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Tami scurried leisurely from the mayapple where they had found the plump acorn that was now bulging out their left cheek and headed towards the patch of trout lilies they had been eyeing. The juicy, slightly tart leaves would be a pleasant treat before they headed back to their hollow midway up the trunk of the old sycamore that had been Tami’s home for their entire life. They savored the leaves slowly, and then rooted around at their bases, being rewarded with a few spring beauty bulbs to munch on as well. There were even enough bulbs to stuff a few away in their right cheek.
After hibernating during the long snowy winter, there had been quite a lot of spring thunderstorms and flooding. Tami’s parent didn’t like to let them go out in such bad conditions. Tami knew it was to keep them safe, but still it was nice to be able to get out, so they were enjoying the nicer weather today and weren’t in a huge hurry to get home. They spotted a brilliant green tiger beetle crawling across some shelf mushrooms on an old rotten log. Tami liked beetles, but they knew all too well that tiger beetles were yucky, so best just for watching, not eating. Tami contemplated taking some of the mushrooms, but they looked kind of old and dry.
Suddenly a familiar shriek split the air—a hawk! Tami’s feet were instantly flying as fast as they could, but they could never keep up with the beating of their heart…
The Tale: As Faerven silently made his way between the trees in search of his quarry, he pulled his scarf a little more snugly around his neck. While not as sensitive to the cold as a human, he did still feel the chill. The light coating of snow dampened the sound of his careful footsteps, and he felt a surge of gratefulness for the gift his human mother had given him just before he left, fresh from her knitting needles. She had designed it especially for him, with both simplicity and warmth, along with a touch of flair that avoided being too fussy. He appreciated her attention to the little details, in particular the way the shape reminded him of the fletching on the arrows filling the quiver slung across his back.
A brief flash of motion and the slightest of sounds alerted him to the presence of another nearby. He knew not yet whether it was friend or foe, and while he was not overly concerned, he still proceeded with a measure of caution. He approached the spot where he had seen the movement, and searched the snow for signs of tracks.
Out of the corner of his eye, he again saw a flicker of movement, close to the ground. He suddenly realized that it was neither elf nor human….
The Tale: Nikata stalked through the forest, intensely irritated with his parents. They treated him like a child, even though he was nearly an adult by historical standards. They were upset because he had befriended a human. There were very few dragons left, so the parents of any remaining juveniles tended to be extremely overprotective. It had been several hundred years since dragons had been able to walk freely through the countryside. When humans had started actively hunting them, out of fear, conquest, or greed for their scales, hearts, and horns, the dragons had wisely learned to find desolate locations to hide with their families. Nikata’s scales would have been particularly prized because of their iridescence and beautiful diamond shape. He had been lectured from a very young age about how to stay hidden, how to avoid leaving traces when he did venture out, how to collect items for his hoard from places that humans wouldn’t notice. They had been so successful at this that most humans believed them to be extinct, or to never have existed at all.
There was a place that was Nikata’s favorite area to sit and muse, and to collect nice sparkling items for his hoard. He had thought there was no way for a human to even reach the location; it was in a canyon surrounded on all sides by very steep walls. The first time he had seen the movement of the boy and realized what he was, he was shocked to stillness. The boy too had stopped, terror and fascination warring for control of his expression….