~Two immense armies above caused a downpour of blood the likeness of rain. The sky seemed to cry tears of red for the souls lost within it.
Battle began without a word; no one was ready, no one expected it... The war was just a strange, unbelievable event to be survived and then tossed to the side-a tall tale passed down by old men of a time seemingly long past-but to those who survived that day, it was very much real.
The war was tragic; brothers killing brothers... the best of friends becoming sworn enemies.
Crimson waters soaked the earth. What once was bright faded, individual beauty gone, leaving them lifeless and diminished. Unyeilding pearl plating reflected the prism of colors under the sun's warm breath--only to be stifled. Red suffocated everything.
The blood… so much blood.
Winged creatures teeth penetrated pearlescent defenses, wounding their foes. Talons dyed crimson, eyes gleaming with rage, wings battling against gravity and the weather… sides heaved with effort, strength leaving their hides.
Cries of both victory and loss echoed throughout the red skies. The sun seemed to be dyed its own devilish shade, a shining star giving off rays covering the sky like the pooling of blood.
My neck was slashed and I was starting to get dizzy, but I kept flying. Through my haze I saw my comrades; they were blurs of bright colors against the red tinted landscape before me. Looking down I could see the mass of carcasses bent and twisted all over the ground. Some were those I vaguely knew while others had been partners and comrades.
The minority were my opponents; that is, the new “Emperor’s” army. He had gained many followers by defeating evil beings throughout the land and had his army convinced that our species simply cannot coexist with other ones. He demanded that we go to war with the other star systems and kill them all. We of the older traditions believed in a peace not easily achieved, a peace that consisted of much biodiversity. Our clashing beliefs led to war--a mirthless war.
I killed many of my kind that day, and I could kill them because they were so hell-bent on vengeance that it wasn't like I was killing my friends; it was almost like I was eradicating an evil. Beyond that, I was a soldier and I had a duty to my people. To my family.
I got my share of scars, little one, most of which I have hid from you until now. You need to know the most important part though, my dear. What you are about to hear you must not repeat to anyone no matter the cost. It is very dangerous information to have, but you must carry it for me as I cannot. Shh.. just listen.
After I had looked upon my fallen brethren, I looked up into the sky to find the very “Emperor” we were up against.
I watched him slaughter my comrades. He swatted his tail at a young, underaged boy of a soldier, killing him instantly, and sunk his claws into the woman who flew at him from the side. Of course, she also died after a few more swats from the Emperor.
I was exhausted, but seeing my friends killed so effortlessly and without remorse sparked something inside of me. My haze lifted and I could see clearly. I watched in horror as more and more of my comrades fell before him, “the great red beast” as we called him. I roared with solemn fury at my enemy and charged. I beat my wings powerfully to gain more speed. I was tired and they ached, but I didn’t care about that. All I wanted was my teeth on his throat.
His head curved around in my direction and he beat his wings with a bored laziness, hiding his true strength, which only served to irritate me even more. He snorted at my battle cry and dived down towards me, his body angled up and then down, awkwardly contorting to get his body to move from being stalled in mid-air. His muscles rippled, and his vermilion red scales glimmered brighter from the setting sun. His were the only scales that shone that day.
I knew he had more strength, but I could bet I was swifter. I was right. When he came within three feet of me I tucked in my wings, spinning in a tight corkscrew, swerving to the side so that he dived right past me. My trick unnerved him; I used his confusion against him and positioned myself in front of the sun’s rays so that he couldn’t see me. I could feel my side heaving with both exhaustion and nerves. I took but a moment to ready myself.
It was a moment too long. He came tearing at me with great speed from powerful strokes of his wings and let out a bellow of a warrior’s cry. The distance he gained had increased his speed. His belly glowed bright orange and he let loose his anger.
But I was not harmed. The fire missed; the scorch of devil’s flame did not burn my flesh. Your father had dived right between us when he saw me battling such a fierce-some foe. I roared in agony at your father's time of passing, and he only smiled before he passed and crashed down to the barren ground a hundred meters below.
My opponent laughed from below me, making him seem all the more crude and vulgar.
In his guttural voice he thundered, “That man is a fool! I knew he was coming and I smiled at his pathetic show of bravery. Only, is it still brave if he died at your feet? Such a pity, really.” His words were mocking and I growled at his insolence. He knew he was coming. He had finished him off so that it was easier to kill me.
“Coward!” I roared in response. “You don’t even have the dignity to fight me fairly! You have no honor! Die you fake ‘Emperor!’ Die for your committed sins!” He only laughed at my proclamation. I raced towards him, mentally preparing myself to slip underneath him.
I roared with great fury for all the souls of my dear, beloved friends I had lost, and made haste in ducking beneath another of his orange jets, my spikes grazing his belly scales. He snarlled in pain. From the intense heat I felt in the few seconds underneath him I could tell that he was - again - about to roast me alive. I had to get out of there fast.
I knew the risks but I dived anyway. Folding my wings to generate more speed, I quickly escaped his reach. I could smell the smoke as it filtered around my body. A second later and I would have been toast.
Seeing as maintaining that altitude was a tactical advantage for him, I knew he would not pursue me just yet.
I dived as far as I dared and then flapped my wings in desperation to slow my descent. I finally stopped in mid-air floating above one of the corpses. My eyes watered, and a pungent smell filled my nostrils. The charred bodies left a distinct odor that cultivated in mass piles, forming a general layer of black smoke in the air.
I saw a red tinge on what looked like a wingtip and plugged my nose to move the body. I opened the body's eyelid by using my claw.
"Oh no..." Your father lay there, his entire side completely incinerated except for the tip of his wing and a little portion of skin around his eye. The rest of his hide was charred and some it was still smoking. My eyes teared up from both the smell and my sense of loss. I wanted to grieve, but I had no time. I needed to fly far away from here. I made a solemn vow to your father and my friends that I would see them again soon, and join them wherever they had landed in the other world.
Eventually the Emperor's forces caught up to me, however, and I’m still here in this cell to this very day. Yes my darling, my enemy is the one on the throne today. Only his name has changed; he is known as “the Elder” now. Be careful around him, love. I have no choice but to leave you now, as they are sure to come and retrieve me. Do not fear, my darling. You will find one who will always understand you, and then many more will come. You will be surrounded by friends. I will always love you, I will always be there for you, and I will always be in your memories. When you need me, you will always find me in your heart.~
My name is Cynder Rosetail. I am not human, nor mortal. I am a dragon, and my kind rules over a planet that we, as a species, keep very secretively. We live in an alternate timeline, a place that doesn’t exist to the outside world. We call it “Dementia.”
On either side of our little safe haven lies Mystic and Reality. At least, that’s what we’re taught as kids. When we get to be much older we learn that Reality holds a star system known as the Milky Way, and Mystic is another system a few light years away from the Milky Way. We do not know enough about that system to give it a proper name, for no one goes there, and no one comes back alive. For this reason it is simply called “the mysterious system” or "Mystic" for short.
We are born in “cells.” Basically, they are containment areas free of any distractions so that the family can live in peace and raise their young without any danger. The cells are always bright for the children. Every corner has light so that the children aren’t scared of what darkness could come out. The rooms are big because you’ve got to fit a child and two full grown dragons in there.
The rooms are pure obsidian, with nothing else but lighting. The parents usually aim their fire at the floor so that it doesn’t get too cold for their young. Parents are only allowed to have one child, although by some genetic defect, we aren’t able to have more than one anyway. The parents are also allowed to come and go as they please so that they can hunt and re-adjust themselves to the outside world.
Once I turned 100 years old, the guards moved me to the adolescent dormitories and I didn’t get to see my parents for another few hundred years. Adolescent rooms are not lighted nor are they cozy. They are just obsidian rooms in any number of shapes.
Only, for some odd reason, I didn’t get to see my father ever again. About 20 years after I was born, my father and mother left our cell and he didn’t come back. My mother did come back, but she had changed; she was silent for many years, but as time went on, she broke down one night and told me a hallowing tale of a war that she had been present in. Shortly thereafter, a guard had come to our cell and took her away. I never saw her again.
She had told me she had to leave, but I didn't understand, and quite frankly, I still don't. I don't understand why she didn't come back for me. Something had to have happened to her. I must find out the truth.
There are many things I suspected as to why she left, but none of them looked promising. They all seemed too depressing. So I moved on. When I was separated from my parents, I did not weep for them or me. I just went on believing that they would come back for me. They had to, because I couldn’t stay there forever on my own.
The boy that lived next to me always wanted my attention and would constantly jabber on and on about this great hangout spot below a ledge that gives you the right-amount-of-privacy-but-not-in-a-creepy-sort-of-way, and that scary, old manager lady who everyone swears she could give the Elder a run for his money. Rarely did I pay any attention to him, but sometimes I found myself giggling at some of his stories.
We had to get lunch in the adolescent’s “meat area.” For us, we are deemed “too young” to hunt yet, so the adults go off into the outside world and bring back mighty kills to feed all of us. Most of our race are not peaceful creatures, so almost every day there is a brawl over the last chunks of meat. Fights break out so frequently, they are almost expected; the guards only come if things start to get really nasty. Not all of them favor the weak or the girls, and if the one opponent has a higher standing, the guards will automatically favor them. It’s a very corrupted system and only one of the reasons why I hate politics.
Between the lunch area and our cells are several long passageways, “inspired by the Earth people,” our teachers said. Everywhere is the same obsidian floor, dark and cold. The walls are made of a lighter material but are still as cold and monotonous. The only thing that differs is that some places have either indents from claw marks of either pruning, bored, or rageful dragons or ingrained perches that are only ever big enough to fit one or two feet at the most. They never told us what they were made of.
The lunch area itself, most often called the meat area, was just a wide open space with a roof overhead. The whole of our planet that we lived on seemed to be underground, and gave off a very cave-like appearance. In the center everybody was eating almost buffet style, with a few unsociable dragons nestled in the corners eating their meals in the dark.
We were on our way to lunch when I giggled at one of his stories for the first time, and Glamdor stopped dead in his tracks. He stopped talking, stopped moving; it almost looked like he had become a statue. I cocked my head in confusion.
“What?” I continued to stare at him. For a long while he didn’t move a muscle, and then when he did, all he said was “nothing,” and his cheeks seemed to adopt a reddish hue to them. He got up and brushed past me and led the way to the lunch area, and I just silently followed behind. He is a quizzical character.
His name is Glamdor Golden-tooth, or just Glamdor for short. He told me that his parents named him that because his scales are gold and at first glance, it even seems like he has golden teeth. His eyes are a pale bluish-green, which I still don’t know exactly what type of color that is to this day. He’s not particularly large for a male dragon, but what he lacks in brute strength he makes up for in smarts. It’s one of the reasons why I tolerate his presence. I am a happy dragon all by myself, and most of the other male dragons always brawl to find out who’s the toughest of them all. For some reason, though, he's different, and he sought me out. Since that day he's constantly following me everywhere I go. Not that I really mind him and his talkativeness, I just am a lone wolf… dragon. Ehem. Is that how human sayings work? I mean I think... nevermind.
We arrived at the meat area and set about on our own business. No one usually bothers me at lunch because I am neither popular nor exceptionally beautiful. Today was different. Today, three large brutes of the popular group approached me. The three were males that I knew well enough, but not on a personal level. They had made quite the name for themselves. The head shepard was named Braken the Brute, and his two sheep were Gilligan and Ax. Why the one had only a two-letter name I do not know.
Braken strolled over to me while I was gnawing on a great hawk’s wing and firmly stated, “Hey there Cynder Rosetail. I hope you’re having a dandy time with that bird wing, because it’ll make it all the sweeter when I take it from you.” His sheep laughed in unison behind him. I merely rose and found a different meal to eat. I would not succumb to his rude remarks; instead, I would just use my high level of disdain to calmly leave the situation be.
“Hey, wait! I’m not done with you yet, girl!” Glamdor noticed the commotion and got up from his meal, hurrying to my side.
“Hey, friend, I think my lady friend here just wants to eat, can we pick this up later?” Glamdor was attempting to encourage peace, but I could sense that Braken didn’t want any part of it. He continued like Glamdor wasn’t even there.
With a puffed out chest, and raised wings, Braken clearly announced to the growing crowd, “Cynder! Hey buddy! I don’t think you should be eating that or else you’ll get too fat. You should give all your food to me. Sounds like a plan?” He smiled in a way that made him seem like the pre-determinded winner, like he had already won. This guy was starting to annoy me. Dragons covet food, and I will not give up another meal because he intimidated me. I am not weak like the other females in the room. Not only that... I remembered Glamdor came out of nowhere to come to my aid. He had to leave his own meal, too. I silently snarled with annoyance.
My teacher had taught me a spell so that I could change my appearance to look more like a normal dragon with just forest green eyes, bone spikes and horns, and an emerald green hide. That way, I didn't stand out as much as I already did. Besides, I'm one of the rare ones, and that tends to spark trouble among males no matter where I go. Yes, dragons have magic. There are many secrets to our race, and magic is one of them. Changing your outside appearance is not a very complicated spell, but it requires knowledge in order to use it. For this one day, I uncloaked myself and showed my true form. Braken gaped and Glamdor stared at me. In fact, everyone in the room was staring at me. Only Glamdor was not staring in fear, no; his was different. His stare was almost as if he were in awe. I could see my reflection in his pale eyes.
I have a very snake-like body, skinny but refined and toned; lean. My scales are a deep shade of violet that make my scales appear like a glossy version of obsidian. I have two twisted, ram-like horns on top of my head, with two ridges of a muted eggplant color extending down towards my nose, getting thinner and smaller as it reaches my nostrils. My eyes are an icy violet, and my claws gleam an unnatural mercury color symbolizing the moon and night rather than the signature metallic, iron-like grey, of the metal iron. (Iron is the symbol for wealth and prowess for the head family in our society.) My wings are thin but strong, a muted purple color toned down from my scales. I have black spikes rising up from my back and long, slender neck. My tail ends in barbs and finally, a crimson rose, hidden beneath overgrowth and thorns. Within the rose is where my real power hides my teachers tell me, but for now they said I should keep it shut. Not that I could unlock its power even if I wanted to. The teachers don't even know what it does, much less how to "awaken" it. I look away from Glamdor and back to my opponent.
“So? What was it that you were saying, dear Braken?” I stared him directly in the eyes and his courage faltered.
“Yes?” I waited for a response, noting how the spell had affected my voice as well. Now that the spell had lost its affect, my voice was deeper. I revelled in it. I hid a smile knowing that I shouldn’t terrify the poor guy too much. After a few minutes go by, I turn my attention away from him and resume consumption of my afternoon meal. My actions seemed to stimulate Braken into motion.
“HEY! That’s my meal!” Braken strided over to me with new purpose and bent his head down to snatch my meal. On his way down I snapped at his nose. He retreated in surprise. “Everyone knows once I claim a meal it is mine. Are you proposing a challenge, Miss Cynder?” His mocking tone annoyed me just that much more.
I growled at him, “My meal is mine Braken. Or have you forgotten that dragons covet their meals? I will not give you my meal, for I have claimed it. If need be, I will fight you, but not over my food. I will fight you because you have terrified many in this room. I will avenge them.” Braken puffed out his chest in indignation.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk… I do believe, Cynder, that you have crossed the line. Not even your pet over there can save you now. Now we fight.”
“Fine, but include your two sheep in this fight, and give me a moment to speak with my friend.” He reluctantly agreed. I walked over to Glamdor, noting his tense muscles and fluttering wingtips.
“Are you insane?” Glamdor whispered to me.
“No. Will you fight with me? Or does my new appearance change too much for you?”
“You think this is about your appearance still?” Glamdor snorted. “I’m worried you’ll lose your hide. He may be boastful, but he doesn’t overly exaggerate his strength. I will fight with you, but I do hope you have an ace up your sleeve. Just watch his moves and see if you can notice a pattern or weakness.” I nodded in response. I turned around and walked back towards Braken, Glamdor trailing behind.
“All right, Braken. You shall have your fight now. Two against one shepherd and his sheep.”
“And I’ll claw your throat out for underestimating me and my friends,” Braken retorted in an undertone. I did not underestimate him because in battle, underestimating your opponent could get you killed. So I overestimated how careful I had to be. It’s safer that way. That and I payed attention to Glamdor’s advice, because he’s usually right. In truth, I’m not totally unafraid of what Braken could do to me. However, I have spent years watching him torment other females, watched them give their food to him. I’ve watched them cower, and watched those that stood up fall as he clawed them down. His mere voice could send them cowering in the corner. Braken is a brute, true to his name, but I will not stand there anymore and do nothing. Despite how I seem unemotional on the exterior, I do feel many emotions. I am a master at hiding my emotions, however, and Glamdor is the only one who seems to notice my moods.
I looked Glamdor in the eyes, and communicated to him my feelings as best I could. The glint seemed to change, and I believe he understood. I think he smiled. Braken laughed, breaking me out of my trance. I turned my head back towards him.
“Well boys, it looks like if we are victorious, we’ll be hurting her immense pride! Look at how they lovingly stare each other in the eyes! Aw... The poor couple just can’t survive without one another. Let’s separate them! Slash them, bring them down!” His sheep hurrah’d! as they would to a military commander. The crowd parted, leaving a ring-like circle for the five of us to battle. We circled around each other tensely, waiting for one or the other to make their move. Glamdor’s wing scuffed across my back he was so close to me and the edge of the circle. I growled to release my pent up nervousness.
“Ooh, she’s fierce now that she shows her true form! Let’s bring her down boys!” Braken trumpeted. Gilligan and Ax growled in affirmative and within the next few seconds they leaped. Time slowed and brought my enemies closer to me way slower than they were actually moving. I thought up a plan. Knowing that I was skinnier and probably more aerodynamic than my opponent was, flying would give me a better position. I could thwart his slow, heavy strikes easier. Time to put my plans into action.
I beat my wings and jumped into the air, rising higher and higher. I rose high enough so that I could achieve a decent dive and flipped upside down, folding in my wings to go faster. From my position, I could see only Ax looking up at me with Gilligan on the ground, who was in a fierce struggle with Glamdor. Neither one was advancing. I aimed for Ax, as he was unprepared for an attack from above. Braken had already charged after me, but I passed him on the way down. I extended my claws towards Ax and clawed at his head. He raised his wing to protect himself and I tore through the thin membrane. He howled in agony.
I kept up my fast pace and soared over Gilligan. He paused momentarily to look up at me, and Glamdor used the distraction to gain some ground on him. I did not celebrate my victory. From behind, Braken roared with a new ferocity. I flipped my body around in a turn, keeping up my momentum to see Braken charging at me with a deep-set rage in his eyes. I kept flying. My emotions clashed with my logic. I knew I set myself up for this and that I could’ve avoided this fight. I would not be as tired and afraid as I was if I hadn’t angered Braken. Another voice entered my head; I would have been just like everyone else. I would have let a brute keep winning, let a brute keep dominating over the people I knew.
“Just keep flying away Cynder! It’ll just prove you’re as worthless as your father, the man who never made it back from war! My father made it back! Was yours just some pathetic coward?!” A spark ignited in my heart. The story my mother told me right before I lost her echoed through my head.
...I roared in agony at his loss, and he only smiled before he passed and crashed down to the barren ground a hundred meters below… I could barely see the original color of his crimson hide from a piece on his face that wasn’t charred… I wanted to grieve, but I had no time… These pieces stained my heart black--they were etched into my very soul. Braken had just called my father a coward. My anger lit up like a wildfire, and I withheld my emotions no longer. I roared with fury at his insult.
“DO NOT DISMISS MY FATHER YOU COWARD!” I turned around faster than ever before and made a beeline straight for him. My eyes burned with rage, my muscles tensed, and time slowed. I outstretched my claws, wanting for them to be bathed in Braken’s blood. My teeth ached to be sunk into his neck, sucking out his lifeforce. Braken kept up his pace and within moments our bodies clashed with monumental force. Our belly scales chafed, making a sound so dreadful, like the sharp screech of a million bats using sonar to find their young, which could be heard throughout the entire building. The impact left me stunned but only for a moment.
As soon as I could move my limbs again, I descended upon Braken like a predator hunting its prey. My back legs curled around his stomach and the one side I could reach, while my neck coiled like a snake and I snapped my jaws frantically at whatever was within reach. Braken dove towards the ground in an attempt to get the upper hand, recoiling as fast as he could but I was faster. I could feel his sheer weight crushing my body underneath him, but I had to hurt him as much as I could, as fast as I could. No, A voice rang inside my head. I have to kill him. I remembered the story my mother told me before I lost her… before I lost the most beautiful, sapphire blue scaled woman in the world. The orange glow beneath her enemy’s stomach. The “devil’s flame” she called it. One of my teachers had told me that I would never bear the orange flame. I could feel something in my gut, though. I could feel something wanting to be released.
I opened my jaws and let loose something even I was not prepared for: Black fire. Braken screamed. This pain was something even he could not handle and for very good reason. Black fire was restricted many years ago on account of too many misfortunes when dragons handled it. Black fire is also called “the Devil’s Flame,” like orange fire is, but there is a huge distinction. While orange fire, and if you’ve been practicing long enough, blue fire, these forms are energy released as heat. Black fire is made from both energy and magic, which releases a burning frost rather than heat. It is said that it’s a “fire from the grave,” which scares away any potential users.
For some reason, this fire ignited within me, for some reason I could control it, but right now that didn’t matter to me. I could breathe fire. Braken fought against me and wiggled himself away from my grasp. He flew backwards to make a space between us. His eyes related pure horror, and his lips quivered. One of the males below roared in indignation and fear for Braken, while all the females rallied, including even the weakest and most terrified as well. They chanted my name with vigor. I roared in response to signify my dominance. Braken was troubled by this new development. I could smell smoke coming from him, and knew he had another plan. He was going to blast me with his orange fire. With the wounds he had inflicted upon me, my open wounds would then cauterize and it would be extremely painful. I readied my black fire to compete with his.
The room went silent as his maw opened, and when he let loose his flame, my world spun, and I was no longer in harm’s way. Glamdor howled. He had shoved me aside. In horror, I remembered how my father had died. I roared like my mother had against “the Emperor,” readying to burn Braken with my fire. I beat my wings in desperation, hoping I would get there in time before Braken roasted Glamdor again. My fire was not activating. I could feel no substance in my stomach. I needed another plan. I let my emotions drown me in despair, using my immense pain and sadness as an anchor point for my rapidly failing focus. This new strength of mind gave me a chance to explore myself and all that I was, and my instincts told me I had a new skill hidden within me. I roared again, trying to take Braken’s attention away from Glamdor, and I succeeded.
“Trying to save your little pet, you cold-hearted beast? Well, it won’t work!” He craned his neck around and his belly cracked and lit up with the signature orange glow again. I went faster. I sent what little energy and magic I could hurriedly muster into my wings and raced right above Braken.
“Ha! You can’t even aim right! I’ll show--” He stopped mid-sentence and issued a weak cry. He coughed and appeared to be choking on nothing. I could see what I had wrought, however. I could see my poison lingering around him, see it being sucked into his nose when he breathed. After finishing with my mini celebration, I flew over to Glamdor, making sure to release the magic on my wings. He had landed on the ground, and his leg was still smoking. Gilligan was lying on the floor on the other side of the ring, unconscious. I landed beside Glamdor, mentally marking where Gilligan had been, and used what vapors of black fire I had left to lightly breathe on his leg. Glamdor whimpered, but his facial features relaxed after that. I had eased his pain and made his wound burn less. His sides were still heaving from exhaustion, and I noticed that mine were too. I walked over to his face to see if I could glean any emotion from him and to make sure that he was still breathing.
His head laid upon the cold floor, resting. He smiled, his eyelids opening, his one eye swirling around to face me. His eye glinted with the same emotion I had seen before, but I still couldn’t tell exactly what is was.
“You’re staring,” he coughed.
“I know. Are you ok?” He smiled again.
“Yeah.” His eye swerved back into the side of his socket and he closed his eye. Since I couldn’t read whether he was in pain through his eyes anymore, I bent my neck down to sniff at him and see if I could smell any new blood. He shivered and my snout bumped against his neck. Glamdor’s body went rigid. Why it did that, I’m not entirely sure. He’s weird, I know that much. I couldn’t smell any blood, and I could hear his heart beating, so I brought my head back up to look back at the crowd behind him. One of the females was shaking with some unknown fear.
My eyes lit up with understanding, and I knew the battle was not over yet. I whipped my head around to see Braken limping over to me and Glamdor. I had done some damage, at least. I could tell Glamdor was trying to raise his head because he bumped into my leg. Using my tail, I pushed his head back down and held him in place. This was my fight.