The dragonwhose name was Nidhoggpeered closely
at the little creature wriggling in his claws.
These creatures came, he had noticed, in two kinds. There were
the bigger ones that acted like the cock o the walk, generally
wrapping themselves in metal shells and poking about with little
steel claws; and there were the smaller ones, which seemed to
do all the work, and which were usually softer and prettier,
but often made a lot of high-pitched noise.
This one seemed to be a nice combination of the twoquite
soft, and very pretty, but without the painful noise-making
and, though it did brandish a steel claw, the way it had tried
to prod him with it had been rather...
Of course, all the struggling it was doing now was making it
hard for him to THINK, so he lifted it up to his mouth,
and blew on it, gently.
The little thing stiffened, its face contorting in a look of
surprise that made him smile, and then it slumped over his claws.
That was better.
Thinking was something quite new for Nidhogg, and it
required a lot of concentration. He needed to find somewhere
quiet to practise, somewhere the little creature would be safe.
He stretched out his wings and flapped themonce, twicebeating
harder each timeand thricestarting to run
on his powerful hind legsand again, and again, andupyes,
up he climbed, rising on the current, enjoying the sensation
of riding the wind as his wings worked steadily.
In less than sixty heartbeats he had reached the hills.
He circled the summit of the highest, looking for a suitable
Down he glided, landing effortlessly, and deposited his little
creature on the shelf of rock.
It was still sleeping quietly.
Nidhogg folded his wings and settled down beside it, and waited
for a thought to enter his head.
It took a few moments, but when one did materialise it was
as clear as a bell: The little thing is all covered up. It
would look so much nicer if it wasnt.
The dragon stretched out a claw and, working with its very
tip, carefully ripped off some of the creatures gaudy
Nidhogg ... From the Old Norse Níðhöggr,
meaning, dreaded striker.