There weren’t always dragons in the Valley. It’s only been the last twenty years or so that they’ve inhabited it again. The dragons came from far in the North where the cold keeps all other living beings at bay. They hid away from humans for thousands of years, not wanting to watch the world of man kill each other off.
We use to coexist, you see. Even so far as to be dependent on each other for survival. The dragons thought they would be better off without us, so they left. But their numbers started to dwindle. Eggs stopped hatching. Dragons that should have lived centuries began to take ill and die after only a few decades.
So, back to the humans they came, taking over the Valley by storm. Dragons began to live long lives again when they returned, but eggs didn’t start to hatch again right away. It wasn’t until humans touched and cared for the eggs again did they hatch new dragons. It created unbreakable Bonds between the human that touched the egg and the dragon that hatched.
Now we have Hatching Day—a celebration where humans, age seventeen, line up to see if they are lucky enough to Bond with a dragon. On average, only three eggs are hatched every year. Less than desired, but better than none at all. Today I get to see if I’m lucky enough to form a Bond.
That’s if the ADC—Anti-Dragon Commission—doesn’t put an end to the celebration. They are a group of people that believe Bonding with dragons is unnatural. But how can simply placing a hand on an egg be anything besides natural?
The Temple was built when the dragons returned to house the eggs and evolved to include the place where the Hatching Ceremony takes place. It is a gorgeous building made completely of gray and white marble from foundation to roof. The entire structure is hand carved with dragons of all shapes and sizes to honor their beauty. Marble was chosen so the eggs would stay cool while waiting to hatch. Overheating can cause the egg to die.
As I approach the Temple for the Hatching Ceremony, I spot about fifteen people off to the left picketing. ADC is doin their best to deter those of us that believe dragons and humans should coexist. However, people still come from all over the world to just touch a dragon egg in the hopes of Bonding.
The dragons have an old prophecy, though, that is whispered among them, something they have feared since long before the existence of man. It says that: with the hatching of the golden dragon, comes an era of darkness and death. As the years go by without the hatching of the golden dragon, as a species they only become more anxious and restless in anticipation. So much so that they have considered leaving again as of late.
I never thought that out of the hundreds of eggs and thousands of people present for Hatching Day this year that I would be one of only two participants to form a Bond. I hoped but didn’t expect, or even consider the fact. I also wasn’t expecting the dragon I Bonded with to be completely gold.
So, I stand with my back to the anxious crowd that awaits to see my dragonling, a thing no bigger than my palm. As I stare down at it while it stumbles around in my hands, I can’t imagine how anything so precious could ever be evil. My thoughts bounce around but go back to how innocent the tiny dragonling looks.
Are you my Master?
A voice, male and childlike, cuts through the cacophony of thoughts. It’s the dragonling speaking in my head through the Bond. It snorts as it speaks in my head, a plum of smoke billowing from its nostrils.
Are you my Master? He asks again.
“Yes,” I tell him.
A feeling of being whole, complete, washes over me, finalizing the Bond between us as I confirm its existence.
“What is your name?” I ask.
Tadres, Defender of Man.