Many have wondered where dragons came from. If there were great flying lizards roaming the earth, it seems unlikely that humanity would would have been able to go from living in caves knocking rocks together to make sparks to building cities. And yet, myths abound of the great flying beasts. This leaves only one conclusion – dragons came along after humans did.
Their story starts, oddly enough, with a rabbit. Humanity had been spreading out across the world, hunting, cultivating, and what they called civilizing. This rabbit had a name, in his own language. It is nearly impossible to pronounce it in any human language, but we shall call him Ito. As he grew up within rabbit society, he saw the encroachment of humans, and proclaimed it to be a great danger. His station was not amongst the great leaders of his society – he was a mere cook that would prepare wondrous feasts for his brethren.
“Rabbit kin,” he said at their great Republic of Rabbits, where every rabbit can speak, that was held to address great threats such as this, “humans continue to furrow the land, tearing up our homes without a care. We must band together to deal with them. I have a plan –“
“A plan?” another rabbit scoffed, for the rabbits possess only the right to speak, not to speak free of interruption. “The chef has a plan? This should be a matter for our great military minds. What say you, General Lapin?”
“I propose,” as the General spoke, the crowd of rabbits fell silent. Even Ito was in awe of this famed leader and tabled his plan for the time being, “That we continue on our current course of action. The humans are too large for us, and too numerous. They breed, well, they breed almost as fast as we do. Running and hiding has served us so well, and the humans will burn themselves out like so many other predators.”
There was a soft susurrus of rustling rabbits – their version of applause. The vote was held soon after, and the General’s course of action held the day. Ito was frustrated for he felt that his plan had merit.
Before the Republic dissolved until the next one was called, he would have time. Maneuvering through the hidden holes and hovels that the rabbits used for their meet, he brought himself into the orbit of General Lapin. And he waited. It was intimidating, to be approaching him, the great General who had perfected the rabbit trick of running through a prickly bush to dissuade pursuers.
“General?” he said, after building up his courage.
“Ah! You spoke at the Republic. Ira, is it?”
“Well, Ira, what can I do for you?”
“I have a plan to deal with the humans, a way to build a weapon.”
“A weapon? That goes against the rabbit way. You should be ashamed Ira.”
“Our people are dying,” was what he wanted to say, or “our way of life isn’t working.” But he didn’t, instead he sat and cowered.
General Lapin trotted off in a huff, his drooping ears taking an extra moment to remove themselves from the conversation.
The next day Ito awoke with a plan. Well, a second plan. He made the decision to not go home; instead he was going to go and try to pursue his plan. It would be a difficult time – he would be without friends or family. And he would have to gather food for two without any help. The next step was for him to find a willing partner. He set off after the Republic, going south to where the land was arid. Desert would be too far, and too dangerous for him. Instead, he made his way to the scrubland, the dry place with its lack of greens that would be difficult for him, but still possible.
The choice of desert was two-fold: first, humans were less common there, and secondly it would be the best place for him to find a partner. He searched through and scavenged the desert and the caves within it for three full days before he found a willing partner. One evening, he sat near the mouth of a cave for the bats to start their nighttime hunts, where he hailed each of them as they passed.
“Hello, good sir. I am Ito, might I know your name?” said Ito.
“Kittimer,” said the bat, his voice high pitched and causing chills to run up the rabbit’s spine. He was a large specimen though, larger than Ito was. He seemed like he would serve admirably for the plan that Ito hoped to pursue.
“Kittimer, wait. Before you fly off, I have a plan.”
The bat was still waking, the evening serving as his early morning, and he was still lethargic. As he blinked his eyes, one after the other, he said, “I will listen.”
“You know of the spread of humanity, correct? They keep growing and taking over more and more land. Surely they’ve affected you.”
“They steal the fruit that we eat, and try to chase us off with nets and fire.”
“If we don’t do something, it will not be too long before they spread across the world and ruin everything for us. I have a plan to deal with them. But I need your help.”
“What would you have me do? I can fly and may be slightly larger than you, but they are larger than I.”
“Exactly. So we need to make you bigger. To transform you.”
“Tell me how this will work.”
After explaining the plan, step by step of it, Kittimer agreed with the decision. He was lazy, and from his point of view, there was little downside. If the rabbit’s plan did not work, he would at least have gotten a great deal of food out of it. They started with the plan the next day.
Ito ran himself ragged, day after day, grabbing insects and fruits, finding carrion and collecting nuts that had fallen onto the ground. He made sure that each and every thing was taken and eaten by Kittimer. By the end of the day, his belly was distended and sore.
“You feed me too much,” he said.
“This needs to be done quickly,” Ito said, his voice harried. He had spent so much time searching for food during the day, that he hadn’t found much for himself. “Every day needs to be progress.”
They continued at this day after day. Ito grew thin and lanky from the process. After months of effort, Kittimer had grown to a gargantuan size, he was larger than one of the homes that the humans had built, and he rumbled around on the ground when he walked. No longer was he able to fly, his bulk was too much even for his expanded wings. Gliding and hops were all he could do.
“I am powerful, I am unstoppable,” Kittimer said, relishing his size, rolling in the dirt.
“You’re large, but you’re not unstoppable. The humans work together, and they can take down mammoths. There is but one of you. We have more to do.”
So they started the next phase of his plan. Next Ito introduced high concentrations of bone into the meals of his partner. Bone marrow soup, shards of bone ground up into bonemeal to be baked into bread, and more, were prepared daily. This supplemented all of the other food that Ito and Kittimer gathered daily to continue his growth. During this time, Ito also began to use strong spices in the food that he served Kittimer, spices that he would have to travel for days to secure. Kittimer was tasked with developing his muscles by enlarging the cave that he lived within.
Before long, he was covered in boney spines and ridges, fuelled as he was by all of the calcium and keratin that he was being fed. He began to rattle as he walked, the heavy bones and ridges scraping against each other and scraping across rocks.
“I am strong, I am powerful, and I am unstoppable,” Kittimer said, sharpening his talons on rocks as he basked in the sun.
“You may have more defence scales, but it is not enough. Humans have ropes and nets that they can hold you down with. They’ll be able to find weak spots on you and exploit them. We have one more step, and it is the hardest one.”
They kept at their work, the foods and exercises that continued to shape and change him. Kittimer’s body continued to change, lengthening and leaning a bit despite his new size.
The final step was the hardest. Ito had been careful with his leavings, ensuring that they dried out in the sun. As a chef, he knew about the complex chemicals that were produced at nearly every step in the digestive cycle. Rabbit leavings are rich in sulphur and nitrogen, two components that would be important in what came next.
These dried out leavings were collected then, for this final step. He took them, a little bit at a time, and ground them up between two rocks. They were added to thin gruels and watery soups. The fat that they had built up on Kittimer began to melt away in earnest, but the behemoth of a frame remained. His stomach began to make strange noises, soft and liquid sounding shifts as forces beneath the surface fought for supremacy. After three weeks, his stomach’s complaints had subsided. By this point, Ito had gone white from the lack of sleep as he watched over Kittimer.
They awoke at the start of the fourth week to find the lizard hovering above the ground, lifted by buoyant gasses that had formed within him. Ecstatic, he swam through the air with Ito perched upon his head, using the boney protrusions as paw holds.
“There, that rock, do you see it?” said Ito.
“I do, what would you have me do?”
“Pick it up, and swallow it.”
They repeated this a number of times, shifting the buoyancy as they did so. Kittimer quickly understood the trick to it, and began to be able to adjust his capacity to fly instead of just hovering. They cut slats into his hide and released great wings that helped propel him forward, increasing his speed and making him more dangerous. This was not the last of the gifts that Ito gave to the new dragon.
“Do you see that cactus,” said Ito, “the one that looks like a man leaning over?”
“Belch at it,” said Ito.
The flying lizard did, feeling a strange sensation as the flammable gasses that kept him afloat traveled along the length of his body and past the rocks. As they did so, they rattled the rocks against each other, causing small sparks amongst them. Flame exploded from the lips of Kittimer, lighting the cactus on fire.
They landed and Kittimer continued to experiment with belching, gouts of flame flickering and catching on things. It started with small flickers and lights, but it was not long before there were fireballs and walls of flame that he created. As he continued to experiment, he the flames licked at his own body, his fur singing from the work. The bony protrusions that had been developed kept him safe, as Ito had planned, and his transformation was complete.
The two of them whooped with joy, seeing the success of their many and long labours. There was much work for them to do though, so they continued flying as they banked to the north.
Ito walked into the Republic of Rabbits slowly. It had been called to discuss the sudden setbacks that the humans seemed to be facing. Great creatures flew above the land, so the stories went, and breathed flame and destruction upon the human villages. Ito had aged much in the year since the last Republic; he was thin and white, and walked with a slight limp now from an unfortunate incident where he fell from the dragon’s back.
“Ito,” they cried, “what has happened to you?”
“I’ve been busy,” he replied, “enacting the plan that I tried to tell you about.”
“Oh, yes, the mythical plan of building a weapon,” said General Lapin with disdain, his whiskers fidgeting.
“I never said it was building a weapon, I said creating. I’m a chef, and I create.”
On cue, Kittimer flew in, reeking of sulphur or blocking out the sun.
And that is how rabbits created the first dragon. From these humble origins, Ito would go on to teach other rabbits how to create dragons, forming a bond between the two races. Together, they fought back against humanity, forcing them into a dark age where they hid behind tall stone walls. It did not last forever, but its end is a story for another day.