Threads of Destiny
There weren’t always dragons in the Valley.
No, Anais still remembers a time before the war. Before her people conquered them, bred them, trained them – wielded them as weapons.
Before her people abandoned them here.
This used to be a quiet mountain valley, with a swift but gentle creek running through. The bare feet of children padding through the soft grass and daisies, the only sounds reverberating off the mountain side were laughter and song.
But that time is long gone, and peering over the rocky cliff into the Dwelling, it’s hard to hold onto that cherished childhood vision of the world.
Now, the Valley from her hazy childhood memories was home to at least fifty powerful dragons, each with the power to destroy at their will.
It seemed there was an unspoken treaty between the village and the Dwelling: we won’t bother you, if you let us live.
Despite the slight edge of terror, she often found herself drawn here, as if there was a silver thread of destiny tugging at her chest, begging her to return. She couldn’t explain it, not to her friends, and certainly not to her elder sister, who forbade her from visiting the Dwelling.
For a moment, the clenching ache in her heart reminded her that Ceri couldn’t bear it, the thought of losing her to the dragons, too – not after watching both of their parents disappear without a trace.
A whole lifetime of memories. Of belly-laughs and bedtime stories. Of love and promise. Lost in a flash. One moment, standing before them, the next, just ash on the wind.
But Anais couldn’t help it. She’d lost her parents, too, she reminded herself. Shouldn’t that count for something?
Ceri copes with avoidance. Anais, with confrontation.
At first, she ventured down to the Dwelling with a lust for revenge pulsing through her veins. All the way there, telling herself stories of her own triumph, outlining a plan of attack, making lists of potential recruits.
After the war finally ended, she’d spent months cooped up, nursing the burns on her body from the fire that wrecked everything she had ever known. Every day, her rage grew hotter. By the time she was finally well enough to venture to the Dwelling, her blood was boiling. But when she took her first look into the valley, she was paralyzed – first by fear, then by intrigue.
These iridescent creatures were not what she was expecting. She’d seen the rage behind the eyes of the monster that stole her life from her. She could never forget the hate burning in them, like live embers. But watching these beasts now – their slow movements, their romping play, their own reptilian song ringing through the Valley – revenge was replaced with a wild curiosity.
As the sun burned lower and lower in the sky, she found herself creeping down the rock face, getting a better view of her previously-intended prey. She watched two young dragons splashing in the stream…were they…playing? Another, close by, seemed to be learning to fly.
The massive dragons, clearly the elders, lazily lounged in the shadows of the trees, opening their eyes and turning their heads only when loud yelps emanated from the wildlings.
Anais was completely captivated by the creatures before her. How is it possible these were the same beings she’d come to hate so fiercely?
Suddenly, to her right, there was a crash, and then an ear-splitting scraping sound. A second too late, Anais whipped her head around to see that she was now face-to-face with a shimmering gold dragon with electric blue eyes, his breath hot on her face.
That’s when she locked eyes with Zeus for the first time.
It wouldn’t be the last.