Leon is a happy little fire-breathing dragon, but there’s so much about the world that he doesn’t know. When he makes a new friend, he learns that the world is much bigger than he ever thought, and it’s filled with all kinds of interesting people!
Read the story, and remember to check out Tally Heilke’s Etsy store to get your hands on hand-crafted versions of the characters!
One afternoon Leon the dragon was wandering around in the forest looking at the trees and the flowers and singing a happy tune to himself. It went something like this:
I’m a dragon, big and strong
My wings are wide, my tail is long
Yes I’m a dragon, strong and proud
And when I roar it’s very LOUD!
Leon jumped up in the air and shouted the last word at the top of his lungs. A little puff of flame shot out of his mouth and lit a branch on fire. “Whoops!” he said, covering his mouth. “I’d better put that fire out!”
Flapping his wings as hard as he could, Leon rose into the air and grabbed onto the branch. He bounced up and down, and finally the branch broke off the tree and he fell to the ground. Then he stomped on the fire until it went out.
“Phew!” said Leon, sitting down against the tree trunk. “That was a close one. I should be more careful with my fire breath!”
Just then, Leon heard someone sneeze: “Ah-choo clink clink.”
“Who is that?” wondered Leon. “And why did their sneeze go ‘clink clink’?” He got up and walked around the tree.
There, on the other side of the tree, was a big, icy igloo.
Leon scratched his head. “What is an igloo doing in the middle of the forest?”
“Ah-choo clink clink clink,” said someone from inside the igloo.
“Hello?” called Leon. “Who’s there?”
“It’s me,” replied the person inside the igloo. “I’m Emma the dragon! Who are you?”
“I’m Leon. I’m a dragon, too,” said Leon. “What are you doing inside an igloo?”
“I don’t know!” said Emma. “My mother was taking me to the doctor who lives in the woods, because I have a cold and I can’t stop sneezing.” She sneezed again: “Ah-choo clink clink. I saw a butterfly and I wanted to try to catch it, but I got lost and couldn’t find my way back to the path. I looked all over trying to find my mother back, and I was so tired, so I decided to take a nap. The next thing I knew, I woke up inside this igloo. Can you help me get out?”
“Hmm,” said Leon. “Why don’t you just breathe fire and melt all the ice?”
“But I can’t breathe fire!”
“Maybe you just have to learn,” said Leon. “A mudge helped me learn. All you have to do is take a deep breath, swallow a tickle in your throat, and blow out as hard as you can.”
“No, no, no,” said Emma. “I mean I can’t breathe fire because I’m not a fire-breathing dragon.”
“What kind of dragon are you?” asked Leon, confused.
“I am an ice-breathing dragon!” said Emma proudly.
“Oh,” said Leon. “I’ve never actually met an ice-breathing dragon before. All of the dragons in my village breathe fire.”
“My whole village breathes ice. I met a fire-breathing dragon once. He was very old and grey, but his fire was purple. Is your fire purple?”
“No,” said Leon. “My fire is green. You must have met Grandfather Joseph. My dad says Grandfather Joseph is the only good dragon who can breathe purple fire. He told me Grandfather Joseph’s parents were bad dragons, but Grandfather Joseph ran away from home when he was little and was raised by a family of hopps.”
“How could a hopp raise a dragon?” wondered Emma. “That would look pretty funny!”
“Sometimes Grandfather Joseph even acts like a hopp,” said Leon. “One time I saw him bouncing up and down on his legs, like hopps do, and he wiggles his nose around like a hopp, too!” Thinking about it, Leon laughed.
Emma laughed, too. Then she sneezed. “Ah-CHOO! Clink clink clink.”
“Why do your sneezes go ‘clink clink’?” asked Leon.
“I think I’m sneezing out ice cubes. Maybe that’s how I got stuck in this igloo. Maybe I was sneezing in my sleep, and all of the ice cubes made an igloo around me!”
“Is it cold in there?”
“Yes, but ice-breathing dragons like the cold,” said Emma. “We don’t like to be trapped, though.”
“Well I’m going to get you out of there!” promised Leon. He tapped on the igloo with one hand. “I’m going to melt the igloo right here. You’d better get to the other side.”
Leon stood back, stretched out his wings, took a deep breath, swallowed the tickle in the back of his throat, and blew out as hard as he could. A big ball of green fire burst out of his mouth and melted a hole right into the side of the igloo. A puddle of water soaked into the grass.
“Thank you, Leon!” said Emma. She crawled out through the hole and shook the drips of water from the igloo off of her wings. She was blue and white and a little bit smaller than Leon.
“You’re welcome,” said Leon.
“Ah-choo!” sneezed Emma. Two little ice cubes shot out of her nose and hit Leon on the chest.
“Ha ha!” laughed Leon. “I guess you really do need to go to the doctor.”
Emma looked sad. “I need to find my mother, first!”
“Let’s fly up and look for her,” suggested Leon.
“I can’t fly,” said Emma.
“That’s okay,” said Leon. “I can fly, but only a little bit. Here, I’ll go look.” He flapped his wings as hard as he could and flew up to a high tree branch, where he perched to let his wings rest. Holding on tight, he looked all around.
“Can you see my mother?” called Emma. “She is dark blue with some white spots, like me!”
Leon looked left, and slowly looked around to his right. “Ah ha!” he said. “There she is!” He had spotted a big blue and white dragon hurrying down the path not far away. “I’ll get your mother’s attention with a signal.”
Taking a big, deep breath and stretching his wings back with all of his strength, Leon swallowed a mighty tickle and WHOOSH! He made a big, long line of green fire through the air. His flame was so big that it knocked him over backwards and he fell off of his branch and tumbled towards the ground.
Leon tried to flap his wings, but they were still tired from getting up into the tree, and he had lost his balance too much to catch himself.
“Oh no!” shouted Emma. “Leon!”
Just as Leon was about to hit the ground, a strong pair of wings swung underneath him and caught him. Emma’s mother lowered Leon gently to the forest floor.
“Phew!” said Leon. “You saved me!”
“You shouldn’t fly so high!” said Emma’s mother. “Your wings haven’t grown big enough yet.”
“I won’t,” promised Leon. “Thank you!”
“You’re welcome. And thank you for finding Emma and showing me where she was with your fire. That was a smart way to get my attention, even if it did make you fall!”
Leon beamed with pride.
“Now come along, Emma. We still have to get you to Doctor Gon’s clinic. Leon, can you find your way back home from here?”
“Mother,” said Emma, “can we go visit Leon’s village some time? I want to see more dragons that breathe fire!”
“Maybe,” said her mother, “but not until you’re well again.”
“Okay,” said Emma. “Goodbye, Leon. See you again soon, I hope!”
Leon waved goodbye and made his way back home, humming a happy tune and being careful not to yell the last word too loud.
Leon the dragon was sitting on the riverbank, dipping his toes in the water and sighing to himself, when he saw a little roly poly black mudge hop up beside him and lean over to take a drink.
“Hello, little mudge,” said Leon.
“Yikes!” said the mudge. “A dragon!” It turned around and starting hopping away as fast as it could.
“Wait!” said Leon. “I’m not going to hurt you! I’m a nice dragon.”
The mudge stopped hopping. “Are you sure?” it said.
“Very sure,” said Leon.
“But I hear dragons like to eat mudges like me for snacks!” said the mudge. It was so scared it was shivering.
“I have never eaten a mudge in my whole life,” said Leon, “and I don’t want to eat you. I promise.”
The mudge didn’t come any closer, but it didn’t keep hopping away, either.
Leon said, “I’m too sad to eat anything right now, anyways.”
“What are you sad about?” asked the mudge.
“It’s my first birthday tomorrow,” said Leon.
The mudge smiled. “That’s something to be happy about!”
“Not for me,” said Leon. “When dragons reach their first birthday, their family throws a big special party for them.”
“I love parties!” said the mudge. It hopped a tiny bit closer.
“I do, too,” said Leon, “but at a dragon’s first birthday party, they are supposed to show everyone what colour their fire breath is.”
“Fire breath!?” shouted the mudge. “Yikes!” It hopped a little bit further away.
“The problem is that I can’t breathe any fire yet!” said Leon. “I haven’t breathed fire even once.”
“I thought all dragons could breathe fire,” said the mudge.
“Well, not all dragons,” said Leon. “Some dragons breathe other things, like ice or fog or wind or mud, but all of the dragons in my town breathe different colours of fire.”
“So why can’t you?” asked the mudge. It hopped a little bit closer again.
“I don’t know,” said Leon. “That’s why I’m so sad. If I go to my party and everyone finds out that I can’t breathe fire, they will all laugh at me!”
“Have you practiced?” asked the mudge.
“Yes,” said Leon. “I’ve been practicing every day for months.”
“Why don’t you try for me?” said the mudge, and hopped all the way back to where Leon was so it could watch.
“Okay,” said Leon. “Here I go.”
Leon stood up straight and tall, put his shoulders back, stretched out his wings, squeezed his fists tight, took a deeeeeep breath, closed his eyes, and blew all of his breath out as hard as he could.
“See?” he said. “No fire.”
“Are you sure you’re doing it right?” asked the mudge.
“That’s exactly how my dad does it when he breathes fire,” said Leon.
“Are you swallowing a tickle in the back of your throat?”
“What do you mean?” asked Leon.
“Well, I am just a mudge,” said the mudge, “and we mudges can’t breathe fire, but we can breathe bubbles.” The mudge closed its eyes, wriggled its body, and blew three shiny little bubbles, which floated off on the wind. “When I breathe bubbles,” said the mudge, “I take a deep breath, and then I feel a little tickle at the back of my throat. If I swallow the tickle, then bubbles come out, but if I don’t swallow the tickle, all I get is air.”
Leon thought about this for a moment. He wasn’t sure if he had ever felt a tickle in his throat like that. “It’s worth a try,” he said, “but I sure hope I don’t start breathing bubbles! I’m a dragon, not a mudge.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a mudge,” said the mudge. “I like being a mudge!”
Leon said, “I guess I like mudges, too.” The mudge smiled at Leon, and Leon smiled back.
Then Leon stood up straight and tall, put his shoulders back, stretched out his wings, squeezed his fists tight, and took a deeeeeep breath. He felt a little tickle at the back of his throat that he had never noticed before, so he swallowed with a big gulp, closed his eyes, and blew all of his breath out as hard as he could.
“Yikes!” shouted the mudge.
“What happened?” said Leon, because his eyes were still closed.
“You did it!” said the mudge. “You breathed lots of fire!”
“I did?” said Leon. He slowly opened one eye, then slowly opened the other one. A wisp of smoke was hanging in the air, and the wind blew it away as he watched. “I did it!” he said to the mudge. “I breathed real fire, didn’t I?”
The mudge cheered and hopped up and down.
“What colour was my fire?” asked Leon.
“Why don’t you try again with your eyes open, and see for yourself?” said the mudge.
So Leon stood straight, stretched out his wings, took another deeeeeep breath, swallowed a tickle, and breathed out without closing his eyes. He saw lots of green fire go shooting out over the water. When he closed his mouth, the fire turned into smoke and blew away.
“Hooray!” said Leon. “Now I can go to my party tomorrow and everyone will see my green fire. Thank you for helping me, little mudge.”
“You’re welcome,” said the mudge. “You’re a very nice dragon. Maybe dragons aren’t so scary, after all.”
“My name is Leon,” said Leon. “What’s your name?”
“Silly dragon. Mudges don’t have names!” said the mudge. “We are all just called ‘mudge.'”
Then the mudge took Leon to meet some of the other mudges, and they all became good friends and had many adventures together.