Page 2 of Hadley

Font Size:  

“He gave his life to keep us safe. But it did not work.” No one said anything to him as they each watched their father. Tears, gems of varying colors leaked down their faces as they thought of all their father had sacrificed for them for nothing. “Dragons such as we are, we’ll be hunted and killed by the humans. There is nothing we can do but wait for them.”

“We will survive if we stay here.” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest of them, they would have to leave here eventually. “To feed and to fly, yes. But perhaps we could do it only at night. To keep to the skies and not let them see us.”

“They know we are about and will have spies out looking for our lairs. We will have to kill any man should he come for us, and still, we will not be safe. We are, after all, dragons who have a great deal of magic.” Cooper stopped breathing. He needed it quiet so that he could hear his father’s breaths.

Cooper did not hear his father’s heart and knew it was at an end. He was quiet for a bit longer, waiting, hoping for just one more beat. One more sound would mean he was still alive. But there was nothing. Their father was dead. Sitting up, he told them he had passed this world into the next.

None of them had ever seen a dragon die before. Their mother had been dead when they found her the day that she’d fallen from the sky. Each dragon they had come upon when they were out had been dead long before they found them. Their bodies were stripped of every part, so they resembled less of a dragon than just a pile of bones. Sometimes not even that, it seemed.

Their scales were used for roofs for their homes and for shields. The very meat of them was roasted and stored away so it could be used for medicines and potions. Hearts were cut up and dried, then ground into a powder to use for other things the humans would use to keep them from sickness as well as magic to have a grand garden and trees heavy with fruit. The only part that would be left was the bones, and sometimes even those were carried off and used for something. Cooper hated all humans.

“We will do as suggested by Hudson. It is the only assured way we can—” Before he could finish, he felt the stirring of the earth. It shook so hard it knocked each of them off their feet. As they lay there, terrified someone was coming for them, their father appeared before them.

His body was still aground. But instead of dark in death, he was brilliant in light. Faeries, thousands upon thousands of faeries, seemed to be covering his body as it lay before them. Before Cooper could tell them to stop, to leave him alone, father spoke.

“I love you, my sons.” Each of them nodded. Fear was almost something he could touch. “I will now and forever join my true love, your mother. I must warn you, when you find your other half, and you will, you will have to be careful of the slayers. They will know what you have found by the magic you both will share. The earth will celebrate you finding your loves, and that will bring them to you. My sons, you will leave this place and take your place among men. Becoming someone I will be proud of.”

“Father, the magic didn’t work. We’re still a dragon.” Cooper felt shameful to say a thing to his father. To tell him his sacrifice had not worked. “We will be hunted and killed.”

“Nay, you only need to think of being your other half. Becoming a man is simple. The same when you wish to be your true self.” Cooper was not sure what he meant, but his father continued before he could ask. “Go, now before men come here. The magic to hide me will draw them here. Be safe, my sons and know I love you more than I do any other creature on this place. I shall tell all the tales of our adventures to your mother too. She’ll love it, as will I in the telling of it.”

Cooper stood then. The faerie was still working, taking the body of his father apart. But as he watched, he could see they were not doing anything but preserving his body. Faerie ropes—golden and strong were all around him, and strings of magic were wrapped around him like a cocoon. It made him invisible to all. As Cooper stood there, his brothers beside him, he knew, like him, they mourned the loss of yet another parent.

“You are the eldest.” He nodded to the faerie when she asked. “We have a gift for you. For all of you, but you will receive the most. Your father was a great man, your mother a queen among her people. We wish to bestow upon you all your father had.”

“My brothers, they will need it as well. I should like to share.” She smiled at him and bowed. “What have you done with his body?”

“He is being prepared to be moved. We will make a grand garden upon him. Flowers will be there for all to see, but only a few will know a dragon is there with his other half someday. His love and light will join him there.” He nodded. It was as it should be. “You will take this gift? You will share, but as I said, you will get more than the others.”

“I don’t care. Please, just do what you must so we can hide.” She nodded again and touched her fingers, small, tiny ones, to his forehead. Then she did the same to the others before coming back to him. “It is done? You have shared it with us?”

“I have, Lord Cooper. But you must leave here now. There are humans coming. The magic we used to do this thing has given them cause to come here.” He nodded and looked at the ground where their father had been. “He is safe. Just as your mother will be soon. Go before they find you here and murder you as well.”

He thanked her for her help and left. The exit from this part of the cave was hidden so well that only they knew about it. As they made their way into the night, he thought of the human inside of him, and the pain of it took his breath away. In seconds, he was down on his knees. Whatever was happening, he was surely going to die.

“You’re a man.” He looked up at his brothers as they began to transfer to one themselves. “We’ll be safe now, all of us. We’ll be humans for them until we can find a place where we can be ourselves.”

“I don’t think that’s ever going to happen again.” Hudson nodded and held his head tightly as he did so. “We will need to train ourselves in their ways. Become what they are. But never monsters.”

“No, never.” They made their way to a building; any would do for now. Hudson, like him, was staggering a little, but they were getting stronger as they moved. He turned to look at him as they were settling into the empty shell of a house. “We will need to buy things, houses and such.”

“Yes. But tomorrow. I am too tired to think beyond how much we have lost.” Hudson and the others agreed. “When the humans are gone from our cave, we’ll go and find what father was telling us about earlier, about the wealth will keep us safe.”

“I only hope there is a great deal of it. I don’t know how to work nor drive.” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest brother, they would soon learn. “I hope so. I hope so.”

He did as well. It was going to be hard enough for them to learn to eat and dress like them, much less get around. Cooper hoped this worked. For he was as afraid as he had ever been in his life. Just to be such a smaller version of himself was frightening enough, he thought.


After a time, thousands of years, each of the dragons turned into men and forged their way into a world that was so different than the one they had been born to it seemed as if it were a different planet. But survive, they did.

Having their mates come to them was more than they could have hoped for. The children born to all of them gave them hope and love. A small and fragile thing after such hardships they were born to. Cooper became, as his father had been before him, the king of dragons. His mate, Carson, is their queen. It had been and still is a time for celebration. To this day, they commemorate often and hard at each new birth of the dragons turned men and women.

The others, his brothers, prospered too. Finding their other half, making their magic stronger for having their love. Their children, much like their fathers, were good men too. They worked hard to keep everyone safe and well-fed. Humans or other dragons alike. No one, not anyone in need, would have ever been turned away from their generosity. The Manning Dragons, true to their father and mother, became the most powerful dragons ever born.

The six sons, Xavier’s sons, four hatchlings and two humans moved far away to be the next generation of Manning dragons who would open their hearts and doors for all creatures. Even the sons of their hearts, the two human-born men carried powerful magic. They used it with their brothers to help as many people as possible, humans and dragons alike, to live in the ever-changing world. To help them not only succeed but to perhaps help someone else when they needed it. These boys, now men, have stories to tell.

And it is my pleasure to tell their stories and their lives. The Manning Dragons, all of them are the best magic, brotherhood and men that have ever been born into this world. And they will continue to be well long after the earth changes for the better once again.