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“ – Are you all right, he finally asked. Are you hurt or distressed in any way?”

The words came easily to him. Human languages were after all laughingly simple and the previous summer his father had spent a few days teaching him a couple of them.

But the child – by now he was certain it was a child – did not answer. It was shaking its head from side to side, but Solvi didn’t know the meaning of such a gesture: dragons, who when adult spend most of their time in the air, have little use for body language. It interferes with the flying.

The child was half-lying on the ground, its torso propped up against the trunk of a small tree. Just by reading the marks on the ground, it was obvious that it had been crawling away from some unknown threat, and upon encountering the tree did not have the presence of mind to go around it and carry on.

But then the dragon noticed the way these marks were pointing.

“ – Er… Have you…? Are you…?” The idea seemed ridiculous at first, but he then remembered the events of earlier that day. Ridiculous? He wasn’t so sure anymore.

“ – There is no reason to be afraid of me, you know.”

Still, maybe the best thing to do was to back away a bit, and give this little creature some space. So he walked back a few paces, keeping eye contact all the way, and sat down. That is: he tucked his long tail around his body and turn around a few times, as if to screw himself into the forest floor; then and only then did he got down on all six and made himself comfortable. It was a strange sight, this, for a creature this size, but Dragons can seem comfortable in the most unlikely positions. They are like cats in that way.

And like cats also, and to be frank all creatures with too much brains and too little to do, they suffer from that awful affliction: curiosity.

“ – Are you lost?” Dragons have many taboos, but asking questions was never one of them.

“ – Did you come from far away?” There was a great many smells arising from the human child. Some exotic scents mingled with the unpleasant stench of fear. They suggested that it had travelled a long way before coming here. Maybe it had never met one such as Solvi before?

The huge creature unravelled its long neck to show the vivid scales of his throat and his belly, flicked its forked tongue once, twice and blinking its reptilian eyes said:

“ – I am a dragon, you know?”

(Dragons believe that stating the obvious, like asking questions, never hurt anybody.)

Still the little human did not answer in any meaningful way. Solvi thought for a while before his next question:

“ – Er… Can you speak?”