Long before Johnson Farthing was born and the beginning of the tale that is told in series one of Dirt, the dragon Fren-Eirol was young, opinionated and had yet to meet either her pairing Aneirin or the annoying magician Weasel.
Until that is she visited the Catre Sarad on the small but dramatic isle of Taken in the Yonder Sea...
(You can listen to a reading of this little story by scrolling to the bottom of the page)
“That was right in my ear!”
“Idiot red!” The slightly tatty man slid from the shoulder of the huge red dragon backwards and landed on the paving of the Catre Sarad with a sickening crunch. Several passing dragons winced in sympathy; several more chuckled with pleasure. The large Draig Mynyth Coh scratched his chin and removed the magicians hat from where it had snagged on one of his horns.
“I hate landing in the mist,” he grumbled. “Still, nice to make an entrance.”
“Aneirin, you are a bloody liability,” Weasel said bitterly, climbing to his feet. “And I am not even sure why we are here. Bren-Diath is back up at the ices, his tribe of naysayers are busy saying nay elsewhere and there are no meetings in the Neuath for at least a week.”
“We don’t have to come here just to argue, you know. We can come for the fun of it.”
“It is foggy, it is cold, it will probably rain later and I bet they haven’t lit the fires in any of the halls. To make it worse, I have promised that landlady over in Relland to stay sober for at least a month.”
“You have been banned from all the taverns down at the docks here and you can’t get drunk anyway, however much you drink,” Mab-Aneirin said pointedly. “Why do you insist on lying to the poor woman?” The two had been friends for nearly six hundred years and there really was very little they did not know about each other.
“Now you really are just picking holes. So, dear red, and I notice, rather muddy, friend, why are we here?” Weasel looked up into the dragon’s massive face, but the eyes were distant and dreamy. “Aneirin?” No reaction. “Mr Dragon?”
“That is why,” Mab-Aneirin said softly.
“What is why?” With a barely tolerant groan, the short, wiry magician turned round and peered through the fog. “Oh. That is why.”
The Draig Mynyth Coh, the Red Dragon, is a splendid creature. The largest of the great dragons, they are thick set, long in the body, have powerful front legs and are tall enough to do a small magician significant damage should one carelessly fall from their backs. As big as an average barn, their loud voices, louder personalities and direct approach to the world and its problems had given them a formidable reputation. Despite this, Weasel pondered, their faces, though much bigger than his entire small frame, had a gentle, soft countenance. Mab-Aneirin’s head was wide, dark of feature and sported four huge horns that swept back from his brow between his undeniably silly ears. It was a friendly face, a welcoming one with scarily intelligent eyes, but it wasn’t beautiful.
The current object of the red dragon’s attention could not have been more different. Sea Dragons, Draig Morglas, are some of the most beautiful creatures on Dirt. Smaller than the Red Dragons, though still a mighty beast, they are slimmer in build, long in neck and face, with a crest of horns that flow delicately up and back from their heads, twisting slightly as if caught in the wind of flight. Silver-grey and blue they are, the tones of the morning sea, and when one stretches up and the semi-diaphanous wings capture the light and fracture it into a myriad of rainbows, the sight is one to behold in wonder. It would have worked better if the said young sea dragon had not been currently nibbling at the claws of one hand.
“What you looking at?” Be-Eirol snapped, seeing the large red and the human staring at her with their heads tilted to one side. “You never seen a dragon before?” She squinted at the two a little more closely. Be-Eirol took a lot pride in her appearance. She had a fondness for delicate, printed silks that she wore across her back and tied in long streamers from her crest. Her audience of two, on the other hand, had obviou sly not spent more than a day in centuries on their own appearances, or had even washed too often. But then, Mab-Aneirin and Eafa, as Weasel was more properly known, were also some of the fiercest debaters at the Neuath and their quest to find peace and accord between humans and dragons was as famous as it was ancient. Their reputation, like Weasel’s hat, proceeded them. “Well?” Be-Eirol stalked up to the inanimate duo. “You going to stand there all day? Or are you going to shut your mouths and think of something to say? Your teeth need a clean too.”
Two mouths shut with a smack and Weasel grinned broadly. “Cyfar Draig,” he said with a smile. “My name is Weasel, though people call me Eafa to piss me off. This is Mab-Aneirin. He is big, strong, needs a bit of a scrub down, but is the best friend I could ever wish for. I also suspect that he has just fallen in love, which is probably going to be a right nuisance.”
The remains of the mist burned away as a few errant beams of sunlight pushed through the clouds and illuminated the tableau of first meeting. Mab-Aneirin, despite his friend’s attempt at extreme embarrassment, had not moved; he had not blinked, had not twitched and Weasel was beginning to worry that he may have given up breathing. Be-Eirol looked as if she was about to explode and she dropped her head down and glared at the magician.
“Little man,” she growled. “If you believe that winding up a creature that could extinguish your miserable life by a flick of her tail is a good way of getting your mountain of a friend a night out, then you, you, you….” She stuttered to a halt and stomped off a few paces. Turning her head, she narrowed her eyes. “Pathetic males!”
As the sun warmed the great flag stones of the Place of Speech, the Catre Sarad, Be-Eirol lifted her wings, raised her body and leapt into the sky, the sun dazzling brightly from her splendid, white chest and tummy, the distinctive and unique characteristic that would identify her to all over the centuries to come.
“She is beautiful,” Mab-Aneirin said simply. It was the one argument he would ever make that would find no critics.
Years later, after Mab-Aneirin died, Weasel would always remember with fondness that ridiculous incident on the ancient stones of Taken Island when he and his friend both fell in love with the person who would become Fren-Eirol, married to Bren-Aneirin, and would be the best friend Weasel ever had.