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Light, Dark, & Dragon Song

A First Chapter By Emily Scott

By Emily ScottPublished 3 months ago 12 min read
3
Light, Dark, & Dragon Song
Photo by Kumiko SHIMIZU on Unsplash

I don’t know how I survived the fall. With the way that it happened, I wonder if the Queen Mother would cry for my disappearance. I wondered if she had survived to cry at all. And if she had survived, what would be left?

I know Mother by her song, because that is how all dragons know one another. Songs for hope, songs for fear, songs for mourning. Songs that carry the fire from our chest into the sky. Mother’s song carried on the wind like petals from a bloom.

But I cannot hear her song anymore.

Gray silence surrounded me, and a prickling chill of rain pooled on my scales and aching wings. Somewhere, far above this place was Irdessa, forever bathed in its own radiant light. It had not known any manner of darkness for many ages. Until today, when the darkness returned from its slumber and sent me to the depths.

—-“There is a rift in the northern horizon!” Lord Mother’s panicked call revealed through our shared bond. A clamor of shock vibrated through the city in a massive wave. I was strong, but I was not prepared, not fully believing. The rift was a quickly spreading poison, leaving nothing alive in its path. We met its wrath with our fire and song, and for a while kept it at bay. But when I approached the rift of smoke and shadow, its border writhing and growing, I succumbed to my fear. And with my fear, I was consumed.

At first the pain was unimaginable, but then it was just heavy, and everything became nothing. I fell…I fell…—

Warily I opened my eyes, shocks of pain racking my body from snout to tail. Inky black trees surrounded me, lightning illuminating their jagged edges. I had fallen to some outcropping of smooth stone, my limbs sprawled out beneath me in odd angles.

I tested my wings first, baring my teeth as my left wing crumpled under minimal effort. Shifting my left foreleg felt like lightning, a groan vibrating through my chest. A peal of rolling thunder reverberated through the sky above like an echo to my agony, and my head withered to the stone in defeat.

I will not be able to make it back to Irdessa like this.

—Lord Father sits with me at The Edge and teaches of me of the place far below. His eyes seem to glow amber from within, the black slit narrowing. “Dragons who descend will not survive, even if they withstand the fall.”

“How do we know?” I asked, barely fledged and curious.

“Because none have ever returned to tell of it.”—

So I waited for the end, wondering if my family had fallen too.

I closed my eyes and tried to remember them one last time. Mother, gleaming like burnished bronze with a powerful song that carried over the wind. Father, red as a summer sun and a voice like dripping honey. But as I tried to remember the tune, the memory wouldn’t come.

Just silence, and the cold of rain.

For a while I simply existed until my pain seemed to all but completely disappear and the storm subsided. But there was something that rented the silence, even over the constant hum of the wind.

I wondered if I imagined it, or if something would come to end me. But it happened again, long and wailing. A cry.

My eyes flashed open. The cry increased in intensity, some manner of language within it. But the cry was young, and I did not recognize its origin. No other voice came, no response to its cry.

Something in my chest sparked, willing me to move. At first I could not. But the cry returned, and I felt bound to its need.

Beginning with my right foreleg, I slowly heaved my body to stand, my three working legs quivering under the weight. My wings drug the rock behind me, tendrils of rain dripping off in streams.

Step by step I eased myself down from the ledge where I had lain, wondering how I had not been completely broken by the fall. Wondering ’why’ I hadn’t been broken.

Light was beginning to appear in a gray haze above the trees, illuminating the ground just enough to make out the shadows.

—Every fledgling was taught to intimately know the complexities of song, for a song would guide them like stars in a time of need. A song would separate a flight from a dance, and the darkness from the light.—

The cry whimpered, filled with notes of terror and sadness. Though seeing was difficult, I could begin to smell the creature as I pulled myself through dense and damp underbrush. Their scent was bitter with fright.

I growled between my teeth as branches snagged along the thin membrane of my wings and pain lanced through my leg. Still I pressed on.

Eventually I found the small creature in a wide opening, two-legged and crouched at the base of a tree. I could not see them well, but I could smell them. I could feel the beating of their heart and quivering of their body. Such a small and fragile thing, yet somehow so familiar.

When the creature noticed me approaching they quieted, their heart racing wildly in their chest. For a moment I paused, knowing my size had probably seized them in terror. Even I withered as I stood, my strength leaving my body in waves.

I didn’t know how to speak to this young creature as I would speak in the word of dragons.

But I knew how to sing.

I sunk to my belly, pine needles and soil clinging to my scales. The child covered their eyes with two small hands, damp black curls clinging to their face.

At first all I could produce was a deep hum in my throat. Eventually it melded into a hum that rose and fell, coated in a grief I could not hide if I wanted to. Though the effort pained me, I could sense the child softening, its heartbeat slowing again. My song rose into something that felt like a long cry, and I held it there for a moment before my breath heaved out and I could sing no more. It was a song I had never known and would never know again.

My head sunk to the ground, my breaths heaving raggedly.

At first the child was still. But in the murk of the darkness they crept forward to me, reaching a gentle hand out to touch my snout. Slowly, the child crept around the pointed arch of my wing to my belly.

Damp and shivering, they crawled under my wing and curled up close to me, much like a fledgling to a mother drake. With what strength I had left, I curled myself around them, too.

—I give you what I have, youngling. Though I have not much to give.—

My eyes grew heavy, and darkness overcame me once more.

~*~

Somehow light found me again, and morning was greeted not by the thundering of lightning, but the thundering of approaching horses. My eyes were heavy and difficult to open, and somehow my body felt foreign and small. When my I finally opened my eyes, a figure stood over me, their features blurred and hazy.

“Praise the Light, Sir, we found the child!” He exclaimed, a flurry of other two legged figures rushing in. I blinked, feeling damp and chilled to the bone. “There’s a man here as well. It looks like they’ve been here the whole night.”

I struggled to move, feeling weak but somehow not in pain. There was a clamor of voices around me, all much larger than I had expected them to be.

“Get dry blankets and water for the child and take him to town immediately. Some dry blankets for the man, too. Question him if he is able.”

I felt the child being carefully pried from my cover, the child whimpering softly. Who was this man they kept referring to? Is that what they had named me?

The sound of hooves departing filled the forest, and at least three figures remained. I tried to shift my legs, though they felt odd and almost weightless. And my wings…

My wings were immovable. I couldn’t feel the weight of their sinews stretching from my back. My tongue felt wide in my throat, my teeth smooth. Even my scales seemed to no longer protect me from the sensations around me.

I looked down at myself, panic rising in my throat. As though I were peering through someone else’s eyes, I saw skin instead of scales. My forelegs stretched out into arms and hands, my hind legs the same as the two-leggeds around me.

I wanted to roar or rise to my haunches, but all that rose into my throat was bile.

Two figures seized me by my arms and hoisted me to my feet, my foreign legs giving way beneath me.

I couldn’t fight it. I could hardly breathe.

The third man that had stayed behind spoke while the others gripped their fingers into me tightly enough to bruise.

“The bloke is unfit for any questioning. Get him back to the infirmary, and when he’s well he‘ll be prepared for questioning.”

I remember very little after they had placed me on horseback. I was both numb, yet consumed by weakness and confusion. A rush of mossy, wildly stretching trees passed by, and I passed in and out of consciousness from the shock.

Every once in awhile I heard bits and pieces of conversation between the riders.

“The bloke has been mute for several miles. Should I try to force it out of him?”

“No, we can’t lay a hand on him. He might be the reason the child even survived.”

The other man grunted. “And how do we know he’s not the reason the child got there in the first place?”

“Either way, we’ll find out soon.”

The man behind me spoke with a calm rigidity that reminded me of Lord Father. I wished I could sing out to them.

“Maybe he IS a mute, and we’ll never know. And look at his peculiar robes. I haven’t seen clothing like that since I traveled the eastern coast.” The man that had not spoken harrumphed in agreement.

“For now, let us be grateful that the child has been found. We shall pray he makes a full recovery so that the King may have his Truth Singer.”

~*~

Unknowingly, I had passed out of consciousness again. When I awoke, I was clean and wrapped in dry, warm blankets. My vision had not fully returned yet, but several small flickering candles illuminated dark corners of the room.

The air was damp and warm, a small stove burning in the corner. Each wall held shelves of vials, glass bottles filled with dried flowers, and other trinkets I was not able to discern yet. At the far side was a narrow door, and behind it, murmurs of voices.

I was grateful they had not thrown me somewhere dark and damp, but wary of what may happen to me next. I had no fire, no claws, no wings or sharp teeth. This creature I had become was something I had only heard of in tales and elder’s stories. I had no idea how to defend myself, let alone walk.

I shifted in the bed, using my new arms to push my body up. A groan escaped my throat, the sound feeling odd and unfamiliar.

Suddenly a figure passed through the doorway and shut the door behind them. The creature was female, and she wore a thick green cloak that stretched to her ankles, black hair tied back tightly behind her head.

“You’re awake.” She said, more of surprise than fact.

“Yes...” I sighed. “Where am I?”

“And you can speak!” She exclaimed, then suddenly lowering her voice to a hush and approaching the bedside with a stool. “They were going to take you to the castle infirmary. But they feared the news of a stranger would worry the current guests, so now you’re in my home. I’m the trusted local healer, you could say.”

“And what of the boy child?” I asked, shifting uncomfortably.

“He’ll be alright. But the soldiers are waiting outside until you were well enough to be questioned.”

I pulled my hands from the cover the blankets, stretching each of my fingers and rolling them over as I did so.

“If I tell them the truth, I don’t think they will believe me.”

She paused for a moment, studying me with narrow brows and round, green eyes.

“Why do you say that?” She asked.

“Because not everything is as it seems. But I have no way of proving it.”

My hands shook with the rising dread.

“I should already be dead,” I began, swallowing past the dryness of my throat.

The woman only stared at me intently. Even dragons had not offered me such patience.

“But you’re not.” She said, leaning in on her knees. “In fact, I bet you came a long way to get here.”

I stared back, a chill rising up my spine.

“Yes…” I said quietly. “How did you know?”

She stood again, turning to grab a small wooden box from a shelf. She sat at the stool again, opening the box before me.

“Because I found this in the pocket of your robe.”

Within the wooden box was a lining of red velvet. And lying softly on the velvet was a single scale. It gleamed silver and blue, like my own. Or like mine had been.

My breath caught in my throat and I reached quickly to grab it. I twisted it in my fingers, the fire light gleaming on its edges.

“I’ve only ever seen a scale like this two other times. One for a man I cared for years ago. And one…from myself.”

My eyes shot back up to hers.

“You’re telling me others have fallen? Even you?” My heart raced in my chest.

“Yes. But no one must know. Tell the soldiers you were traveling from the Eastern coast and came across the boy in the woods on your way to purchase goods. You lost your horse and all your wares when it got spooked by the storm. Any questions?”

I felt stunned, my stomach turning in uncomfortable ways I had never experienced.

“I don’t even know where to begin. I want to go home, to find my family. Something terrible happened to Irdessa. And now I’m here.” My inability to act made me feel all the weaker.

Her green eyes darkened, brows furrowing.

“What’s your name, brother?” she asked.

“Kembran. And yours?”

“Ormana.” She gave a curt nod of her head. “Forget all of the songs you thought you knew, Kembrant. It’s time to learn a new song now.”

Fantasy
3

About the Creator

Emily Scott

Hermit at heart. The older I get, the more I believe in magic. Chaotic good. I love woodwork, exploring with my family of four, and turning my daydreams into stories.

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Comments (2)

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  • Blake Booth2 months ago

    Wow, this was great. You did a wonderful job. I wish there was more. Are you planning on putting more chapters out on vocal?

  • Amanda Auler3 months ago

    Emily!!! 🧡🧡 love that twist at the end!

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