It didn’t take long before Brier recognized the way they were going. “You have a friend among the royal dragonsss?”
Thistle smiled. “Yes, I do; in fact, I’m a step brother to Nettle.”
“One of the desscendantsss of Ssspike the Great?” Brier gasped.
“Her father married my mother when both their mates died in the Great Raid of Thorn the Terrible.”
“That’sss all well and good,” Brier snorted, “But I doubt ssshe would even think to look at common treasssure dragonsss, rasscer dragonsss, and hermit dragonsss like usss. Royal dragonsss think they’re ssso much better than all the other ssspessciesss of dragonsss.” Brier’s contempt for the royal dragons was quite clear.
Thistle merely stated, “I think you’ll find that Nettle isn’t like other royal dragons. Remember, she and I grew up together.”
Brier kept any further doubts to herself, because at that moment, the royal dragon’s island came into view. The sight of the most beautiful island took their breath clean away, and saved Thistle from having to answer any unwanted questions.
Towering mountains made huge caves in which royal dragons lived amongst their vast treasures. A sprinkling of snow remained on the highest peaks, even in the hottest time of summer, and glimmered there in the late afternoon sun. Fountains around the base of the biggest peak threw water into the air, where it also caught the sun and sparkled cheerfully before diving back inside the rock basin. Softly, the dragon’s landed next to one of those fountains and took a good look around them.
Brier forgot her momentary disgust of royal dragons while she gazed around her at the magnificent beauty of the island. Bramble, always quiet anyways, had his mouth open for so long that he accidently ate several flies when he closed it again. Prickle stayed absolutely motionless and speechless for a record of exactly three minutes.
Thistle, on the other hand, was swamped with memories. Memories of two young dragons playing in the fountains, laughing at a bird learning to fly, rolling over and over in a game of play fighting that he almost always won. He felt tears begin welling up in his eyes and he quickly blinked them away.
“We should find Nettle.” He said at last, trying with difficulty to keep his voice from wavering.
Bramble, with his gift of reading thoughts, saw the emotions going through Thistle’s mind and answered quietly, “Why don’t you go on and get Nettle by yourself?”
Thistle looked back at him. “You think I should?”
“Yes.” Bramble nodded. “You have some catching up to do.”
“Alright, but I’ll be right back.”
“Take your time Thissstle.” Brier smiled. “I’m sssure we’ll be fine down here.”
“Thank you.” Thistle replied sincerely, grateful for the understanding of his friends. He started toward the biggest cave opening. It was lined with precious gems that had been forced into the surrounding rocks. His friends, watching from below, saw him hesitate only for a moment before allowing himself to be enveloped in darkness.
Once inside, Thistle looked around him. It was almost pitch black, but a small glow on the further end of the cave told him that there was light. He took some time, letting his eyes adjust from being out in the sunshine to inside a cave.
“Who art thou, and why art thou here in the king’s own palace cave?” A loud voice startled Thistle from his reverie.
“I’m so sorry!” he gasped out in his surprise. “I’m Thistle the hermit dragon, and I’m here to ask if I may have a private interview with her ladyship, Princess Nettle.”
“No dragon is allowed private conversation with her ladyship!” The voice growled menacingly. “We know not whether thou art friend or foe.”
“I’m a friend!” Thistle protested. “Would you, whoever you are, mind telling her ladyship that Thistle the hermit dragon wants to speak to her?”
Just then a voice broke in that sounded like the sweetest of honey to the ears of Thistle. “Leave the poor dragon alone Sharp. I wish to grant his request for a private interview.”
“But…your ladyship!” the dragon guard spluttered. “Surely it is not fitting for a lady of your importance to…”
“Leave us at once, Sharp. That is a command!” A hard edge came to her voice that the guard dared not ignore, and Sharp slunk from the room to go and sulk in his own luxurious quarters. At last Thistle and his preserver were alone.
“Thee should come with me to a more agreeable place.” The lady dragon said kindly. Thistle mutely obeyed, following her until she brought him past a stone door and through a silken curtain into a beautiful room. There she turned to him and he got his first look at her ladyship, Princess Nettle. A sparkling white all over, as if she was covered in pearls and diamonds, Nettle was a beautiful lady dragon. Every inch of her sleek neck and glossy wings told of her royal heritage. A gasp managed to come out of Thistle’s open mouth, but nothing else could he say.
She smiled amusedly at his wonder and said softly, “Have I really changed that much, Thistle dear?”
“You’re…” Thistle fumbled for the right words. “You’re so much more…everything!”
Nettle laughed a delightful laugh, one which gave the impression that she always enjoyed life to its fullest. “Oh, Thistle!” She exclaimed at last. “Thou, at least, have not changed a bit, and oh! I am so glad! I would feel so terribly old if I had found that thou wert as changed as I. But, pray, tell me how thou hast been throughout the years. Have the decades been kind to thee?”
Thistle closed his mouth hurriedly, not wanting to seem rude in her presence. “I have been doing well over the years, although I can tell that I am getting older.” He began. “How I wish that my younger years had been spent more wisely instead of being hidden in my cave on my island.”
“How true that is,” Nettle sighed, waving a graceful wing around her. “All these riches I own, and much more in my father’s treasury. Yet I am discontented with the life I lead. At least thou art able to spend your days freely, thou dost not have to bring body guards whenever thee flies over the islands to see the world.”
“I have friends now though, and I can hardly say I am still a hermit dragon.” Thistle continued after Nettle fell into silence again. “I actually enjoy being around them and having them near me.”
Nettle looked at him suddenly. “I’m sure that thou came here not to speak of times gone by Thistle dear, so what art thou doing here, and why didst thou want the conversation to be private?”
“It’s a long story.” Thistle said slowly.
Nettle laughed again, her eyes sparkling with fun. “Thou doth know how much I like stories Thistle dear, pray continue!”
“Well, it began last night when both I and my friend Thomas dreamt the same dream.”
“What was the dream?” Nettle asked when Thistle paused.
“It was that someone, somewhere on one of these islands, needs our help badly.” Thistle finished.
Nettle’s brow darkened for the first time since Thistle saw her. “It is not a great deal of information.”
“I know.” Thistle agreed. “But that’s the reason I came here. All day I’ve been spending my time collecting dragons to help me search the islands.”
“And you want me to help too?” Nettle inquired eagerly. When Thistle nodded his head in assent, she continued quickly. “Oh I would love to come and help Thistle dear! Thou should know that I would do anything to help thee that I could!”
Thistle looked at her gratefully. “Would you?”
“Oh, of course! All I need to do is convince my father that it’s perfectly safe. Wait here for a moment, it shan’t take long.” With that, Nettle swept gracefully out of the room and Thistle waited as he was told.
A few moments later Nettle came back, the laughter in her eyes telling Thistle just as much as her saying, “Father told me I could go. He remembers that thou wert always the best of stepbrother’s to me as well as a gentledragon.”
Thistle looked around him at the luxurious quarters and said regretfully, “We should really return as soon as possible. We need to get back to Thomas and begin our search of the islands.”
Nettle agreed. “True my friend. Thou art always thinking ahead.” She smiled. “Let us go then.”
The two dragon friends walked out into the early evening sunshine together.
How do you like Thistle's new friends?
Do you think that this is a good story?
Do you want to read more?
Let me know! :)