Marisa left the house to buy some butter.
Along the way she met a dragon. Granted, he was a little dragon she wouldn't have noticed if the squirrel hadn't chased him out of the bushes.
"Ow!" The dragon hit the cement. "You obnoxious squirrel! I'll wear your tail as a scarf --"
Marisa grabbed him by the nap of the neck. He gulped, huge eyes gone wide.
"Tell me how you got here, little one," she said. "Your kind aren't supposed to be in this realm."
"Human," he said softly. "You shouldn't be able to see me."
"Not human." She pulled aside hair uncovering one pointed ear.
The baby dragon gave an explosive sound of relief and grabbed hold of her arm. "I was with mama coming to find you. You're Councilor Marisa, aren't you? We so need your help!"
So much for a quiet dinner at home. "Where's your mother?"
"The ogres stopped her before she could change and come over! She told me to find you, but the squirrels kept chasing me away," he admitted. "I failed --"
"You didn't fail. You found me." Dragons had tender egos and she didn't want to set this one on the wrong path, being so young and impressionable. "Let's go see what the ogres are up to."
The small blue dragon guided her to the tear in reality that lead home. Even baby dragons never got lost. She pushed the hole open . . . and stepped into chaos.
Ogres leapt up and down, the ground shaking as they hit. The very large dragon thumped her tail in angry counterpoint, and the ground trembled all the time. Everyone yelled.
Marisa stepped forward with a shout of her own -- not a word, but rather magic that stilled everyone, whether they wanted to or not.
"What is the problem?"
"The ogres are encroaching on our land and they have accused US of stealing from THEM!" Legina Blue Dragon glared at the ogres. Her son rushed over and climbed on his mother's neck, mimicking the glare. He was going to be a terror in a few more centuries.
King Krashash snarled in return. "You stole our trees!"
"The trees grew on our land. We did not bring them. You have no right to intrude!"
"Far from our trees! Tell me how they got there!" He started to leap but stopped at a look from Marisa.
"Let's go see."
They walked to the valley, which was not far away. The dragon grumbled about having to go so slowly and the ogres snarled about having to run. They'd never been happy neighbors. At the high point overlooking the two areas was a stretch of land that belonged to the Royal Realm, designated empty land to keep the two areas apart. To the left she could see the rows of tall walnut trees, a special breed that grew very fast in the magic lands.
Just down the hill to the right was a new row of walnut trees, all of them young. She glanced at the dragon, but she still glared.
"And what would we do with walnuts? We do not eat the foul things. And we certainly don't want trees spreading into our fields so we cannot land!"
She was right. Nonetheless, even as Marisa watched, another tree sprang up and grew a few feet.
"There has to be something --" Marisa began. And then she saw it. "Squirrel!"
Squirrels were an invasive creature to the fae lands. She caught sight of one leaping through the grass that separated ogres from dragons She marched down and cut the animal off and the little guy found himself surrounded by ogres and a dragon. Being a squirrel, that didn't bother him in the least.
"What do you think you're doing?" Marisa demanded.
The squirrel dropped a huge walnut and stood up on his back legs waving the front ones with some agitation. "Bury the seeds! Get ready for the snow! Get out of my way! No time!"
The squirrel grabbed the walnut. She grabbed the squirrel. "We have a problem."
Squirrels had learned to talk as soon as they got hold of magic -- probably by eating magic walnuts. They got smarter, but they were still squirrels. She saw others bounding through the grass. Ogres tried to catch them and she tried not to laugh. It did give her a couple minutes to rethink the situation. And one thing finally occurred to her. The squirrels had been in the fae lands for more than a century. They'd never worried about winter before.
"Why do the squirrels suddenly think they need to worry about snow?" she asked.
Everyone stopped. Even the squirrel in her grip stopped twisting and turning. "Are you all that stupid?" he demanded. "The snow is coming! Get ready!"
There was only one way they could have snow. She turned to Legina Blue Dragon who looked worried. "I'd say you're about to have a visit from your cousins in the north. You might want to prepare."
"Northern dragons?" King Krashash said, appalled. He spun. "Back to the caves! Lay in all the walnuts you can find! Prepare! Prepare!"
"Finally, someone smart," the squirrel said. "Will you put me down? I have walnuts to plant!"
"But they just grow," she said. Another three leapt out of the ground as they watched. "You're not saving them for later."
"Yes, yes. The ogres try to stomp us in their walnut forest, so we're moving to our own place.
"On the dragon lands."
"Not their land. We aren't stupid you, know. We're planting on the edge of the divide, as far from the ogres as we can."
He was right. The ogres had assumed it was dragon land. The dragon had responded to the challenge.
"Yes. Right," Legina said. "Sorry for the bother."
She and her son flew off. The ogres ran in full retreat. She let go of the squirrel. Problem solved.
Maybe she still had time to get to the store.
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