Chapter 1: Chapter 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 261

Prologue

Long ago when the earth was young and lava spewed from its depths; ample four-legged creatures covered in thick rigid scales with horns of all different shapes and sizes protruding from their skulls, long pointed claws at the ends of large paws and spines that outran the lengths of their bodies, crawled forth from the magma. They swam through the blistering molten oceans and found sustenance within the minerals the world provided and being the only living things upon the planet, it was theirs to have and do with as they saw fit. As time went on the magma cooled and crusted over causing billowed clouds of condensation to form in the sky and rain down on the earth replacing the once lava seas with ones made of water. The transformation of the planet was difficult on the scaly beasts as they were born from and accustomed to the harsher conditions of the earth’s early days and because of this drastic change, many of them died as their bodies could not adapt to the cool and more habitable atmosphere. Though the few who did survive not only adapted but flourished and eventually witnessed the development of life completely different from their own. These new types of life peaked the scaled beings’ curiosity as they had never before seen any living thing other than themselves. Sadly, after little interaction, the scaled creatures found the other life forms offered no new knowledge or companionship to that of their scaly brethren as the new life forms’ intelligence was sorely lacking in comparison. As the planet continued to change and evolve; so did the scaled ones. Strapping wings grew from their backs, and they developed a fondness for intensely cold climates. The only constant was their disappointment as their hope for camaraderie outside of each other with the ones they now shared the world with, proved to be nothing more than a foolish wish as the new and different life which sprung forth with each passing age were never different from the rest. Although this fact disheartened the scaly creatures; the realization that some of the new life forms were tastier, more filling and much easier to consume than minerals brought them solace. 

Centuries turned to eons and the scaled beings grew more despondent as their hope began to wither away like a whisper in the wind until one fateful day their desire for amity with the other living things upon the earth was finally realized as they encountered brand-new life much more advanced and unlike any they had ever seen before;

Mostly hairless creatures who walked upright with straighter shorter spines, no natural armor to protect themselves from predators, no sharp teeth or nails to rip into their prey and round faces with flattened snouts one day came to be. And even though the scaly beasts’ eagerness to interact with these upright beings was increasingly overwhelming, they chose to watch from a distance before approaching the upright ones to first see how they fared against the other creatures of the planet. Having no natural defenses made them quite vulnerable against not only the other life on the planet but also the elements of the ever-changing atmosphere. The scaly beasts began to fear their potentially new companions would die out before they even had a chance to truly know them but much to the delight of the scaled ones, these new and advanced beings demonstrated an intelligence unseen in any other creature the scaly beasts had ever before encountered;

Using materials of the earth, they built shelters and made tools to help them gather food and water and even to make coverings to wrap themselves in so they would be safe from the constant changing climate. They also used the tools to defend themselves against most any threat that came their way.

After witnessing the intellect of these upright beings and seeing how it was likened to their own began to unnerve some of the scaly beasts while captivating others. Some began to worry these upright creatures might be formidable enough to topple the hierarchy the scaled ones had known since they first came into being, possibly putting the upright creatures at the top of the food chain while others, clung to the hope they had all once shared the moment they witnessed new life form among them.

This sparked a lasting dispute among them having some side for interacting with the upright ones while others opted for the continued watchingof the short-spined creatures from afar. Amidst the debating, one scaled beast stepped away and decided to approach one of the upright creatures on their own, finally answering the growing questions on whether the upright beings were friendly or dangerous, not knowing that this action would forever change life as they all knew it.

One tepid cloudless day when the sun was high in the sky; an upright creature with russet skin, thick, black coiled hair, round purple amulet hanging from a silver chain around her neck and wearing a red hooded gown with golden symbols stitched along its edges was standing in a tall lush pasture outside of her home taking in the cool breeze that blew the grass back against her skin making it itch and causing the leaves of the forest off in the distance to sway when she noticed something moving beneath the shade of the trees. Her brows pulled together as she leaned forward to better see what was approaching. When the mass emerged out from the cover the woods provided and more into focus, her eyes stretched while she gasped and stumbled backward in shock. In all her days upon the earth, she had never witnessed something so miraculous; a reptilian behemoth covered in thick scales red as an apple glistening in the sunlight except for its rutted underbelly which looked smooth to the touch and was the color of sand bathed by the last light of the day. Broad wings tucked against its back, short emerald horns atop its head and a long tail that dragged behind it, flattening the grass as it stalked ever closer. Sharp intimidating claws green as its horns gripped the ground leaving holes in the dirt with each step it took. The scaled creature stopped once it reached her and let out a hot hefty breath through its mighty nostrils tussling her hair. The upright being didn’t dare move a muscle, not even when this massive beast lowered its snout down to her stomach and breathed in deeply to take in her scent. More than fear, she felt a sense of wonder at what stood before her. She had never seen such an enormous reptile before and none of the smaller ones she had come across possessed anything close to wings. With a tentative hand, she reached out and stroked the creature’s snout. It seemed to furrow its hairless brow in confusion at this action but didn’t move away. Time slowed as she looked into its mint-colored eyes, seeking a glimmer of consciousness only to find they were searching hers back. This more than anything let her know the winged beast truly was unlike any other creature she had previously encountered because it had something which until now, she had only witnessed in others like herself, a soul.

The scaled one named Nyandyth went back to the others of her kind and told them of her experience. They simply couldn’t believe what they heard. Beings so different from them who had the capability to think, feel and act as they do? Knowing her words sounded too bizarre to be true, Nyandyth took those who were willing to see the upright being she had met named Stinora to prove her story wasn’t just a tale. Five scaled creatures including Nyandyth went to the field in front of Stinora’s home the next day, surprised to find Stinora and a few other upright beings standing there as Stinora had also told others of her own kind about the large reptilian creature she had encountered who lived among them. The ones like Stinora were nearly petrified with both fear and amazement as their disbelief at her story melted away with the undeniable proof now standing before them. Stinora and Nyandyth both knowing their sides would still be skeptical even upon seeing each other with their own eyes, believed there would be much less tension if they could show there was nothing to fear from those who were different. Stinora approached Nyandyth who bowed her head down as she had done when they first met, and Stinora reached out to run her hand along Nyandyth’s scaly snout as her kind often did with horses and dogs showing that these huge, winged reptiles could be gentle. Slowly, each side bridged the gap to study one another up close. They couldn’t understand each other verbally but felt from their body language there was no danger to be had from either side. The three types of upright beings known as râd? like Stinora who held a special connection with the earth which granted them supernatural abilities, tenû who were also magical but tainted by the dark side of it and humans all chose to call the scaled creatures dragons because of how their tails dragged behind them when they walked.

It was this historic moment that sparked the age of dragon and man, and their accord was everlasting. Or so it seemed. Although there was a peace between them, some of the dragons grew concerned as they could not understand or communicate withtheir two-legged counterparts which made the dragons wonder if their intentions were truly pure. Nyandyth, believing only the best of her upright comrades and wanting the others to believe the same, went to Stinora and desperately tried to express these concerns only for Stinora to become worried and frustrated as all she could hear from Nyandyth’s mouth were frantic coos and urgent roars. Wanting to understand her dragon companion so she could help with whatever was wrong, Stinora travelled within the Sanctum of Magic; a dimension where all magic originates to find a way for both species to communicate with one another. When she emerged from the Sanctum, she sought out Nyandyth and spoke to her in a new language called Thik?sh which broke every language barrier and made it possible for every dragon, râd?, tenû and human to communicate with and understand one another.

As the years passed a new problem arose. The dragons noticed a deep seeded corruption in the humans and tenû which caused them to do things like senselessly attack animals and even each other for sport and sometimes out of sheer anger. This corruption had them not only endangering themselves and every other being, but also destroying the very planet they all lived on for the mere hope of either obtaining some form of currency or gaining authority over those they deemed as lesser. If any intelligent creature could willingly cause any kind of harm to themselves with no regard for the consequences, what might they end up doing to the dragons if given the chance? A discussion of the dragons’ growing concern about what these humans and tenû were capable of and what could be done to solve the issue ensued among them. Some wanted to help the humans and tenû while others wished for dragon kind to live separately from the humans, tenû and even râd? as they had before Nyandyth dared to meet one.There were some dragons however who had a more sinister solution in mind, wiping all forms of humanity from the earth entirely and reclaiming it for themselves. These differences of opinion caused a great divide among the dragons and after billions of years of being together; they separated. Some settled near the sea, some in the mountains and others in the caves and valleys. During this separation, the humans who harbored darkness within their hearts, took notice of the dragons divide and began to study the dragons for physical weaknesses like lions stalking their prey while the tenû, craving to be the most powerful of all but unwilling to risk the possibility of annihilation by going against the might of the dragons or the craftiness of mortals, chose to lurk in the shadows and watch in the hopes that both dragon and man would destroy each other.

Once the corrupt humans discovered the underbelly of the dragons was their most vulnerable point, they banned together and attacked with all their might hoping to become the apex predators of their shared world. Some dragons were appalled and angered by this sudden betrayal of man while others who wished to erase humans from existence felt vindicated as they could now righteously obliterate the threat humankind obviously posed. The dragons fought back against them, and much blood was spilled on both sides. The selfish, clouded actions of a few power-hungry men started a war unlike any other called Attack of the Fire Breathers and it lasted for a hundred years. The bloodshed seemed as though it would never stop, and it broke the hearts of the dragons who still had hope in humanity, the mortals who felt nothing but love for the dragons and the râd? who despite having been greatly feared, judged and horriblymistreated by small-minded men ever since they first came into being, hoped for the day when magical beings, beast and man alike could all live together in harmony.

Refusing to aid in the contribution of earth’s destruction by participating in the senseless war and risking further alienation by siding with the dragons or possibly becoming the object of the beasts’ hatred by fighting alongside the humans, the râd? chose to remain neutral by congregating in the land where the Sanctum of Magic sat and waited for the fighting to end. Stinora however saw the inaction of her people as cowardly, and it increased the sorrow in her heart until she could no longer stand idly by and hope for better days while the humans and dragons continued their mutual annihilation of each other. So, with Nyandyth by her side when the casualties of the war were at their most high; Stinora entered the fray.

Blood sprayed all around drenching the earth with death. Blackened bodies of men stood petrified as they were burned to smoking husks where they had fought against the devastating aerial attacks of the dragons. Massive, gutted bodies of scaled beasts brought down with trebuchets and ballistas before hordes of armored soldiers attacked with swords and maces lay rotting on the desolate land beneath a sky now choked with dense clouds of smoke. Once she and Nyandyth reached the thick of the battle; Stinora stopped and raised her hands high above her head, casting a mighty spell that placed a colossal gossamer barrier between the opposing sides. Every soldier and dragon ceased fighting once they saw their attacks were no longer making contact and focused on the dragon and râd? who stood side by side amongst them. With a voice like thunder Stinora begged them all to look at the destruction they were bringing not just to each other, but to the very earth itself. Knowing the barrier Stinora cast would not hold forever, Nyandyth stood strong by her side as the mighty spell continually sapped Stinora of her strength the longer she held it. Seeing a dragon and any type of human stand together when only moments before others on both sides ripped each other apart, caused shame to rise within some while only strengthening the contempt of others especially a dragon named Bemron who was the largest and most intimidating of them all. Scales black as tar, an underbelly and wings red as fire with claws and gnarled horns to match, eyes yellow as gold, but empty like the vacuum of space burned with fury at witnessing such a strong and magnificent being take up with what he viewed as nothing more than an inferior worm. The longer Bemron witnessed Stinora and Nyandyth stand together in unity, the more offended he became until he could no longer stomach the sight. He stalked forward past the other dragons, shaking the ground with each hulking step until he stood directly in front of Stinora and Nyandyth. Nyandyth’s eyes shot to him as Stinora continued to plead with everyone there to stop the senseless battle. Nyandyth’s gaze narrowed as she saw Bemron’s mighty chest rise higher and higher, wisps of smoke escaping his nostrils as he inhaled deeply before rearing his head back and swiftly throwing it forward to unleash a raging inferno against Stinora’s barrier, shattering it. Stinora screamed out in pain and collapsed unconscious on the ground as the sudden breaking of the barrier exhausted the last of her waning strength. Bemron instantly lunged forward ready to devour Stinora in one bite only to have hishead crash against that of Nyandyth’s. A low guttural sound escaped him as he chuckled darkly and rammed his forehead against hers baiting her to fight him if she truly desired to protect her precious râd?. Nyandyth thrust her head into his, pushing him back before declaring, “No more,” in Thik?sh for all around to hear as she refused to add to the violence which continued to divide dragon and man alike while staining the earth with blood. Her refusal to fight and protection of Stinora only furthered Bemron’s anger so, with one quick swipe of his claw, Bemron slashed Nyandyth’s throat open causing her to collapse next to Stinora. A deathly silence befell the crowd as the ragged sound of Nyandyth’s last breath filled the air. After a brief moment, the sound of dampened dirt giving way beneath the steel boot of a soldier marching forward caught the attention of every beast and man there. The soldier, blood and dirt spattered across his weary face and tarnished armor stared into Bemron’s empty eyes as he raised his arm to brandish his sword towards Bemron who seemed to almost smirk at the sheer audacity of the lone human. He couldn’t possibly expect to defeat or even hold his own against such a fierce creature with nothing more than a sword. Bemron’s amusement quickly turned to confusion as the soldier turned away from him and staked his sword in the ground next to Nyandyth’s body. He placed his hand on her head, closed his eyes and repeated her final words in Thik?sh before bending down to gather a still unconscious Stinora up in his arms. He looked back up at Bemron with tired eyes that held the pleas of every human, râd? and dragon who longed for the fighting to end before walking off the battlefield. This act of contrition stunned Bemron and the others so much all they could do was watch in silence as the young soldier faded off into the distance. The only thing to break the quiet; was of a thousand swords falling to the ground.

Seeing how dangerous it was to allow their prejudices and lust for power to drive them caused dragon and man alike to call a ceasefire and agree to coexist peacefully away from one another. Bemron and any other being who refused to abide by the unwritten treaty were driven into exile by all sides and the separated coexistence lasted for many a century; until a ruthless English King sought to use the dragons to fight alongside his armies and make him the most victorious conqueror in all history…….


Submitted: May 11, 2022

© Copyright 2022 A.J. Marshall. All rights reserved.

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