The Reverberations of Water
Shimmer Brooks Grand Adventure Of World Peace
There weren’t always dragons in the valley. It wasn’t that they were rare. In fact, they had their own territory but that was in the Great Overlook Mountains. Their sudden arrival in the valley was equal parts confusing and terrifying.
The invasion began at dawn. My tribe, being early risers, were well into the day’s living. I was enjoying the cold rush of creek water between my opaque azure skin. You see, the cool thing about being a Naiad is we can change our anatomical makeup. We can transition from a solid to liquid form at will. The most talented of us can maintain a mixture of these forms though it requires a lot of meditation to reach that state. In our solid form, we are as easy to see as the trees and flowers in our sleepy paradise. In our liquid form we become a sort of reflection of our surroundings, very useful when trying to be elusive.
So, there I was in my tranquil creek bed. The soft rays of the sun had begun waking up to the world. Just as quickly as they brightened the sky, a darkness snuffed out their existence. I looked up to find the sky had been draped by some curtain. No. Not a curtain. I ascertained after straining my eyes. They were shapes. Hundreds. Perhaps thousands.
A thunderous sound reverberated the ground around me. Instinctively I jumped to my feet in my translucent state. More thunder. More shaking. Like meteors, the figures abandoned the high altitudes to come crashing around us. Wings were the first detail I could make out. Before my eyes could register any more, they were among us.
The ground imploded under the weight of their landing. Boom! Boom! Boom! They were everywhere. Another thunderous crack in the air. I finally realized this was the roar of their leader, Kyavere. She spoke to her kin in incomprehensible draconic.
By this time, many denizens of the valley had rushed to hiding. The braver, or perhaps the more foolish, had made their way to our renowned tiered fountain that marked the center of our lands. I lurked on the edge of the tree line. The rugged black dragon spoke again, but this time in the common language.
“Creatures of this valley if you value your lives you will not resist. I, Kyavere, as eldest am claiming your regions for my kin. You will share this land or be extinguished. Is that clear?”
They were taking our lands, but why? How? This action was in complete betrayal of the Distribution Treaty. No one spoke in protest. Only a few whimpers creeped through the silence. We were no match for the dragons. We knew that and worse, the dragons knew that.
“I’ll take your silence as acceptance. It shows wisdom in knowing one’s limitations.” Kyavere said to us before speaking once more to her people.
The dragons made themselves at home instantly. They carved dens into our hillsides. They took our belongings as trinkets. They hunted the forest animals we had lived alongside. All the while we scurried and hid from their sight. Most kept their distance. Some attempted peaceful coexistence with the dragons but were scared off quickly. In the worst cases, my people were injured by the invaders. It wouldn’t be long before our beautiful home would be desolate. Someone had to do something. On day four of the invasion, I did just that.
I had slept under a willow tree huddled up with my sisters, Dewey and Misty. I woke to their whispered conversation of hunger and fear.
“It won’t be like this much longer.” I promised them.
“No chance. They love it here. And why wouldn’t they? It’s perfect!” Dewey whines.
“But it’s not their home. They chose the Overlook Mountains. Something had to make them leave.” I reasoned.
“Maybe they wanted to expand. We might be the first among a continental conquest.” Misty argued.
“There’s only one way to find out for sure. You both stay here.”
“Shimmer! You can’t be serious!”
I headed out despite their pleas. It was intended to only be a reconnaissance mission. I was going to keep my distance and silently watch. I was hoping to overhear something. See something. The first dragon I came across was basking by the lake alone. A blue dragon, smaller than Kyavere but still an impressive mass. The slight rumble under my feet suggested they were sleeping. Feeling more at ease, I slowly inched closer.
A few yards away I noticed the scars. The dark red ridges littered the body. Some seemed infected and had green ooze caked on top. At first, I thought they might be battle scars. Who would they have fought? Each other? Is it common for them to get into such heated fights and leave the defeated in such a state after? I knew very little of dragon culture but something about it seemed wrong. Then I noticed the scars were heaviest in certain areas. On each corner of the mouth and at the side of the stomach. What did this mean? Who wounded them so? I didn’t notice the rumbling underneath my feet had stopped. I carelessly had put my hand to the scare of the left side of the mouth.
An ear-splitting screech erupted from the once sleeping dragon and a torrent of boiling water had hit my midsection. I managed to change to my liquid form in time to minimize damage.
“You insolent creature! You dare attack me in such a state?” The dragon growled while rising to its feet.
I had fallen down and managed to crawl backwards a few feet.
“Not attack! Only talk!” I choked out.
“’Talk’ says the fiend who laid their hands on me.” They stepped towards me, closing all distance between us. “You are a fool to think a sleeping dragon is an easy target.”
The dragon pinned my entire body with a single claw.
“I didn’t come to fight.” I repeat.
“I wanted to know why you left the mountains.”
“That is of little concern for you. Just know that we are here now and we like it here.”
“I think you are afraid to go back.”
It was a great gamble, but it was all I had. I needed to find out why they left. If I could find out why, I could find out how to get them to go back. If I didn’t die first.
The dragon laughed at my words. Then they lowered their face to mine. The hot air from their nostrils made it hard to breathe.
“Afraid? You think we came here fleeing like cowards?”
“Not like cowards. Survivalists, maybe. Who caused those scars?”
“Individuals who learned to regret it. Do you want to try to make the same mistake?”
“No, I want to help. You want to go home, right? I mean this place is pretty good but nothing beats your own home.”
“Help? Why would any dragon accept help from such a weakly creature such as yourself?”
“Everyone has different capabilities. And if you work together, things once impossible become possible.” I stammer.
“And let me guess, we all become best friends and live in harmony for the rest of our days, right?”
“That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, would it?”
“You are very foolish. But amusing.” The dragon lifts her head to stare down at me. “What would you seek in return for this ‘help’?”
“Only our lands to return to us.”
“You speak for all of your people? Are you their leader?”
“We have no leader. We are all equals.”
“And what would the others say of your offer?”
“They would know I’m doing what’s best for us all.”
“Interesting. Come with me.”
The blue dragon finally removed her claw from me. I hesitantly stood and followed where she led. We stopped at the tiered fountain. It once soared in beautiful splendor, but now was cracked and leaning. Perched atop was none other than Kyavere. She did not bother righting herself to her full height in my presence.
“Lalarena, what brings you here? Is the creature rebelling against our rule?”
“No. The flea seems to believe they can help us.”
“Help?” Kyavere states in an identical manner to that of Lalarena earlier. “What do you think we need help with?”
“We are home.” Kyavere growls.
“This maybe your home right now, but I don’t think it’s the home you want. Your true home is in the mountains.”
“You think you know our thoughts? Our wishes?”
“I can only guess from the little I know. If it’s explained to me, I’d be in a better position of understanding. I do know someone not of your kin caused those scars.”
Kyavere stood up and stepped down from her makeshift throne. She towered above me.
“What do you know of these scars?”
“Not a lot. I just seen the markings. It’d be strange to come from another dragon. And you all have them.” I observed in the moment she looked down on me.
“What would you do with the information if we shared it with you?”
“I’d help you return home.”
“They seem to think they can regain their lands if they help us.” Lalarena informs the eldest dragon.
“And you would personally see to this mission?” Kyavere asks me.
“Would you risk your life for us?”
Kyavere stares at me in silence for a time.
“My people believe in peace among all.”
“And if you have to fight?”
“I’d prefer other alternatives but if it comes to it, I’ll fight to subdue.”
“Have you ever fought anything?” Kyavere interrogates.
“No, but I am willing to learn.”
Once more, Kyavere contemplates my answers in silence. We all wait for her reply. But none could have anticipated the answer.
“Very well. I shall tell you of our plight and see if you still believe you can help.”
“Eldest!” Lalarena speaks out but is silenced by a single look from her leader.
“It all began five years ago. What we thought were simple Cyclopes traders had made their way into our city. Once inside our sanctum, they launched their attack. They had strange orbs and shackles. We fought back fiercely, but were subdued by the time dusk approached. Adding to our humiliation they subjected us to slavery. They used us for transportation, for their fighting rings. We tried to overthrow them many times, but their weaponry left us weakened. Last week one of theirs made a mistake. They hadn’t used the orb that day and I had recovered enough of my strength to free myself and many others while the cyclopes had slept. I lead them here to heal from our wounds and regain our strength. Now that you know of this story, what will you do?”
“By attacking you, the Cyclopes broke the conditions of the Distribution Treaty. If we enlist the help of the other regions, we can force them to answer for their crimes and return them to the wastelands.”
“You know of the Treaty? I thought your kind didn’t deal in history.”
“Very little of it.” I admit. “We prefer the present. But it’s also important to know your neighbors.”
“Very well. You believe you can convince the other nations for aid? Would they not be just as likely to take this weakness for their own advantage?”
“We have to try.” I tell them.
The valley folk and other dragons had gathered around to listen to this meeting. They were silent but the atmosphere was thick with tension and anticipation of the next words. I did my best to ignore them. I thought of my sisters. My home. That steadied my nerves enough to focus on the conversation.
“I will grant you the attempt to right our situation. Lalarena, you will attend this creature in their quest. If they abscond or act in any way treasonous, you are to dispatch them and return here.”
“Yes, my Eldest.” Lalarena bows.
“As for you creature, what is your name?”
“Very well, Shimmer Brooks. If you succeed in your mission your home shall be your own once more and your kin will be welcome amongst my cities for the ages to come. Should you fail, you will cede this valley to us completely and take your people to the wastelands. Is this a fair arrangement?”
Several gasps and shouts of protest erupted amongst both sides. They felt like background noise to my own anxiety. What had I just agreed to? Freeing a powerful enslaved society from another powerfully ruthless society? I had never even stepped a foot outside of the valley region much less talked with other nations and their leaders. Now I was expected to do it all or risk my people to almost certain death. I felt sick to my stomach, but I shoved it down. I would do this. I had to.
I had little in the way of belongings, so I packed a few fruits in a leaf sack for the road and shared a tearful goodbye with my sisters. I made promises to return, not sure if I would keep them. They clung to each other as they watched me leave. I had made additional arrangements with Kyavere that none of my people would be harmed during my journey. She swore on her word that nothing ill would befall them, but I still worried. Were dragons trustful or cunning? Only time would tell but I had to hope the sight of my huddled sisters would not be the last I saw of them.
“Are you coming?” Lalarena broke me out of my trance.
And just like that I walked out of my normal life into one of grand adventure. Our first destination, the Underground.
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