“Um…excuse me,” said Kay, who had been silent for quite a while. “I don’t mean to pry, but are you really a dragon? From everything I’ve read, I expected a real dragon to be…well, quite large.”
Keeley hopped and turned around on Sarah’s shoulder. Her tiny claws dug into Sarah’s pajamas a little bit, but they were too small to really hurt – though they did itch slightly. “And who is this one?” asked the dragon as she peered at Kay. “He looks quite handsome, even if he does wear funny-looking robes.”
“This one’s name is Kay,” he said. “I’m a wizard. Or at least, I’m working on becoming one.”
“And he does have a point,” added Sarah. “You do seem rather, um, shorter than one would expect of a dragon.”
“Well that’s easy to explain,” said Keeley, bobbing her head from side to side. “Keeley’s only ten years old. She’s still a growing girl. Someday, she’ll be bigger even than Dax. She just needs to start eating more.”
“Even if she does get that big, that’s still pretty small for a dragon,” whispered Kay. “And for some reason, I don’t think it’s her diet that made her so small.”
If Keeley heard those comments, she gave them no heed. She had already hopped off of Sarah’s shoulder again. Now she flew in circles around Dax’s head. The old warrior was marching the group back toward the site where they had lost track of Kay’s book. He didn’t look like he wanted to talk all that much, but that hardly seemed to stop Keeley.
“Where are we going, Dax? What are we going to do? Will there be good food there? How have you been? Is your mother feeling well? Does Keeley look like she’s put on weight since last time?”
If there are any dragons smaller than Keeley in Greystone Valley, they are probably too tiny for most people to see. This mouse-sized dragon is only about six inches long from the tip of her nose to the end of her tail, but she has a big heart and a few surprises that will help Sarah through her journey back to her own world.
Keeley is only ten years old, which is incredibly young for a dragon, since her kind lives thousands of years. She was the last dragon born in the valley and is beloved to her kindred, each of whom looks upon her as a daughter. When she hatched a decade ago, she was even smaller than she is now, but even the largest of dragons are able to notice how much she’s grown. Given a healthy diet and lots of exercise, Keeley might grow larger than a horse after a few centuries.
Keeley speaks fluid Draco, the language of the dragons, and is reasonably good with her English as well. She has a problem with pronouns, though. She is learning a bit, and actually seems better at speaking when she’s excited.
A white dragon, Keeley blends in well with the snowy mountains, and used to love diving into snow banks and chasing after mice in their burrows. She ran into trouble when a group of cave trolls found her doing this one day and decided to torture her for fun. Keeley fled and was pursued by the ugly sadistic monsters for several hours. She eventually lost them, but also found that she had lost her way. Unable to find the tunnels that led back to her family’s lair, she was stranded alone in the wilderness.
She came to live in a cave near the bottom of the mountains, and it was there that she met a fair maiden Allayah. Allayah fell in love with Keeley’s beautiful singing voice (which almost all dragons possess) and became fast friends with her, visiting her regularly. When a violent January storm kept Allayah from returning home, many of the locals in the girl’s village feared that a dragon had kidnapped her. Two warriors were sent out to find her: Zarr, the seventh son of the seventh son, and his less fortunate cousin Dax.
Zarr found Keeley while she was protecting Allayah from the elements. He didn’t care that Keeley posed no threat to the maiden, deciding instead to slay the dragon and then spread a tale that he had killed a much larger beast. At this point, Keeley found that she had one other ability that manifested when she got terrible stressed: she sneezed large fireballs.
Keeley’s accidental fireball caused an avalanche that seemingly buried Zarr and left the dragon and Allayah stranded. Fortunately for them, Dax eventually found them and rescued them both. He returned Allayah to her village and was joined on his subsequent travels by a very grateful Keeley. At times, Keeley even managed to lift the gloomy warrior’s mood, although the pessimistic Dax never likes to show any sort of happiness.
At the start of Greystone Valley, Keeley and Dax have become separated, with Keeley having joined a circus as their “replacement dragon” and Dax having been captured by the evil warlord Baelan. Both of these unusual individuals will have a major role to play in Sarah’s adventure, and both will provide plenty of excitement and humor during the tale.
Image by Jessica von Braun