“I’m sure you have heard that men discovered fire long ago. That statement is doubly false, and I will teach you the true story, young one.”
The little girl snuggled against a warm golden side as a well-muscled tail curled protectively around her.
“But who discovered it then? The fire?”
The dragon hissed, revulsion giving its sunny eyes a molten spark.
“Fire begins with dragons, my dear. Always with dragons. It comes from within us and we decided to share it with the world. Well, a part of the world.”
The dragon’s heavy silence settled over both of them, it’s disappointment so thick, the little girl could almost taste the bitterness.
She bit a strand of hair, twirled it around one finger, and whispered, “What happened?”
The dragon snorted and snapped its jaws as small tongues of flame curled within its nostrils.
“The fire was a gift. I met a young woman once who was to be married off against her will—sold like cattle to the highest bidder.” The dragon’s focus settled on some unseen memory, and the girl felt it gently probing whatever old wound waited there.
“Her name was Elidi, and she was barely more than a hatchling, while the man was old enough to be her father. She stumbled into my lair, and to this day I do not know if she was trying to hide, or if she hoped I would eat her.”
The little girl sighed. “She must have been very sad to want either of those things.”
“She was. She cried like I have heard no one else cry in my very long life. I swore her heart poured out in her tears, like she was purging herself of all emotion. How else could she handle what was happening to her? And she, with no choice!” The dragons shook its red-maned head.
“I went to her and lay at her side. And when no more tears would come, I finally spoke to her.”
The girl whispered, “Was she scared?”
A wry chuckle trickled through fangs and scaled lips.
“No, child. She was more afraid of the arranged marriage, and that she had no voice in the matter.”
The little girl stroked the dragon’s scales, absorbing the story. “Then…what did you say?”
“I told her this was not the end—that I would gift her something to help her through; then I gave her power over fire. She held it in her hands and watched it dance across her palms. She did scorch her hair a bit, but only once.” A deep, rumbling laugh made the dragon’s sides heave up and down, bouncing the girl along with them. She giggled, swallowed up in contagious mirth.
“But then came the important part.”
“What’s that?” The girl held her breath.
The dragon curled its neck so it faced the little girl.
“I planted an ember in her soul. I told her it would light her way when the world was dark, and warm her when it was cold. That when things were tough, with a little fuel, she could ignite that ember and accomplish great things.”
The girls eyes shone with amazement at her friend’s story. “And then?”
“And then I explained that while the ability to hold and create fire was uniquely hers, the ember would pass through the generations to all women. Do you know what that means, little one?”
“That I have it in me, too?”
A gentle squeeze from its golden body spoke volumes.
“That’s right, child. And never forget that it is dragon fire burning in your soul. You will never be tamed. You will never be ruled. Ignite, my dear, and change the world.”
The dragon could feel happiness radiating from the small but fierce girl at its side. It heard the intake of breath and knew a question was coming.
“But, what happened to the old man she was supposed to marry?”
The dragon grinned ferociously.”I guess you could say he was the first man to truly discover what fire can do when tested.”