“Careful. It’s hot.” Connor warned holding onto something large wrapped in a white sheet in the palms of his hands. He held it out to his little sister and smiled at her as she took it into her own hands.
Rose stumbled at the weight as soon as her brother handed her the item.
“Sorry, it’s heavy too.” He said.
Rose stared at the sheet and squeezed the object trying to figure out what it was.
“Be gentle. You don’t want to break it. It will open at any moment now.” Connor said folding his arms over his chest. He leaned his back against the wall and watched Rose with the object proud.
“What is it?” Rose asked. She loosened her grip on the smooth, round object, but held it tight enough so that she wouldn’t drop it. If a gentle squeeze was enough to break the fragile object, she certainly didn’t want to drop it on the brick flooring.
“You’ll see.” Connor grinned from ear to ear. He clearly couldn’t wait for Rose to find out what it was. “I think you’re ready for this. You’re old enough to understand.”
Rose raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?” she asked.
At that very moment, the object began to shake slightly in Rose’s grip. She gasped suddenly afraid of what was going to happened. She held out her arms trying to give it back to brother.
“Connor, what is this? What’s going on?”
“You’re fine,” Connor reassured her.
“I’m going to drop it!”
“No you won’t.”
“Please, take it back. I’m going to drop it and then you’ll be mad at me.” Rose whimpered.
Connor shook his head. “I promise you’re not going to drop it. You would have done so by now. Rose, if I take it then it won’t be yours.”
“What are you talking about…?” Rose asked, her voice trailing off as the object shook so much that the white sheet fell off the object.
Rose gasped recognizing what it was. It was a shiny, gray oval with brown speckled spots all over it. It shook more violently now and Rose held it closer to her as she tried to keep it from jumping out of her arms.
“A dragon egg?” she looked up at her brother.
Connor nodded with a smile. “You’re hatching it and because of that, it will recognize you as its master.”
“But I didn’t hatch it.” Rose said.
“Well, I warmed it and took care of it for you, yes, but you’re holding it right now. The dragon will assume it was you.” Connor shrugged his shoulders.
Before Rose could say anything else, a piece of the egg shell cracked and dropped to the ground. A tail poked out through the hallow shell. Rose’s mouth gaped open in shock. Another piece broke off and fell to the floor as a claw poked out of the egg. She smiled. She was about to have her very own dragon!
Finally, the top of the egg cracked open and a long neck emerged. A small head slowly rose from the top and immediately turned to face Rose. Its mouth gaped open and its tongue lolled out of the corner playfully.
“It’s a Serpentail dragon.” Connor said. “It’s best known for its extremely long, powerful tail.”
Rose brought the egg over to the table and placed it down on the surface. The dragon stumbled out of the egg and fell flat on the table. Rose chuckled as he tried to pick himself up and stagger closer to Rose.
“His tail doesn’t look so long right now.” Rose observed. The dragon itself was pretty long, even though he was no bigger than Rose’s foot. His tail, however, was a stub.
“He’s a baby.” Connor replied. “The tail will grow as he grows. His tail will be the last thing to be fully grown because it’ll grow so long.”
Rose didn’t respond as she rested her arms on the table and put her chin down. She observed the dragon carefully taking in its smoky gray scales and bright yellow eyes. It tried to stand up on its hind legs, but fell forward immediately, thus resulting in crawling towards Rose. She could hear it purr louder as it got closer. She giggled.
“I think he recognizes you.” Connor said. “What are you going to name him?”
“How can you tell it’s a boy?” Rose asked.
“The stubby tail. Female Serpantails don’t have a tail at all when they’re first hatched.” Connor explained.
Rose sat up about to respond when the dragon leaned forward off the table. “Whoa!” Rose exclaimed catching him in the palms of her hands.
Connor laughed. “I think he was trying to make skin to skin contact, but you moved out of the way.”
“Oops,” Rose giggled. She lifted the dragon higher in her hands up to her face. He licked her nose and she laughed bringing him closer to her cheek where he head-butted her playfully before rubbing against her lovingly.
“For the first week or so, he’s going to need a lot of skin to skin with you. He recognizes you as your master giving you guys a good bond, but you two will grow closer the more you’re with him and handle him.” Connor said.
“Can he sleep in bed with me tonight?” Rose asked hopefully.
“Uh,” Connor stammered, “we’ll see. He’s going to need to get used to sleeping on his own.”
“But it’s a newborn. I don’t want him to get lonely.”
“I also don’t want him to discover his fire breath and set the house on fire.”
“Oh,” Rose slouched in her chair. She put the dragon back on top of the table and he waddled away on all fours exploring the surface of the rectangle table.
“So, what are you going to name him?” Connor asked again.
Rose leaned back in her chair again and watched her dragon with curiosity. “Well… he’s a smoky color. And you said he has fire breath?”
Connor shrugged. “Judging by his color, I assume he has fire breath. Some Serpentails have ice or water.”
“That one is rare.” Connor nodded. “We won’t know his powers and strengths until he discovers them himself, which could take a couple of weeks. But, as I said, his coloring hints at what his powers are. It’s very uncommon to have a gray dragon that shoots ice.”
“Cool,” Rose said amazed. “Connor, I want to be a Dragon Tamer just like you when I grow up!”
Connor grinned and patted his little sister’s shoulder. “If that’s what you really want, then I’m sure you’ll get there someday.”
Rose stood up from her seat. “I can’t wait to tell my friends that I have my very own dragon!”
“Hold up there, Rose.” Connor said frowning. He held up his hands trying to calm her. “You’re only 14-years-old. You’re not allowed to have a dragon until you’re 17. Until then, we’re going to have to pretend that he’s mine.” He pointed to the small dragon on the table.
The gray baby sat up straight on the table watching Rose and Connor as though he was listening and understood every word they were saying to each other.
Rose titled her head to the side puzzled. “So… Why did you give me a dragon if I’m not allowed to have one for another three years?”
Connor stared at her as though he was trying to think of a good enough answer. He finally sighed and then cracked a small smile. “I have my reasons, Rose. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.”
Rose narrowed her eyes and looked at her brother skeptically. “Connor… Is something wrong?”
“Not at all.” He said smiling bigger now. “I can’t explain it to you now, but I know you’re going to need this dragon as soon as you’re able to own one. By the time you need one, he’ll already be fully grown and you’ll have a wonderful bond with him.”
“I don’t understand.” Rose shook her head.
“I know and I don’t expect you to.” Connor said. “Enjoy him, Rose. You guys are going to make a wonderful team someday.”
“A team for what?”
Connor sighed. “You ask too many questions.”
“I’m entitled.” She said stiffly.
Connor chuckled. “I suppose so…” he grew serious again. “I’m not always going to be here to take care of you, Rose. You know that now I’m 18, I can be drafted at any time. The only reason the king won’t draft me is because I need to take care of you.”
Rose bowed her head. After their parents had died, Connor had to fight for his rights to take care of her. He had to fight to stick around long enough to watch her grow up until she was able to take care of herself. As soon as Rose turned 17, Connor would be 21 and for sure would be shipped off to fight for their kingdom.
“This dragon will protect you. You’ll take care of each other.” Connor said.
“But you’ll be back.” Rose said somberly. She sniffled, feeling the tears coming on, but she fought them back. “And you’re not leaving for a long time.”
Connor brought her into a hug. “No, I won’t be leaving for another four years. And of course I’ll be back. No enemy of our kingdom is going to get rid of me that easily.”
Rose couldn’t help but smile at her brother’s optimism. She wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head against his hard chest. She didn’t respond knowing there was no sense in worrying about something that was still four years away. Maybe the war would be over by then? Their kingdom has been fighting with the neighboring kingdoms for years now. Everyone in the village assumed the war would continue on for centuries. But, one could hope.
Connor rested his chin on the top of Rose’s head and rubbed her back. They remained like that for a little while, silent.
It wasn’t until Rose’s dragon managed to leap off the edge of the table, it’s small wings flapping frantically in the air in his attempt to reach Rose. He managed to land on her shoulder, but barely. He began to fall and Connor laughed, catching the baby in his palm. He lifted the dragon back onto Rose’s shoulder and pulled away from his sister.
“He wants to be included in this hug, I guess.”
Rose laughed shifting her gaze to her shoulder. “It would appear so.”
“So,” Connor folded his arms across his chest again, “for the third time, what do you plan on naming him?”
Rose looked up at the ceiling tapping her chin with her index finger deep in thought. Then she smiled wide and looked her brother in the eye. “I have the perfect name for him!”
Connor leaned forward silently prompting her to tell him. Rose, her smile growing, looked away from her brother and down at her dragon.
“Tyson. His name is Tyson.”
Tyson opened his mouth, his tongue flopping out, as though he was smiling as well. Rose and Connor laughed.
“I think he likes it.” Connor approved.
“Welcome to the family, Tyson!” Rose cheered.
Tyson squealed in response.