Cozy Flash: “Dragon’s Choice”

The scaled creature hovered on iridescent wings near Pila’s hand, then flew up, carrying a piece of seasoned meat from her picnic sandwich. Pila and her father Jou watched it struggle to stay aloft amid drifting beile-fruit blossoms. The beile tree was a favorite camouflage of the tiny dragons, with petals almost as iridescent as their wings.

Pila lifted her palm. The dragon landed and ate the meat strip with its claws.

“Papa, is that what I think? I want to keep it!”

The dragon hissed.

“Your choice, sweetie,” said Jou. “But there are people who’d steal it away from you to study it for the secret of its fire, if anyone ever found out you had taken one from a Council Mage’s public conservatory.”

She cupped her hands, sighed, and released it back into a cloud of dragons secretly watching from the branches above.

“Well, can we at least come back for lunch here to visit it?”

Her father nodded in amusement, doubtful of seeing the little dragon again.

As they finished their lunch on the conservatory lawn, the dragon huffed with pride and boastful hisses about its fine choice in a new human pet.

“You all saw it. She was smart enough to bring me a meal offering without doing us harm,” it told its fellows. “None of the others did that. This clearly means she wants to stop being a feral beast and become a civil part of our society. I tell you, with my expert training, she may yet learn enough to be honored with the gift of inner dragon fire. Indeed, I may even enlighten her enough to sprout her own parietal visionary eye!”

They all huffed from the bottom of their inflated throats in laughter—all but the one with the round belly full of food offering from his soon-to-be domesticated human.

— Deborah Drake

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