Letters to a Young Dragon
My dearest Son,
The time of your fiftieth birthday fast approaches, and it is nearly time for you to go forth, find a mate, and spawn. As my father did for me, and his father for him, and so on back to the First Egg, it is time for me to impart to you the wisdom of our generations upon this fertile earth.
You are of the mightiest race to ever live. The age of dinosaurs has past and they felt the sting of extinction, but we the mightiest will live forever. As such, you have a grave responsibility to safeguard our race from the ravages of Man, that foul little two-legged infestation so recently sprung down from the trees. Oh! by the First Egg how I wish they had never learned the gift of speech! I was there when they first walked upon the valleys and hills of my youth. I was there when they established villages – Feh! – and began to trade with one another. What stench! What foul noise! What ignorance of the ways of our Mother Earth!
It is first of Man that I must warn you, my Son. For as all dragons know, Man has spread like a foul disease the breadth of this continent and will entrench himself and his horrid offspring. If we are to prosper, we must be ever watchful and ensure that our lands are not encroached upon. Why, just last month I caught a party of Man hunting our deer! Can you imagine? The impertinence! Next thing you know, they’ll be building towns like the Tyrannosaurs and trying to float upon the Oceans of Mother Earth, the better to spread their plague.
But I digress.
Now, my Son, it is up to you to contain their number. Wiser heads than ours have decreed that Man must not be fully cleansed from this Earth, for by the First Egg they are children of the Sun just as we. But contain their numbers we may, in fact, we must! It is to that specific purpose that I lay claw to rock this morning.
First, when marauding a village, make sure you come at it from downwind. Man has allied himself with the Sons of the Wolf and, though bastardized beyond all recognition, Dog has a deep mistrust of Dragonkind. While we are allied long and fruitfully with Wolf, Dog – that eater of Carrion – has chosen to ally with Man. Very well. Their noses, though dulled by the midden-heaps of generations, are nevertheless alert to our presence. Downwind, my Son, you must fly from downwind.
Second, it is best to attack in the Dawn, just before the mighty Sun has begun His daily journey cross the Sky. Fly low and fast, and keep alert for their bowman. But the Mother Earth has given Dragonkind a gift: for Man has discovered hops, and barley, and yeast. They have fermented these – foul brew! – into something he calls “beer.” (Don’t drink it; it tastes like week-dead carrion!) It imparts to Man a bellicosity followed by the urge to sing at the top of his lungs – off key, I might add; perhaps you’ve heard the bellowing? After the singing comes the procreation (don’t they look stupid when they do that? No majesty on the wing, no dancing, no artistry at all!). After the procreation comes the sleep. Beer has lent to Man a sleep deeper than the dead, my Son, and this is why Dawn is the best time. They awake, if they awake at all, bleery-eyed and muzzy.
Third, you must destroy the Main House first. This is where their leaders and best ‘warriors’ – hah! – live (if you can call it living – the stench alone will turn your scales!). Burn from the base of the building to the roof, from the front along the prevailing side, then circle once and do the same on the other side. As the rest of the village rouses, take the barns next – they will become agitated for the loss of their livestock and run back and forth, trying to decide whether to save them or fight you. This confusion is exactly correct.
Fourth, eat your fill, my Son, for you have truly earned it. Beware the missiles from their small arms, but by this time you will have landed in the center of the village and have naught to fear. Their weapons cannot penetrate your hide – only your belly is at risk, which is why you take their Main House first.
Best and bright fortunes to you, my Son, as you go forth into the World to make your way. I know that with practice, you can become the Scourge of Man and the Promise of the Next Generation of Dragonkind. Perhaps, in the fullness of time, even Dragonking one day!
All my love,
Your Father, Smaug