“O to see a dragon birth.
To travel to one’s dark lair
Deep within the earth
Pray the Dragon spares thee”
Quoted by Arajuan to his men
warning them the danger
of hunting dragons.
Deep in a massive shadowy cave, the smoky black egg was preparing to hatch. The father, Rork crouched down and blew flames on it to hasten its incubation. His vast scorched wings tucked behind him, his neck stretched forward toward it. He focused his entire energy on hatching the egg.
To the left side of Rork sat a smaller female curled up in her nest of straw and rocks. The mother, she was a misty-black dragon. Her wings were thin delicate membranes she kept folded into her. She pressed the frilled crests to the side of her smooth face and neck as she edged nearer. She watched over him with an anxious eye.
A new large line appeared on the shell. Rork looked up and detected the crack. He called out with telepathy.
Mika, it is hatching, he exclaimed.
The slender dragon lifted her head and stood up. She entered the middle of the room where the egg lay. Mika ruffled her wings as she sniffed the surrounding ground. She tried to keep her hopes in check. Hatching was a vulnerable stage, and she did not wish to be disappointed if the wyrmling died.
Stop blowing flames over the egg, Mika replied, it is not a full fire dragon. You will burn it and this egg is all we have left from our clutch. I do not wish to lose it.
Rork’s breath stopped, they had lost all their young earlier. The horror was still fresh; he blamed himself for having her lay in a shallower cave on the side of his clan’s cliff. He felt certain the other dragons would deter hunters and keep the eggs safe. They both left the nest unguarded a common thing to do for dragon nests. The foul death knight and his dragon hunters crushed them all. Rork snorted at the thought.
Rork had returned while they were still destroying the eggs. He fought hard and bore the marks to prove it; he repositioned his damaged wings. He knew he killed all the mortals and devoured them. This did not matter, Arajuan escaped, it was too late, and all the eggs crushed, destroyed, except this one.
The hunters did not find this egg. It hid in a crevice in the rock walls of the cave. He was lucky to find it himself and he found it because of its scent. An unusual thick fog covered the egg, or he would have seen it. The strange sulfuric fog had dispersed the moment he touched it.
A high-pitched screech emitted from the wyrmling dragon as she removed the eggshells off her. Rork looked up, the young dragon’s cry interrupted his thoughts. He smiled at her and examined the grayish black hue of her scales.
She had an exquisite, smooth frame with no horns or frills. Her narrow-tapered head ended with a high crest. The wyrmling’s eyes shone a keen emerald green. Her wings were large like the fire dragon, but her plates were oil black and translucent, just like her mother. He could see that there was a dark orange coloring to the scales of her wings and under-body.
It is a girl, Mika Tsuki said, what shall we name her?
He paused in thought for a moment. She was a hatchling, yet she commanded such beauty and ferocity, her name must reflect this. Her name needed to be strong enough to protect her.
Her name will be BlackHeart, for she carries the heart of our kind through a dark era, Rork answered.
Rork wrapped his wings around the young dragon. His thoughts became full of worry as he said this because he knew he would have to leave the hatchling soon. Most young red wyrmlings could fend for themselves after hatching, he felt uneasy concerning BlackHeart. Times had changed, and Gori’s men would burn forests to hunt her down if they left her alone again. He stood up and shook his wings in attempt to shake his thoughts away.
BlackHeart cooed as she attempted to stand. Her legs wobbled at first but soon she stood. She cooed again and mimicked her father. She first spread her tiny thin wings and then shook them. Rork leaned over the hatchling and nuzzled her. He then picked her up in his enormous jaws, wings spread he carried her and placed her on the steep cliff ledge of the cave entrance.
Rork gestured toward the valley, below was The Lake of Kristal Aansoo. The melting snow created springs down Sorg’s Mount. Across the lake one could see the forest edge with treetops covered in crystal like a glittering Christmas card.
Look, my dear BlackHeart out there is the whole world.
One day that world would be a safe world for dragons, it was his deepest hope. This was a thought he kept to himself. He turned back to look at Mika.
We have already been a part of her life for long enough, He said as he lifted BlackHeart.
I agree I would not even stay after I laid the eggs, but we almost lost our whole clutch to mortals today. She got lucky. If she were not hidden who knows if we would have had any eggs left, Mika replied.
Mika approached the yawning of the cave. Her folded wings drooped as she lifted her head to see BlackHeart held in Rork’s mouth. Rork understood, with a burdened heart he weighed the options. If they left BlackHeart now would she make it? The mortals had become ruthless killers, and she was no bigger than a large house cat. If this had been a time of peace they would not worry, but she was born to war.
She will make it, he said, more for his comfort instead of Mika’s, We must leave if we stay here, she will not survive. We are large and can be tracked. If we put her in the care of the elves of Lenagard, she will have a better life.
I agree, Mika sighed, The elves and our kind have always kept each other safe. I have protected their domain from the Emperor Gori and his men. Now they will protect my offspring in return.
Mika walked toward Rork and gave a gentle nudge against his chin with the top of her head, he held tight to BlackHeart. He had decided; this was about what was best for her.
One flight with her before we depart, Rork sighed.
He turned, spread his wings and flew. Mika watched as Rork swooped and glided back towards the cave. He placed BlackHeart down on the ledge as one would a new-born kitten. This was goodbye for Rork, he would have her mother go to the elves, but he would not return for BlackHeart. When Mika left for Lenagard they, unbeknownst to them, left behind the one who may well be the last hope for their race.
BlackHeart slept alone in the cave the rest of that day. This was Sorg’s Cavern, her mother’s cave, but now it was her new domain. When she woke that night, she began her first hunt. She chased cave crickets in such a sporadic way she resembled a young kitten at play.
BlackHeart had not noticed the raven in the corner but had caught the scent of a subtle sulfuric mist that surrounded him. She stopped, sniffed, and decided this new scent comforted her. She then continued to explore the entrance to the cave left in her possession. The entrance was unremarkable, just a normal limestone cave in the side of a mountain.
Bored with exploring the entrance BlackHeart resumed hunting cave crickets. She found them much more entertaining. When she caught one, at long last, she swallowed it whole. Once she had eaten, she had decided she would try to fly.
BlackHeart climbed up the steep rocks alongside the cave wall. She steadied herself, spread her wings, then jumped down, and fell in a spiral motion. She stood back up to try it again. Each time she would climb up, she would jump, and tumbled to the rough rock below. Stubborn as an ox she refused to give up as she climbed back up the rocks, digging her sharp talons into the limestone. She looked down at the cave floor below and jumped. She fell again with a light thud.
BlackHeart kept at this until dawn when she glided gently to the ground. By this point, she was so tired that she curled up where she landed and slept sound. Late that morning Mika returned with an elf warrior mounted in a leather saddle on her back. Like most elves he was ageless. Only the stress lines in the corner of his eyes betrayed that he was not a youth.
This was Tarnink, Blackheart’s new guardian, the elven ambassador and the elf queen, Queen Esmir’s, most trusted adviser. He wore the brown leather armor of the Elves of Lenagard with a sword strapped to his side in a leather sheath. He had light wispy brown hair he wore tied in the back with two strands framing his narrow face. Under furrowed arched brows dark jade eyes peered out and into the cave.
As Tarnink dismounted, he looked around the shaded cavern entrance and soon spotted a dark ball of scales near hidden in the corner. The ball shifted a little in its sleep.
“Is this Anika, milady?”
He whispered as he pointed in its direction. Mika nodded in silence. He walked over and bent to grab the sleeping wyrmling. He waved his hand summoning his moss green jacket, which he then put the baby inside of to keep her warm. Once he was through with this, he remounted Mika, BlackHeart secure in his arms. As soon as Mika Tsuki felt Tarnink was settled on her back, she lifted and flew toward the elven village.
It did not take Mika long to cross the Aldurfluer Meadow. In the spring, the meadow bloomed with flame flowers and at the mountain base lay the Lake of Kristal Aansoo. She landed with a gentle thud in a clearing just in front of the elven forest, Naza no Ki. Tarnink climbed off Mika, she then transformed into an elf herself with slick black and translucent silver hair. The saddle she wore upon her back vanished. Her eyes differed from her companion, covered in clear scales her eyes bore slit pupils. She turned to Tarnink as he stared in awe back at her.
“Stop gawking, we are out of time, the emperor is using death knights to hunt dragons. They can see us without us seeing them.”
Her voice was soft yet stern and as she spoke, the ever-present mist thickened in the air. The odor reminded her of the undead and its stench unmistakable.
“We must move,” She said as she quickened her pace, “That creature, Arajuan, has already spotted us.”
“Are you certain, my lady?” Tarnink said, “It could be any of Gori’s men, could it not?”
“I am certain,” She whispered.
The repulsive odor reached the elf’s nostrils. He nodded and picked up the pace. They sprinted down the path toward Mila, the main village of the earth elves and the village that soon would become BlackHeart’s home.
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