The next morning, Lena arrived at the gates of the city ready for adventure. She had her bags packed and her staff and spells prepared. Remy was already there with the rest of the expedition team - a tough-looking warrior woman named Brynn, a sly archer named West, and a bearded dwarf named Durin who seemed to be bickering with West already.
After quick introductions, the group set out on horseback towards the Misty Mountains. The journey took them through forests, across rivers, and over rolling hills. At night, they camped under the stars. During the day, they followed old maps and Remy’s research to head towards the secluded valley he believed held the dragon’s nest.
After several days of travel, the air grew colder as great peaks appeared on the horizon. “We’re close,” Remy said, his excitement growing. “We should continue on foot from here.”
Leaving their horses in a sheltered canyon, the group proceeded up a little-used mountain path. The way grew steeper and more treacherous, sometimes forcing them to climb hand over hand up rocky ledges. Icy winds howled around them. Lena used her magic to warm their fingers and help melt snow blocking their route.
Finally, they reached a high secluded valley surrounded by misty peaks. Lena felt her heart race. It matched Remy’s description. The dragon nest had to be here! But the valley appeared empty.
Then she noticed it - a faint shimmer in the air near the cliff walls. Magic! Illusion magic was hiding the nest. “There!” Lena shouted. “An illusion spell conceals the nest.”
Remy grinned. “Well done! Can you dispel it?”
Lena focused, weaving a counter-spell. The air rippled as the illusion faded, revealing a dark cavern entrance leading underground. The expedition team stared in awe. They had found it!
With weapons drawn, they entered the cavern, led by their mage’s glowing staff. Lena could hardly breathe as they descended into the dragon’s domain. What would they find inside? Adventure, discovery, and maybe a living dragon.
They proceeded cautiously through the winding tunnels, senses alert for any signs of the dragon inhabitants. The cavern walls were lined with glittering minerals and deposits, evidence of the fiery breath of dragons.
After descending deep into the mountain, they entered a massive chamber. Lena’s staff illuminated towering stalagmites, shimmering pools, and piles of gold coins and gems - a dragon’s hoard! But the chamber appeared empty.
Then Lena spotted them - dozens of dragon eggs, ranging from small to large, nestled in alcoves along the cavern walls. Her heart leaped with excitement. The eggs looked incubated, some twitching and shifting slightly.
“Incredible!” Remy exclaimed. “The first dragon eggs laid in centuries!”
As the group moved towards the eggs, Lena held up a hand in warning. “Wait. Where is the mother?”
A roar of rage suddenly shook the cavern. From the shadows swooped an enormous red dragon, jaws spewing flame!
Lena cast a shimmering shield to protect the group from the blast. The dragon beat its wings, shrieking at the intruders. It landed between them and the eggs, snarling menacingly.
“No sudden moves,” Lena warned. This was a mother protecting her unhatched young. One wrong action could provoke an attack.
Heart pounding, Lena stepped forward, hands raised peacefully. Making eye contact with the rumbling dragon, she spoke in a calm, clear voice, “Great dragon, we mean you and your offspring no harm. We only seek to learn.”
The dragon’s luminous amber eyes studied Lena intently. It growled but made no move to attack again. Lena sensed the dragon’s intelligence and curiosity.
Taking a slow breath, Lena reached out telepathically with her mind. Make it understand we come in peace, she thought. To her amazement, the dragon’s consciousness touched hers in return.
The dragon’s voice echoed in Lena’s mind, ancient and wise.
“You speak truthfully, young mage. I sense no malice in your heart, only curiosity and a love of dragons.”
Lena nodded slowly. “Yes, great dragon. Since I was a child, I have admired your kind and wished only to meet you.”
The dragon pondered this. “Few humans ever seek us in friendship. But perhaps the old prejudices could change.”
She lowered her massive head to inspect the group. Remy and the others stood frozen in awe.
“You may stay here for a time,” the dragon rumbled. “Learn our ways, but do not disturb the eggs.”
Lena’s heart soared. “Thank you! We are honored.”
The dragon folded her wings and settled comfortably. Lena approached and began asking questions that had burned in her mind for years.
The dragon spoke of her ancient lineage, her magic, and the lost history of dragons. Lena listened, enraptured. Here was the wisdom of ages, from a time before humans walked the land.
Days passed as Lena learned from the dragon, while Remy eagerly took notes. The warrior woman Brynn seemed relaxed for the first time in their journey, often patting the dragon’s tail affectionately.
Then one day the eggs began to tremble and crack. The dragon eggs were hatching! Lena watched in amazement as baby dragons tumbled out, taking their first unsteady steps. They were impossibly cute.
“There is hope,” the mother dragon rumbled, “if young minds remain open. Guard them well, humans.”
Lena cuddled a baby dragon and nodded. “We will.” It was a new age of understanding between dragons and people. And it filled Lena with joy.
To be continued…