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Untouched by Fire (Fantasy, 1,200 words) (1 Viewer)

Elenxes_II

Senior Member
Kitherys first saw the dragon when he was but a babe of four. He had been left alone for a mere moment by a nurse, and occupied himself wandering through the flowers and plants of his father’s gardens. Kitherys’s gaze had been drawn by a particular red flower, when a hot wind tugged at his hair. A black shadow slid across him, and the boy stared at the sky in awe.


The dragon, the size of a large horse, circled high above the towers of his Father’s keep. After a moment, the grey-and-gold serpent flicked its wings and soared south, to the endless sands.


Father said it was a mere hawk when he told him, but Kitherys knew the truth.


***
The next time he saw the dragon, Kitherys was twelve and old enough to be trusted to ride about the stone-and-grass plains with a guard. When the searing wind, laden with the smell of sulfur and smoke, arrived the horses reared and threw their riders with twin screams. After a stunned moment, Kitherys rubbed his bleeding head and looked at the guard. The poor man’s neck was broken, his eyes glassy.


Kitherys stood, mindful of his new bruises, watching the dragon descend with a sound like tearing metal. One horse tried to flee, only to be engulfed by a breath of blinding fire. It was bigger now, thrice the size of the horse it tore into with claw and serrated jaw. He crept closer, eagerly watching the beast.


It was plated with large scales, its head and jaws each protected by a single large plate of armor. The beast’s armor was smoky grey, shot through with glimmers of gold. Two large horns curved from the skull, a mane of smaller spikes jutting beneath them. The thick, spiked lower jaw worked, blood sizzling down the barbs. Its two wings were folded above is body, one of its two talons sunken into the horse’s ribs. Kitherys’s foot came down on a loose stone, and he slipped.


The dragon’s head snapped up, hot breath steaming. Empty black dragon eyes met blue human eyes and the dragon snorted with a sound like steam from a kettle, a high whining scream. Then it turned back towards the horse and ripped another mouthful loose.


Kitherys stood up and crept closer, reaching a hand to the armored side of the beast. The dragon hissed and snarled, but did not react.


His hand brushed the dragon’s smoking, spark-spitting body. It was burning hot. But the heat had no effect on Kitherys, and so he began to scratch the lapped scaling. The dragon lifted its long neck, blood dripping. It curved its neck around the folded wing, and looked at Kitherys for an instant. A thin stream of burning blood trickled from the dragon’s maw, and it snorted before returning to its meal. Kitherys laughed lightly, before falling silent.


A strange thought came over him, and he looked at the dead guard. How was he to get home now, with his horse gone?


Kitherys stroked the dragon’s plating and began to clamber aboard the dragon’s back, carefully avoiding the long spines and uncomfortable pinches from the gaps in the armor. After a moment of consideration, he sat down with his legs in front of the wings. The dragon hissed, and gathered itself. With a smooth motion, the dragon began to run across the grasslands and spread its vast wings. Then it hurled itself off of a rocky cliff, and flew.


***
Kitherys clung to the dragon’s neck, looking over the vast lands spread out below. To the south was the sea, and beyond that the Great Red Sands, where winter never came. To the north was the broken-up black mountains, riddled with smoking vents. To the east was his Father’s keep, all gold and red. And east was the plains, untamed and wild.


The lands streaked beneath him, and Kitherys laughed before the dragon suddenly swerved upwards. The earth fell away, and the clouds grew larger as they ascended. They flew clean through one, dragonscale plating hissing as the water condensed. Kitherys felt the cold and wet, even with the dragon’s heat. Then they lanced from the cloud, into brilliant light.


Kitherys gasped in awe, and the dragon danced through castles of cloud. Streaks of white became other dragons and war banners, whorls growing into great ships and kraken, and Kitherys wished he never had to come down.


But Father would not like him to be gone too long, and so he spoke to the dragon.


“Please, take me home,” he asked softly. The dragon gazed at him with its empty black eyes and bent downwards. Then its wings closed, the wind screaming in Kitherys’s ears as they fell. A trail of embers and smoke followed them, the wide wings beating like copper pans. Then the dragon burst from the clouds, leveling out as they approached the ground. With a smooth motion, it threw out its wings and stopped in midair. Then it drifted to the earth with the faintest of jerks. Kitherys slid from the dragon’s back, and hugged its neck. The dragon snorted a blast of smoke and steam over his back, before extricating itself. Then the dragon sprinted up a hill, clawing back into the sky and circling south.


When he returned home, he didn’t tell his Father what had happened, except for that his guard had died falling off of his horse.


Father had no suspicions.


***
With the assassination of Father, Kitherys Tysarion inherited the keep and all lands attached, not to mention the wealth of their Line, at the tender age of six-and-ten. Even an impoverished Line of the Nine is a power to behold, and there are those who would take it by force.


He was training in the yard when the coup began. His men fell, flighting among themselves. Kitherys struck at one traitor, only for his blade to be contemptuously knocked from his hands. He backed up, eyes wide with fear as the man raised his curving blade.


“Nothing personal, boy,” the man said regretfully. Kitherys closed his eyes.


A dragon’s roar, like an avalanche of copper pots, shook the ground. Kitherys opened his blue eyes to see his dragon descending into the courtyard, and drawing breath.


Then fire filled the air, the dragon blowing light and smoke into the court.


Kitherys stood as his training leathers ignited and crumbled, ignoring the screams of the men around him. The fire engulfed him like a lover, leaving him untouched as his dragon settled to the red-hot stones. It was larger, over five times the size of a horse. Kitherys daintily stepped over a heap of burning flesh that had once been a man, and leapt up his dragon’s side. He wrapped his legs around the dragon’s neck, and lightly kicked.


The dragon hurled itself into the sky, and when a spear shattered and burned against its plated belly it loosed a breath of flame against the city in the keep’s shadow. The flames and smoke licked at the sky, curtains of ashes and smoke growing and swirling in the wake of the dragon’s wings.


“Take me away from here,” Kitherys begged his dragon. “Anywhere there is people, where I’ll be safe.”


The dragon roared once more, and soared into the sky.
 
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