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Under the Dragon's Wing

Here we walk among dragons...

By Morgan Rhianna BlandPublished 2 years ago 8 min read
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Under the Dragon's Wing
Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

There weren't always dragons in the valley. One day they just appeared there, as if out of nowhere. No one knew why or where they came from. The valley was surrounded by a ring of magical fire. Deep red flames flickered and flared but never died even in driving rain or biting cold, flames that never spread to the woods surrounding the valley or the village on the other side. An ever-present burgundy glow marred the village’s otherwise drab horizon, a tantalizing reminder of a mystery unsolved.

Many people journeyed to the valley, searching in vain for proof of the dragons’ existence. Most returned empty-handed. Some returned with scars and burns; others never returned at all.

In the absence of answers, the villagers were left to draw their own conclusions. Sightings, usually in the form of a cloud or shadow strongly resembling a dragon, were a regular occurrence. An elderly widow claimed to have seen a dragon on the night her husband died. A farmer claimed to have seen one when his crops failed. A mother claimed to have seen one when her child was deathly ill. An entire family claimed to have seen one when their home burned to the ground. All of the sightings had one thing in common: they all occurred in a moment of tragedy. So the villagers came to believe that a dragon would appear to a worthy person in his darkest hour.

Lucianna grew up with the dragon stories, just like every other child in her village, but she stopped believing in them long ago. They were old wives’ tales meant to instill false hope, nothing more! If even one word of it was true, why didn’t a dragon appear when she lost her father? Or her home? Or her leg?

No, Lucianna didn’t come to the valley looking for dragons. She came to die.

She trudged through the woods along the outskirts of the valley, clutching a gnarled staff homemade from a downed oak tree in one hand. Spying the path ahead blocked by overgrown vines, she heaved a resigned sigh and pulled a silver dagger from her belt. Her face flushed with effort and her white-blonde hair darkened with sweat as she slowly but surely hacked at the vines. When she was done, her good leg was swollen and scarred from briar scratches. The wooden stump that was her bad leg was nicked and muddy beneath her torn dress. Her breath came in ragged pants as she leaned on her staff to keep herself upright.

Lucianna spotted a fallen log out of the corner of her stony gray eye and staggered toward it with her last strength, sitting down just as her legs gave out under her. Peeking through the surrounding trees, she noticed that the burgundy glow that she’d followed from the village burned bright scarlet. She must be close to the valley, though hopefully not close enough to encounter any deluded fools searching for dragons! This seemed as good a place as any to die.

She replaced her dagger, swapping it for the vial of deadly nightshade hidden in her cloak. The liquid burned her throat as she downed it in one gulp. Sprawling across the log, she waited for the release of death. Her heart raced, breath slowed, and her vision blurred into an amorphous blob of darkness, like a shadow waiting to claim her. A shadow that looked uncannily like a dragon. No, not a dragon! A man.

The shadow’s shape changed, becoming shorter and thinner. Lucianna felt something touch her chest, like fire burning into her heart, And the last thing she saw before her eyes closed was dark. Dark hair, dark clothes, and tearful green eyes.

****************************

Lucianna awoke with a pounding headache. Blinking against bright light, her eyes gradually adjusted to her surroundings. Sunlight poured through gaps in a thatched roof and a small window on the opposite wall. The floor beneath the bed where she lay was swept clean, and there was a small rickety nightstand within arms reach. Her staff was propped against it and her dagger laid atop it, along with a candle, but her vial was gone. Not that it mattered at the moment. She had more important things on her mind, like the fire cracking in the fireplace.

The flames were not the orange of a normal fire, nor were they red like the ones surrounding the valley. These flames were gold. Lucianna shook her head. She must be dreaming! Side effects of the nightshade…

Ignoring the pain in her head, she propped herself up and reached for her staff, only for someone to swat her hand away. She looked up with an icy glare, but her expression softened slightly as a pair of kind dark eyes met hers. A fragmented memory of a pair of eyes came rushing back, but those eyes had been green, not brown. “No, don’t get up,” a mystery woman said. “You need your rest. You’ve been through quite an ordeal.”

“How-?” Lucianna began. She’d started to say, How am I still alive? But that sounded too rude. Instead she asked, “How did I get here?”

“Adhemar brought you. He found you at the edge of the valley, just outside the wall. Even a moment later, and you would've been..." The woman's voice trailed off in a half stifled sob, and she turned away, wiping her eyes.

Oh, for God’s sake! Spare me your tears, Lucianna thought. She didn’t need anyone’s pity; She didn’t need anyone! The only thing that stopped her from voicing her thoughts was the swarm of questions buzzing in her mind. “Adhemar?” she repeated, her curiosity piqued.

“Our leader. He brought us all here and made us one big happy family.”

“And where exactly is ‘here’?” Lucianna had to look away to fight the urge to roll her eyes.. Staring aimlessly out the window, she saw a wall of burning red in the distance. That was nothing new in and of itself. The odd part was that she couldn’t see anything beyond the wall. A thought struck her, and she added, “Are we on the other side of the fire?”

The woman nodded, giggling. As Lucianna turned her attention back to her, she noticed an amulet glinting off her neck. It was the exact shade of gold as the flames in the fireplace and shaped like a dragon’s eye. That only raised more questions! But before Lucianna could ask any of them, the other woman spoke. “Oh, where are my manners? Welcome! I’m Maraya, and this is Dragonacra, land of the Dragonée - the dragon born. Here we walk among dragons.”

******************************

As the days passed, Lucianna’s strength grew, and so did her questions. She wanted to know where the dragons came from and how the Dragonée learned to coexist with them. She wanted to know why the valley was surrounded by fire and why the fire was burgundy red. She wanted to know why the Dragonée all wore dragon’s eye amulets and why each one was a different color. Most of all, she wanted to know more about her mysterious savior.

Every time she asked about Adhemar, the Dragonée brushed her off with cold glances and snide words. You don’t belong here, they said. You’re not one of us. You’re too young. It’s too soon.

The sudden evasiveness wasn’t the only strange thing Lucianna noticed about the Dragonée. She had never seen a single dragon in all her time here, despite the Dragonée’s claims to walk among them. When not even Maraya could provide answers, Lucianna decided to seek them from the only other person who seemed to genuinely want her here: Adhemar himself.

Lucianna stirred from her bed in the middle of the night. Grasping her staff, she sheathed her dagger and crept silently toward the cabin door, She dared not even breathe as she passed Maraya’s bed. As she approached the door, she spared a passing glance back, only to find the other bed vacant. Where was Maraya? Come to think of it, where were the rest of the Dragonée?

As she limped slowly through the town, Lucianna noticed the other cabins were just as dark and deserted as Maraya’s. An ear-spitting cry, almost like the squawk of a bird, startled her. She looked up just in time to see the sky darken as a shadow obscured the moon. It was a dragon!

Although every step felt like she was standing on a bed of knives and glass, Lucianna pressed on. She followed the dragon through the town and into a field at the edge of the valley. Hiding behind the nearest tree, she watched from afar. The dragon’s dark scales, which she first thought were black, shimmered with a greenish tinge in the moonlight, and its warm sea-green eyes… Lucianna had seen those eyes before! Was her mystery savior a dragon?

No, it couldn’t be! She distinctly remembered a man’s dark hair and dark clothes.

A twig snapped under her foot. The dragon’s head whipped around, and those eyes were on her. Lucianna’s first instinct was to run, but something in those eyes kept her frozen to the spot. She couldn’t run. She couldn’t draw her dagger to defend herself; she couldn’t even blink as the dragon inched ever closer to her. It drew itself up proudly, and just when she thought it would attack, it bowed.

Before Lucianna’s shock had time to subside, the dragon’s disappeared in a burst of blinding red light. In its place stood a black-clad man with long dark hair and eyes green like the dragon’s scales, green like the eyes in her fragmented memories. Like the rest of the Dragonée, he wore a dragon’s eye amulet over his heart, this one blazing red like the fire surrounding the valley, like the light surrounding him. The light faded, making the amulet glow as it retreated into it. She immediately knew who this man was just by looking at him!

“At last I meet you, Lucianna.”

Fantasy
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About the Creator

Morgan Rhianna Bland

I'm an aroace brain AVM survivor from Tennessee. My illness left me unable to live a normal life with a normal job, so I write stories to earn money.

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