“No human being can remember their life from start to finish perfectly.

Ages are mixed up, events that happened are jumbled, out of order, like a puzzle.

All the pieces are there, but none of them are in the right order.

Don’t lose any of them.

Or yourself.”

A quote by the forgotten

Part 1

            I have this memory when I was a little girl, my father took me to the balcony. We were on the top floor, maybe fifty feet up. The balcony looked out over a mountain; its ice-covered peak reflecting the sun like a mirror of polished silver. The people below us bartered and traded goods, a wagon fell over and some guards helped the poor man. The streets were clean, people were smiling, I was smiling. My father knelt beside me and opened his hand, and resting in his palm was a sigil that resembled a three-headed dragon.

            “This is ours, all of it. One day, it’ll all be yours,” he said in his gravelly voice, “this is our house sigil. Wear it with pride, my daughter, for we earned this symbol through our bravery and ferocity.” The sigil was warm in my hand, like a baby bird with a strong heartbeat. I didn’t know how to explain it, but it felt alive; despite it being solid steel. I remember that I used to sleep with it every night. Since the nights were always cold, the sigil would keep me warm.

            The next thing I remember was a blur at first, but there was a rabbit before me. Its neck was bloody and was missing a few patches of fur, but I still welcomed it with open arms. My father was talking to his arcane advisor, my father was concerned with what I had done.

            “I thought magic could only be used through runes?” My father stressed to his advisor.

            “In most cases, yes, most people can only perform magic through runes. However,” the advisor looked over to me, but I barely paid any attention. The bloodied rabbit was licking my nose, I remember laughing as if nothing was wrong with the world. “Some have the innate ability to use magic without using runes. Your child is one of them, and she seems to excel in a rather dangerous art.”

            “What does it matter that she can perform magic without a rune?”

            “Normally, magic can be performed without a rune when the individual has enough time and concentration, depending how practiced the person is with magic. A rune merely aids your ability, it amplifies the spell you are attempting to cast by tenfold. However, there are limits.” The advisor went over to my water basin and pulled out a small, round stone with a blue engraving on it. He rubbed it with his thumb and water poured out of his hand and into the basin. “I can summon water with this rune; however, I cannot summon water whenever I want. I have to concentrate. This rune will run out of magic soon, and the water will stop flowing.”

            Just as he predicted, the water soon stopped pouring and the blue symbol on the stone faded to grey. He came over to me and gave me the rock, I accepted it. It was smooth and cool to the touch. I set it next to my rabbit and continued to play with my new friend.

            “Your daughter would also need runes to use other kinds of magic such as fire, water, restoration, but she seems to be able to cast this kind of magic whenever she pleases. Which is concerning for the general public.” He looked at me with a narrow gaze, as if trying to figure out what I was thinking; but I smiled at him anyways, not yet knowing what he meant, and continued to play.

            “What should I do?” My father asked with a concerned tone.

            The advisor spoke in a hushed tone, “We should talk about this in private.” And they left me alone with my rabbit, who was still bleeding out of its neck, but it didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t mind either.

            The next memory I have was receiving a present from my father on my eighth birthday. I typically don’t remember my birthdays that well, since I usually got what I wanted and more. I wasn’t spoiled by any means, my father just wanted me to be happy, despite my mother advising against his ideals about my happiness. This birthday was particularly special.

            I was brought to the throne room in my finest dress. My mother sat beside my father as a man with a small wagon being pulled behind him walked on the red carpet, up to me, specifically. He bowed his head, I curtsied, and he pushed the wagon towards me. There was a massive egg, the biggest I had ever seen, it was about half my size. It was red with an orange rippling pattern that reminded me of the ocean during a sunrise, and golden branches surrounded the shell, protecting it, I would presume.

            I looked to my father and he gestured to the man before me. The man offered his hand to me and I took it. He then placed my small hand on the egg; I felt a warmth I had only felt from the family sigil my father gave to me a few years ago. A strong heartbeat resonated within me and my eyes were wide, I felt my knees buckle and I thought I would fall to the ground from the vibrations. I looked back toward my father and he had a genuine smile. My mother worriedly looked at me, but no one else seemed to be experiencing this powerful heartbeat.

            The man bowed his head and left me to my discovery. The egg began to hatch, breaking away the golden branches and cracking through the rippling orange pattern. Soon, a cherry-red reptilian face was looking straight at me with big golden eyes and a bright orange diamond mark on its forehead. A pair of tiny wings unfurled and broke more of the shell off, giving this tiny being room to stretch on the wagon. It looked at me inquisitively, I was frozen in place at the sight of it. A dragon. My dragon. I had never seen a real one in person, only the dragons in fairy tales and books.

            It sniffed my hands, then stretched its neck out to sniff my face. I couldn’t help but smile as the warm breath tickled my noise. The next thing I remember is holding that dragon as tightly I could and vowing to always love and take care of it, no matter how big it got. My father was relatively pleased with my reaction and let me play with the dragon for a whole week with no interruption for teachings. While I played with my dragon, letting him explore the world for the first time, I held his head in my hands and looked deeply into his golden orbs once more. I saw a fire burn within and knew what I would name him, Azsi.

            I forget what happened directly after that, but I remember that my father pulled me aside after his talk with the advisor. My father never let me touch magic again, let alone practice it. He was scared. I didn’t know why, and I was devastated. I think the dragon present was supposed to make me feel better. It did, for a time.

            After having Azsi for a few years. He soon grew a bit too big for my full-sized bed, then he started getting too big to fit through my door. My father had a shed built for my ­­Azsi. With time, he grew a bit too big for the five-hundred square foot area my father built for him.

            When I was twelve, my father changed. I didn’t know what, he wouldn’t tell me, but he needed Azsi for something. I cried and begged for him not to take Azsi, he was my best friend.  But he wouldn’t listen. He had his men take Azsi away. To where? I didn’t know at the time. He kept something from me, but what was too horrible for me to imagine?

            My father would disappear from time-to-time. He began disappearing for various amounts of time. One time, he disappeared for a whole month and my mother genuinely thought he died. When he came back, he wasn’t the same person. He was temperamental and impatient. He even forgot my birthday. He wouldn’t talk to my mother about anything. He would just lock himself in his chambers for days on end, only to leave again.

            Not even a year had passed and our sister country, the Griffons, invaded, despite our truce. My father hid me and my mother away as he fought with his men. We hid in the crypts; my mother was convinced that we could escape through the hidden passageways that I had never known about. She took me by the hand and led me down various hallways, all filled with stone carvings of our ancestors.

            We heard shouting down our escape route and the glowing orange of a fire. My mother, panicked, hid me in a sarcophagus and told me to not leave, not until the men do. I did exactly what she said and hid with a dusty corpse of what I think was my great-great-uncle.

            The next thing I heard was my mother screaming, men whooped and whistled. I was quivering out of fear of what they were doing to her. I did the one thing my father told me to never do and everything turned into a blur of rage. What happens next is fragmented; the memories are like waves crashing against a mighty cliff. The first wave crashes in my mind as the sarcophagus’ lid is shattered. The strong metallic smell of blood stings my nostrils, and my vision goes black. Another wave comes and I’m back in the moment, on my hands and knees in a pool of blood. I see my mother laying before me. Her eyes are wide and empty, lost somewhere in the last moments of terror before she died. As I gaze at her face, my gaze flickers down her body and my rage grows stronger as I see her clothes have been torn, leaving her exposed: used and discarded. My memories fade and there’s a long gap before the next wave hits. I am moving through the silent crypt, my rage ever building. No one stands in my way, lucky for them.

            In my head, my father’s words echo as I marched my way through the crypts, escaping by any means necessary. No one stood in my way. However, it wasn’t his warnings that echoed in my mind. It was what he said before he sent me and my mother into the crypts.

            We earned our sigil through blood, and we will do it again.

“There’s a tale about that old mountain, that anyone who goes up there turns mad.

It’s the winds! They howl all day and night and drive a person mad.

Some say that’s where the dragons went extinct, I don’t rightly know.

I’ve never been up there and don’t plan on it.

Someone might get lost up there, in both mind and body.”

A quote by a faceless traveler

Part 2

            Heavy metallic boots crunched through the deep snow. Gentle winds blew at the dark cloak that hid leather armor with metal accents. The falling snow bit at the few portions of exposed skin. Hot breaths formed fog around her face, the thin air in the mountains meant nothing to her. Her tattered cloak left a trail in the snow behind her as she walked. Looking over the edge of the mountain there was nothing but rocks and remains of a city. Wooden and stone buildings destroyed beyond repair; the history was hidden under a thick blanket of snow. She could hear it though. The screams from the destroyed city.

            She held the old sigil in her gloved hand, it melted the snow on contact and a line of steam arose from it. She looked out to the frozen town once more and turned away from the sight. Her boots continued to crunch through the snow, the sound was almost calming now as she walked with a heavy stride. Before her was a cave opening with icicles hanging at the entrance, and the entrance alone was well over forty feet high. The walls and ground were man-made, there was nothing natural about it. 

            Her hand clenched the sigil, it left a charred imprint on her glove as she entered the abandoned cave. At the opening, there was nothing, no signs of life. She continued down the cave and saw what she knew was here: skeletons. Some human, but most were of creatures. A specific creature she knew far too well. Her boots echoed through the cave as steel met with the stone floor. She pressed on.

            The mountain winds whistled at the cave entrance as she traversed further and further away from it, determined to find what she had been looking for all these years. Some of the creatures and humans still had some skin due to the frost, some of the creatures were even tied up, or caged, depending on their size; how young or old they were.

            She dug into a leather pouch that was connected at her belt and pulled out a rune that dimly glowed like a sunset. The stone itself was smooth and oval in shape, like a river stone, but it was engraved with the symbol of light. She then rubbed the symbol with her thumb until it glowed, the glowing yellow light soon encased her gloved hand in magnificent rays of orange and yellow that lit up the tunnel for as far as she could see. She then put the rune away and held her hand up, using the light that was on her hand to light the way.

            The walls were covered in sprays of old blood, mostly from the creatures, from what she read. There were whips and daggers and weapons that laid on the cold floor. The closer she got the end of the tunnel, the bigger the creatures she saw. She took a deep breath, exhaling a thick fog that trailed behind her as she walked. She didn’t know what all they did in here, but she knew it was how her family earned their sigil.

            She reached the end of the tunnel and held the three-headed dragon symbol. It threatened to burn through her leather glove as it hissed in the cold. She focused on the sigil and held it as tight as she could, using her tortured memories to fuel her concentration. The sigil broke in two, the metallic frame sent a loud echo through the cave as it clattered to the floor.

            What laid before her was possibly the biggest creature she had ever seen, and a pang of guilt hit her so hard she almost fell to her knees at the sight. The corridor was well over a hundred feet high and two-hundred feet wide. Chains were locked in place on the ceilings and walls and connected to the corpse before her. The head itself was at least fifteen feet wide with long sharp teeth. The eyes were closed, its once vibrant red skin now a dark maroon color. The few patches of skin it had left was pulled taught around the body and was missing quite a few scales. One of its horns had broken off, but the piece was nowhere to be found. Its wings were tattered and broken in several places; it wouldn’t be able to fly. Not without her help, anyway.

            She took a deep breath and looked at the orange flame that encased and extinguished the magical light that was on her hand. She could feel the fire’s hunger, it wanted to burn everything in this room, but she had other plans. After a moment of concentrating, the orange flame calmed as a blue hue took over. She looked at the dead dragon before her. It was chained at several places; the neck, limbs, and wings.

            The head was on its side, it obviously tried to escape its chains by the looks of there not being any skin left where the shackles were placed. She looked at the head, contemplating the old orange diamond marking on its forehead before gingerly placing her hand over it.

            An ice-blue web pattern spread from her hand and encased the giant carcass within mere moments. The blue flame immediately went to the eyes, making them open and glow with a cold blue before traveling through the throat and down to the heart. A brilliant, wild fire glowed at the chest as its limbs and wings began to twitch.

            A low growl echoed as the woman pulled out another rune and rubbed the stone in both of her hands. She then went to the dragon’s side and merely tapped the locks on the shackles. They glowed a dim green and made audible clicks as they unlocked and opened, freeing the giant dragon. The creature then defiantly stood tall and let out a deafening howl. The blue flame resonated with the sound, pulsating throughout the cave and more skeletal beings glowed a bright blue.

            The woman then led the way, walking in front of the dragon who was easily above eighty feet tall from head to toe. She strode along with her head held high and her shoulders back as the dragon walked behind her. The heavy foot falls from the dragon caused the whole cave to tremble, it growled and hissed as rocks and stalactites fell onto it. The woman marched forward as more bodies stood and joined her march. Her father’s final words to her echoed within.

            You hold a dangerous power within. The day I saw you use it terrified me, but I knew you could be strong. I know that you are far better than I when it comes to kindness and judgement. I know you will exercise caution when it comes to your magic, for it can do things mankind is afraid of doing. I know you will do well in my place. One day, you will return to this kingdom and claim what is rightfully ours; therefore, I hereby name you Queen Freya of Dragonhold.

            They exited the cave, Freya’s massive dragon behind her as she overlooked the mountainside. In the distance, behind the fog was a tall castle. The castle of the enemy. Her dragon stepped in front of her, her raised corpses behind her as she glared at the tower.

            “I will take back what is ours, father.” She said with a strong, yet cold tone, “I will earn this just as we once earned our sigil.” The dragon leapt from the top of the mountain, giving another roar, causing the flame to pulsate once more. Many corpses from below broke through the snow and cried in agony and looked upon the dragon that flew above them and followed. They picked up weapons they found, some still imbedded in them when they died. The corpses behind her stood by her side, watching as those below made trails through the snow.

            “We will earn it in blood.”

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