Hello. Many of you probably know me. Actually, scratch that, all of you should know me. Well, at least, whoever gets this letter should know me. However, for those inferior blank-minded RainWings that don’t know who I am, I guess it should be important that you know. My name is Destinybender and I am… different. Just by looking into the distant future, I know that the position I am in is not a pretty one. And right now, you’re probably thinking, “this dragon is the bad guy”. But it wasn’t always that way.
I get you are probably confused as to where the hero of this story is. Face it, what is a story without a hero? And I say, HE IS NOT IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW! The one time I convince Sophia to let me write my own story, people want that moron, Penguin. Oh yeah, I guess “let me” isn’t exactly what happened. Let’s just say, kidnapping Sophia and tying her to a chair so I can take over to write my story probably could’ve gone better. But don’t worry, she is fine. She isn’t the worst Scavenger I’ve had the misfortune of meeting. Enough about her! This story is about me.
Let's start from the beginning...
What is a dragonet without his skull?
That is the question that has been embedded into the back of my mind ever since I had hatched. The very question itself makes me shudder even thinking about it now. But, the thing is, the question came from adults with skulls. So, what is a dragonet without his skull? I wouldn't know because I was a perfectly functional dragon. I guess, the lead up till the Matching Ceremony is big. Imagine: the small dragon that was overlooked and only actually paid attention to when he dropped the large pile of books he was given because certain dragons couldn't carry them to the library. But this isn't about them. Anyway, I'm going off topic. That dragon is finally admired and appreciated for the amazing SkullWing he is. Yet, not all of us have a story like that. If this certain dragonet had that story, none of this would have happened...
* * *
"Rusk!" Ilium yelled, his throat hoarse from calling his son for the last ten minutes. "You are going to be late for school!"
"Agh, I'm coming!" Rusk called, yelping when he tumbled down the stairs, sprawling on the dark floor in front of his angry father.
"Hey Dad," he chuckled, stumbling to stand. Rusk pulled his head back, squaring his shoulders as he tried to make himself taller. Up to his father's elbow. Like yesterday. And the day before that.
"You cannot miss today," Ilium mumbled, turning abruptly to walk out of the room, his thin tail bard flicking dangerously. He paused in front of his round armour stand, shaking talons pulling off the chest plate. Unhooking the latches, he strung it over his shoulders, letting the iron folds drop around his chest and sides. Even through the small holes in his father's withered skull, Rusk could tell he still wore his permanent scowl. The dragonet tried to smile at the old dragon. Either he ignored him or genuinely didn't see because Ilium stalked past him, gripping his spear in his front talons.
"The Ceremony starts at Seventh Bell," Ilium grumbled, stepping out the door just as the Second Bell screamed through the city, making its way from Central City to the far corners of their region. Rusk had tried to introduce himself to the bell dragon, but from experience, he was sure the poor creature was deaf.
Grabbing the small morsel he presumed was his lunch off the granite bench, Rusk flew through the thin doorway, landing with a thud as he continued to sprint down the busy street, narrowly avoiding the masked dragons. Nearly each one turned to the closest SkullWing, muttering words of “Ceremony for him, eh?” and “he looks like a Blue to me”.
I’m getting my skull! Rusk thought excitedly, turning a sharp corner between two buildings, folding his wings in so they didn’t scrape against the rough bricks. Dark enclosed around him, instantly activating his night vision. A fluorescent green shade flickered onto his dark eyes, casting an aquamarine sheet over his vision. Pupils glowing softly, Rusk shuffled through the slim space, stepping clumsily over the small clusters of insects huddling in the corners. Rays of harsh light streamed onto his face, making him squint. Rusk jumped out of the ally, sprinting towards the school on the other side.
"Ah! S--Sorry..." he muttered, accidentally shouldering the large dragon in the middle of the entrance.
"Watch it!" she hissed, shoving him away. Rusk stumbled into the hallway, collapsing on the floor beside the pentagonal shelves that were attached to the wall.
"H--Hey, who do you think you--" Rusk paused, breathing shallow as he glanced up at her face, wincing at the dark markings spiralling across the sides of her horned skull.
"Know your place," the Black stormed past him, her huge talons sending tremors through the floor.
Rusk shivered, crawling into the corner beside the shelf rack. She wasn't the first Black he had seen. But he wished he would never have the misfortune of being less than three continents away from the notorious tribe. Their solid ambition makes them the scariest of the regions; and unfortunately for everyone else, the worst to mess with. Cold hearts and
dark minds are respected in the Black Region as were their killer spirit. Literally. The only dragons in the world that have a chance against them are the Whites. And in the one history lesson that Rusk actually paid attention to, he learnt that there has never been a new White in at least two centuries. So, he just had to hope his big heroic destiny involved him destroying the Blacks completely. At least just being strong enough to fend them off. Maybe if he--
"Are you ok?" a dragonet asked, interrupting his thought pattern, smiling gently. She offered him her talon, and he hesitantly took it. She pulled him up, letting go.
"I--I'm fine," Rusk brushed away the dust that stuck to his slightly sweaty palms, looking up at the dragon.
Two surprises. The first: a dragon that actually cared that he was alive. Second: that dragon just so happened to be Marrow.
His breath caught in his throat, making Rusk have a short coughing fit.
"Did I do something?" Marrow exclaimed, looking at him worriedly.
No. Apart from just being the most amazing dragon I've met, he would have said if he wasn't twitching uncontrollably and was anyone else other than himself. Except, we haven't met formally. She barely knows I exist.
The loud atmosphere of the very crowded corridor seemed to lighten as her gorgeous face formed into a bright smile, laughing green eyes sparking with a strange energy that Rusk just seemed to melt in. He could gaze at Marrow for hours on end. The only thing that actually stopped him from doing exactly that was the struggle of different classes and Marrow being the social dragon she is, compared to no one wanting to even talk to Rusk.
Nothing about the bubbly dragonet was ever boring. At least, it was that way to him. The first glimpse he got of her was last year at the Eastern Temple. His keen eyes caught on a lively dragonet laughing with her friends at what must have been the funniest joke ever told. And just... being herself.
That's what he admired about Marrow. She wasn't the prettiest or most interesting dragon. But to him, it was as if a spotlight cast across her lean figure, making Marrow stand out against all the others. She was the star of the show. He didn't know why he thought of it like that. Rusk just felt such a strong connection with her. Maybe it was her generally quiet nature away from her friends. Maybe it was how she was compassionate and understanding, no matter who she was with. Maybe it was how her smile was just so--
"Is there something on my snout?" Marrow looked away awkwardly, rubbing her talon on her nose.
"Uh... er, no," he chuckled, looking away, trying not to show the panic that constantly pushed at his mind, sending unhelpful messages to the front of his head.
"Your face is perfect. I--I mean.. there isn't anything wrong with it! Not saying your average! O--Ok... there is nothing wrong with your face and there is not the slightest bit of dirt on it. I'm sorry.."
Marrow laughed. He sighed in relief, glad to see he hadn't offended her.
"You're really funny," she smiled, holding out her talon for him to shake. "I'm Marrow."
"I know," he blurted, his eyes widening at what he said.
Creepy much... "I know". You might as well say "I know exactly who you are"..
"I mean, I've seen you in class.."
Marrow looked to the side, glancing at the small lockers. She tilted her head at his in confusion. Rusk was engraved roughly into the purple woodstuff door, clearly visible to anyone who was close enough. Large needles were stabbed into the letters, creating gaping holes that revealed his books and splattered ink pot. Marrow gave him a small sympathetic smile, stepping toward the ruined locker. Rusk held his breath, puffing out his chest in an attempt to make his scrawny figure seem larger, like the other muscular males in his class. As he presumed, he looked like a drowning porcupine with an eating disorder.
She trailed her claw gently across the torn wood, her distinct smile fading.
"Who... who would do this?" Marrow breathed, her usually happy emerald eyes darkening worriedly.
"It's nothing," Rusk felt uncomfortable with her being so close to him, slowly shuffling away. "Just... a joke."
He knew perfectly well he was the joke. A big, hilarious joke that everyone was in on. And the joke continued, crawling after him wherever he went, snapping at his ankles from just the slightest mistake. Rusk would try to stay as invisible as was dragonly possible. The taunting laughter and trailing eyes that followed him was just too much.
"This isn't a joke," she whispered, wrapping her claws around his talons, making him look at her, clearly embarrassed.
"Your name is Rusk, right?"
"That's your name, right?"
"Oh, um.. yes. I'm sorry."
"Why are you sorry?"
"I just repeated what you said. That is so annoying when someone does that. Sorry."
"You apologize a lot."
"Well," she trailed her claw in a spiralling pattern across his palm, gazing up at him with a determined look plastered on her once sympathetic face. "I want to help."
"I'm sorry for wasting your--" Rusk started, pausing.