Prompt: A dragon is sent to another plane of existence because he’s destined for greatness.
Fleeing the den without permission could earn banishment. It could earn death if you were from a line expected to be the most dignified. The night sky was full of stars when he fled, on clawed foot rather than wing. The shrubs were thicker than he’d anticipated, and the thorns dug into his wrists and ankles. He shed hot blood, but his fear and sadness kept it from igniting any of the driest plants.
He kept turning back to see if anyone pursued, but his plan so far was successful. They would not expect him to leave on foot. Dragons of his line flew everywhere; walking was for the lizard-like or those with deformities. Dragons with those conditions took this path every once in a while, looking for the endless edge. They never returned to say exactly where it was, but he had an idea; he just had to follow that distant, almost imperceptible, yawn, that sound of ground unable to fill the chasms before it.
Kal’sahgroziir was the fifth son, one of a twin egg, from the line of the Final Green. Their ancestors claimed to have created the volcanoes themselves from their arguments with the stone plates of the world. Kal’sah took no stock in such stories, even though they had been whispered to him, through the shell, before he and his brother were born. It didn’t matter. They had his twin. They didn’t need him for their pedestals.
The edge made dark promises in all its stories. The endless edge led to other worlds, places where dragons had not claimed all the bones and all the crowns. Kal’sah wanted to find such a place. He yearned for a life earned, rather than a nest tumbled into. They told him it was foolish. They told him it was a waste of the fire burning in his heart and stomach.
When he persisted they told him it was forbidden. That was the last he would take. They couldn’t kill him, reclaim the family’s fire, if he was gone from this world. That was what the stories promised. He thought about them again as he pushed through the thorns and endured cuts and scrapes. There was really just the one story, the one that had branched out into tales of horror for those residing in the heights of the den and tales of hope for those residing below its ground.
The story had been howled up to the edge as a limp-winged dragon fell. It was her account as she saw the other worlds rushing towards her. They couldn’t glean much factual, especially since she was deemed soft in claw and flaky in scale. Most wrote her last words in the world off as a mind decaying along with its lame body.
Kal’sah believed it. She had to be courageous to do what she did, to say that none of the dragon fanfare mattered. To say that sky dances and hunting contests meant little in the scope of the world. He wanted his eyes widened like hers. He knew it would include terror. It took things like that to open the eyes behind the eyes.
The last of the thorns curled away from the endless edge. They dared not hang over it and stare into other worlds, some undoubtedly crueler to plants. Kal’sah sat on his green haunches and admired the view. His heart slowed but pounded. He couldn’t take it all in. It had no ends: blue, purple, and black as far as anything could see, walls of light separating bubbles in a river far below. Each round chamber a world of its own. All he needed to do was let himself fall. His wings instinctively pumped, trying to drag him away, but he fought the urge. He had to let go. He had to trust something that wasn’t his den mother and her pacifying white coals.
His mind put those coals at the bottom of the precipice. He leaned. He fell. It took everything he had to suppress his wings and let them hang behind him. It didn’t matter which world. He had to let fate decide. He thought back to the eggs being rearranged in the nests. Friendships manipulated before birth. Alliances formed by tapping proximity. He hated it all. He needed the wind of this oblivion to make the decision.
Closer and closer to the bubbles below. They all had their own colors. He couldn’t let the palette sway him, so he closed his eyes. Eventually he felt it. He passed through the skin of a new world, like a soap bubble that couldn’t burn. His wings and eyes opened simultaneously, gliding across a new sky just as dark as his old. There was a difference though. No stars. No light. He couldn’t see the ground, if there was any, so he opened his jaws wide.
Out issued a jet of orange flame. His fire was strong; it existed as long as his family did. Even if he died it would blaze inside his forgotten rib cage, waiting for another dragon to suck it up and reclaim it. The jet, which he kept constant, showed him that there was ground. It was rocky and devoid of life as far as he could see. There was a cave below him, and two objects out front. They were pillars. Something must have constructed them.
If he was to engage in his new home he needed to introduce himself to the inhabitants. Kal’sah slowed his flight and descended, landing gently in front of the cavern. He reduced the fire in his mouth so the flames barely licked at his lips. It would serve as an excellent torch. Slowly, he crossed the threshold. The space was tight, so his wings were flat against his back.
Eventually it opened enough that he had to increase the light with another determined breath. That revealed the inhabitants. There were a hundred of them, all huddled in the corner and touching each other’s shoulders with stubby gray fingers. They lifted their hooded heads and turned his way. Their faces were indistinct, but they lacked snouts like the dragons. They showed no fear, immediately shuffling over to Kal’sah and investigating his impressive body.
“Hello,” he greeted, unsure if they spoke his forked tongue.
“Hello,” one of them squeaked back. The others ran their hands along his muscular limbs and stared in fascination at the fire issuing from his mouth when he spoke. “We’ve been waiting for you. You are a fire-breather?”
“I am a dragon. I’ve come to live in a new free world. Do you live in freedom?”
“Absolute freedom. Freedom you were meant for. You are destined for greatness fire-breather. How long is your fire?”
“How long? As long as my world exists. As long as my line flies the skies, our flame burns.”
“You are perfect,” the small creature said. All the others celebrated and cheered. They asked him to light the whole cave so they could see enough to prepare festivities. He obliged them by creating a fountain of flame. They brought out fine metalwork and drums. They dressed up and danced about around him. Kal’sah thought the costumes ugly, but how were these poor creatures to do any better? They had no light to see their crafts by. They were wary about giving him fresh water, they didn’t want to extinguish him, but he told them it could do no harm. He drank deeply of the vessel they brought. It was wonderful: full of sparkling minerals.
After a while he found his was tired, and they provided him with a cushion to rest his head. Kal’sahgroziir fell asleep. He’d done it. His own world. One full of appreciation no less. Once the water’s effects were permanent and he could not be roused, the creatures went to work. They flipped him over and brought out their knives.
They sliced along his belly, bloodlessly thanks to the effects of the minerals, and extracted his fire. It burned those who held it alive, but they’d been ready for the sacrifice. They walked it, blazing and boiling, out of the cavern and tossed it into their permanently black sky.
All at once their world was illuminated. They had dawn. Glorious pink living dawn. They swept the ashes of those who had sacrificed their lives back into the cave. They would be buried with the reptile their sun had come wrapped in. Kal’sahgroziir had his destiny. He was the light of a whole world, and now that world could truly begin.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by ChazarokSyndartheDragon during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!