I remember the stories that my mother used to tell me as a child. They would lull me to sleep every night, to leave me in a land of dreams. What she would tell me were more than stories, they were the history of might beasts, relentless courage, of magic and of dragons. The dragons were of land and sky, and the key to protecting the four kingdoms of Raziel. They were giants of fire and ice, of glass and stone. The two that she spoke of often were Klang-Sha Chukoe and Alindroa Doatr, the dragons of fire and of ice. These dragons were mighty and embraced the beautiful wonders of life, and of love. Each dragon had fallen in love with a human and had given those women a child, a dragon-human hybrid, or Draman. This act was unspoken of, for dragons were the protectors of man. Their births were a vow to love each human equally, and once love was given more to one human, the balance would be thrown off.
At the moment that the Draman children were born each family was cursed, they would never give birth to a healthy male heir. This misfortune meant that eventually their bloodline would die out, everything that made them dragon would cease to exist. Years after years, generation after generation Draman women would give birth to sons only to watch them parish shortly after they were born. Many Draman boys never had the chance to feel grass under their feet as they took their first steps in life. Draman women searched for ways to attempt to make their bloodlines strong, sometimes forcefully breeding with non-Draman blood in private, birthing mock breeds. Sometimes the sons would survive, getting stronger with each generation, but most times they would not. My mother spoke of how the life had left the eyes of the Chukoe women. How they barely had the will to live when their life was considered a waste, a dead end. A queen that could not give birth to an heir for a throne was no queen at all.
She would tell me of this heartache as if it were her own, over and over, and when I was old enough to understand the meaning of these stories she would have me recite them to her. I memorized the pain that was the back bone to each word whether I wanted to or not. It was instilled in me that these people, my ancestors, were cursed. That with every beat of my heart, no matter how pure my pulse may be, I too was cursed. I am Sha'cy Chukoe, descendant of the mighty dragon Klang-Sha Chukoe, Dor'tress to the throne of Kel'fyia, and I am Draman.
"Thic laprieta wharac persvek darastrix saurivi."
-No lies lie in dragon's eyes.
I stood at my window looking out at the commons beneath me. The personal quarters of a Dor'tress were at the very top of the Lair, not because she is above everyone else, but to always remind her that she is Ruler of the Skies. It has only been four days since I had inherited the crown to become Dor'tress to the Chukoe throne. My mother, Myckta Chukoe, had been sick for a long time from a virus that seemed to accompany her constantly, and she rode it out honorably. She was a warrior, not on the battlefield, but in her wisdom. She was my mother before she as a queen or anything else, and she made sure everyone knew that. Nothing got in her way, no matter the size of the struggle. My mother succumbed to her sickness in her sleep, peacefully as if embracing an old friend. I could mourn her all I wanted, but that would not bring her back. How my heart ached knowing that she was gone. I have tried to cry, but nothing would come out. I thought that maybe if I did then all of the pain and sorrow that echoed through me would leave. Maybe I would be able to handle the empty so that I may fill that space with strength. That was all that I needed at this time. strength.
Outside of my window i watched as it rained. The Gods must know that today is a day of sorrow. There are many people out despite the weather. I admired how they could move about as they wished, no guards, not a care for what was proper and what was not. Always having to be cautious of what people would think of me was simply exhausting. Being out in the open unprotected wasn't the issue, it was the way people judged every move that was made while having ownership of the crown. It wasn't that I did not want the crown, every little girl drams of being a queen. I just couldn't come to terms with the circumstances of me being crowned.
A knock on the door shook me from my concentration. It opened slowly before I could answer, my companion Ralix entered the room. He was a Lycan, sworn to me at birth to protect me. I find myself often intrigued by him even though I had known him my whole life. He was far from the young wolf that I remembered. Now his hair had the purple highlights that only a mature wolf hybrid would have. All Draman royalty had Lycan body guards for three reasons; their loyalty, keen senses, and the ability to be savage at any given moment. I often think about the things that I knew he was trained to do, both with weapons and with his bare hands. The things that he has seen and done, all to protect my family, a life of serving someone else, a life that will never be his own.
"Dor'tress?" he questions, snapping me out of my daydream. "It is time for you to address the people." He motions toward the door.
I hadn't realized how long I had been lost in thought.
"Of course." I reply as I made my way to the hallway that would lead us to the meeting room.
My boots make a hollow sound against the wooden floors that paved the halls through the lair. With every step I imagine that the knocking was just my heart beat echoing against the walls, and with that, every step was harder than the last. This would be the first time I would address the people of Kel'fyia as my people, the roots of my kingdom, where i would accept any and all of the responsibilities as their Dor'tress.
We walked down the hallway and found ourselves in the throne room. I would not sit on a throne; they belonged to my ancestors, the ancient dragons that once ruled the land and skies, way before my time. I am the heir to the throne of Klang-Sha Chukoe, one of the greatest dragons that was ever known. He was one of the Vrrar Ux Bahamutie, or Four Dragon Borne, one dragon for each region. Klang-Sha lives on through legends and bed time stories, and now here I was standing at the base of his throne, preparing myself to take on his legacy of fire.
I walk into the next room where my audience is seated. The room is filled with my Royal council, merchants, farmers, and many familiar faces I knew from the commons below. In a Draman's Lair any life form was welcome. Dragon kin were bred to protect, not destroy. I saw Draman, Lycans, Werecats, and Kinnaras all mixed together. This sight made my empty space not so bare, to be surrounded by so many friends in a time where I felt most alone. I made my way to the front of the rooms and stood tall with my hands clasped loosely behind my back, a Dramans show of respect. It is hard to catch my breath as I start my speech.
"Before she was my mother, Myckta Chukoe was a great leader. I can only hope to be half the woman she was. As all of you may know for many years Chukoe women have been taking over the throne. It is no secret that we have not had a male heir in over three generations. It is not easy to stand here today, both accepting a crown and telling you this. I will not let this kingdom be ruled without a rightful Drasi to rule beside me. If I do not find a Draman mate before six moons have passed, then I have no choice than to find a mate in a non-dragon house."
Gasps at this point echo throughout the room. I pause my speech to give everyone the time to adjust to this idea. Never had Draman admitted to mating with non-royalty aloud, but the thought of a Dor'tress becoming a pair bond with a non-dragon kind was unheard of.
"Settle down please,' I continued, hoping to keep control of the situation. ' I would rather have a half blooded heir rather than no heir at all. Understand, I am the last of my kind, when I parish who will be your leader? Draman's have always kept the Lair and the commons below safe. I am tired of watching young Draman birthed and not making it past their first year. I do not want to live a life knowing that I might never bear a son, and if I do then that his life will mean nothing. This is why I am accepting a suitor from any house. I am looking not only for my pair bond, your Drasi, but also an end to this curse!"
I stop and notice that my hands are now balled into fists at my sides, knuckles white. I know that my face is red and at this point I feel like I finally may cry. Searching for composure I inhale deeply and continue.
"Is there anyone here who deny my simple request to fulfill my life?"
Eyes scan the room, all searching for that one brave soul who dare speak against me. My breath stops short in my throat as a fragile hand rises into the air. Every pair of eyes in the room follow me as I walk toward this woman who looks young enough to be my sister.
"Milady?" I question with a raised eyebrow.
"Dor'tress, I am wondering how you will choose from which house you will court for a Drasi?" She asks meekly, as though she is afraid of every syllable that passes her lips. This question shocks me. I don't know if I thought that maybe my people would oppose the idea, or simply that maybe their bloodlines now had a chance as well.
"If I can not find a dragon borne then any male of any house may ask to court me. "
More gasps of shock rang through the room. Never before had a Dor'tress offered herself to any man of any economic status. The commons would be buzzing about this for the next six moons. Things take a while to settle down and I excuse myself to let everyone sit on the information they had just received. Ralix escorts me back to my nesting quarters and his tongue is ready with questions.
"Sha'cy, how do you know that you will find an appropriate suitor before the time is done?" He asked under his breath, eyes fixed on our path.
"Ralix, my dear, I do not know for certain that a dragon borne who is looking for a pair bond even exists, but I will not let my legacy die with me. Maybe I am going about this all wrong, but I won't know unless I try." I assure him. " I will do whatever I can to make sure that I have a healthy son, and I feel sorry for anything or any person that tries to stop me."
It did not take long for news of my decision to spread. The commons were almost vibrating with gossip as I watch from my window. It had been six nights since my meeting and my head hadn't stopped spinning. I made my way to the mirror, if I couldn't face my decision how would I expect everyone who see me as a leader into hope face me. I had changed a lot since I was a girl, in some ways more than others. I recognized my face, and the olive skin that Dramans are known for. My eyes, bright grey, but cloudy from the stories that tormented my people. My hand moves to the scar that goes through both of my lips on the right hand side. The only memory that I have from falling off of a library ladder as a small child. Sometimes I wish that I could remember the pain, physical pain seems like it would be a lot easier to get over that emotional pain. My long black hair, which as an adult is a lot easier to maintain that as a child. I preferred it straight, braided down my back, but born with hair that twisted into dark ringlets and coils, as a child, straight hair was often hard to maintain. My mother used to say that my hair was wild because it mirrored my soul. When she said this I knew what she was thinking of. The time after the Great Darkness. A war that took too many and spilled endless amounts of innocent blood. I was young, but the thought of war fascinated me. The fact that people fought for a cause that they could not physically hold in their hands intrigued me. It was the definition of passion; to die for something you could only truly believe in. I remember walking the field after the war, going through mud and stones. Blood was still warm under my feet and the air was stale with the taste of iron that burned the back of your throat if you inhaled too deeply. At a time of this great sorrow all one could do was breathe in the fact that they were blessed to have survived another day. During my walk I found a young Lycan soldier, not yet old enough to even understand why this war had been waged. He lay dying, alone, covered in the blood of both enemies and of his brothers. I sat down beside him, not caring of the mess I was settling down into and cradled his head in my lap. He was dying, I knew this and by the look of terror in his eyes it was clear that he knew it oo. I stroked his hair out of his eyes and tried to clean as much sweat and blood off of his face with my dress. I didn't say anything, what do you say to someone who will be greeting death soon. His eyes welled with tears as his breath grew more shallow.
"I can be strong for you right now, you just worry about resting. " I told him, trying to make my voice resonate the strength and courage that I wish I could give him. A princess sat in that field, covered in dirt and blood, and all she cared about was a boy not being alone as he crossed into his afterlife. His hair was so soft, yet heavy with sweat. I twirled a lock of it in my fingers, and through my calm, anger started to well up inside of me. It was hot like fire and burning through me. This boy did not have to die, not now, and not like this. His mother should be singing him to sleep, not I, and not to his death. And for this I hated myself. I looked down at the young wolf and noticed that his chest had stopped rising. My fingers went to his eyes and slowly closed them as tears fell slowly from mine.
My mothers guard found me several hours later, the Lycan soldier still laying peacefully on my lap. They tried to take him from me but I fought and I screamed. Somewhere in the chaos I lost him and soon I was back at the Lair, facing my mother who was shocked at what she saw. I was covered in blood from my knees down and tears had made clean passages through the dirt on my face. I was no longer a child in her eyes, I had seen what she had tried to shield me from since birth, the parts of life that hated living. She knelt down and hugged me as thought I were falling apart and if she held on long enough I slowly would be put back together. Days later the war is over, a peace treaty signed. There hasn't been war since, but I have been waiting because like everything, evil stays lurking.
I shook my head getting rid of the dark memories, I did not need to revisit those places of my mind. I decide to go down to the commons and attempt to keep myself occupied, to keep my head clear of my pending responsibilities. I wander through the markets in between merchants. Almost every stall I pass attempts to present me with gifts. I see beautifully hand stitched scarves made from fabrics so exotic that they seemed to almost melt at your fingertips. I sample little pieces of delicious breads that are filled with tiny seeds and pieces of nuts, that seemed to fall apart as soon as it passed my lips. Most of the merchants were Were-cats, panthers and jaguars. There were know to be nimble and good with their hands, creating things effortlessly. The goods that some of them made simply astounded me, this was an art form that I would never attempt to master. I repeatedly thank the store keeps for their gifts, but politely decline. I know that they would try and present me with gifts anyway, but I am sure that now with my offer lingering above everyone's heads no one could resist. As I walk I can't help but wonder what exactly everyone is thinking. I know that my proposition comes in the form of a lottery to many of these families. I can think of at least a handful of young men that would be more than willing to be my pair bond.
I stop by the fire dancers tent. Kyrah, a Kinnara dancer was there entertaining a few Lycans. She sees me and gives me a not, and I motion for her to continue. There were very few fire dancers left, and only a trained Kinnara could do it. They were known for their skills in dance, song, and poetry. They were the symbol of beauty and grace, and of accomplishment. Most Kinnara's that were left were eagles, which was both sad and beautiful at the same time. Fire dancing was also an art that was near extinction. The ability to manipulate fire and not get burned was seducing in itself. The ways the women dance and told tales of the ancients, the fire enticing her to touch it, to take it into her is all too overwhelming. They treat the fire as if it were an old lover, hypnotizing the audience with its burning passion, like the heat of a secret affair, making you yearn for the ice hot burn. I could watch Kyrah go into her own world over and over. Commanding the fire to do what she wanted when she wanted it, effortlessly. When she finished, everyone was under her spell, only wanting more.
"Dor'tress," She says, greeting me as she walks over. "What brings you here?"
We sit and she orders us some tea. "Nothing special Kyrah, i just need to get out of there. My head feels as though it might burst." The sight of good company puts me at ease.
The tea comes and i hold mine in hopes of warming my hands. I sip and its sweet with just a little bit of spice. I close my eyes and for a second everything is silent.
"Enjoying your tea?" She asks, my eyes opening to a playful smile on her face.
"I'm sorry, I have been doing a lot of that lately. I just can't seem to stay in the present." I say in between sips of my delicious beverage.
"It is alright, I can only imagine what kind of mind you have right now. I don't know how you do it Sha'cy." She winced at the words that she spoke. "I mean, Dor'tress." Her eyes looking down at the bottom of her tea cup.
I reach over and take her hand in mine. "As long as I am welcome in this tent or your aerie as a friend, I will always be Sha'cy." I assure her. Kyrah has been a friend to me, if not family for so many years. My words seem to relax her and I sit back and continue to drink my tea. It starts to feel like I sink into my chair further and further, the room starts to shift and I know that something is wrong.
"Sha'cy, you don't look so good...Sha'cy?" She reaches for me but I fall anyway, and then all I remember is black, for what seems like forever.