Island of the Blue Dragons
TIME: now, sometime after midnight
PLACE: somewhere over the ocean
Zirin's wings rippled in the cold, damp air. He extended and curled his talons a few times to restore some blood flow and shook his enormous head back and forth rapidly to clear the fog that had begun to settle deeper into his brain. This was by far the longest flight he had ever attempted. For the first several hours he had been filled with exhilaration and a sense of pride in himself as an intrepid adventurer off on a quest...now he was just filled with mind numbing fatigue and a sense of dread and deja vu at every swelling wave that passed below.
Zirin had, of course, heard his whole life that the Black Ocean was as vast as the sky above. He just hadn't really realized how vast something could actually be until now. Every young dragon knew that the ocean which surrounded their ancestral home on Glacier Stone eventually circled back around the globe so by that reasoning, shouldn't he have been back home by now? How big was the globe, exactly? He probably should have done some calculations or consulted with the elders a bit more but Zirin was an impetuous youth and had acted before thinking clearly, as impetuous youths often do.
He had been very careful to fly straight and there had only been that one time where the storm winds had been so strong that he had been blown off course a bit. It hadn't been that much though, had it? And he had corrected for it, hadn't he? What if he had passed over Glacier Rock in the dark during the storm? What if he had missed it entirely and was now on a second or third lap of the globe? Unease was creeping down his spine and all the way to the tip of his leathery tail now. He was hungry, he was tired, he was alone, and he was lost. In short, Zirin was in big trouble.
TIME: 29 hours earlier
PLACE: Glacier Rock, the frozen island home of the Blue Dragon colony
Feranza and Zirin perched atop the highest peak on Glacier Rock. They were arguing good naturedly, well, as good naturedly as two enormous juvenile dragons can argue. There were some nonlethal flame bursts and talon strikes involved but the two massive creatures were actually the best of friends. The argument centered on a boast made by Zirin and the pride of a young dragon would not permit him to back down from his ridiculous claim that he would be the first dragon in the history of Glacier Rock to circle the globe before the age of seventeen. Tarok, the current high ruler of the colony, had completed this epic quest when he was only seventeen, more than ten years earlier than the previous record holder.
Zirin and Feranza were not of the line of ruling dragons, instead, their direct ancestors had always held roles among the lowly ice mountain hunter groups or, even worse, simple perimeter guardians of the colony. Necessary roles, for sure, but not ones to be especially proud of and not important royal jobs either. The only way for dragons to advance in the colony hierarchy was by completing a quest worthy of great honor. Circumnavigating the planet was one such quest and the most common way that the Blue Dragons of Glacier Rock attempted to earn higher status in the colony. There just weren't many ways to impress a colony situated on a frozen mountain out in the middle of a desolate ocean.
Blue Dragons were built for speed though, not endurance, which made epic flights quite difficult. Younger dragons especially had not had the decades of mountain goat eating and muscle building necessary to survive such a long flight. Many dragons had disappeared after embarking on this quest, including Zirin's own older brother only a few years earlier. Surprisingly, Zirin's mother had still supported him when he had expressed a desire to attempt the quest himself.
Frequent disappearances were a dark fact of life on the frozen island. As Glacier Rock dragons had no natural predators (other than other dragons) and food sources were scarce, questing also acted as a necessary method of population control.
"There is no talking to you!" Feranza huffed, "Go set your record if you think you can! Disappear forever and break your mother's heart, just like your brother did!"
"I'll be back tomorrow, my friend, and we will bask in my glory!" Zirin replied with a smirk.
"Ah yes, your glory," Feranza rolled his smoky gray eyes, "that will comfort your mother in her lonely elder years!"
Zirin lifted himself into the frigid air and as he launched from the mountain peak, he swatted Feranza with the spiky end of his tail. He laughed at the indignant shout from his friend, spread his wings, and didn't look back.
TIME: now, moments before dawn
PLACE: no idea... somewhere between Glacier Rock and the ends of the earth?
Zirin was now wholeheartedly regretting his choice. Glacier Rock was cold and desolate, yes, but at least there were dragons to talk to and mountain goats to eat! He hadn't seen a living creature since he had leapt from his frozen home and foolishly embarked on his hopeless quest.
He knew in his bones that there was no way he could turn around. He had passed the point of no return many hours ago. The only choice which remained was to fly until his wings failed him at which point he would plunge into the angry waves and slowly sink to his death. He couldn't even land in the water and rest because Blue Dragons did not swim and they could not float. The vast weight of a dragon and the numbing cold of the ocean were not a good combination!
At least now there was some light on the horizon! It was also starting to feel warmer to Zirin. The warmth and the light drove him on like an anchor pulling at his soul. He continued on as the warm sun rose and began to thaw his frigid body and clear the fog from his mind. Blue Dragons were cold blooded and had to be very careful to soak up as much of the meager minutes of sunlight as they could each day on Glacier Rock. Flying in the cold and the dark for so long had taken quite a toll on Zirin.
Several more brutal hours passed but the sun warmed his blood and gave him a new strength that he did not know he possessed. The air was even warmer here now! With a start, Zirin noticed a change in movement in the waves below. What were those creatures leaping from the water? They were so sleek with smooth, silvery gray skin. Zirin dove towards the ocean with the idea of getting a closer look and, perhaps, having a snack as well.
The creatures below chirped and squealed at his approach and dove quickly beneath the surface of the water and beyond the reach of his talons.
Zirin's clawed feet brushed the waves and he was showered with a warm spray of mist! He pulled up sharply, rising to a safe distance again and regarded the ocean below warily.
"Warm? Water isn't supposed to be warm!" Zirin's mind swirled with confusion.
The color was all wrong now too. Rather than an inky black, the water below was a sparkling blue and even green in places! What had happened to the ocean? Or, he thought with concern, was he growing delirious again?
He'd better test it out again, he thought. Zirin swooped low towards the dazzling blue water and tentatively reached out a leg. As he brushed against the warm water, something enormous flashed in his peripheral vision and something hard whacked him on the side of his head! He banked hard to the left, rolling nearly all the way onto his back in the air to fend off his attacker with his talons!
Shock smacked him in the face, harder even than the dragon tail that whipped against the side of his head. He rolled back over and spread his wings to rise up and come face to face with the dragon who had ambushed him.
It was his long lost brother!
TIME: the strangest morning of Zirin's life
PLACE: apparently wherever Zirok had disappeared to without a trace! But why was it so warm?
"Ha! I knew you would arrive some day, my little brother!" Zirok laughed and wheeled through the air above Zirin, playfully trying to swat him again with his tail.
"How is this possible?! You are ALIVE? How have you kept flying all these years, my brother?" Zirin shouted to his elder brother with a mix of joy and utter disbelief.
"Kept flying? Ridiculous!" laughed Zirok, "Follow me, little brother!"
With that, Zirok spun away and flew low over the water, playfully dipping his wing tips into the cresting waves. It was then that Zirin noticed that the water was so shallow now that he could see the bottom! Instead of the usual deadly, jagged rocks below though, a smooth tan substance covered the seabed.
He followed his brother for only a few minutes before several dots of land appeared on the horizon. This land was unlike Glacier Rock in every way he could imagine. Glacier Rock was nearly barren, dominated by an imposing mountain, eternally shrouded in cold mist, and isolated in every way.
The lands that they were approaching now were barely peaking above the blue-green water and were completely covered with that smooth tan substance except for where they were dotted with bright green vegetation. As they drew closer, Zirin realized that there were also large blue splotches on the tan substance. And then, one of the blue splotches rose into the air.
"There are more of us here?!" Zirin was certain now that he was in a state of complete delirium.
"Welcome, my brother! Welcome to the Island of the Blue Dragons! Our true ancestral home!"
TIME: the day that Zirin's life changed forever
PLACE: apparently the true home of the Blue Dragons!
Zirok and Zirin landed on the largest tan piece of land and Zirin collapsed upon the soft, warm grains of sand. While he rested and recovered his strength, Zirok flew away and returned with several large fish for him to eat. Fish were a different flavor and texture from goat but Zirin found them delicious!
"Ah, yes, little brother!" said Zirok, "That is because these fish are the food we should be eating, not scrawny mountain goats."
"What do you mean, brother?"
"Haven't you realized it yet? Don't you understand?"
Zirin only shook his head in confusion.
"Little Brother! These islands are our true home. Can't you feel the strength of the sun and smell the beautiful, warm salt air? Don't you notice how much more alive you feel in the sand and the sun? This is always where we have belonged!"
"That cannot be," said Zirin, desperately, "Blue Dragons have lived on Glacier Rock for millenia! For...well, forever!"
"No, Zirin. Only for the last few generations. The Blue Dragon colony on Glacier Rock is not our home. Once I arrived here I was greeted by a dragon that I had thought lost during her quest as well. She taught me to fish and to swim and she taught me the truth. The truth of our kind."
Zirin only nodded, he could not think of anything to say in his confusion and fatigue. His brother could swim? It was madness. Somehow though, everything his brother was saying did feel true but he just couldn't believe it. If this was a dream, it was the strangest one he had ever had!
"Many years ago," continued Zirok, "a small group of young dragons from these islands became disoriented and lost at sea during a great storm. They disappeared and never returned home. We can only assume that they eventually reached Glacier Rock and chose to stay as they were unable to attempt a return flight."
"But why weren't we told this truth, brother? Why did the dragons stay year after year? Generation after generation?"
"Not all dragons are strong and not all dragons are brave, little brother. The drive to return home to the islands lives still only within the strongest of us."
"The quests, you mean?" asked Zirin.
"Yes, brother. The urge to complete an impossible journey drives the bravest and strongest of us to leave the security of Glacier Rock. Some of us aren't strong enough and perish in the sea. Some of us lose our way and eventually do stumble back upon Glacier Rock, thinking that we completed our quest and circled the globe. But for the strongest and bravest of us, our instincts guide us all the way home."
"All the way...home." Zirin repeated, testing out the word as if it might bite him.
"Yes, brother. All of the way home...to paradise."
About the Creator
Hi! Thanks for reading! My hobbies include making coffee, drinking coffee, and starting to write a story and then rage-deleting it when I get the slightest bit frustrated.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
I totally agree with Veronica, this would make a super storybook for, oh say, the Grade 4 level or so. It's an enjoyable read for an adult too. I was wondering why cold-blooded creatures were living in a (let's face it) inappropriate place. 😄 You wrap it all up nicely here- Donna style. These warm, satisfying (or chilling, horrifying if that's what you're after) endings are kind of a trademark of yours, aren't they? It's a great added feature of your writing.
Awww, Zirin finally found the true home of the Blue Dragons. This was such a wonderful story!
I loved this and the artwork enhanced it. I could see this as a stand-alone storybook. GREAT story!