Tales of Fung Castle
Dragon Ride
by Brendan McGrath

Mush waddled through the foresty town of Matango. The pine needles from the trees above crunched under his feet, and birds chirped from their nests. Mush climbed on top of a sessile mushroom, and stood on his tippy-roots. He could see the white dragons gathering at the cave to the north, just past Fung Castle, where Queen Shitake lived.

Today was the day that he would ride a white dragon!

Mush looked down from the giant toadstool at a puddle of morning dew. He saw his orange shaded mushroom head, with little green polkadots decorating it. He admired the new tunic which he had bought at Matango's shop yesterday.

"Mush!" called Mush's mother. She emerged from one of the carved out hollows in the pine trees, where the Fungs lived. She wore an apron decorated with toadstools, and a bonnet on her head.

"Coming!" answered Mush. He followed her inside for breakfast.

Mush on top of Matango Peak, which rose from rocky terrain where the dragon's cave was. His mother accompanied him, with a flute in her hand.

"Just play the flute and your dragon will come," she instructed as she gave him the flute. "You have a female."

"What is her name?" asked Mush.

"I believe that it's Kylata."

Mush raised the flute to his lips, and let his breath whistle through it. From the other side of the peak, a dragon came flying at him. It was Kylata! She came racing around the mountain, and Mush jumped on her back. The next thing he knew, he was flying through the sky!

Mush looked back, and saw Matango Peak getting smaller and smaller. He looked forward at the clouds that were becoming larger. He gripped Kylata's mane of feathers. "Higher, Kylata!"

By now he could see the Lofty Mountains to the Southwest of Matango, rising up to meet the sky. He pulled Kylata sharply to the left, as they changed their course from west to Southwest. "To the Lofty Mountains!"

Kylata let out a whistle, "BREEBBBREEUUU!!!" as she soared higher towards the mountains.

The wind playfully slapped at Mush's face, as Kylata flew ever faster, her wings beating against her sides.

Suddenly Mush heard a growl coming from behind a jagged peak in the Lofty Mountains, where they were above now. He looked to the left just in time to see a red dragon hovering, waiting for prey!

"Kylata! What now?!" cried Mush.

"BREEBRREEEU!" shrieked Kylata, as she dove down to the lower mountains, and curved around one of them. The red dragon followed, close behind, and then Kylata flew up and over the peak, and started to fly right behind the red dragon. The trick worked, but Mush knew that it would not last long.

"Kylata!" whispered Mush, as they glided softly through the peaks, right behind the red dragon, furious at lkosing his prey. "We have to get rid of him somehow!"

The red dragon was now breathing fire. White dragons cannot breathe fire, Mush knew, but he had heard that the horn on their head could fire a light beam.

"Can your beam harm him?" suggested Mush.

Kylata shook her head. And whistled disappointedly. Mush looked at the heavy scales that served as armor for the dragon. They had some sort of a resistance to magic attacks. A young dragon like Kylata wouldn't have a beam powerful enough to penetrate the scales.

Mush noticed to the right a mountain which had an overhang, caused by part of a lower side collapsing in an avalanche. Stalactites hung from it. An idea crawled slowly into Mush's mind, and like a puzzle, the pieces slowly came together. He whispered into Kylata's ear, and she nodded, and let out a roar.

The red dragon spun around, and began to chase Kylata and Mush. Kylata flew through many passages between the mountains, darting here and there. With every beat of her wings, the red dragon became more furious. She came to the overhang, and dove under it, and curved sharply to the left. She then fired a beam of light, which cut off each of the stalactites. They each fell, one by one, onto the head of the red dragon, who fell unconscious to the ravine below.

"Yes!" shouted Mush, as he and Kylata flew back to Matango.

Later that night...

The sun had drifted into a deep sleep hours ago, while the stars began to poke their heads out from their bed of blue blankets, squinting at the light of the moon. A cool night breeze swept through Matango, and swirled around the turrets of Fung Castle. The candle light within flickered like a firefly, calling its mate.

Mush stood before Queen Shitake in Fung Castle. He looked around. Clay pots held shrubs in them, and lined the stone walls. Wooden poles held the reed roof up, like pillars. Ivy crept around the poles, like a playful child. A carpet of hay was spread out on the wooden floor.

"A red dragon?" breathed Queen Shitake, "But they have been extinct for generations."

"I saw one, though, Shitake," insisted Mush.

"I believe you. That's why I am alarmed." She turned to a nobleman, Sir Taproot. "What do you think?"

"The red dragons were a horde of demons unleashed by a misuse of Mana by the ancient ones. They attempted to invade Matango many times. They were not the only dragons unleashed by misuse of Mana. There were ice dragons, earthen dragons, thunder dragons, and many more. I don't know what to think. But I do know that there is probably many more where the one Mush saw came from!"

"What will we do?" asked Mush, worried.

"I don't know, Mush," whispered Shitake, "I don't know."

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