"No no…. Not another human! Not another one!" Throrx thought out loud.
The dragon carefully moved closer to the stump. He wrestled within. He hesitated for a moment. The words of the warlock had come to mind.
" The humans of this era are not like those of the past. They do not wield knives, bows, arrows and spears and run around on their two feet wearing heavy armour. They have built grand weapons whose mighty power we of older realms cannot fully comprehend. Weapons that allow just one of them to wipe out entire existences in distant lands without even moving from where they sit. Don't you pay attention to what the shiftra tell us? Tread carefully!"
The dragon shook the thought. He then took more calculated steps and stretched his long neck towards the little creature that was seemingly sleeping calmly on the dead stump. He wanted to confirm what he thought he was seeing. Was it truly a human?
He wanted it to be true. And yet he didn't.
What luck could have made him the first dragon in the lands to spot it? Or what misery? Could this have been a sign or a chance pushing him to his mission or his fate? Or worse still, the fate of their lands?
The dragons were the patrollers of Euldosiria - a vast hidden world, the residence of the Algirkal, a society of all magical creatures in existence on the planet. While Euldosiria covered the entire planet allowing the different Algirkal to retain their physical locations, it was held together by a common force and was governed jointly.
All Algirkal had been given different responsibilities in their new world. Due to their might, sharp senses, great sight and ability to fly over long distances, the dragons were tasked with upholding safety within Euldosiria. They also manned their boundaries with the human world.
The Algirkal; the dragons, elves, warlocks, wolves, ogres, fairies, rimuis, giants, gnomes, gargoyles, mermaids, phoenixes, djinnis, centaurs, unicorns, ghuurs, … all magical creatures had combined their powers and used it to hide this world thousands of years back when the humans of their lands had turned against them and their magic. Feeling threatened by their strength, they were hurting them, killing, capturing, imprisoning and exploiting those that remained for their powers and strengths. The goal it seemed was to annihilate the Algirkal. And leave the planet inhabited only by humans.
Euldosiria, tightly hidden in their former worlds protected the Algirkal and allowed them to live together freely and in relative harmony. Their individual interests would clash from time to time. After all, they came from different lands, realms and time periods of the large planet with different laws, beliefs and practices. But their conflicts did not escalate enough to threaten their agreed co-existence. Together, using their combined magic, they were stronger in Euldosiria. And they were safe.
At the creation of Euldosiria, the Cirler - the Circle of the Elders comprised of leaders representing all Algirkal communities had created several secret portals that allowed the shiftra- gifted warlocks that could change their form to any human, creature or object at will - passage to the human world to rescue and guide any magical creatures in all realms stranded there.
Many Algirkal even after thousands of years were still in hiding in the human world, or had been captured and held by sections of these humans or their powers mainly in secret. This had been the fate of Shatrt Throrx's mother.
The portals also allowed the shiftra access to the human world when they were tasked to go and gather information on the humans through time that would inform the Algirkal and help protect their joint existence at Euldosiria.
Whenever the shiftra returned from the vast human world, all Algirkal would gather in a clearing in the forests and be briefed on the happenings in the human world and the fate of the Algirkal still in capture. Many would come to hear this news and the plans for the retrieval of their kin. The shiftra only revealed what was necessary, keeping many of the details to themselves.
With time though, these gatherings had lost their meaning as Euldosiria had been safe from the humans for hundreds of years. And as the humans advanced and as the retrieval of the trapped Algirkal became harder or even impossible based on specific circumstances.
Throrx the dragon had been told that retrieving his mother was the latter. His spirit had been crushed. But he remained hopeful.
The portals at Euldosiria would rotate and appear and disappear every often at different locations. Due to the grave threat, the world had been made in haste. Many of its aspects had been improved over time. But the portals had proven hard to fully control. Only the most powerful shiftra possessed the magic to sense, locate and use them at will. Many other Algirkal claimed they could track the portals, but this had never been truly proven.
In the beginning, the sudden disappearance of the magical creatures had felt threatening to the humans. Where had they gone to? They had wondered.
In time, many in the human world had posited that their threat towards the creatures had caused the magical creatures to go underground and even die out due to the lack of enabling environments for their survival.
The existence of magical creatures had been turned into legend in the human world. Time had filtered the truth into fiction. Through generations, humans created stories that they told their children as entertainment around fireplaces or at bedtime. These stories were passed on each time changing form as they were adopted by humans of different lands.
The fire of the truth however still burned among a few. As humans had always been known to be relentless creatures. Some had not given up on the existence of magical creatures and what this would mean to them and the human world. Some wanted their power. Others needed their help.
Through time, some humans would stumble upon a portal into Euldosiria. Most that were detected by the dragon patrollers would be burned on the spot. This was the law. A few very lucky ones had gone back through the portals narrowly escaping before being spotted. They returned to their lands with unbelievable stories about a strange land within their land that they had somehow been transported to.
Sometimes, an Algirkal would stumble upon a portal and be transported to the human world. On occasion, they would be spotted, captured and held by the humans. Such incidents would be turned into legends in time. Some Algirkal especially those that held protection magic such as fairies and still held strong connections back there would be summoned by humans from time to time.
These stories combined only fueled more entertaining tales of adventure in the human world that changed form every time they were retold.
Some ambitious humans however and those that believed in the existence of this strange land full of fairies, werewolves, dragons, magic and wonderment were determined to find it. Some rulers of mighty kingdoms who dreamt and were seduced by the idea of greater wealth, power and influence were they to find these lands, had funded expeditions to find it. If these lands had these creatures, they must also have possessed great unexploited wealth they believed.
Humans had always been ruled by self-interest. Even over their fellow humans.
Many had tried, some had even succeeded and penetrated Euldosiria but had been defeated. These successes and failures simply informed more legends in the human world.
Through time, while Euldosiria remained largely the same, the human world had been changing greatly.
Human ambition had always been their greatest strength. Humans didn't want to just roam the lands. They now roamed the seas and the skies. And according to the shiftra, the humans were in the process of moving to another planet. Could they finally leave the lands for the Algirkal?
It is human advancement that had helped them locate the secret portals to Euldosiria.
Throrx moved closer to the tree stump deep in the forest for a closer inspection.
It was indeed a human youngling! A very young one. Not even old enough to wield a weapon or run very fast. It seemed to be seated but had closed its eyes. Strange. Many such thoughts were running in his head.
Throrx let out a heavy breath.
"Here we go again…" he said out loud to himself.
He moved even closer and with his large claws grabbed the sleeping human child. He then spread his wings and soared in the direction of the wolves den.
"You cannot bring a human into our territory Throrx!" howled Pine the elder wolf leader of the pack when the dragon finally landed at his feet. " Not again!"
"It's only for a few sunsets. Until I figure out a way to find an audience with the cast alfarr. I am sure they still lurk somewhere in the near forests. And I will find them. They will know the location of the portal that transported this human here. I'm sure they can track it using his energy," Throrx begged.
"Not the cast alfarr again Throrx! There is a reason those elves were banished from their kind! For doing the rogue biddings that you want them to do for you. They are a threat to our kind. A threat to our lands. A threat to all of us!"
The dragon did not budge. He was relentless. And the wolf knew sense could not get through to him. With Throrx, it rarely did when it came to this issue.
"My younglings are hungry, dragon! It's been a while since we went hunting. I will feed this human to them! He is very tiny, barely enough for one of them but still very kind of you to bring him to us," the wolf barked again attempting to dismiss the dragon.
" I will hunt at sunset and bring you a large moose for you and your younglings. Spare the human my old friend. Wasn't I the one who protected them from being turned to grey ash by my brother Rax?" the dragon interjected. " Who protects your younglings from the mountain lions when they go hunting? Have I ever failed you?"
The wolf dropped its ears. The dragon had a point. He needed him and he had favours to return. And a large moose already hunted and dropped at their feet was a welcome idea. It would save the pack the effort. Feeding his twelve cubs, especially at this point in their growth was proving to be a task. The best they had done in a while had been a deer.
After years of knowing Throrx, the wolf had known how to compel him. He didn't like the idea of a human youngling in his den though. The last time humans had penetrated their lands had ended with almost his entire wolf pack being wiped out as the story went. The other time Throrx had brought one, the dragons had almost burned the pack alive.
" Why do you wish to keep this vile creature? Aren't you the same dragon that brought the other to me, and caused us to be banished to the edges of our lands? Again and again, you doom me and our lands to our fates. And you use us wolves to facilitate your cursed intentions."
"This is not about that…"
" You cannot retrieve your mother, Dragon. Attempting to do so will alert and bring humans to our lands again. And you know that never ends well… There is a reason we remain hidden. And she is one and we are all…" the wolf added.
The dragon didn't move. He knew the wolf was right. But he believed there was always a way. He just needed to find it.
He had flown deep into the forest and brought a moose for the pack. The human would be safe amongst the wolves. Their thick scent would mask his and the other dragons would not be able to find him. At least for the time being.
Together with the catch, the grey dragon had also brought wild fruits and berries that he had plucked together with their branches from the forests for the human that was still in slumber. He instructed that it be fed when it had woken. Its energy was vital in the plan.
"And make haste dragon. When my cubs get hungry again, I will feed the human to them!" the wolf howled as the dragon spread its wings.
The dragon hoped the wolf's threats were empty.
The laws of the land were clear. The patrollers knew it. A human found in the forest was to be burned by dragon fire on the spot. Throrx was breaking them. Yet again.
"The humans of this era are not those of thousands or three hundred years ago oh foolish dragon," the old warlock Repsr had warned Throrx when word spread that he had harboured one. "Listen to what the shiftra tell us. These humans no longer wield bows, spears, arrows and shields and rush to war on their feet or on wooden carts or chariots. They have developed great sorcery they call machines that run on a power they call energy or electricity. They tap it from the flow of mighty rivers, the wind or the sun. They also dig deep down into the ground and in the oceans. Some of it they get from balls so small that produce a force so fierce that all the magic that has ever existed in Euldosiria combined cannot comprehend or match. They walk around with a sorcery of their memories held in their pockets. I even hear they have also built creatures powered by this sorcery that look and act like them! Can a dragon build a dragon? The humans of now no longer worship mighty beasts or gods in the sky. They are their own gods. These humans are not to be messed with! If they could do that to us back then when they were weaker, what do you think they could do to us now?"
The wizard had warned the dragon many a time. But these warnings only seemed to fuel the zeal of the dragon.
" These humans no longer spend their days moiling and toiling the earth. They have built these powerful creatures that do it for them. Even when the sun doesn't shine and rain doesn't fall. They only control them like they would do a donkey… You cannot comprehend what else they are capable of. You may be a dragon and mighty, but your entire clan is no match for them!"
" Is it not the magic of mother and other Algirkal that has helped the humans grow this powerful? You know they consume them don't you?" the dragon would spit back. "We are the ones giving them power. And by our hiding, they gain more strength! If I can retrieve her and bring her home, they will grow weaker and we can finally defeat them and seek revenge for the doom they cursed us to. All of us," Throrx would add.
" And how will you do that exactly?" the warlock had challenged Throrx. " Have you not heard that these humans have built powerful roaring birds that never tire, made of strong metal and larger than any dragon ever seen that roam the skies spitting huge balls of fire at each other? Can you be a match to any of these mighty metallic fire-breathing birds?"
"You can never defeat real magic. The one that runs in the veins. The veins of all of us," Throrx would answer. " Why do we hide while we can combine forces and attack?"
" You have ancient magic oh dragon. A beating dragon heart and flowing dragon blood. When you spit fire at the metallic flying birds of the humans they might fall, and the humans will build others. When these creatures spit their fierce sorcery fires at you and you fall, will you be born anew?" the sorcerer would ask the dragon.
The dragon would not answer. He did not know how to answer that.
The report from the shiftra a few years earlier had been that his mother was still held in secret by a power in a strong underground location at the edge of the planet. The shiftra had come back with an artefact that had a symbol of a dragon on the outside. Inside it had been a mixture of fine dust that held the strong scent of his mother.
The shiftra had informed him that this artefact they called a container and its contents was being sold to other humans at a very high price. They believed consuming this dust would help strengthen their systems. Sharpen their sight, power their vitality and make them wiser the shiftra had added.
" We assume based on these contents that they file or pull out her scales, ground them into a fine powder, pour it into thousands of these containers and exchange them for money with other humans," the shiftra had reported. " The humans doing this, a corporation they call themselves, are very wealthy and powerful. You see their symbol all over the human lands."
The dragon burned with rage. It had been thousands of years, but Throrx could catch his mother's scent in the powder. For it to be that strong, she must have still been alive.
That's why he had kept the human he had come across previously. And that's why he was keeping the human youngling he had found. He needed to find a portal by whatever means he told himself, go to the human lands, track and find his mother and bring her back to Euldosiria. He had waited for too long. He had had enough! The shiftra had given up. But he hadn't.
" Throrx oh brother!" a voice had interrupted his thoughts as he sniffed around in the thick forest attempting to track the cast elves.
He ignored it.
" The flarae flies tell us that you are harbouring a human youngling amongst the wolves. Do you think we would let you be after the last time? Did you think you weren't being watched? Do you think you will find a portal? Weren't we done with this foolery the last time you found a grown human? Mother can never be retrieved… She is my mother too and I have accepted it. She hatched me too…"
Throrx ignored his brother once more.
" So it is true…?"
Throrx ignored his brother still.
"We will fly to the wolves den, burn that human youngling, the wolf and all his cubs! We warned him the last time and showed him mercy…" Rax roared.
"No…! Give me time oh brother and I will disappear with the human. How many times did I let you keep the humans you found for games through the years…? You know mine is for greater intentions…"
The larger dragon did not head to Throrx's pleas. He and the other dragons had already spread their wings and were flying to the edges of their lands in the direction of the wolves den.
" Bring out the human. Not even your filthy stench can mask his even filthier stench!" he spat once he landed next to the elder wolf.
The wolf cubs who had been tearing the moose Throrx had brought had already coiled their tails.
Rax was the largest of the dragons. His scales were as black as coal. On his face were large piercing yellow eyes. At night, only they could be seen. On his sturdy neck were markings that resembled large red and golden flames. His frame and appearance shadowed every creature in the lands. He was the leader of the brood and supervised their patrolling. He was not known for gentleness, kindness or mercy.
The little human who was now awake was dragged by the mother wolf through the long grass to the feet of the mighty beasts. She wanted to protect her cubs from the wrath of the dragons.
The human looked frightened. Just as any young would be. Did he think he was imagining his current situation? Just like any youngling, he was still too immature for logic or reason. His neck had fallen. His face looked down at his feet afraid to look at the mighty beasts he couldn't fully comprehend. Their claws which he was trying not to look at frightened him. His little fists were clutched tight. At least the wolf pups whom he had encountered at length since he had awoken were playful and almost resembled the puppies he had seen in the land of the humans.
" What is that on the human's neck?" Rax had roared as he prepared to burn the human.
A loose shiny metallic object dangled on it as the young boy had been facing the ground. At its centre was a circle.
Rax leaned closer.
" What sorcery is this? I can only see my eye on it!" he roared once more.
" Let us take the human to the shiftra and they will explain it to us," Throrx jumped in. "Let's be sure…"
He hoped he could buy time.
The other dragons seemed to agree. They were also puzzled and wanted to end this as quickly as possible.
Rax clutched the human in his claws and flew in the direction of the shiftra commune. The other dragons followed. It was far but the dragons soared fast across the forests, plains, mountains, rivers and lakes.
The wolves were left sighing in relief.
" I will not allow you to jeopardize my cubs again doing the bidding of the dragons," mother wolf had howled at the father biting his neck.
The wolf had cowed. She was right. Some of the wolf cubs had been running chasing the dragons soaring above. They had been attached to the human youngling with whom they had shared time.
" Have you brought a human to our commune oh dragons?" the High shiftra asked once the dragons had landed and they had all gathered. " Have you forgotten your place? What do the laws state?"
" I intended to burn this human youngling my rogue brother was harbouring immediately after we found him amongst the wolves. But on his neck is this dangling metallic object that has a large object at the centre. I hesitated because you tell us of powerful human weapons that we cannot comprehend. I wondered if this was one of them and whether spitting fire on it could have ignited a bigger fire that would threaten our lands. I have never seen it on the other humans I have encountered before," Rax had answered.
The other dragons stomped their feet. They too it seemed had never encountered the object before. Throrx watched in silence. He had been cornered yet again. Would they banish him?
One of the shiftra who seemed to be the youngest intruiged, carefully moved closer to the young boy. With her wand, she moved the item on the boy's neck taking her time to examine it.
" This item is called a pendant," she announced out loud. " It is usually placed on a chain. On the inside of the circle is an image of two humans. I assume they are the boy's parents. The humans have this culture..." she added.
The boy looked at the pendant the shiftra was lifting. He flinched and seemed to tear up. He lifted his hands and rubbed his eyes. He hadn't shown this deep emotion yet. He was also startled by these other creatures before him. They looked human in frame, but their eyes were larger and ears much wider and hairy.
" We need to be very careful though. The humans are very treacherous," she cautioned.
The shiftra removed the pendant from the boy's neck using her wand and threw it on the ground.
Chip chip chip chip.
An alarm had gone off at the secret Drakoon military base.
" The child has been separated from the core chip commander. It is no longer transmitting his vitals," the operator's voice was heard in the filled action room.
" Do we still have his location?"
" Yes, commander."
" Roger that. Keep your eye on it!"
" Have the logs of the other locations he has been to been mapped?"
" Yes, Commander. They stretch thousands of kilometres but we have them."
"Excellent! Those might be key locations of this place..."
" Child...? Commander, are you telling us right now that we sent a human child into this strange land and not an AI? A real human child!? Did we drop a human child deep in the forest of a strange land and abandoned it to its fate?" a raised voice of a woman seated in the room asked shock registered in it.
" These creatures are animals. They primarily use scent to track General. That's what our infiltrations into their dome revealed to us. Their senses failed in detecting all the AI or reealbodies we had sent previously," the commander answered. " Using a real human child with a pulse was the only way. And you see it has brought results."
" Who is this child and how can we retrieve it? I do not wish to spend the rest of my retirement in a prison, Commander. Why didn't you consult all of us before embarking in this specific direction!? Why didn't you inform me prior?" the woman barked.
Fired murmurs filled the room. Many seemed to agree with the General.
"There are no retrieval plans, General."
The general's mouth was agape.
" Commander," the operator could be heard again. " The core chip is no longer transmitting its location. Oh, wait… Commander, it seems to be transmitting from many different locations now…"
Dead silence filled the action room.
" Why? What did you do that for?" Rax the dragon roared at the shiftra.
She had cast a spell on the pendant. Several of them had appeared right in front of them and suddenly, all of them had disappeared.
" There is no time to fully explain," the shiftra had rushed her words. "My wand picked some strong pulsing force from the pendant after it dropped. I have multiplied it and sent all of them across different portals and back to the human lands. I am going to take this human across a portal and back to its land. We cannot risk having it here any longer. Alive or dead! The humans are coming!"
With that, the shiftra disappeared together with the child.
The other shiftra were alarmed.
"We trust Rorexan. She has proven to be the best of us all time and again. Her workings on the humans have always been right," the High shiftra had broken the stunned silence. "Gather all the Algirkal! The humans have located us. They have managed to penetrate our lands again. This time with great sorcery. We need to prepare!"
The dragons roared.
"For years we have kept an eye on their sorcery for all Algrikal," the High shiftra continued, " and secretly, over time, we have discovered its core weakness. When the humans come, we shall be ready for them. Together, we shall end their threat once and for all!"
The dragons roared louder. Throrx's roar was the loudest.
About the Creator
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
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Original narrative & well developed characters
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Writing reflected the title & theme