Atenlea is a peaceful place,
but still a place of man,
& deep inside, man fears nature’s fury.
So, from the very first distant clamber
they take note.
It starts as a distant murmur of tumbling rocks
that perks ears & lifts heads.
A clatter of rockslide
where no rocks are loose.
Soon it grows into the rumble
of an earthquake or tornado.
Like a field of busy mice suddenly met
by a family of hungry cats, they flee.
Slow & weak
trail behind the scatter of raucous panic.
In minutes Atenlea is left
with those few who cannot run, the left behinds.
Gradually they limp & crawl
to benches that line
the north side of the town square.
Seven humans gathered
to fight fear & meet fate.
& ready themselves for anything.
Anything except what greets them.
The noise & trembling ground
are no work of nature.
They come with the Cobblestone Dragon.
Hard round sections of his being
clatter & rumble & roar
& freely roll within.
His long thick tail follows
as horizontal avalanche
as he walks slowly & deliberately
placing each step carefully
to avoid destroying the city
or the retinue of unhearing creatures
that surround him.
Fully in the town square, he stops.
Seven stare, blinking & unsure,
confused at a dragon with an entourage
as diverse as a fever dream, cleaning
the tracks of the Cobblestone Dragon.
Quietly the dragon speaks.
He asks who & why. Surprised
the seven speak haltingly at first.
But as the strangest town meeting ever
they find sharing life stories easy.
When they are through, silence falls
until one timid & bent-legged child
asks the dragon for his story.
Silently he ponders
his troubled but welcome existence.
He travels once more
the long road of his past.
He begins where he was conjured,
pieced together from commonest remains.
charged with life
he was born thrashing & roaring.
All fled, even she who birthed him.
He was alone.
Until he met other dragonkind
he didn’t even know
how slow & awkward he was among his kin.
Only with time did he understand
the dignity denied him in creation.
That realization began the quest
to gain what was missing.
On the way he learned that
every dignity, like every face
Ages have passed since then
but he finds no rest.
recalling his long & difficult life
he is certain he has no words
to make these humans understand.
like the stones of his creation
are of the smallest & commonest kind,
but he believes they will suffice.
From within comes a vision
charged with the heat of his desire
& tailored to each who see.
Visions would be enough but he does not stop.
He ignores the drain of his exertions
& reaches within once more.
With a touch
he heals these humans
who have given
to his heart & knowledge.
For a time he rests
but his desire never fails.
His quest resumes
with a slow walk away from the city.
Little has changed
save that his retinue
has increased by seven.
Days after his departure
the populace struggles home
amazed to find Atenlea intact.
The clever among them
find traces of the dragon’s passing.
Eventually, seven are missed.
Conclusions are drawn & stories told.
Throughout the countryside
guards & lookouts are posted.
Those brave enough, are sent to scout
but they find nothing.
In time danger fades & memory grows.
Seven stones are set in the graveyard.
Songs are written.
Tears are cried.
And as years pass
the day’s events become
but one more chapter
in the bloody legend
of the Cobblestone Dragon.
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