From her scientific contacts in Wollongong, she learned that robots had run amok in Lyon, France and a priestess, for some reason, had committed suicide. There was an article in a newspaper about Mars and the hope the colony left there on that planet ages ago might still exist.
No one wanted to discuss dragons with her. She had always been led to believe robots couldn’t kill unless programmed to do so. But why would anyone do such a thing? No one seemed to know or if they did, they didn’t share that information with her.
Before retiring, she ate a simple meal of seaweed and dried fish washed down with lemon juice. Then she did instrument checks on the weather via a control board set up for her to read. It was connected to a measuring device on the roof of her home near the solar panel that provided her with electricity.
Then she went outside to look at the sky. Unless the fog rolled in and it rained the next day, it would be clear with lots of stars. She breathed in the night air, finding it exhilarating, her nostrils flaring and a contented hum from her throat showing no one but herself her appreciation of those dark hours.
Every Sunday, the High Priestess would contact Elanora to see how she was doing. It was also, no doubt, to check up and make sure she was still on the island. “Are you getting plenty of exercise?” the High Priestess would often ask. Then she would want to know if Elanora was bored and, if so, what she might do to help alleviate that boredom. When asked about Wollongong or any other city, the High One would say life is dull there and she wasn’t missing much. In fact, life was much better where she was, and so she should continue to appreciate where she had been placed.
Elanora was smart enough to know that her benefactor could not afford to have her disappear and then turn up elsewhere. She might then have to explain how a female dragon could possibly exist, and that would never do.
Elanora wondered what it would be like to be a maiden or a priestess. She had a white scarf she played with when pretending to be first one and then the other. She knew too well that dragons were at the bottom of the social ladder, followed by knights, then mavericks.
She had seen pictures of knights. They were brutish in their armour. Flipping through fashion magazines, she had to admit to herself she thought mavericks looked ridiculous in their brightly coloured suits.
After five years on her island, it was time to move on, but the High Priestess would not hear any argument for such a move.
“I cannot live here any longer,” said Elanora one day to the High One. “I am wasted here!”
“You stay at my command,” replied the High Priestess.
“And if I refuse to stay?” asked Elanora.
“Death awaits you in Australia,” revealed the High Priestess. “If maidens, mavericks, and priestesses see you, they will hunt you down until you are caught, and then terrible things will happen to you. What’s more, I will not help you. I may even be called upon by the Highest of High Priestesses to do you harm.”
“But I have heard all that from you before.”
“And you will hear it from me again and again!”
“But my only crime wassss being born,” Elanora snapped in her defence. She spoke with a lisp at times because of the forked tongue all dragons have.
“That is crime enough.” The High Priestess’s voice was stern.
“But is it truly enough?” asked Elanora.
“Yes, it is,” confirmed the High One and broke off the connection.
Like every other dragon, Elanora had clawed her way out of her mother, thus killing her. It was not something she was aware of having done, since she was an infant. Even so, it marked her in ways her appearance alone couldn’t. It was because of this, more than anything else, she was among the damned. It was why knights fought dragons.
“You can do better on your island than anywhere else in the world,” the High Priestess often told her. This used to satisfy her, but she had become restless, taking longer and longer walks each morning. There had to be a way to escape her cushy prison. Maybe the outside world had changed since she was exiled and it wasn’t so bad, and she had a greater destiny elsewhere.
Then one day, she thought up a plan. First, she would put aside enough food from every drop over the following three months to last her three weeks without further rations. She could ask for more chocolate bars, cans of peaches, cans of rice-cream, and packets of dried fruit. Then she would take bedding and other material and make a comfortable place for herself within the cave. The idea being that if she could vanish for three weeks, and search parties sent to find her failed to do so, then the assumption would be she had already found a way off the island, drowned while swimming off shore, or had been attacked and eaten by a flying shark or some other predator. Then, when the searching for her had died away, she could leave her hiding place and head off with minimum risk of being caught.
She could dismantle part of her cottage to build a raft. She could sew her bed sheets together to make a sail and cover it in a mixture of salt water, flour, and mud, to stiffen it for added strength, against the high winds once out at sea.
Elanora knew the High Priestess would see this move as a betrayal, but there was nothing she could do about that except to remain where she had been placed. She had already been there too long. Most of all, she wanted to find out more about dragons and why they were the lowest of the low. It had to be more than the way they came into this world. “I hate disappointing the High Priestess and turning her against me,” said Elanora to the magpies who took food from her, “but I must be free. I need to know what it means to be a dragon and if I can make things better for my brethren. I’ll leave food for you here and there in various bushes, my treasures, but you will have to go back to fending for yourselves. You have been good company, and I do wish you the best.”