Hsrandtuss watched the workers maneuver the two-ton square of stone up the hill. A few pushed while many others pulled with ropes wrapped around the block, and still others moved the logs used as rollers from the back to the front as needed. He flushed his dewlap in satisfaction. Things were looking good. The dam had been completed and the lake was filling up. Those workers freed from labor on the dam were now building walls—either the stone wall fortifying the hill or the wooden wall surrounding the entire town site. The bottom floor of the palace was under construction and there was even a single room with a ceiling in place.
“You are pleased, my husband?”
The king turned to look at Szakhandu, who ran her hand over the scar on his back. She had long since been allowed back into his hut and his good graces.
“It is good,” he said.
“Have you thought any more about Kendra’s plan?”
He narrowed his eyes. “What plan?”
“Her idea to raise her offspring from the time they hatch.”
“I was afraid that was the plan you were talking about. Have you been discussing it with her?”
“We all have.”
“All of you?”
“And have you come to a consensus?”
“Sirris, Tokkenoht, and I like Kendra’s ideas. Sszaxxanna is against them. Ssu hasn’t expressed an opinion.”
“Ssu has no opinion,” said Hsrandtuss, “because Ssu has no thought in her head. That is why she is my favorite wife.”
“Ssu is not your favorite,” said Szakhandu. “Tokkenoht is.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Lately, she has held most of your confidences.”
“She has proven herself both valuable and reliable. That doesn’t mean she is my favorite. However the fact she, as well as you and Sirris, agrees with Kendra settles it for me. We will build a private nesting area for you to use. One of you will be the royal egg keeper and will watch over all of your nests.”
“This is well done, my husband.”
“It is an experiment,” he said. “We will try it for a season, but we don’t need to spread it around. I’m not sure how other people will take it. Talk with the others and decide who might make a good egg keeper. I’ll make the final decision after hearing your advice.”
At that moment a young male came running to the king. He stopped and quickly placed his hand in front of his dewlap, palm out, in a sign of respect.
“Great King,” he said. “Great Yessonar has been spotted in the sky.
He pointed off just above the distant horizon.
“Excellent!” boomed Hsrandtuss. “Tell Straatin to prepare a place for him, with something comfortable for the god to sit upon. And tell Chutturonoth to form an honor guard to accompany me.” He turned to Szakhandu. “Get all the wives. They must come too.”
A short time later, the king marched out from the partially constructed city, leading his six wives and a dozen warriors, all painted in their finest form. He could see Yessonar circling above the other side of the plain. He was mildly surprised that the dragon hadn’t simply landed by Yessonarah, but he wasn’t bothered too much about it. After all, a god could do whatever he wanted.
It wasn’t long before it became obvious what the dragon was doing. He was circling over a herd of sauroposeidon. The huge herbivores ranged in size from those only recently having reached adulthood and weighing not much over ten tons, to the old matriarch who was more than 150 feet long and weighed well over 60 tons. They skirted the edge of the pine forest. The dragon picked the one that he wanted and with a quick flip upward to gain speed, turned, and shot toward the ground like a missile. Hsrandtuss and the other lizzies were almost lifted from their feet by the force of the great reptile hitting his prey, a forty ton adult female. The sauroposeidon scattered before regrouping and hurrying away in a group.
By the time the lizardmen reached the site of the attack, the dragon had consumed a good portion of the dinosaur. He gave them a quick glance, but continued eating, raking off giant pieces of meat with his great clawed hands. The other reptilians stayed well away, outside the range of the constantly whipping barbed tail, but Hsrandtuss marched forward until he was actually standing in the dragon’s shadow.
“Great Yessonar,” he said. “I would gladly have had a fire made and cooked this for you. I know you like your meat the way the soft-skins serve it. Truth be told, I eat it that way myself sometimes.”
“Takes too long,” said the dragon, his mouth full. “You wouldn’t believe how hungry I get flying.”
“It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?”
“What?” wondered Yessonar.
“I have noticed that pound for pound, a soft skin will eat two or three times as much as I do. For some reason, their bodies need a great deal of energy. I would imagine you eat two or three times as much as they do, pound for pound I mean. And here you are, as big as two tyrannosauruses. How many of these do you have to eat in a day?”
“Two or three, depending on how active I am.” He took another bite, blood dripping over the shiny steel scales of his chin. “You are a funny fellow, Hsrandtuss. You have a very inquisitive nature and you are always looking for ideas. You remind me of a human in that way. That’s why they need so much food, you know. It’s their brains. That and the hot blood. They are always thinking.”
“They think too much,” replied the king. “Who wants to think all the time? Clearly it is the quality of the thinking and not the quantity that’s important.”
Hsrandtuss could feel the dragon’s laughter vibrating in his bones.
“Your city is coming along.”