Once, tall grasses grew by Lake Marmo. Each sping, damsel dragons dropped out of the sky, trampled nests in the reeds, laid clutches of eggs, and buried them in the sand. And once they had given birth, the great reptiles flapped away.
Dragons in the sky are the first sign of spring in Great Park. The children come, baskets in hand, eager for dragon egg hunts. They shed their winter stockings and wiggle their bare toes in the warm sand. They race each other, laughing and breathless, to see who will reach a clutch of dragon eggs first. They yell and hoot when they find the treasure.
“Dragon eggs!” they cry. Soon the shout –“Dragon eggs!”– echoes back and forth from both sides lake.
Children know they are forbidden to keep dragon eggs, because a dragonet soon hatches from the egg and it achieves full growth six months later. The baby dragon’s scales harden. It begins to breathe fire. At first, there are short blasts of warm air, then later great searing torches of flame. The dragon has become cunning and cannot be trusted. So a sign on the shores of lake Marmo reads: It Is Forbidden to Keep Dragon Eggs.
The two eggs Princess Amanda found one day many months after Hero’s arrival were bronze. They glowed like amber jewels in the sunlight. Perhaps she meant to carry them to Caretaker. Perhaps she thought that they were old and shriveled inside. Perhaps she forgot. But she did not take them to Caretaker’s cottage.
Instead she hid the eggs. She hid them in my very own place, her den in the hollow of a mighty oak on the edge of outpost meadow, which is so far from stonegate entrance that few strangers walked out to it. It was so peaceful here that Caretaker visited this area only a few times in his yearly rounds.
The spring sun reached the floor of Amanda’s den and warmed her hiding place. Soon one egg rattled when the princess picked it up to inspect it. Obviously, there was no life inside. But the other one began to crack. By mid morning, a dragon hatchling pecked its way out and left the shell. [Click LISTEN to hear Princess Amanda & the Dragon]