It’s gotten easier since they invented airplanes, thought Azure. She toyed idly with a bright pebble. It might have been a rough emerald, but more likely just some lightly battered olivine. She liked minerals of all kinds, had collected them for hundreds of years. For now her thoughts were on the sky, not the ground. Time was, thought Azure, I had to fly in clouds to hide my form, or go high enough that they’d mix me up with a hawk or heron. But there’s only so much you can do with my length of neck, and there’s no disguising that tail. It wasn’t so bad before they invented composite bows and good sharp headed arrows. My scales may be tough but I don’t like lucky shots and there’s no sense taking chances. But now, it’s a little easier – they think I’m some kind of new airplane. They don’t look up anymore when they see a shadow flying fast over the ground. And the contrails are good to play in.
She settled her tail more comfortably around her and scratched idly behind a horn. She looked around her cave, the home of many a speeding year. She saw the familiar ledges, each with its array of minerals, crystals and curiosities. In special pride of place were her Treasures, the rarest bits of her hoard. There were jeweled helms, shining spears, carefully preserved swords, fishing floats, clocks, a sextant, elegant Victorian mechanisms from the dawn of the industrial age, and oddments from more modern times. A solar panel, gleaming black with subtle traceries, leaned against a rock wall. Next to it, a sleek, modern touch screen cell phone. It had no battery life left, of course, but it was pretty and only slightly dented by Azure’s claws.
Azure admired the objects for a time, then rustled her wings and looked out the mouth of her cave. The landscape had changed greatly over the years. Where once there had been nothing but hills and forest, now two lane highways snaked their way passed small towns and fields. Over the next ridge, a city lay – she’d watched it start as a little cluster of huts near a river, as it grown to a palisade ringed teenhood and eventually matured to antenna-spiked buildings of glass and steel. Several commercial flights an hour moved in and out, she liked watching the pinpoints of ruby and emerald track across the sky at night.
The stars were harder to see at times, but these little manmade stars were fun to watch as well. And Azure liked to play in the contrails.
The world had grown up, it was certain. But it wasn’t all bad. Azure could hide in the clouds the same as before, but no arrows twanged from the forests below, no would-be dragon hunters stormed her cave. Her “government installation: keep out” sign warned off would be spelunkers. Azure watched the world for a few minutes more, stretched languidly, then went to lie down. She turned till she was comfortable, settling onto her bed of Golden Eagles, Krugerands, pieces of eight, nuggets, ryo, and dinars. Later, she would rise again, perhaps to tease a passing 747.