This article was originally published on Medium on Dec. 18, 2019. It was originally titled ‘The Awakening’.
My cave trembles under the tremendous assault of battle magic. I instinctively barrel outside and lash out both physically and magically. Bodies and blood fly, and I realize I am under attack by humans.
I curse my luck.
The damn vermin will never leave me alone now. I will either have to kill all of them or relocate my cave. They may be tiny and underpowered, but we dragons have always admired their tenacity.
But why do they attack me?
I will probably never know — the motivations of the tiny creatures are as alien as those of the starriders.
My throat constricts as a powerful force clamps around it. I laugh in disbelief. We discovered the three magicks, developed them for centuries, built our cities around them, and these creatures think they can fight me using it? They would have a better chance of defeating me if they threw pebbles at me.
Perhaps one would hit me in my remaining eye and blind me.
Behind my incredulity, I feel another emotion rising — one I had thought lost to me. Anger comes slowly to me but I know from the old days that my rage is something to be feared.
Dark thoughts tumble through my mind, memories I have suppressed for all these years.
I remember the last battle of the Second Drakonian War. I remember my fall from the sky. I remember seeing my mate fall after me and the ambition in my heart turning to horror. I remember the crater I created when I let loose, the cries and screams as I lost my mind and killed without mercy or compunction, reason deserting me as I slaughtered friend and foe, dragon and human. I remember the horror in my brood’s eyes as I killed them one by one.
I did not care.
I had just lost my love.
I remember the pity tainting the air as my friends looked upon my flight from the great roosts of Dawnflight. The great dragonlord himself, exiled from the same city he ruled for a thousand years. An unprecedented event, but an unavoidable one. I had proven myself unstable, erratic. Who knew when I would lose my mind again?
The council spoke, and I left Dawnflight in disgrace.
All this flashes through my mind in seconds. The old anger rises in my breast and I know that my passion is not dead yet. I am no mammal, to cower under attack. I shall not run.
My attack is swift and deadly. Three out of the four battle mages lie dead, and a healer frantically attempts to revive the fourth human. Rows of soldiers start marching towards me, the ones in the front row shaking. I recall my studies on humans and smile as I realize the strange, single-scented creatures are scared. I roar in hilarity and several soldiers break and run as they realize I am laughing. They are scared?
They should be.
I pick up the healer effortlessly and levitate him to eye level. I search my mind for the Ariendale link and push into his mind. I overestimate my strength, and he screams, his head exploding into a red mist. My scales ruffle in disgust and I turn my focus to the surviving mage. The soldiers’ faces look whiter. Several more seem to be running away from me. Evasive maneuvers or retreat? I cannot tell.
I do not understand these mammals.
I flap my wings and soar over them and the soldiers launch massive bolts after me. I roar in amusement. I am no ordinary drake, to be brought down by mechanical ballistae.
I am a dragon and I show the soldiers the magnitude of their error. I unleash my full strength on the humans. Even a full-grown dragon would have difficulty resisting my attacks.
The humans stand no chance.
Some die where they stand. Others die running. Regardless, they die. Massive swathes of the ground are blackened by my fires. Great trees topple or explode into shards that cut through the corpses. I feel no satisfaction. They are too far beneath me to allow for any real battle.
The mage who first attacked me remains alive, but barely. Red liquid (blood, I remember from my human studies) spreads out in a perfect circle around him. I rack my brain for human healing spells, but I have never focused too much on healing. I have always been better at dealing death and destruction.
I try the Ariendale link again. This time, it works.
‘Why did you attack me?’
The human mutters something about a princess and kidnapping. Nonplussed, I toss him aside and crush him underfoot. I roar as the numbness in my heart lifts and I feel more alive than I have in decades. I know what I have to do now. Before I set out to Dawnflight, I glance back at the dead humans.
Strange creatures. What would I do with a princess?