My name is Brent Edele. I live in a world much unlike your own due to sorcerous powers at work, I have glimpsed your world, and hence I have come to this conclusion. There are humans in my world, yes, but there are also the graceful elves and stocky dwarves, among others. I do wonder how you, the reader, can exist in such a boring world, with your towering buildings and cramped cities. We, too, have buildings and cities such as these, but our cities are those that can be compared to the Renaissance period of your history.
As I mentioned before, I live in a fantastical world, with equally-as-fantastical creatures. There are ogres, orcs, werewolves and more. However, after the tumult that's been going on all this time, I wish to pursue the knowledge of one type of creature that stands above the rest both figuratively and literally. In your tongue, you would call them dragons I suppose I can call them that, too.
Here, dragons exist everywhere. They are commonly companions to many here; some wild dragons do remain, but they are usually tamed before they attain an age at which taming becomes near impossible. Dragons are as varied in personalities and appearances as humans, elves, and dwarves, among others. In some, their scales shine crimson-red; in others, an ivory white or a jet black. Blues, greens, even purples exist, too. Few dragons are even bright pink; but these are rare, their colorations deemed as birth defects. And as for personalities, one may be scholarly and resourceful, not particularly inclined to war. Another may be a dragon whose rage is incandescent in battle, and is thus ridden upon by generals in military nations here.
In fact, dragons are so common, that there are hatcheries where dragon eggs are taken care of and presented to worthy individuals when the time comes, usually when the recipients become adults. However, this decision, in part, is agreed upon by parents as well as the hatchery in question. Some youths are deemed too fiery and/or irresponsible, and therefore they are not presented with an egg. I myself
well. I have a dragon of my own. He's refined and polite, but not inclined to war. He's a good fighter he breathes poison gas in addition to having sharp claws and teeth but he doesn't fight unless he has to. His name is Ekima. Our history is a bit of a strange one, and one I'll tell you about later. His scales shine a deep, forest green, my favorite color. He loves me as a friend, and I him.
Dragons outlive humans so when I die, Ekima will likely be alive. In this case, the dragon in question will be allowed to do as he or she wishes. Or, he or she will go to a nursery and become a caretaker of the eggs there. Or they may be trained in war. There is no limit as to what a dragon can do when his comrade dies.
I say comrade literally; it is inaccurate to call a dragon's comrade a "rider" because that's an occupation in war. I do ride Ekima, but only in recreation. He enjoys flying, but I have had a fear of heights ever since I fell off Ekima's back. He saved me that day, but now we fly lower than before.
But, ah, the memories of the good old days. I'll start at the beginning, when my parents and the nursery agreed upon my obtaining an egg. I walked with my father down the cobblestone street, into the market. My father was a utilities blacksmith that meant shovels, horseshoes and the like. He didn't forge weapons. My mother was actually a border guard for our city territory that meant she was usually patrolling the forest. She was good with an axe and a bow, but rarely these were necessary except for hunting. My father fretted a bit whenever my mother was sent to the forest instead of the grassy plains and hills that surrounded the town, but there was no danger there. I'd seen her training with the axe, anyway. She handled it like the expert she was not a soldier, but a guard all the same.
Listen to me ramble on. My apologies. I was very excited for this day I was about 15 years old. I had worked in the smithy with my father, and had had the privilege to go out on a couple of my mother's assignments. It had been boring, but the forest had been beautiful. So I was a bit strong, but more athletic than muscular. I had shoulder-length black hair at the time, and I was about 5 feet and 8 inches tall. At that time, I wore a simple, brown, cotton tunic with pants of the same material and color. My boots were made of dark hide, and I wore white, cloth, fingerless gloves. A necklace hung from my neck the point of a dragon's talon was the pendant, hanging from a leather strand. I held this tightly as I walked along the street. But the oddest aspect of my appearance was that my eyes were a golden yellow something unheard of among humans.
"So, Brent. Do you think you'll find a good dragon egg?"
I grinned. I was fascinated with the creatures, probably bordering on obsessiveness. "You bet. I've been doing research lately."
My father nodded. "The town library certainly must have good books on them our very lives revolve around them." He gestured around; one dragon breathed fire into the ovens for an outside bakery. Another, smaller dragon walked down the street alongside us, passing us a guard sat upon its back. A third was gazing at a large book made for its size, sitting underneath some trees, her comrade resting against her flank. Yes, our lives certainly do involve them. Though, revolve
I think so, at least.
"So Brent, have you given your thought to your occupation once the dragon egg hatches and the dragon within grows to comrade height?"
I shrugged, but I knew one thing. "I'm not going to fight in the military. All this fighting with the Kinsel nation
I can do without it. I'm just glad we're on the opposite side of the fighting."
You see, a war waged at the time. Still is. Our nation, Tialshen, fought another nation (Kinsel) for land. It was unknown to public knowledge as to who the aggressor was just that it was a war for land. Likely the Kinselans thought it was us, the Tialshans, and we almost certainly thought that they were the nation who sparked the war. Nuthral and Grene largely remained neutral; they shared our northern and southern borders, respectively. To our eastern border lay the sea; our western border was shared by Kinsel.
I had given it a little thought, but I had dismissed it as quickly as it had popped into my head. I didn't want to lose my life in the fighting. My father respected my decision, and he attested to this as we walked, getting closer to the nursery. "We value you as our only son. We won't lose you." He hugged me by my shoulder.
"Thanks, father. Most fathers would encourage their sons to take on a military position. I'm glad you don't."
He nodded, smiling, as he turned his attention back to the road. About 10 minutes later, we reached the nursery. The main building was large, with a sort of larger enclosure to the rear of it. Within were the dragons who nursed the eggs. There were six females in there, two of which had eggs at the time; all of them were content to stay, safely away from the fighting. We walked through the double doors into a large hallway, with a desk to the side and some doors in each wall, with another set of double doors leading into the enclosure itself. A woman worked at the desk, reading parchment. She looked up at our entrance. "Ah, yes, Mr. Edele. Your son is a lucky one, to be receiving an egg today. Please, do sit."
We sat in the proffered chairs. My father began. "So, which dragons have clutches of eggs right now?"
The woman looked at her papers. "A steel dragon, named Reyna, and a deep emerald dragon, named Nalia. You will be introduced to both of them, and if they like what they see in you, they will let you choose an egg from their clutch."
I started a bit at this. "If they like what they see? They don't just
?" I stopped here; it would sound greedy to say it.
The woman noticed and nodded in appreciation. "So you know when to hold your tongue. Many don't, and they ask the same question. I will answer. Sometimes, individuals must wait for another dragon to lay eggs before they try again; dragons are fickle creatures, and sometimes individuals may wait years until a female finds him to be of her liking. In rare cases, someone may wait for his or her whole life, and never be chosen. Most mother dragons like younger humanoids, anyway. The older ones have less of a chance."
My father nodded. "That's right. Your mother and I abstained from having a dragon. But since you were so hooked on the idea
" he laughed. "Well, it's destiny for you to have that special comrade."
I nodded. The woman continued, sliding a paper to me. "You will need to sign this. This contract will bind you to care for this dragon whelp like you would your own son or daughter. Once signed, we will keep this record. For if you mistreat your dragon, there will be consequences. Knowing this, you may choose to sign or not."
I hesitated for a second before looking straight at the woman, signing the paper with the quill provided. "This dragon will be a member of our family." I slid the parchment back to her.
The woman let a slight smile appear on her face. "Strong words. Hopefully Reyna or Nalia will see that same determination. Follow me." She stood up, some keys jangling on her belt. We stood up and followed her to the double doors on the far wall. She unlocked the door and held it open. "After you, Master Edele."
I nodded and stepped onto the grass. Some dragons had a scent, and I smelled it deeply on the air not a bad scent, by any means. Steel dragons dragons clad in shining silver scales have a somewhat metallic scent, whereas deep emerald dragons dragons that had deep green scales smelled of an old forest. I smelled both these scents on the air. As I walked towards the steel dragon, Reyna, I could see that she was curled around her clutch of silver-colored eggs. I have done research of your world and have determined that an average dragon egg is around the size of one of your soccer balls, but shaped like a chicken egg. As I approached, she awoke from her rest and curled around the eggs more tightly. I approached her head and sat down, unafraid, though a bit apprehensive. "Madam Reyna
I have come of age, and
" I couldn't think of any sort of proper words to say; I had to think. "Um
I politely request that one of your eggs be turned over to me for safekeeping and protection?" I winced; that sounded like a question.
She blinked at me, and then let out puff of air that crackled with electricity; I felt minor shocks on my front. I didn't shy away; however, I winced as she answered. "You sound uncertain. Do you believe that you are truly ready for the responsibility of caring for one of my children?"
I nodded, sweating a bit. "I promise you that he or she will not come to harm under my watch; they will be a trusted friend and family member. They will not be forced to fight in the way with Kinsel."
She huffed. "That will not do. What if their destiny is to fight? You would be forcing them away from what they want to do that's not how a comrade should act. You are not ready to care for one of my children; leave me be."
I looked down, close to tears. I really thought I had this one in the bag. "Yes, Madam Reyna. I respect your decision." I backed away from her, feeling the stares of my father and the caretaker on my back. She looked up at this for a moment, and then rested her head on the ground again.
Without looking at the two adults, I muttered. "All right
this is it
" I walked to the opposite side of the enclosure though as I did so, I felt the other four female dragons staring at me. I heard the woman muttering to my father. "He must have a special destiny; the dragons can sense that in him. That's why they're staring at him like that."
I pretended not to hear this, and advanced to Nalia; it must have been my imagination, though I could have sworn that she had a slight smile on her face. She was more relaxed in her posture; rather than coiling more tightly around her own eggs, she uncoiled herself slightly, letting eggs show beautiful, dome-shaped eggs with different patterns. I couldn't help but look at them, transfixed.
Nalia let out a chuckle before speaking after about ten seconds. "You like them? You must study us extensively, human."
I had a better feel for Nalia than for Reyna. Emboldened, I spoke. "Madam Nalia, I request your permission for me to care for one of your offspring in your place."
She grinned broadly, showing her teeth as she chuckled a bit. "Gold-eyed human, there is something special that I sense in you; something unlike any other human that has come to me. Your gold eyes alone mean that not all is as it seems with you."
I was taken aback by this. "Wh-what? What was that?"
She continued to smile, closing her mouth. "Hah
you don't know yet, but you will. As for that little request of yours
it sounded better than when you asked Reyna over there. But, I will let you in on a secret. It only matters a little how you ask we can feel your intent rather than just hear the words. Politeness always helps, though. You're actually my second bequest the first was a girl, a very bossy girl, who likely would have abused her dragon. Even though she asked politely, I refused, as did Reyna. The girl barely got a chance with Reyna. I can still remember quite clearly, even though it was a few days ago; 'You will not work. Your intent is foul.' That was after this girl asked. Needless to say, that certainly gave me pause."
"Then why did Reyna refuse me?"
Nalia looked thoughtful. "It's not a question as to whether or not you're capable; it's a question of whether or not you're the right fit, a question of if we like you or not. Reyna knows you're capable; you're just not what she has in mind. However, that being said, I like you. I can sense your intentions, and they are pure. I hereby grant you the privilege of caring for one of my offspring."
I nodded, barely concealing my joy as I bowed deeply. "Thank you, Madam Nalia. Your trust is well-placed."
She nods, holding up a taloned appendage. "There is a catch. I have already chosen an egg for you to take. I have a good feeling about this egg, so take care of it well." She uncoiled around her clutch of eggs and lifted one out of the clutch, putting it on the grass and sliding it towards me. I just looked dumbly at it; it was a deep green, but it lightened into a grassy green towards the top.
"May I take this now?"
Nalia nodded, lowering her head back down onto the ground. "Please do. It will hatch more quickly around a warm-blooded creature. Wear it on your back; a harness will be provided to you. And
what is your name, gold-eyed human?"
"Madam Nalia, my name is Brent Edele. But please, call me Brent."
She nodded. "This is a heavy responsibility, Brent; bear it well, and you two will bond quickly. Have a good life with your new friend." She smiled.
I nodded and picked up the egg; it was pretty heavy, and I had to carry it with two hands. The woman smiled as I brought the egg back, and my father was positively beaming with pride. "Well done, my son. I admit, I was a bit worried when the steel one rejected you, but now look; you are a dragon's comrade, now. We will celebrate tonight. Madam Lancaster..." he directed this to the woman. "About how long will it be until the egg hatches, and what indicates the hatching?"
The woman, Lancaster, indicated for me and my father to follow her back to the main building. "You will feel the egg move against your touch. While wearing the egg in the harness, you will the presence inside of it move towards you, because dragons naturally seek out warmth. As for the length of time
those eggs are relatively new, but once outside the dragon, the embryo starts to grow. It will grow faster against a warm-blooded creature, so I'd say five to six months. Take it everywhere you go. The shell is impervious to normal weapons and accidents; it would take a great deal of effort to break it. Don't break it, even while it's hatching. The hatchling will need to come out on its own. By then, it will know you as a close friend and guardian. It will be able to speak, most likely, having listened to you."
I had read about this, but just listening to her, I became even more fascinated. I spoke quietly to the egg in my hands. "You and I are going to be friends
comrades. I know it
My father just smiled down at me. And as we walked back, I felt the dragons' stares again. I was determined not to look up at them, but it was certainly curious. After re-entering the building, Lancaster closed and locked the door behind us and walked over to another, smaller door, opening it. It looked to be a supply room, of sorts. Rummaging around within for a little while, she came out with a harness that was made of leather straps, to go around the shoulders, with a stiffened "case" for the egg. Wearing it, the egg would rest directly against my back. My father and Lancaster helped me put it on, sliding the egg into it. As the egg slid into place, I knew that it wasn't going to leave that spot any time during the day. I couldn't wait to show my friends; would they be envious, jealous, or happy that I got an egg?
I shifted into a more comfortable position. Lancaster, smiling, held out her hand. "I have a good feeling about you. The dragon inside will grow strong and healthy along with you. What do you intend on doing with your new partner once it hatches?"
I looked down. "I don't really know. Not war, that's for certain. This dragon is too precious for me to lose it in that war with Kinsel or any other war
Lancaster nodded. "A wise decision. Not all dragons are intended for war; this mindset will most likely translate to your dragon as well, so it will be less inclined to fight."
"It can read my thoughts?"
"Dragons are strange creatures. There are many mysteries about them that we can't even begin to comprehend. They may be able to read minds. I wouldn't put that past them."
"I'll understand it with time, Madam Lancaster. Thank you so much for being here today."
She nodded. "Remember the contract and stay within its parameters."
I nodded, hefting the egg on my back. My dad thanked Lancaster and walked out with me. Once outside, he grinned down at me. "Well, how about that! A dragon's comrade. Son, you do me proud."
I grinned back. "Thank you, father. Can I go show my friends?"
"In a bit. I have a surprise for you, come along. Just follow me."
I obediently followed, with the egg pressed against my back. I couldn't feel life moving within yet. But I had no doubts that I would, soon. We walked for a bit, past our house and the smithy, and moved on to the upper-class part of town. My family was about middle-class in terms of material wealth, but we were happy. We proceeded to another smithy, this one all business weapons, armor and the like. Upon opening the door, I was confronted with racks upon racks of weapons and mannequins wearing armor. I was a bit intimidated, but they were harmless when they weren't being handled. My father walked to the front counter, hesitated, and rang the bell. A few seconds later, a door opened in the back of the storefront and a strong, yet stocky man walked out. He eyed my father. "Smith Kelrodi Edele. How's that smithy you're running back where you are?"
My father's smithy was well-known for the quality of its goods and the reasonable price he asked. This man, I'd only seen a few times. My father replied in a neutral voice, in a conversational tone. "It's fine. What about this one?"
The man nodded. "Doing all right. I sell some weapons to soldier hopefuls for the war effort over in Kinsel. They want custom-made weapons so that they stand out. I told them to prize functionality over looks, but they insist, so I forge them. They're not any less strong than if they were regular weapons, but I fear the enemy will take them and make unworthy copies of my work
It occurred to me that this man was rather vain. "Father, what is the purpose of this visit?"
The man looked at me, and took notice of the dragon egg on my back. "Ho there, a dragon comrade in the making. Did you just receive that egg?"
I nodded. The man clapped his hands together. "If you're going to fight in the war, I'll custom-make a weapon for you at a discount. They need more dragons over there, I hear the Kinselans have more dragons than we do
I bristled at this. "I've made a vow that I won't fight in this pointless war. It's all for land
we have enough of that, the country is big enough as it is."
The man looked surprised, but then waved it away. "Come a few years and I'm sure your mindset will change. Now, what can I get you?"
My father answered. "Mr. Jovar, I seek a weapon for my son. War or not, if the battles come here, he'll need to defend himself."
The man eyed me again. "Hmmm
he looks strong enough to wield a regular hand weapon. If he's fighting from a dragon's back, though, he'll need a polearm or a great weapon."
I narrowed my eyes, speaking deliberately. "I am not going to fight in this war, whether you want me to or not."
The man blinked at this retort. "I was just saying, if the battle came here
very well. Perhaps another time." He glanced around at the weapons on the rack directly behind us and behind him. "Here we go. If I recall correctly, Mr. Edele, your wife is a guardswoman. What is her favored weapon?"
My father was ready with an answer. "Her axe almost never leaves her side. Thieves ambushed us in an alleyway once. She had her guardsman's leathers and her axe. There were three of them. She chopped the hand off one of them, and she hamstrung the other while I wrestled the third down and broke his arm. Even though I'm married to her, I fear that axe." He chuckles.
Jovar, the weapons smith, handed the axe to me. "Well? How does that feel, Master Edele?"
I felt the weight in my hand perfectly balanced, with an even distribution of weight throughout the whole weapon. This meant that the weapon has a light cutting edge, but that it would strike quickly. "This is a well-balanced weapon, Smith Jovar. Good craftsmanship."
Jovar chuckled. "I didn't make that weapon. My daughter did."
I was a bit taken aback for a second, but I reminded myself that, like my mother, women could engage in any sort of occupation. "Your daughter is a smith, too?"
Jovar nodded again. "This is good work. I assume you work as a smith, too. The scars on your hands prove it. And you're Smith Edele's son, so I would assume that you've made good products too."
My father looked over the axe in my hands. "How much are you asking for this?"
Jovar considered. "I never really considered selling that one. It's display-only, for the most part. But, to a dragon comrade
My father raised an eyebrow. "Steep. Would you go to fifteen silvers?"
Jovar looked insulted. "By all that is good and right, no. She worked hard on this. Twenty-five silvers."
My father didn't back down. "Twenty."
Jovar sighed. "I'll split it. Twenty-two silvers and fifty coppers. But that's as low as I'm going."
My father nodded, reaching into his coin pouch. "All I have are silvers. I'll give you twenty-three." He places the coins on the counter.
Jovar still looked a bit insulted. "Oh well. What's your name, Master Edele?"
I answered. "Brent."
Jovar handed the weapon, along with a belt strap, to me. "Use it well. Maybe you'll give me a discount on something you make sometime?"
I looked at my father, who inclined his head slightly. I looked back towards Jovar. "Yes, I will. Good day, Smith Jovar." We both walked out.
Once outside, my father helped me strap the axe onto my belt. He smiled at me as we finished. "There we go. All you'd need is a shield and you'd be battle-ready
" at the look on my face, though, he fell silent. "Sorry. I didn't mean to imply anything."
I patted my father on the shoulder. "Don't worry, it's fine. Let's just get home, it's getting dark. I'll show some friends tomorrow. Do you think Mother is back yet?"
My father nodded. "She should be, by now. Let's get you home."
As we walked home, I could feel the presence inside the heavy egg; though rather than actually feeling it, I knew that it was there. I hefted it higher onto my back, walking away, out of the district.