An enchanting tale of love, bravery, and how important it is to protect what we have before it's too late.
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The Adventure of Dragoon and the Becker Mountain Mamas
By Mique duChne
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Mique duChne
All rights reserved.
Once upon a time, there was a mountain. To the best of my knowledge, there still is a mountain, but not the same mountain I'm going to tell you about, because this was one special mountain—let me tell you, and I will. Now let's see where was I? Oh yes, on the mountain.
The mountain was called Becker Mountain, this was because everyone who lived on the mountain was either a bonafide, for real, you'd better believe it Becker or they had been adopted by a bonafide, for real, you'd better believe it Becker. On the mountain dwelt eight finches, several huge, graceful, and definitely magical hawks, lots of little, bitty, teeny, tiny, wiggly lizards that ran fast as can be on their teeny, little legs whenever you'd see one, bunches of flies (bunches!), a few lovely moths, two children, one named Tyler, the other named Lauren, a big, loveable dog named Betsey (who loved the children), Moe, the legendary Great White Owl, a tiny, almost invisible dragon named Dragoon, and the Becker Mountain Mamas.
One day Tyler and Lauren were playing where they shouldn't have been, on the Becker Mountain Bonafide Road Wrecker. Some adults call these awesome machines bulldozers, but that's just dumb, how many people have ever seen a bull dozing? They don't get much of anything done, and the rest of the time they chase you out of their field—and half out of your mind! Anyway, Tyler and Lauren were playing away on the Becker Mountain Bonafide Road Wrecker when they accidentally bumped the starter button, and off they went, bumpin' and jumpin' down the road, over the remains of the Becker Mountain Mamas' road rock pickin' tools. They rolled over the shovels and the picks and the big screwdriver the foreman favoured. Worst of all, they rolled right over one of the Becker Mountain Mamas' favorite plants! You see, when the Mountain Mamas aren't road rock pickin', they're diggin' holes in the ground and plantin' stuff—you know trees and flowers—or they're building rock steps. I mean to tell you, the mamas are sort of like Snow White's dwarves. For one thing, they're always diggin' up rocks, and they aren't very tall. In fact, they're pretty darned short—well, except for one. She's so tall she picks apples without a ladder, and she comes in handy when it comes to adjusting the satellite dish and such.
The foreman of the Becker Mountain Mamas got somewhat irate when it was discovered that some of her newly planted flowers had been rolled over by Tyler, Lauren, and the Becker Mountain Bonafide Road Wrecker. Down the mountain they flew—the Road Wrecker with the kids, the Mountain Mamas' foreman, and Betsey all racing down the road. Betsey was runnin', and woofin', thinking this was great fun, and the foreman was hollering the kinds of things you don't print in children's books. Tyler and Lauren were squealin' and havin' the time of their lives. They figured, what the heck, they may as well because they knew they were going to get it-you know, "It"—as soon as the foreman caught up with them, which brings up Dragoon.
You see, he had a habit of snoozin' on top of Betsey's head, and when she took off after the aforementioned group, Dragoon nearly fell off and got trampled, but luckily he grabbed Betsey's collar just in time to save himself and go along for the ride. Dragoon could see that the kids were really havin' a lot of fun, but he knew how much trouble they were getting into, so he test flapped his tiny wings a couple of times, let go of Betsey's collar, and sailed off into the sky to try to stop the Road Wrecker.
"Tyler, look out!" Lauren hollered. Tyler was giggling so hard he couldn't hear the terror in Lauren's voice. They were still bouncin' and jumpin' down the road when Lauren had looked up just in time to see the big bend in the road coming up. Lauren hollered again, but it was too late; just as Tyler turned to see what was scaring Lauren, the Becker Mountain Bonafide Road Wrecker hit a bump in the road and off they went flying through the air, crashing through the branches of the trees, over the bushes, and hanging on for dear life. Suddenly they realized their little ride had turned into a very dangerous adventure indeed, and they had no idea where they were going to land.
Meanwhile, back at the bend of the road, the Becker Mountain Mamas' foreman stood helplessly watching the children's flight. She could barely catch her breath, but it was her heart that hurt more than her lungs. She knew the children hadn't really meant any harm, and now they were crashing toward certain disaster because they were headed right for Forbidden Creek.
The Mountain Mamas had warned the kids at least a zillion times about going anywhere near this terrible place, and now there was no way to stop their trip over the cliff and right into the creek. She had no way of knowing that Dragoon was hot on the kids' trail, flapping his little wings as fast as he could, to try and to save them.
Oh, if only I was as big as they say my papa was, he thought. My wings would be bigger, 'n' I could fly faster, and—oh, boo, what am I gonna do?
Dragoon had lived around Becker Mountain as long as he could remember, and he knew all about Forbidden Creek. Dragoon had never actually seen the creek because after all the scary stories he'd heard about it, he had no intention of going anywhere near it. You see, the legend said that years and years ago, in the BeforeTime, before humans learned to distrust one another, before they forgot the magic, Forbidden Creek had been a place of great power. Beings from all over would come to visit the creek, to drink of the magical waters, to sit on her banks and soak up the beauty of being near this special place, but times had changed. Sometime years and years ago, the humans had gotten careless. They forgot that it was a privilege to be allowed to enjoy this place. The humans forgot that the creek was a reprieve from the troubles of their world, and the only rule was that they leave her waters and her banks intact. One by one, the humans began sneaking small treasures from her banks. The tiny, pale, purple flowers the elves loved to use for their hats were gradually picked away. The plants withered and died, away never to return. The faerie ferns so aptly named were thoughtlessly pulled from their roots, leaving the faeries without their favorite bedding. Eventually the unicorns quit coming to drink of the creek's rejuvenating waters. Come to think of it, no one had seen hide nor hair of a unicorn in so long that the rumor was that they were all gone. Some even said they dissolved into water drops and swirled to the bottom of Forbidden Creek. Many humans had been lost by accidentally slipping on the slimy banks and disappearing forever beneath the waters. Now all that remained was a cesspool of scary, murky water.
By now the children had quit screaming, and with eyes wide with terror, they clutched the sides of the Becker Mountain Bonafide Road Wrecker awaiting a fate worse than death.
Great trepidation filled Dragoon as he flew closer and closer to the creek. His wings were getting tired, and his heart was pounding right out of his chest, not so much because of all the flying, but because he was afraid.
"I know I'm a dragon, an' dragons aren't scared of nothin'," he chastised himself ... but still. Forbidden Creek scared everyone. "Why, even the snakes don't go there," he reminded himself.
Nope, his mind was made up, and with renewed strength, he began flapping his wings even harder. Suddenly, bam! He felt an awful sting on his cheek, and he was hurtling backwards through the air. Apparently a branch had caught on the Road Wrecker and had whipped back into Dragoon's face. His tail was whirling him around and around, and he felt himself fading into a deep sleep before he landed in a crumpled little heap on the ground. With great sorrow, he heard the huge splash as the children crashed into Forbidden Creek, just before he passed out.
"Come on, dearie, don't let a little bump on the old noggin' get you down."
Dragoon felt like he'd been on a three-day Honeysuckle Holiday, but through the fog in his mind he realized he was alive, and someone was tickling his cheek with a silky feather.
"Now open your eyes, you little stinker. I know you can hear me. It's time you quit lollygaggin' around and tell me what happened to you."
"Mama?" Dragoon couldn't place the voice, but it was so soothing. "Mama, I don't wanna' go to school ..." was all he could manage to mutter.
"School? Harrumph! Boy, where in the worlds do you think you are anywhoo? Now open your peepers and talk to me."
Dragoon managed to open his left eye and then his right, but when he saw who the voice was coming from, he began rubbing his little fists in his eyes, sure he wasn't seein' what he was seein'. A big, feathered wing gently pushed his fists away from his eyes.
"Now knock that off," she ordered.
"But, but," he stammered. "You're ... aren't you ... I mean, you aren't Moe, are you?" he finally managed to blurt out. "You don't even exist! You're a myth!"
"I most certainly am not!" The Great White Owl was truly indignant.
"But, Moe—I mean, ma'am—I've never seen you before. I mean, I've heard stories and all, but ..."
"But what?" she interrupted. "I've never seen you before either, but do you see me calling you a nonexistent myth? Of all things! Just because you've never seen something doesn't mean it can't exist, boy. I hadn't seen a dragon in many years, yet I knew in my heart that dragons still existed, and here you are proving it to me. That's what the humans call faith, dearie."
"I'm sorry, ma'am." Dragoon was embarrassed at his opinionated faux pas.
"Tutt-tutt, there's nothing to be sorry about, boy. Nothing at all. Now that I give it some thought, I am somewhat of a legend, aren't I?" Moe's breast feathers swelled with pride.
"Well, yes, ma'am, you are, an' ... an' ... I'm very pleased to make your acquaintance, ma'am." Dragoon awkwardly struggled to his feet and graciously bowed.
Moe dipped her great head slightly and continued, "Well, now that we have the formalities over with, would you be so good as to answer my question?"
"Question, ma'am?" Dragoon was so awestruck he couldn't remember any question.
"Yes, dearie. I asked you what in the worlds had happened to you. You have a nasty knot on your forehead here." She gently brushed a feather across the injury.
"Yeowch!" Dragoon yelped in pain at her touch. "Oh, no!" he cried out. "The children! I have to get to the children before ... before ..." He was hopping around in wild circles when the realization hit him. He stopped suddenly and slowly looked up into the huge, understanding eyes. Tears welled up and began spilling out onto his satiny, blue-green cheeks.
"What is it, dearie?" Moe quietly asked. "You can tell Auntie Moe," she said, and she wrapped a downy wing around his now shaking, tiny shoulders.
"I failed." Dragoon sobbed. "I flew as fast as I could, honest I did, an' I failed. I couldn't catch them in time ... if only I'd been bigger."
Gradually, the entire story came out between his tears. When he'd finished, Moe sat quietly, thoughtfully. She sat so still that Dragoon thought she'd gone to sleep with her eyes open—until she blinked, and it startled him.
"Well, dearie," she began, "you'll just have to go get them and bring them back. The Mountain Mamas are probably worried sick, and the children certainly can't get back by themselves." She turned and looked at Dragoon.
"Go get them? What do ya mean go get them? I can't go get them. They fell in, like I told ya'. They fell in ... right into Forbidden Creek. I can't go get them-oh boo!" And he started crying again.
"Boy, I'm surprised at you. Where's your spirit, the old pizzazz, the old one-two? Your father wouldn't leave the children down there and not lift a wing to get them out of there."
"My father?" Dragoon sniffed, his eyes incredulous. "You knew my papa?"
"I certainly did," Moe huffed, "and a finer dragon I never met, with the possible exception of your mother—but ah, your mother. She was more of a little lair-body, always puttering around, tending to the cauldrons, and keeping an eye on you."
"Mama?" Dragoon was so excited he forgot about the children and their dilemma for the moment. All of his remembered life he'd been alone. He could never remember anything about his family, and now here was someone who had known them on a first-name basis.
"Well, of course I knew them, you silly little thing. They were my neighbors for simply years, and let me tell you something, boy, they'd be ashamed of you for the way you're acting." The scolding tone in her voice brought Dragoon back to reality.
"But, ma'am, I'm just a baby dragon; I can't even get out a good flame yet. All I get is a lousy, little puff of smoke to come out, 'n' besides," he buried his face in his right wing, "I sneeze."
"What's that, boy? Speak up," she demanded. "You say you sneeze? Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!" Moe cracked up laughing. She laughed so hard she began losing feathers.
"What's so funny?" Dragoon was indignant. "So I've got allergies."
"I'm sorry, dearie." Moe was still giggling. "It's just that your father had the same problem, and I always thought it was so funny—a dragon allergic to his own smoke!" And she was off laughing and molting again at the hilarity of it all.
"My papa had allergies too." It was a statement. Dragoon had found a link with his past, and he had gained a new sense of pride. Moe finally calmed down, with only an occasional snicker escaping her beak.
"Nothing to worry about, dearie. I can fix you up in a jiff. You stay right here and rest for a while. I'll be right back." She gave two small hops and was off, her enormous wings spread out into the sky. Dragoon stared up in wonder at this legendary creature who had befriended him.
"Now then, that didn't take too long, did it?" Moe was back. The faint breeze from her wings settling woke Dragoon from a short snooze.
"Stand up here, boy," she said. "I'm not as young as I used to be, and you're not as big as you will be, and you can't expect me to bend over to do this. My back has been killing me lately." She had something in a rolled-up oak leaf. Dragoon got to his feet obediently.
"Here now, this won't hurt a bit," she said as she began unrolling the leaf. She pulled out the crushed stem of a mystery mushroom, a small spool of spider-web thread, and of all things, a Razzleberry seed. After placing the crushed mushroom stem on his forehead, she had him hold it in place while she patiently wound spider-web thread around his head. "There, done." Moe seemed satisfied with her bandaging job. "I want you to take this and hold it under your tongue until it dissolves, boy," she said, handing the Razzleberry seed to Dragoon.
"But, ma'am, Razzleberry seeds will kill you. Everyone knows that!" Dragoon exclaimed.
"Oh, really?" Moe cocked her eyebrow imperiously. "And Old Moe the Great White Owl on Becker Mountain is a myth and a legend. Boy, I didn't just fall out of the oak tree yesterday. Do as I say. I know what I'm doing."
Well, Dragoon thought, she is the Great Moe, and she did know Mama and Papa ... So he placed the seed under his tongue and waited.
"Feel anything yet, dearie?" Moe had a bemused smile on her face. To tell the truth, Dragoon did feel something, though he wasn't quite sure yet, and he was just noticing how Moe's eyes had pretty, little crinkles under the feathers around her eyes when she broke the silence. "Spit it out, child," she ordered. He did as he was told but accidentally spit what was left of the seed right on top of Moe's left clawed foot.
"Oops, sorry," Dragoon apologized as he gently wiped her foot clean. Moe watched him, looking down her beak at him.
"The manners definitely need work," she muttered. "Now, boy, I want you to do exactly as I tell you—no, don't interrupt me; just listen. I want you to step over there." She indicated a small rock. "I want you to take three quick breaths in, hold the third, open your mouth, and show me your stuff."
Totally confused, Dragoon did as he was told. He stepped over to the rock, took three quick breaths, held the third, opened his mouth, and blew. Out it came—blue, red, yellow, green, and hot! Moe let out a whoop, exclaiming, "You little stinker, you've singed me tail feathers!" but Dragoon was so overjoyed and pleased with himself he didn't even hear her.
Excerpted from The Adventure of Dragoon and the Becker Mountain Mamas by Mique duChÃ?ne. Copyright © 2013 by Mique duChÃ?ne. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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