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King with the Scales of Amber

Ersoa's Awakening

By Sam Eliza GreenPublished 2 years ago Updated 10 months ago 6 min read
photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels

“There weren’t always dragons in the Valley,” Ersoa told him once when he was young and full of spite.

Nearly the size of a pixie, Viori and the rest of the clutch were still vulnerable to predators, so they remained hidden in their cliffside nest while their mother hunted and gathered meat. Viori was the most curious, always poking his head over the desiccated bramble to peek at the new world. He was ready to explore, but she would keep them there for much longer than he desired, something he would often grate about in his teenage years.

“There weren’t always dragons in Miravale,” she continued the nighttime tale, warming them with the steam from her breath.

His scales had only just hardened, and he was mesmerized by the gleam of her nearby fire reflecting on each. That fire, he hadn’t known yet, would fuel his waking passion, the chase for freedom.

“There wasn’t always magic in Miravale,” she added, laughing, perhaps at the absurdity in her words.

No magic? He couldn’t imagine it. Since the day he and his siblings hatched they were surrounded by evidence of enchantment — earthquakes from the footsteps of giants, bones the size of mountains left behind by sparring behemoths, pixies fluttering around their nest, just barely out of reach.

“There wasn’t always Miravale. Before it, there was the lake, and the lake was everything,” Ersoa claimed, dozing beneath the moonlight with her Titan-like body wrapped around the nest.

He couldn’t make sense of this piece, what she meant by the lake, and she would never explain. She had been born five hundred or so years before his clutch. Her memories, he imagined, were hazed like the Forest of Banes within which sat the corrupted dryad upon his throne.

***

“There weren’t always dragons in the caves,” he whispered, trying to muster enough energy for the smallest of flames to search for something … anything in the darkness.

How long had it been since that day? He wasn’t sure. Viori and his siblings reigned alongside their mother for decades. After Ersoa’s disappearance, the others had clutches of their own, enforcing their hold on the Valley. Then, their clutches had clutches and so on.

He counted, perhaps, seven generations that had hatched since his own. He was the only who remained unmatched, roaming the skies desperately in search of his mother’s trail. He would find it eventually after centuries of warring with the mages and new creatures who believed Miravale was rightfully their home.

It wasn’t until after Vaelia, Iersa, Erye, Chirse, Reke, Teyven, and all his other siblings were slaughtered that he realized what happened to their mother. In the name of honor, or destiny, or whatever they claimed, he was robbed of his home, left to lead his kind alone into desolation.

Eventually, the war ceased, and Viori learned something more painful than losing his family — darkness. The mages called him Hallgrim, the one who quelled. He was the reason the dragons, and giants, and behemoths disappeared one day suddenly, no corpses, no sign of struggle … just gone.

“There weren’t always caves below the Diadema Range,” Viori continued, resorting to keeping himself entertained with stories much like his mother did when he was a hatchling, confined to the bramble nest.

Centuries could have passed since his capture. He wasn’t sure. All he remembered was the flash of emerald light and the soothing incantation, “Dormi!”

Sleep had taken him for an untracked void of time. Once awoken, bracing the bitter silence, all he wanted to do was sleep more, and he did until his dreams became so eerily real that he didn’t care for the longing of imagination. All he wanted was the fire, to find Ersoa again. He was convinced that whoever captured him was responsible for her disappearance.

Hallgrim. How could a mage, so feeble and small, be almost as old as him? It was all musings. In truth, he had never really seen the face of the one who quelled, only just barely heard his voice, the language he didn’t understand. Yet, the spell took him all the same. How could Viori, king of the skies, be captured by a single word?

Where are the others? He wondered so often that it seemed the only thing he questioned. Eventually, he realized he was chained by more than a spell. The exhaustion, malnourishment, and absence of fire kept him bound to the stone floor. Seething in loneliness, he let out a wounded cry like that of a stag on borrowed time.

“There wasn’t always Miravale. Before it, there was the lake, and the lake was everything,” he wearily repeated his mother’s musing, weeping into the muffled distance.

“There weren’t always gorgons in the caves,” a slithering voice whispered back to him.

***

“We heard your call,” Mimurda, the strongest of the gorgons, explained as her sisters emerged from the tunnel into his cave, the smallest carrying a torch beside her. Somehow, they had escaped their own prison in a distant cavern.

“Fire!” he exclaimed. “Can I have it, please?” he beseeched the sturdy woman.

Mimurda nodded, taking the torch from her sister and feeding him the flame.

“Thank you,” he said, breathing steam. “I am Viori, King of the Skies. Who are you?” he asked the sisters.

Mimurda waited patiently for the others to speak, but seemed disappointed in their silence.

“You really can’t understand him?” she asked.

“What are you saying?” the blind sister beckoned her to come closer.

It seemed they didn’t understand her for a moment either. She looked carefully at her four sisters and spoke then in a voice he couldn’t understand. The smallest one nodded, the two others seemed disinterested, and the blind one swiveled her head through the cave as if in search of him.

“I am Mimurda,” she introduced herself. “This is Revordrea, Dastrama, Zunia, and Thera,” she explained, pointing to each. “We are the last of the gorgons.”

As if humanly beings, they were poised and beautiful, but he quickly understood his instant feeling of kinship with the sisters when he breathed fire for the first time in decades and observed the entirety of their bodies that were once clothed in dimness. Their torsos were that of female mages, but their lower halves were like a basilisk. Where there should have been hair were slender serpents who seemed to have imaginations of their own. He figured they had encountered Hallgrim for a similar reason as him — the world was scared of what they could do.

Viori followed the sisters while they navigated the tunnels, shifting the stone as they heard other desperate calls in the distance. Eventually, they discovered a thunder of dragons who had tried to escape but were lost in the shadowy maze, and Thera fed them flames from her undying torch, enlightening their spirits. In the often sleepless nights, he was entertained solely by the gleam of the fire reflecting off his amber scales. He wanted to search longer for the others, for any sign of Ersoa in the ancient caves. It was Revordrea who made a wise decision that not even he was clear headed enough to consider.

“We have to find the surface,” Mimurda explained.

“There are hundreds of others imprisoned in the caverns,” Viori reminded her.

“I understand. My sisters and I are leaving behind friends as well, but the only way for us to gain strength again is to feast, bask in the sunlight, rekindle that fire inside,” Mimurda tried to inspire him.

Viori was stubborn. He had lost so much already, and he was unwilling to abandon his, however distant, kin.

“You should know, there is a rumor that the Queller doesn’t dwell below,” Mimurda disclosed. “If we can find him, there is a chance he can tell you where Ersoa is.”

Ersoa, blood of his blood, breather of fire and life. If there was a chance he could find her again, he would take it.

***

“There weren’t always dragons in the Valley,” Viori began as he dove into the forest toward the violet dryad and dense bramble thicket.

“The King of the Skies has returned,” Mimurda mused atop his back as he breathed the fire, casting the blaze across the valley where he was born, where he reigned, where his people were captured and enslaved.

“For you, Ersoa,” he dedicated as he admired the gleam of the fire across his amber scales.

***

This is part of the Ersoa's Awakening serial. Other parts can be read as linked below.

Fantasy

About the Creator

Sam Eliza Green

Wayward soul, who finds belonging in the eerie and bittersweet. Poetry, short stories, and epics. Stay a while if you're struggling to feel understood. There's a place for you here.

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