the Entrance. I recognized him immediately. It was the other human that I'd seen when taking my prey.
I'll have to do more later....
*There are several half-dragon, half- something species around, but Nightfall's is 100% dragon.
**I made up the word tele; it's when someone uses telepathy; it's pronounced the same as tell; and the past-tense is teled (tell-EHD). :)