Her scaly skin was cold. She couldn’t feel it as much anymore, but years of instincts told her that she needed to warm herself. This ridiculous storm had come out of nowhere; probably the kid magic of one of the older magi, and now the wind that flowed down from the surface was laced with ice. It couldn’t hurt her; not much really could, but it was annoying to feel the effects from the above world.
Dragons had abandoned the foolish surface long ago. They had been used to add to the miserable existence of the tiny inhabitants crawling the skin of Baru too many times. Enough was enough. Humans felt. Humans burned. It was not okay. The ancient witch of the Sudden peaks, curses upon her name, had bonded with an unknown eternal one from the sky, and their magic had been too much for the dragons to resist.
Her’s was cunning magic. There were no battle lines, no uniforms or flags or trumpets to announce the attack. That witch’s magic was a serpent hiding in the bush.
“You really are magnificent creatures,” she had hissed. “The grandest of all in Baru!”
It was, of course, nonsense. The unfallen were far above the dragons, and rightfully so. But still, they had listened. Her words were wine. Warm and wise, but in the end numbing and enslaving.
Trappla remembered that day so well. As the witch had gone on and on about the greatness of the dragons, they had grown sleepy, and when they slumbered in the warmth of young pride, their scales grew thicker and thicker as the defense against magic grew thinner.
Never listen to a snake.
The next thing they had known they were awaking from a shared nightmare. They all had dreamt they were flying through the sky burning villages of innocent little ones.
Then they smelled the smoke, not the smoke from their fires inside, but the smoke of the ash still upon their massive clawed feet.
It was real. The dream was real. They were bewitched. They had become the pawns of the witch. They were now the enemy, unwillingly.
And how long had it been? Years! Years lost! Lives lost! The small ones didn’t have a chance!
That’s when the fire inside exploded. The rage against the witch burned until it was visible in their eyes. Smoke billowed steadily from their nostrils. They would end this. They would show that ancient witch what fire really felt like!
They found and surrounded her. She stood in the center of twelve mighty dragons hovering above, the winds from their wings bending in half the trees of the Foot Forest, and together they loosed their rage. Trappla was younger than the other eleven, but she was allowed to join. And join she did! She screams as she let her fires flow. Never again would her kind be used to bring harm! Never would they be seduced again! Never!!!
The heat from the twelve dragons melted into the ground. The ground itself blew away until a hole so deep once could not see the bottom was formed.
Leahcim, the eldest of the dragons stopped burning, and the rest followed his lead.
Then they saw it. Deep in the whole. A small light. A living moving light. It was floating upward until the witch stood in mid-air before them. She smelled of smoke. She glowed like an ember. But not because of their attack.
This monster was made of rage fire. She was rage fire.
That’s when they realized that the ancient eternal spirit that had bonded with the witch was not the spirit of a man or a God. This was the spirit of a dragon. Its very being was made up of the same fire within the dragons. He was rage. He was Hate. No amount of fire would destroy him. The fire that had grown in them was useless against this beast. All it did was make him stronger.
The evil spirit was wrapped totally around its host. The witch they had come for was gone. Somehow, since they had fallen asleep until now, one of the ancient magi was now the host. And worst, he was possessed with both the demon from without and the evil witch.
This was now a monster.
The monster turned, still floating in mid-air, to the dragon leader and spoke in a rhythm, a cadence filled with melody. As it sang its curse, Leahcim’s eyes closed and his neck bowed, yet the dragon continued to fly. The other dragons watched with horror as the dragon bowed before his new master and the evil possessed magi floated above and took a seat upon the neck of the mighty Dragon Lord.
“Now, my pet,” said the Magi with a hiss, “Let’s teach your friends a little lesson.”
Trappla shivered at the memory, not just the cold. The fury unleashed was unstoppable. The magic of the fallen magi, the curses of the witch, and the darkness of the demon swirled like a tornado.
The dragons had no choice but to flee. They were helpless against the magic of this new magi.
Most retreated to the sea, far from the land of men. They had dove beneath the waves and burrowed so deep into the heart of Baru that they would never be found nor would they ever find their way back to the surface. They had returned to the world they had come from, a world below, just beyond where the darkness ended and a new light lit like the sun.
At least that’s what the plan had been. That’s what the leaders had decided to do if the attack went bad. They would fly together, all of them, and seal the way, never to return.
But not Trappla. She had panicked. Instead of flying to the sea, she had dove into the bottomless hole. In her wild retreat, she had burned hotter than ever before, cutting a tunnel straight down until she was exhausted.
She had never seen the other dragons since, but she had searched. And searched. And searched. She had used her dragon fire to create a world deep beneath the ground, a world of tunnels, a world of caverns. Yet, she had never found a way to the new world. So she lived beneath the ground. Searching. Staying clear of men and magi,
But day by day, she felt the fire inside growing. She had to find a way either into the dragon haven or back to the sky. She could not live down here forever. Her wings were meant to fly, not dig.
Trappla breathed deep, letting the fire warm her from the inside out. She felt it flow through her blood and into her thick dragon skin. She could survive down here, but she could not live here.
It was about time to fly again.