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lostviking822 t1_iskgpnx wrote

It had been a long time since I heard that name. My first dragon, Raze, was a beast and so protective but she had a temper that I was unimaginable.

"Where?" My voice was weak and shaky, "How many were lost?"

My General, Vose, stood at attention in the doorway with his eyes to the floor, "Sir, the entire encampment was lost... she waits for you, sir."

I turned to the trinkets I have acquired over the years. The necklace with a Dragon Blood Gem at the center, a small chunk missing from the glinting stone hung in its place, draped over the chest piece of my dragon skin armor.

I hurried to the necklace and snapped the chain as I tugged it towards me, I turned and grabbed a small book with a leathery cover before shoving past Vose.

"Sir, do you need me to follow?" I shook my head as I stormed forward, "Well.... aren't you going to take a weapon?"

I stopped and turned to him. From the small hole in the books binding, I pulled a ball point pen, a relic from centuries ago, before Raze had begun her destruction on the world. I opened the book and carefully worded the sentence as the tip slid across the parchment.

As I closed the book and replaced the pen in the binding, the dirt at my feet began to swirl and sizzle. Stones and leaves and debris began to swirl and condense before forming a tight ball that grew and grew. When the dust settled, an egg the size of my fist laid on the ground at my feet.

It almost immediately began to shake and cracked before shattering and falling away from a tiny newborn dragon with silver colored eyes and scales that went from a golden yellow to a midnight blue depending on which direction the light hit it. In the moonlight, the entire thing seemed to glow as it stretched its tiny wings.

Vose stood motionless, "A dragon? You are bringing a newly hatched dragon as defense against HER?"

I picked up the baby and ran a finger down its spine. It let out a tiny sneeze and there was a sizzle of electricity that accompanied it, "He's a Wyvern, and he will grow quickly. Don't worry, I wrote him with a purpose."

Without another word, I turned and started in the direction I knew I would find Raze. The Wyvern took flight, already larger than when he hatched and circled my head before landing on my shoulder.

A nude woman stood with her back to me, arms out warm them by the fire that had engulfed the cabin. Her hands fell to her sides when she heard me approach, "It took you long enough," she turned to me, the nudity of a woman was covered by scales. She only had the form of a human woman, and that was my fault. That form of hers had been one of her greatest gifts I accidentally had given her.

"It's a long walk," I snapped back, being sure to let her know I wasn't amused.

She laughed and her blue eyes shimmered a crimson red and the pupils turned to slits, "You could have flown. I gave you that gift, among others." She spoke sensually as she stepped closer. When she got close enough, her fingers grew long claws as she dragged them softly across my chest when she circled. She watched the Wyvern circle above me, "Cute lil gecko. He supposed to keep you safe?"

"Just hept me company on the walk," i cleared my throat, "And you know I don't use your 'gifts' anymore."

She huffed, a little smoke ring escaped her nostril, "Oh, no? Then how have you survived this 300 years? Good eating habits?"

I pulled the pendant with the broken gem from my pocket and tossed it to the dirt at her feet, "The immortality is a curse, Raylyn. Or didn't you know that when you forced it on me?"

"The old name huh? You ARE in a mood. Well, Resh, I didn't force anything on you. I saved your life. Or did you forget about the bullet that tore through you?" I could see her get flustered at the thought of it, me dying in her arms.

I still remembered the day too. It was a normal day, we thought. I had just found the pendant days before and learned that it somehow made me able to create anything living by writing its description down. It wasn't until after I made my dream girl, that I learned that the form of my creations was just a shell and they were all dragons in essence.

The day I almost died, the world conflict had reached a peak and I was shot by a soldier during the initial invasion of my country. Raylyn, she dripped her blood into my wound and the magic blood of a dragon healed me and made me more than human. She went into a rage and began razing the lands, claiming the new name, Raze as she tore the world apart.

In a way, what she did may have saved the world from nuclear apocalypse but at what cost? The extinction of man by dragon?

"I remember, but I remember the 300 years since as well," I pulled the book out of my pocket and looked at her with tears burning my eyes and blurring my vision, "I tried to change you so many times but learned that once something comes into being, that original description is locked in."

I pulled the pen from the binding and opened the book. There were pages and pages of attempts to alter the original Raylyn but all that ever happened was another one of her being conjured.

Each new one had two things in common that I tried to cause in Raylyn. One was compassion for humanity and not just unwavering love for me... the other, was a weakness so that I could kill her. Each attempt just summoned a copy. And each copy, I killed before they could become like Raze.

She looked at me, "what are you doing?"

"After all this time, I finally figured out how to end this," I lowered the pen to the empty page, "I know what needs to be done..."

She stomped on the pendant, shattering it to dust with the force, "with no pendant, your words are powerless."

I finished writing and looked up at her, tears rolled down my face as I tapped my chest with the pen, " You forgot about the shard of the gem that the bullet lodged in my heart."

A flash of lightening flashed and both of our eyes went wide. Together we fell to the ground, our hands barely met as the life left us both. The small Wyvern let out a cry before crumbling to dust beside me.

The book fell open beside me. Lightning flashed once more to illuminate the final words,



bookworm271 t1_islvlqt wrote

"And home again, " Thomas said touching down in his sister Sarah's garden, and allowing Sarah and her son Tommy to hop off his back. He heard a gasp, and noticed the neighbor woman hurriedly usher her children inside.

"Surely your neighbors know by now I mean them no harm," Thomas said. "I've stopped by enough. "

"It's not everyday you see a human riding a dragon, Thomas," Sarah pointed out, "it scares them, to think I might control a dragon in that way."

"But you are my sister, not a random human. I allow you to ride under my own free will, and it's much quicker. A day's worth of walking reduced to an hour by flight." "I know that, but it still frightens them, despite me explaining you're my brother." Sarah sighed, she knew it could be frustrating to Thomas when innocent people ran in fear of him. "I'll remind them again you mean them no harm, and that they can expect occasional dragons in my garden, seeing as you're family. "

"Thank you," Thomas said. "I must be off, do take care, " he rose to the air, ignoring a shout of fear from another home near Sarah's.

When Thomas arrived home to his cave, he was greeted by his wife Elle, and daughter Ash Bringer.

"Papa, you're home!" Ash Bringer said happily, flying circles around him. "Goodness Ash," Thomas laughed, "it's only been a few hours."

"I have something to tell you!" Ash said landing in front of him. "Papa, I want to learn to read!"

"She saw some writing on one of the pieces in my horde," Elle explained. "And wanted to know what it said. I never learned to read myself, so its been quite the wait to learn what this mystery message is."

"I imagine it would be," Thomas agreed, "let's see this writing in question." Elle pushed an ornate plate his way. "It says 'twenty- five years of love.' Thomas read. "It seems this was someone's anniversary gift at one point. Now, to avoid hours wait to decipher a message in the future, I do agree Ash, you should learn to read." He smiled at Elle, "and you too love, it's never to late to learn. Sarah and I were fortunate  that our parents taught us our letters, but many weren't as lucky. Especially as the old king enjoyed an illiterate population. It made them less likely to rebel."

"I always wondered what it may be like to read a story, " Elle mused, "I guess you'll have two students."

Thomas smiled, "learn to read, and I shall write you a story."

The next day, the dragon family sat in a patch of dirt, Thomas scratching the alphabet into the ground. He'd quickly ruled out parchment as Ash could not quite control her fire.  Patiently, he began to teach his wife and daughter to read.

Two weeks passed before Ash successfully scratched her own name into the soil. As the family celebrated, they heard a shout of terror. Thomas turned to see a man running back towards the village. This could lead to trouble.

As Sarah tended bar at the pub, a panicked man ran in. "Dragons!" he shouted. "Dragons mere miles out of town. And they were writing!"

The pub quickly grew frantic with the news. Dragons were of course feared by most, but many in the city were wary of anyone who could read or write. "What devil's work is this?" Cried one of the villagers. "Surely these dragons spell doom for us all!"

Sarah felt her stomach sink at their frevor. She suspected these dragons were Thomas and his family. The new queen's reign had led to more prosperous times, but still so many were suspicious of the written word. She needed to settle things before her brother was forced to defend himself. Leaving the bar to the cook and dish hands, she made her way toward the palace.

The next day Ash Bringer was very disappointed to learn they would not be leaving the cave for their lesson. "Not until we know it's safe, Ash," Elle had comforted her. "We can still practice our letters here. "

Ash had brightened a few hours later when Thomas heard footsteps coming to the mouth of their cave. He and Elle stepped protectively in front of Ash as one of the Queen's knights appeared.

The man took one look at the dragon couple and the writing on the ground and gasped. "It's true!" he yelped.

"Who are you?" Thomas demanded, "and what business do you have here?"

"I told you to let me go first, " came a familiar voice, and Sarah appeared next to the knight. "Hello, Thomas. Sir Franklin has a message from the queen for you. Also, I prevented an angry mob from searching for you, so you're welcome. "

Thomas relaxed upon seeing his sister, and Ash Bringer ran out from behind her parents to greet her aunt.

With a trembling voice, Sir Franklin began his message, "Her Majesty Queen Vivian recognizes the dragon couple Thomas and Elle and thanks them for their role in overthrowing her tyrannical brother a few years ago. It has come to Her Majesty's attention that Thomas, Elle, and their daughter Ash Bringer have been seen reading and writing outside the city. "

"We have, " Thomas said. "And we do wish to continue. I assume that will not be an issue?"

"N-n-no, not at all!" Sir Franklin stammered, "there's more to the message! The queen wishes to assure Thomas and family they are welcome to continue their lessons, and villagers have been strictly forbidden from preventing them doing so. Her majesty is also pleased to announce free literacy classes to all citizens, in the hopes that dragon writers may not inspire such panic in the future."

Thomas huffed, "About time some of them leaned to read and stop being hysterical at the sight of a few letters. "

"Yes, yes,  of course, " the knight said, bobbing his head. "Well, I think I must be going. I bid thee well." He stepped out of the cave. Thomas turned to Sarah. "Would you like a ride? I do seem to owe you from keeping us out of the target of a mob. "

"I would much prefer that to traveling with Sir Franklin again, " Sarah agreed. "And when we get home, I will give you a slate and chalk for you to continue your lessons."

The siblings soared over a startled Sir Franklin on their journey back to Sarah's.

When Thomas returned, he set the slate on the floor of the cave. It took a couple attempts to comfortably hold the chalk in his claws, but when he managed, he wrote out a message.

Elle studied it for a moment, and then sounded out the message "T, E and A. Dragon writers."

This story is part of my Thomas the Dragon collection. You can read the others here


wandering_cirrus t1_isndonk wrote

This was cute! Thought of a panic spreading because *gasp!* the dragons are writing! made me chuckle


_wafflecopter t1_ismdjww wrote

Sam pressed himself against the pillar, pulled his tan-on-emerald robes close, and waited. Evaluated, as his better professors would say.

But Valorson’s School of Dragon Mastery bred ruthless hunting skills. And Jerethar was the top of the class.


Jerethar’s steps were quiet, but Sam could hear the grey-on-crimson robes rasping along the stone floor. He was slinking to the side of the hall. Jerethar wouldn’t be close to either exit, but now he could see them both.

And much like his dragon, he was strong and fast enough to outrun Sam.

But much like his dragon, he was also heavy. Fast in a sprint, but hard to turn.

It was risky, but if he made it to the library, he could zigzag through the narrow stacks. He might even be able to grab the attention of Loremaster Thorsdottir. Most teachers turned a blind eye to bullying, but Thorsdottir had a kind heart for her lorewise students. Just past the west threshold…

Sam took a textbook from his bag and flung it east. As he bolted west, he could hear Jerethar’s feet stuttering, tricked only for a moment by the ruse.

Maybe a moment was enough.

It was a sprint now. Like a Windsprite hunted by a Cinderheart. But the door was-

A dark and hulking form eclipsed the door. Swollen limbs. Black robes with orange trim. A zealous proponent of terms like “adversarial” and “crucible”.

Headwarden Valkhart.

Even Jerethar stumbled. “I- found him!”

The Headwarden’s face was unmoved. He was in a mood. Sam tried to hide a grimace.

“Go back to class, Jerethar,” his voice rattled Sam’s chest. “I need to… borrow… young Samuel here.”

Jerethar turned and walked away -swiftly. But not before a final parting smirk. “You don’t belong here anyway...”

“Follow,” Valkhart commanded.

They walked for twenty minutes in silence. Past the library, the Whelpgarten, the Infirmary. Into the Vault: a dim-lit stone stairway guarding the caverns beneath the school. Most students received a tour of the upper layers only. Sam winced at the oppressive smell of ammonia from the whelp pits.

They went deeper. Brave students might sneak here after dark. Few enough actually did that it was easier to pretend. The professors told many tales of the students who went too deep and never returned.

Many of the branching caves were sealed with heavy metal bars. Deeper still were steel doors. Scorch marks. Telltale signs of acid splash. A room full of the skulls of the male consorts that Queen Valyraxx rejected.

Rumors abounded that irksome students would be taken down here and fed to her. Valorson’s did not take well to failure.

They stopped at a wooden door. And for the first time, Sam watched Valkhart knock and wait.

An old man opened the doors. Cobalt-on-white robes. He glared at the pair, then motioned them inside. The room was peculiar: wooden walls on all sides. Bookshelves. Carpet on the floor. Sam would have smiled if he didn’t see past it, to the open window on the far side of the room.

Into the eyes of Valryxx herself.

Valkhart grabbed him by the scruff before he could turn and run. “Here he is.”

The old man glared back, impatiently. Valkhart offered a small bow and left quickly, as if he were anxious to close the door behind him.

“On yesterday’s exam, you were asked to answer how you would escape a juvenile Cinderheart while riding a Sunglider.”

Sam’s stared blankly at the window: a hole in a stone wall, an immense cavern just beyond, filled with dozens of waist-high eggs, guarded by a Cinderheart whose mere breath caused every flame in the room to flicker.

The old man continued. “You wrote: ‘while elder Cinderhearts can fly quite high, a juvenile will tire at an altitude far lower than a Sunglider. To escape, fly skywards.‘”

Sam scarcely nodded. A Queen Dragon. The most dangerous animal on the planet. If there weren’t so precious few females left, the world would likely be theirs.

“You’ve read the works of Hallibus and Smythe. They describe the ideal escape tactic as going into a dark cave, where a Cinderheart cannot see well. When did you outsmart them?”

The question, from anyone else, would have been a threat. But something about this man made it sound like a test. “It’s just… something I’ve noticed in the wild.”

“You think you know better than Smythe? His works on Dragon anatomy are foundational.”

“I don’t think he’s wrong,” said Sam. “I just think that something has changed since his time.” His hands seemed to move on their own. “There are other differences too. Little things. They fly faster, but need more air. They need more food now, but they can see better in the dark. And their fire is hotter than the old books describe.”

“So what,” the old man glared.

“So the strategies for fighting them have changed. The need for more air means that even a dragon of modest speed can outrun them vertically.” He paused. “Well, given enough of a head start, at least…”

Finally, the old man smiled. “I’m glad someone noticed my work.”

“Wait, you changed them?” Sam was now entirely focused on the old man. He had sharp facial features, an immaculately smooth chin, and a complex web of wrinkles about his eyes.

“The ones around here, at least. If you took your insights across the sea, then you’d be killed by your own curiosity.”

“But you changed them?” He stopped to think how such a thing was even possible. “Only the juveniles… you-“

“I’ve carefully chosen and documented the mates of Valryxx, the Queen Mother Dragon,” he gestured to the hundreds of books along the walls. “In time, I’ve discovered ways to sculpt the very features of her offspring. The juveniles here are, in fact, more dangerous. They can now see in the dark, they fly faster. But, as you pointed out, it comes with drawbacks. No dragon can truly master everything.”

The old man sighed. “My name is Edleras, the Broodmaster of Valorson’s. My job is to find ways to make our dragons better suited to the world. At first, it meant making it easier to feed them. But as word of my craft grew, I now make the dragons better suited for combat. More… specialized.”

He grabbed a book from a nearby shelf.

“I’ve heard that you aren’t very,” Edleras paused, “well-received at our school. But you’ve demonstrated a deep understanding of how the dragons work.” He smiled. “I’ve given you leave from your classes, indefinitely, until you’ve read this book. It contains the names and lineages of Valryxx’s latest consorts, plus the whereabouts of their children.”

Sam already opened it. He recognized many of the names on this list. Others were alien: names from elder times that he’d never heard before.

“When you’re done, come back here. We have much to discuss.”


wandering_cirrus t1_isndcnb wrote

(Part 1)

Something clanked in the depths of the prison, some squeal of rusty hinges, but she ignored it. There were many things here that went clank and squeal.

Instead, she turned her attention upwards, to the short strip of stones on the ceiling actually illuminated in the dim torchlight. She’d started naming them after she’d grown bored of counting. But now, after cementing the last little pebble in the corner as Granite Jr., working her way through the list several times, and giving each of the rocks a backstory, she’d tired of that as well. So now watching the warm-toned chill of the stones was really just an excuse to let her mind wander anywhere she liked.

Well, anywhere except dragons.

The clanks turned to sharp thonks. That was also pretty common, she mused. The prison guard must be making his rounds. She didn’t even look down when they stopped in front of her cell door.

“Writer,” the familiar voice of the jailor greeted.

She hummed. “Captain.”

“I’ve told you,” the jailor growled. “I’m not a Captain.”

“I’ve told you,” she replied mildly. “I’m not a Writer.”

He grunted. “Still not fessing up? You could get out, you know, if you admitted it. Writers are useful. The bigshots would give you a nice cushy bed, and tasty food that the bugs haven’t been crawling over. All you gotta do is tell my superiors when they come tomorrow that ‘Yes, sir, I am a Writer. Yes, sir, I’ll be good and do what you tell me.’”

She scoffed. “Ah, yes, the joys of a comfy prison. What a shame I’m not a Writer.”

The jailor shook his head sadly. “Miss, you ain’t fooling anyone with that. Just think on it.”

He kept talking, but she ignored him, filling her mind with how Rockdrick had fended off the Great Termite Invasion from the Petrified Forest when he was but a wee mineral. Eventually, the thonks clunked away again. She let her mind wander again.

She’d barely dropped herself into the flow of time when the prison squealed again. It was close this time, filling her ears with its harsh shrieks.

She finally tore her eyes away from the ceiling.

A shadow stood at her door, silhouetted by torchlight. Former door, actually. It lay on the ground, torn from its hinges, a crumpled shadow of its former self.

Her lips pressed together. Strange. She hadn’t heard them approach.

The shadow turned its head to the side, revealing part of its—his—face. “All right, we’ve got it open, Nae’ali. What next?” The strange man was suddenly pushed aside by a sinuous form beside him. It wormed its head into the opening, the dim glittering off its jagged outline.

She rose to her feet, staring. She knew what that silhouette belonged to.

“Dragon,” she whispered.

The man jumped, swore. “Can’t you warn me next time you want to break open an occupied jail cell?” he complained. A low rumble. Her lips quirked up. Dragon laughter. Finally the man recovered his wits. He glanced towards where her voice had come from. She obligingly stepped into the light. The man offered a hand inwards. He grinned. “I know this is sudden, but Nae’ali was super insistent about breaking into this exact prison and this exact cell, so I imagine she means to get you out. She’s not led me astray yet. I’m Ozzy, want a ride out of this junk heap?”

She chuckled darkly, grasped the hand firmly, pulled herself out into the light. “I’m Yrth. And gladly.”

They’d made good time that afternoon, and now, as the sun set over the forest they now found themselves inside, they were already more than a day’s travel on foot away from the prison.

As they slid off the dragon’s back, the man stretched. “You know how to make camp?”

Yrth nodded. “Mhm.”

“Then I’ll track down some water, maybe some food.” He passed his knapsack to her. “Go ahead and set up the tent.”

As the man—Ozzy, she corrected herself—wandered deeper into the woods, she started digging through the bag, but her eyes inevitably fell on the dragon. Nae’ali, she remembered. She hadn’t gotten a good chance to look earlier, so now her eyes greedily slid over every inch of the hide, as she reveled in Nae’ali’s uniqueness, in the fact that every dragon Written by the hands of humans was new and different.

Nae’ali was a lady dragon, she realized. She had something of an eastern dragon around her whiskers, around the serpentine, feathery tail; something of a western wyrm around the scales and rounded spines that ran down her back. She met Nae’ali’s eyes. They glittered back at her. She blinked. Ah. Nae’ali was one of the intelligent ones.

Yrth turned back to the pack. “Does he know?”

Leaves rustled as the dragon settled down. “That I can talk? No.”

Finally she found the tent. “How’d you pull that one over on him?”

Nae’ali scoffed. “Please. Ozzy’s sweet, but about as perceptive as an ear of corn. I practically served up your identity to him on a platter, and he still thinks you’re just a normal, yet unjustly imprisoned woman we’ve rescued from a dungeon. Do you think he’d realize his dragon is smarter than he is?” She puffed smoke from her nostrils, whiskers twitching. “Besides, most of the big dragons nowadays are just slapdash efforts, and only really draconic in the fact they’re scaly and vaguely reptilian. He’s managed to pick up that I’m smarter than those idiots, but you can’t blame him for not knowing I’m a genius when your average housecat is smarter than your average dragon.”

“So you know what I am.” It wasn’t a question.

Nae’ali only smiled. “I need someone of your capabilities, M’thor. Of course I’m only going to search for the best.”

Yrth raised her head, let her eyes rove over the dragon again, this time letting a critical eye slide over the masterpiece of scales. Nae’ali arched her neck proudly.

“You’re incomplete,” she realized. “And now you’re unraveling.”

Nae’ali nodded, her eyes grew distant. “My author… he was a brilliant man. All of the dragons he Wrote were masterpieces. However, one by one, they all fell in the war. I was to be his final work. His greatest masterpiece. It took him a long time to Write me. Everything had to be perfect. He was still Writing on his deathbed. To anyone else, I already looked whole. But there was one last sheet of paper left. His apprentice woke up to find him dead, lying over the final piece of paper that should have completed me.” She exhaled softly. “And then the apprentice threw it in the fire and burned it.”

Yrth blinked. She frowned as she sparked a tiny campfire into life. “Did he have a reason?”

The dragon’s side glided upwards in a smooth shrug. “I know not. All I know is that there is something missing from my bones. I can feel the traces of what should be there, but I am not a Writer. I do not know what I am missing. And now, after years and years, that missing piece is tearing me apart from the inside. I need you to find my missing piece. I need you to complete me.”

“I haven’t Written in years,” she warned. “Not since the country started looking for Writers and forcing them into Writing for the king.”

“But I’ve met one of your dragonets,” Nae’ali murmured, angling her nose so that she could meet Yrth’s eyes. “He was small, but there was just as much care in his making as mine. You are the only one qualified for this task.”

Yrth stiffened. “Jaundice… How, how is he?”

Nae’ali chuckled. “You’ll have to come with us to find out, won’t you?”

“Scheming dragon,” she growled.

Another laugh, louder. “So it is set that you shall return with us. As we travel, I will let you listen to the song in my bones, and perhaps by our journey’s end I will be complete.”


wandering_cirrus t1_isndfai wrote

(Part 2)

They’d crossed the border to the Unclaimed Lands yesterday. Another day and they’d make it to Perch, the land of dragons. A place where dragons and humans were free to do as they pleased within the law. A place where dragons were not treated like just another man-made, inanimate creation. Yrth had sent Jaundice there when the crown had first shown interest in the war outside his borders, first shown indications that he did not see dragons as living creatures. It had been a hard parting, and she couldn’t wait to see that little dragonet again.

They landed in a puff of dust under a withered tree.

“Same arrangement?” Yrth asked, sliding off of Nae’ali. She’d finally gotten the trick of it again. She’d never Written any big dragons herself, and the ones her mother had Written were always prickly and only begrudgingly allowed her on their backs.

Ozzy nodded, arrowing in on a direction that seemed exactly the same as any other direction to Yrth.

“It’s a good thing I don’t have to get us to Perch,” she commented, leaning against Nae’ali’s warm hide.

The rumbles of draconic laughter rippled into her, loosening her muscles as a smile tugged at her lips. And then the nothingness, the incompleteness shivered into her on the heels of the laugh. Her fists tightened.

She liked Nae’ali. She didn’t want her to unravel. But…

She wouldn’t dare complete that.

Almost as if Nae’ali could read her thoughts, the dragon spoke up. “It’s been quite a while, M’thor. As talented as you are, I presume you’ve found what’s ailing me.”

Yrth’s jaw clenched. Silence filled the space between them.

Nae’ali wiggled her whiskers, raising an eyebrow. “I’m surprised. I’ve never been wrong about a person before.”

“No,” Yrth found herself saying. “I know what’s missing. But I can’t—won’t—fix it.”

Nae’ali twisted away from her. Yrth fell backwards, her support missing. The dragon appeared in before her, sliding her coils so that she towered over the prostrate Yrth, so that her shadow fell intimidatingly across the woman’s face.

“You won’t?” the dragon hissed, laughing incredulously. “You won’t, and I’ve gone through all this trouble to find you? You won’t, and I’ve even dragged my favorite human across two countries for you?” She laughed again. “Funny, for a moment I was even thinking you might have been in the running for my second-favorite human.”

Yrth shivered. Nae’ali’s author had done a good job. He’d written intimidation deep into her scales, made it so that she seemed to swallow up all the light in the surrounding area until only two orbs of fire raged inside her eyes. Yrth grit her teeth. “What your author Wrote is not something that’s meant to be. That’s why his apprentice burned that sheet of paper.”

The dragon’s sides shifted, and somehow she seemed even bigger, even darker. Nae’ali voice dropped an octave. “Oh? And what could that be, such that it’s worth killing me for?”

Yrth took a deep breath. “He was trying to call down the Dragon God.”

Nae’ali sneered. “And is calling on a god such a terrible thing? Do you take pleasure in a long, drawn-out conflict? Or perhaps you’re on the side that thinks dragons aren’t people and hope the country that kept you locked in a dungeon ought to win?” Nae’ali stormed closer. “My author was astute,” she glowered, “and saw the quickest way to end things. And yet it seems like I’ve inherited his penchant for surrounding himself with traitors.”

Yrth forced herself to her feet. “But at what cost?” she growled, staring into the fiery orbs only inches from her face. “I know I’m sure as hell not willing to pay the damn price.”

Nae’ali leaned backwards, surprised at the sudden ferocity. “What?”

Yrth strode into the empty space, pulled her shaking limbs underneath her. “Dragons are creativity, they’re flights of fancy given form. Have you ever noticed that no two dragons are exactly the same?” Nae’ali tried to retreat again, but Yrth stubbornly advanced. “Have you ever wondered why you look so different and so similar to other dragons? When I first saw you, I was surprised. You had so many different aspects to you, it was like your author was trying to make you every single different type of dragon at the same time. Well, it turns out he was. He wanted to Write the prototypical dragon. The dragon from which all stories of dragons sprang. And he thought,” Yrth choked on her words, could only rely on her balled fists to keep her going. “He thought that in making such a prototype, the epitome of dragondom, the Dragon God, could manifest.” The strength in her tone started to flag. But she had to finish, had to keep talking. Her gaze anchored to the ground. “A dragon is a dragon because there’s no such thing as a single dragon. As a Writer myself… this thing shouldn’t be done.”

Nae’ali seemed to deflate. She gently nudged Yrth’s shoulder. “Even if it should not be done, a god is a god. Think of the lives we can save.”

“Do you think a god will suffer a body guest?” Yrth whispered, voice cracking.

Nae’ali froze. “You mean…”

“I don’t want to watch a god steal your body, Nae’ali. I don’t want to have to lose a friend and watch something that looks like that friend every day, knowing that my friend is gone for good. So no. I won’t complete you.”

Nae’ali’s nose pressed deeper into her shoulder. Yrth heard her quiet exhale.

A cough sounded behind them. Yrth’s head shot up. The two of them separated.

Ozzy coughed again, awkwardly. “So uh. What’s this about Nae’ali being a god?”

Over the campfire, Ozzy sighed, head in his hands. “I feel stupid.”

Nae’ali snorted. “It’s okay, I have more than enough brain for the two of us.”

Yrth rolled her eyes. “Either way, long story short, if you want to go through with summoning a god, I won’t be Writing for it. And you can be sure I’ll do my level best to prevent it.”

Ozzy sighed again. “Forgive me, I know absolutely nothing about this, Miss Writer—”

“Yrth is fine.”

“Yrth, then. But what’s to stop you from finishing Nae’ali a different way? You’re a Writer yourself, can’t you just complete her so that she doesn’t summon a god?”

Two sets of eyes stared at him. He cringed. “Yeah, I know, it’s weird—”

“No,” Yrth interrupted. “That’s not a bad idea. I hadn’t thought of that.” She turned towards the dragon. “Nae’ali?” she asked hesitantly. “I know you liked the idea of a quick end to the war, but… what do you think of me completing you in a way your author didn’t intend? Finish the loose ends, but leave you enough of yourself that the Dragon God can’t move in? I—maybe I can even find some way for you to channel the prototypical dragon…?”

Nae’ali glanced down, scuffed a claw in the dust, the loose ash from the campfire. “I know it’s selfish, but I don’t want to give someone else my body, either.” She met Yrth’s eyes. “I would be honored for you to complete me.” A silent moment, and then a faint rumble shook the campsite. “Won’t it be grand? I’ll be the only dragon with two authors.”



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