SkinWalker the bronze and black cave dragon and his two friends DisReoTaon and WriggleMay flew as fast as their wings would take them along the wall of the cave, past Ke Sna the sleeping python, around the scorpions nest and through the spray of the roaring waterfall.
Laughing with excitement, smoke streaming from their nostrils Skin, Dis and Wriggle flew far up the river above the waterfall and waited on a wet rock until a piece of wood from the world above came floating by and they hopped on to it.
Down the river they went, faster and faster and soon they could hear the roar of the waterfall ahead of them. The water became rough with waves that washed over their claws and splashed onto their scales.
Their long slim tails lashed the water to foam behind them. Gripping tightly to the driftwood with their sharp claws, they traveled closer and closer to the top of the waterfall.
Then with a scream of delight and fear, they went over the edge.
Letting go of the wood they spread their wings as wide as they could and swooped away,high into the roof of the cave, turning somersaults and letting the piece of wood fall far into the hole at the bottom of the waterfall.
SkinWalker, DisReoTaon and WriggleMay thought that was a fine thing to do so they did it again before going to see their friend Se Tor the spider.
They often visited the spider and they made sure to fly very carefully amongst the webs that she never stopped weaving.
Her webs covered all of one wall of the cave, up over the top,and hung high above in the shadows of the roof.
She had hung long looping strands of web across the highest parts of the cave to use as bridges. They were not sticky and the dragons would use them as swings when there was a breeze coming in from the cave entrance.
Her favourite place was near a small hole in the roof of the cave that opened to the sky.
Outside the hole amongst the rocks there were two large tall trees with shiny smelly flowers that insects liked to come and feed on.
Sometimes one of the insects would fly into the hole below the trees to see what was down there.
Se Tor's web would be waiting and the spider would not be hungry that night.
SkinWalker, DisReoTaon and WriggleMay were her favourite young dragons and she enjoyed telling them stories of when she was young and had many of her children with her.
Dis, Skin and Wriggle would sit on the web bridges swinging in the breeze,clinging tightly with their sharp claws, their shining wings folded, listening for hours to the stories that Se Tor would tell while she wove her wondrous webs.
SkinWalker dreamt of the day when he would be big enough to fly out of the cave to the outside world and see what sort of adventures were waiting for him.
One morning SkinWalker went looking for his friends WriggleMay and DisReoTaon to see if they wanted to fly and play with him.
WriggleMay had a cold so her mother was keeping her in their nest, warmly wrapped up in a web blanket that Se Tor had made especially for her.
DisReoTaon had flown too close to a scorpion, annoying it so it had stung him just on the tip of his wing causing it to itch and swell. He was in his nest also, his wingtip covered in dragon cream to help heal it and he couldn't play either.
So SkinWalker flew slowly towards the entrance of the cave where, high above, he could see Se Tor busy working amongst her webs.
She didn't answer when he called to her as she was carefully repairing a long piece of her lovely web.
Feeling a little lonely SkinWalker flew up to one of his favourite rocks just inside the cave door. He gazed longingly out into the forest that surrounded their cave and wished he was allowed to explore outside the cave.
He looked around behind him. Nobody was watching.
He raised his beautiful wings to the sun and with a strong flap he leapt off the rock,and swooped high and fast above the treetops.
He twisted and turned and did a big somersault over the top of a tree that was the home of a family of monkeys. They chattered and screamed at him as he flew away. He didn't care! They couldn't fly!
He raced a hawk that was gliding above the trees and soon left it far behind him.
He spotted a gumnut tree with big golden nuts on it. He realised that he was hungry and flew down and gently landed on one of the ripe nuts. Using his sharp claws and teeth he began to eat.
From another tree deep in the shadows a pair of glittering eyes watched him eating. A tree troll had been sleeping in the branches after chasing the monkeys all over the forest. But they had been too quick for it and it was still hungry.
It decided that a fat little dragon was better than nothing. The troll usually avoided dragons as the flame from their nostrils set his hairy hide on fire, but this one was small and was busy eating.
Slowly and very quietly it began to move towards the dragon.
SkinWalker was enjoying the gumnut. He was just beginning to think that perhaps he had enough when he heard a slight rustle of a branch behind him.
At the same moment the scream of a monkey came from close by warning him of great danger! He raised his wings to fly away but was too late.
The hairy hand of the tree troll grabbed him from behind, it's dirty claws digging deep into the skin of his wing.
SkinWalker screamed in fear and anguish, he twisted and struggled, feeling a terrible pain in his wing as he did so.
He tried to light the fire inside him to burn the troll but he was only a small dragon, too young yet to have the flame and only puffs of smoke came out of his nose.
He managed to twist right around and saw the gleaming eyes and the big fangs of the troll coming closer towards him.
It grunted and snarled and opening its jaws very wide it prepared to bite the top of his wing.
SkinWalker felt the weight of the gumnut he had been muching on in his claws, he swung his hand up and around as fast and hard as he could towards the tree troll.
The gumnut hit the troll right on the nose. It splattered over it's head and ran into it's eyes blinding it.
The troll screamed with rage as he let SkinWalker's wing go and he clambered quickly down the tree trunk heading for the forest floor and the safety of his lair.
SkinWalker couldn't believe what he had done. He sat trembling in the tree wishing that he had stayed at home.
He felt the pain in his wing and raising it he saw the long rips that the claws of the troll had made.
He knew he was in trouble.
Not too far away he thought he could see the hill and the entrance to his home cave but he wouldn't be able to fly there with a torn wing and it was too far to walk.
SkinWalker sat in the treetop and two big tears rolled down his cheeks. He felt miserable and frightened.
Feeling something crawling up his leg he looked down and there was a cave weta with very long feelers looking up at him.
The weta asked him why he was crying.
SkinWalker told him about flying out for his first adventure, about the troll and showed him his torn wing telling the weta that he couldn't get home and that his parents would soon be worrying about him.
The weta waved his feelers in the air and told Skin not to worry. He lifted his long back legs into the air and began to rub the sharp barbs on them together.
SkinWalker could hear a screeching sound as they swiftly moved.
Very soon he heard another weta starting to sing in the tree the troll had come from and then another further away all in the direction of his cave. Very soon a long line of wetas' were singing and passing on the information that SkinWalker needed help.
The cave weta on SkinWalker's leg stopped his song and told him that help would soon be on the way.
They sat together and the weta told SkinWalker about his brothers and sisters and how they lived all over the forest including Skin's cave.
SkinWalker looked towards his home and the two trees above Se Tor's favourite hole. He saw the spider swiftly building a huge web between them.
When she had completed the web, she sat in the middle and spun a long loop of spider silk and wove it into a net. Soon she was finished and SkinWalker saw his father, SanTaoVar rise from the cave entrance and fly up above Se Tor.
The spider made one more loop and threw the end into the air. It drifted lazily in the breeze and the great dragon grabbed it with his claws and he gently lifted the net into the sky.
SanTaoVar flew slowly just above the trees of the forest, his great wings stirring up clouds of leaves from the tops.
SkinWalker watched him coming closer and closer, wondering how his father knew where he was.
Then he heard the sound of many wetas becoming louder and realised that they were guiding his father by the sound of their singing.
Before SkinWalker could take ten more deep breaths his father was hovering above him. Very carefully,because his wing was painful, the little dragon crawled into the net.
He waved his good wing at his father and up he rose, the net holding him safely.
Over the trees they went, the net swinging in the wind. If SkinWalker's wing didn't hurt so much he would have enjoyed the ride.
Soon they were back at the cave entrance and he was lowered gently to the ground.
Getting slowly out of the net he saw all the dragons waiting for him, WriggleMay and DisReoTaon right in front. All the dragons were pleased to see SkinWalker back home again.
His mother picked him up and carried him into the cave and over to his nest. After carefully gluing his torn wing with sticky spider silk and covering it with dragon cream she tucked him into bed.
As he lay there SkinWalker could see WriggleMay and DisReoTaon flying amongst the webs of Se Tor and swinging on the web bridges.
He hoped that his wing would soon get better so he could fly and play with his friends again.
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