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Ruatonim and Endaira

By Stephanie J. BradberryPublished 2 years ago Updated about a year ago 10 min read
Runner-Up in Christopher Paolini's Fantasy Fiction Challenge
Compilation by Stephanie J. Bradberry

Departure: The Children

Serpentine waves wafted up saline sprays as their liquid hands clapped the sides of the venerable Soporta. Each slap threatened to shred the patinaed boards down to toothpicks. The sea-legless children sauntered left, up, right, down in an exhausting whirl.

The last thing the children remembered as a collective was the rhyme of the ancient Vow Vessels. Life just before that was all so muggy, like trying to decipher an image in a fogged-up mirror. As blurred as deciphering Divinian from Anti-Divinian speech.

No specific memory was needed to recount events prior to boarding, though. Everyone, from suckling to grave, heard the same syllables cranked out like a dirge on a victrola year after joyful year.

Waxing waves provoked once more.

Find these children upon the shore.

Nodiesod be pleased again.

Bless us with a fruitful end.

Rote chant. Maybe a prayer. Perhaps blasphemy. Well wishes for the future of many over the fate of a few. Everything in Snehta was either a blessing or a curse. These words, I’m not sure where they fell. Released Children who board the boat I presume epitomize the latter.

Long from the Sowing at Snehta’s western cay, the frail wooden parts of Soporta groaned as much as the children groggily awakening from the effects of salemo.

Departure: The Dragons

Soaring granite walls speckled pink, black, grey, white, brownish-red raced around thousands of meters. Every hundred feet presented an inviting doorway, intricate intersection, abrupt turn or dead end festooned with weeping emerald ivy. Ruatonim’s brain would soon dizzy comprehending where his father spent the last three centuries.

Sharp cliffs forged from honed talons were equally smoothed by the smoldering warmth of generational dragon’s breath. Sonim peered one last time through razor sharp slits at Eterc. These cherished ancestral lands received protection from the Nim line century after century.

The buff eastern shores of Eterc outlined in silver foam and turquoise glass readily welcomed Sonim’s dying mass of past offerings. Ruatonim hypnotically bayed the verses of departure.

Eroc humtig bellogong rianwok pluflig:

Laopew frunteeg byns deunox gafmuag:

Nodiesod sorewasz eti jerprulmm eqiucurn:

Gatyil ewquerad buildklund a silpae.

A somber song. Justified jubilance. An expression signaling the passing of the guard. Dragons inhabited a range of emotions, surpassed only by the quandaries presented by the colossal Rinthybal. Their observations of gods and humans made them more astute than both.

Ruatonim approached his fate as the next Embracer of Released Children with the caution of a captive elephant.

Arrival: The Child

Splash went one child eager to hasten its death. By the time Soporta hit the eastern shore of Eterc, three more children leapt at the chance of an early decision at Hades University. Only one quarter of the original lot witnessed the turning of Soporta as she approached the shoreline. Soporta rotated on her rutters like a model at the end of a runway. Her bust creaked out from just below the water’s surface. Three forceful shakes toppled the remaining children.

Two children’s necks compressed upon hitting the sand. One child, attempting to cleave to Soporta, fluttered into the side of the ruins, adding a fresh splash of crimson. Soporta cranked back down to caress Nodiesod’s wavy hair. Her backwards position to the beach accelerated her departure from Eterc. There was no need for Soporta to bid an official farewell or note the lone survivor of the arduous journey.

Arrival: The Dragon

“Ruatonim, depart from Eterc. Reside, until your death, at Rinthybal, as Sonim did, with great honor,” Isapphae lovingly bellowed.

“Mother, I will do as you ask,” thundered Ruatonim. “Not out of duty, but as a proud Nim heir and descendant of Sonim.” Ruatonim blew a steady stream of tepid air from his nostrils onto his mother’s crepey cheek. Isapphae held her river longer, knowing it was her last time doing so.

Ruatonim dipped and emerged from mountain top to cliff leaving his parents’ cave. His ruddy wings matched the feelings in his heart. Only a few brief moments did Ruatonim share with his cave before vacating. Ruatonim tenderly pressed the blackened tips of his claws against each wall on the way out. There was no point reminiscing. He needed to forge ahead to his new abode, Rinthybal.


Endaira’s small, androgenous shape crept past the sprawling ruins to the entrance of the glorified catacombs. Truly mesmerizing was the mammoth display of the labyrinth before her. It looked as if Ozymandias took part in the planning of this anachronistic landmark.

Just 20 paces in presented Endaira with only two options: left or right. Endaira slanted her head right. Then she stood on her tippy toes to peer as far as she could right. So early on, did it really matter which way? Right.

As Endaira traversed the corridors of the herculean maze, the walls began to reveal moss. First were brown fizzled clumps. Then plush avenues of green veins intertwining with slender fingers of branches stretched for half a mile. At the end, Endaira encountered the only arched opening.

A stunning forest arose on the other side of the cobblestone archway. Slightly off center, a titanic tree piqued Endaira’s interest. The atmosphere pregnantly held a siren song softly emitting from its robust leaves and amethyst fruit. Endaira gazed through the stain glass vegetation that promised a fun solitude and respite from heavy heat and cruel chambers. Compared to the publicity of the entrance of Rinthybal, this inner sanctum was a slice of private paradise. The life to Rinthybal’s death. A world of perpetual dawn.


The trek to Rinthybal lasted approximately 40 heaves of Ruatonim’s full-grown wings. Seeing Rinthybal’s gargantuan silhouette captivated Ruatonim. High above, the resemblance to cloisters, a pastiche of nature and human ingenuity, proved uncanny and breathtaking. Ruatonim lightly descended directly in front of the immense inner most cavern, Tsevrah. He strode into his forever home.

After a brief introduction with Tsevrah, Ruatonim turned his focus to examining all corners of Rinthybal. Ruatonim delighted most in the Garden of Nede. Inside her walls rested a microcosm of Rinthybal. But the nature of Nede rendered differently than elsewhere in Rinthybal, let alone all of Eterc. Here, Ruatonim could slumber peacefully under Egdelwonk. Boasting the size of two Ruatonims and countless Endairas, Egdelwonk donned a robe of copper bark with bromeliad buttons, a scarf of Spanish moss, and an oak leaf bowler hat trimmed in wisteria.

Ruatonim nestled under Egdelwonk for a short spell. As he rolled over for increased comfort, Ruatonim grasped a wisp of a sophisticated aroma on his unfurled carmine tongue: cardamom and pomegranate? He breached open his right eye to scan Nede.

Crossing The Threshold

Endaira frolicked along the path of clovers that played around her ankles. As she approached the behemoth tree, pearls of dew hanging from shards of grass splashed upon her skin, bursting into ephemeral mist. Multi-hued flowers nodded off at each wind’s serenade. Purple morning glories, delicately tracing the outlined remnants of wrought iron pillars, winked open and closed.

The tree became even more extraordinary up close. Endaira really concentrated to keep from tripping over the cryptic network sprawling across the surface. Like an iceberg, these parts of Egdelwonk’s base served as just a peek of his enormity.

Critters bustling along the dirt highway drew the line between Ruatonim and Endaira.

Test, Ally, Enemy

The aroma’s tendril swelled into a strong gale against Ruatonim’s nostrils. Now that the human approached so close, he became more intrigued and annoyed than eager to fulfill his role. Intrigued to discern the source of the scent. Annoyed that his brief slumber suddenly got decimated.

Getting to the base of the tree presented difficulties for Endaira’s gangly frame. The roots became thinker, warmer, squishier. She started drifting between sinking and swimming more than tripping and walking.

A huge crystal ball with swirls of citrine and sapphire around a jet center met Endaira’s two stunned specks of jasper.

Ruatonim and Endaira analyzed each other like poems hiding their true meaning. Under Egdelwonk’s tutelage they were encouraged to burrow under the surface for challenges to their assumptions.

This human is so tiny and unaware. Ruatonim rumbled a warning. This replaced the urge to dutifully place this diminutive human in his belly.

Dragons are supposed to breathe fire, not words. Incoherent sounds fizzled from Endaira’s gaping mouth. How did she mistake a whole dragon for tangled leathery stems?

The Ordeal

Ruatonim acknowledged his objective by an instinct ingrained over the course of millennia. It neared the right time, but not the right location. Ruatonim hastened to get this girl from the Garden of Nede to the ceremonial hall of Tsevrah. Why couldn’t she have just kept creeping along Rinthybal’s walls? Ruatonim felt forlorn, being robbed of experiencing the full theatrics of the Yield.

Endaira batted her eyes harder and faster in awe. It appeared the only thing moving were her flyweight eyelids and monkey brain. Both were involuntary. Each shutter of her lenses brought more details of the dragon into sharper focus. Each thought quickly ran rampant into another silent soliloquy. So this is what happens to Released Children? Endaira’s body expelled liquids from almost every orifice and pore.

Return To The Inmost Cave

A coalescence of saline, acidic and putrid-smelling droplets surfed down Ruatonim’s craggy tail. His first mind said to shake it off. His second mind reasoned one swoosh would eradicate the girl. Ruatonim sensed there were no other viable children. No matter how revolting, this human was precious. He must not damage her.

“Come with me little one,” barked Ruatonim. An elder schooled him well in his native tongue, ceremonial verses, and the language of Snetha.

Egdelwonk shed a petal onto Endaira’s shoulder. She felt a jolt of assurance course through her. “I like it here. You go. I stay,” Endaira spoke with a child’s induced defiance. Endaira could not fathom leaving the captivating treasure hidden amongst alleys of destruction. This dragon would only take her to a place more soul draining than anything she already encountered outside these charming walls.

Ruatonim carefully caught and clutched the girl. It was simple. She wasn’t even a moving target.

“Where are you taking me?” Endaira’s first verbal question since departing Snehta. The application of salemo ensured no queries before or during the voyage.

“To the grand inmost cave, Tsevrah,” Ruatonim howled with pomp and dignity. His first Yield would be minute yet profitable.

“No, no, no! Take me back to the forest,” Endaira tinged as she pinged around Ruatonim’s claws. Her body developed too frail to put up a tenacious fight. Too much movement meant Ruatonim’s calloused palms would add matching physical scars to Endaira’s mental ones.

No preparation existed for this scenario. Ruatonim had to handle this puny being with his own ingenuity. “Consider yourself fortunate to have laid eyes upon the Garden of Nede. Now stay still. We are almost to Tsevrah.”

“What does ‘for-tune-nant’ mean? And what is the Garden of Nede?” All young ones are curious, even if they are in danger.

Astonishment described Ruatonim’s bearings hearing this girl pose a question when her light leaned towards infinite darkness. The foreign sensation evoked an internal query of Ruatonim’s own: There is a year until the next Sowing and Yield. What will I do until then? Then an external one manifested, “Little human, why do ask such questions?”

“Because I don’t know the answers, stupid!” If not for the high winds created by Ruatonim’s speed, Endaira would have stuck her tongue out at the dumb dragon.

Time elapsed for an additional lightening round of questions and answers. The imposing entrance and grandiose hall of Tsevrah exchanged a glance with Endaira.

The Elixir

Tsevrah represented the man-made counterpart to the Garden of Nede. Silver and gold replaced trees and flowers. Clovers and critters evolved into marble and gemstones.

Endaira felt equally attracted to the shimmering qualities of Tsevrah as she did the sparkling ones of the forest. The marvelous entrance and grand hall with corridors stretching from the center like tentacles brought new wonder. When touched, the walls illuminated just as the ocean at night. The temperature reminded her of the warmth created from a blanket on a fall night.

Instead of splaying Endaira on the sanguine stone altar, Ruatonim installed her on a heap of marble, glittering with lichen and moss.

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About the Creator

Stephanie J. Bradberry

I have a passion for literature and anime. And I love everything involving academia, health, metaphysics and entrepreneurship.

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  • Thavien Yliaster8 months ago

    This is far above my reading level, let alone my writing level. I had to read, re-read, and read some more. I can't tell if this is a fantasy land, or more so of a place that's akin to the afterlife. I feel like just when I have a grip of what things really are, it's as if they're anthropomorphized in ways that I never imagined before. I literally thought the ship turned into a giant mom, and gave one of the kids a farewell by giving them a gentle rub on the head before returning to sea. When I read about the children leaping from the boat I didn't know if they were deciding that death was worse off and so they decided to swim until they drowned before arriving at "Hades University" or is "Hades University" just a place of hell for their souls to arrive at, and the children decide that it's better to live in the waters of purgatory instead of going all the way into hell? It felt like the children are jumping into the River Styx. Even though they don't want to, there are some forms of death that are easier and better to deal with than others. When it comes to the dragons I was wondering if they were already denizens of hell, or if the entire world (life and afterlife) is just as magical and easily transmutable. When Ruatonim went to live in Rinthybal I was wondering if Rinthybal is extremely close to Eterc or if the dragons in this story are more akin to natural disasters and are extremely powerful. 40 full heaves of his wings, 40 wingbeats, is insane for the distance traveled unless if he's actually close or just immensely strong like that of a hurricane or typhoon. Where did Endaira get taken to? I know I'm gonna have to re-read this again just so I can get a grip on it, but I can't tell if she's like a secret ingredient or if she's just not in the right territory for people. When she got brought to the altar I couldn't tell if she was going to be sacrificed or dropped off for somebody else to properly take care of her. I gotta say, Stephanie, this entire story reminds me of Dante's Inferno Divine Comedy, yet I'm still struggling in piecing everything together.

  • Novel Allen11 months ago

    UMMM! This needs a re-read. Very interesting.

  • D. ALEXANDRA PORTER11 months ago

    Cool opening! I stumbled across your work and love what I saw. This weekend, I will curl up with a cup of lemon and honey tea, then immerse myself in your fantasy world.

  • Donna Reneeabout a year ago

    I’m am blown away by your writing voice in this!! It’s so “high fantasy” or “epic” maybe? I don’t know the terms haha. But it was amazing and very different from other things I’ve read of yours! I’m just in awe of your ability to write with such variety!

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a year ago

    Excellent. Well written with a wonderful sense of depth and imagery.

  • R. J. Raniabout a year ago

    What a cool story! And your use of language is so stunning. AND there's so much rich worldbuilding, here, Stephanie - it just feels *VAST*! Is this a world you regularly write in? If so, I'd love to read more. How did you decide to approach the contest the way you did? Bravo :)

  • Raymond G. Taylorabout a year ago

    Congratulations on winner a runner-up prize. Well done!

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