Story of the Brethren™
From fire we’re born,
from fire we thrive,
from fire we breathe,
by fire we die.
Once, these majestic beasts soared through the heavens at will. Masters of the wind, rain, thunder and lightning. They were favored by Mother Earth and ruled over that domain, but that was before man embraced the coming of the one God and earth magicks began to disappear. Or so legend has it.
Once, dragons numbered in the hundreds of thousands but no hatchling has been born in a thousand years. Their number slowly dwindled.
Once, they were predators now they are prey. With their magic weakening, those that survived the purges knew they had to leave Mother Earth or die. And there was only one place that they could go.
They had to return to the lost land of their beginning. They had to open a gateway to another realm. Earth was merely one of many worlds that exist on parallel plains and those with the knowledge and the power could travel through gateways that connected them. But this was a great risk. No one was sure how to do such a thing or where they would end up if they succeeded. But memory said it could be done and they would try or die. Still, a few others decided to stay. This was home. To remain behind and survive they were willing to forgo their birthright, forever shed their dragon skin, drain what was left of their powers and become fully human. Fewer still simply wanted to die as dragons on this world. They were too old for change. Dragons had roamed these skies for ten thousand years. They could not imagine a sky without dragons in flight. They would not surrender this heritage. They refused to live as anything other than what they are on the planet of their birth.
Before the first of the sun's rays crested the eastern horizon, dragons gathered at their sacred place that was high in a remote, hard to get to, area in the Sperrin Mountains of Erin, an area that few humans had ever seen but every dragon knows. This was the place, a circle of power controlled by a ring of stones that had no name, where the first dragon appeared.
Those who would make the journey in search of the world from whence they began formed a circle around one dragon. The strongest amongst them stood in the center of the stones, his massive twelve foot frame dominating the area. Like the first dragon, he was a Dark Dragon Lord. He was as dark as deepest night, as the first Dragon Lord was remembered to have been. Unlike other dragons, whose scales shimmered with a spectrum of colors, his scaled massive form seemed to absorb light. No color whatsoever reflected off a hide that appeared to be as smooth as silk but was as impregnable as titanium.
His raised great head showed a spiked ridge which ran from the bridge of his nostrils over his head down the length of his body. Green slitted eyes—the only color on him—filled with emerald fire looked around at the dragons gathered just within the circle and outside it. He turned so that he could survey them all. There was no great number.
His father, their leader, was dead, killed by treachery, and his queen dead, avenging him but not before she destroyed the one who killed her mate. Young for a dragon, he was their son and leader now. He was Dark Lord. But there were so few of them left to lead, so many were dead and their magick weak. Which was why he could wait no longer, he was mated last night. Joined to the strongest female amongst them, she was a mate who could call forth his powers.
The Dark Lord turned and looked at the slightly smaller Golden Dragon at his side. The realization of what he had done fractured his heart. And the pain was one he would have to endure for the rest of his life. The Golden Dragon was now his mate for life, but not by choice, not by choice. That was the sacrifice he made for the brethren. She had at least unlocked part of his powers. He hoped it would be enough. He would make sure of it.
Together, those gathered channeled all of their power to him, in the hope of helping him open a gate to the beginning world. It had never been done in the time of any living dragon and dragons were long-lived with boundless memories. There had been no need, but it had been done in the long ago past. It was need that drove them to attempt it now. The memories in their blood, passed down to them from the first ancestors, promised it could be done. The memories were of the first dragons, the forebearers, the ones who came from that other place. A place not of this earth, not of this world.
All dragons carried a homing instinct. On earth it was used as navigation. Now the Dark Lord and his remaining brethren used it as it was meant to be used, to return to their realm of origin. They dug deep within themselves, to that part of their souls that bound them to a past left behind. It was so long ago, that no dragon living remembered this place, yet no living dragon could forget its existence.
It was time to go home. They wanted to go back to their beginnings. Home, to the birthplace of fire, home to the birthplace of the heart of the dragon. They had to return home to survive. The time of dragons on earth was over.
As the sun lay high in the sky, directly above the Dark Dragon Lord appeared a swirling gray cloudy mass. They had done it. They had created a portal. One by one the dragons flew through and disappeared within the gray cloud. The Dark Lord had to maintain the portal; he was the only one strong enough to do so. He had to hold it open till all who wanted to go were through. He would be the last, closing the opening forever behind him. Before he turned to go he sent a mental plea to his brethren who watched from the ridge.
‘Come with us. It is not too late.’
The response was a unanimous no and a wish for a good journey. The Dark Dragon Lord had no choice. Even his great strength could not hold the gate open much longer. ‘Then I wish you speed beyond the wind.’ This was goodbye. With a heavy heart for those left behind, for the life they left behind, he raised his wings and followed his remaining brethren through the gate. A bright flash of silver lightning appeared as he crossed through the gate and the swirling cloud folded in on itself closing the gateway behind him, leaving a faint scent of smoke upon the air.
Those who had chosen to stay behind had little time for regret. It was much too late for that. Even with their combined strength it would not equal that of a Dragon Lord, and rarer still was the Dark Dragon. Only one such had been born in the last two thousand years.
Those who chose to become human shed their dragon skin for the last time. With the sun hovering above the other horizon the day was ending, tomorrow would be a new beginning. They changed as they turned, walking away from the stones on human legs, using the last of their magic to get down the mountain. A few others spread their iridescent wings and took to the heavens, one more time. For a short time, for the last time, there were dragons in the sky until those too were gone.
Gone to die.
Those who chose life joined with humans and never passed down the secret to their offspring of their heritage, of their dragon ancestry.
The dragon blood lay dormant even those with great promise were never taught. These brethren now lived human lives, with human life spans. They had given up their magic. Finally, all who remained to teach their offspring, to show them the way of the dragon passed from this life. And while the blood was passed from generation to generation, weak in some, strong in others, it did not stir. There was no one left to call to it. Dragons became a thing of myth and legend.
The dragon blood waits…it sleeps…
Dragons are known for their patience.
"Oh no! Not again." Maya rolled over and buried her face in her pillow. "Urrgh!"
For the third night in a row she'd had the same dream. Dragons! Well one dragon, a black dragon with emeralds for eyes. For the hundredth time she thought, why did she have to take that tour of the dragon stones? It had sounded so exciting when the hiking guide told her and a few other people about it. It wasn’t on the listed hiking tours of the Sperrin Mountains.
The truth was the hike itself was quite amazing. The stones were magnificent. According to the guide, they were not as tall as Stonehenge, about half the size of those stones but older and all preserved in a perfect circle. But these stones had been polished by the elements until they not only looked like marble, but were just as smooth. The guide didn’t know how they had gotten there or who put them there. He told some local blarney to the group about druids and harvest, most of which Maya had ignored. She was too busy rubbing one of the stones; and she got an electric shock for her efforts. She could have sworn there was an etching of a dragon on it. The guide assured her it was just some dirt, and nothing was carved on the stones. Even if they were called the dragon stones, no one knew why. It’s strange that she had never heard of these standing stones before. But no one had warned her, that, for days after a visit there she'd be having nightmares about a dragon.
Oh why didn't she just go to Paris on her vacation like she'd originally planned? She had no idea what possessed her in the first place to come to Ireland. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was Scottish not Irish and the rest of the family was of African descent. She should have gone to Africa or Scotland. No, she should have gone to Paris. Maybe it wasn't too late. She still had eight days of her vacation left; she could still go to Paris.
That's it! That's what she needed, a change of scenery. All this green, the land of leprechauns, dragons and fairy princesses, was making her daffy. She already had enough problems to deal with. She didn't need any more restless nights because of bad dreams. Her conscious mind had enough going on to keep her awake at night. She didn’t need her sub-conscious interrupting her when she did get to sleep. Feeling better after making up her mind to cut her trip to Ireland short, she went back to sleep.
The shrill ringing of her telephone jarred her awake. "This had better be important," she said groggily into the receiver. Funny, she could see emerald eyes in that still place between sleep and wake. She realized someone was speaking but couldn't seem to focus her mind away from those mesmerizing eyes.
"Hello. Who is this? What did you say?"
A voice she hadn't expected to hear for at least another couple of weeks spoke into her ear. "I'm sorry hon, but I missed you so I took a chance."
"Justin? Is that you? I thought we agreed that you would wait for me to call you."
"I know. But I just missed you so much. I couldn't help myself. Do you miss me? I could be on the next plane out."
Maya felt like she was still dreaming. This trip was to give her time to think and to put a little, well alright a lot of distance between herself and Justin. She knew that for the past three years everyone expected her and Justin to get married, the truth was they never really got past the dating friends stage. Their relationship was simply convenient for her. When he finally asked her to marry him she couldn't say yes, she had to face the truth about her feelings for him.
At first she blamed it on the death of her beloved grandmother. She couldn't think about marriage so soon after Nana's death. It had only been six months since she stood by her grandmother’s graveside. The woman who helped raised her. Who meant as much to her as her mother did. She needed to get away by herself for awhile. Take a much needed break from running the marketing firm that her grandmother had started over ten years ago at the age of seventy.
Nana was never one to let a little thing like age slow her down. That took a drunk driver. Before her Nana died, she swam every morning, wore a perfect size six and had no major health problems. But for a harsh quirk of fate or a shortage of angels in heaven Nana would still be alive.
Maya had to forcus her attention back on Justin. "I'm sorry Justin. I didn’t sleep well. And no you can't join me. I'm not sure where I'll be." "What do you mean you're not sure where you'll be?" Justin asked with the slightest hint of desperation in his voice.
"Just what I said. I've had it with the Emerald Isle. As soon as I can get an internet connection I’ll be making arrangements to leave. Don't expect me back home until the tenth."
"What? But where are you going? How will I be able to get in touch with you?"
"I'm sorry Justin. This is just something that I feel I have to do. I need this time for myself. I don’t know who I am anymore."
"You are my future wife, that’s who you are."
"No Justin. I’m not your future anything. I never told you I’d marry you. I need to figure myself out."
"I don't understand you."
The truth was at twenty eight she didn't understand herself. She took pity on Justin, he cared about her, even loved her. She just wasn’t sure that he was in love with her or her with him. Friendship and convenience were no longer enough.
"Listen, if you need me, just send me an e-mail. I have my laptop with me and I'll check in with you after I get settled." Before he could voice any further protest, Maya said goodbye and hung up the phone.
She reminded herself to call her parents after she got up to let them know of her change of plans. If she didn’t, she knew Justin would call them and upset them needlessly. Ever since Nana died everyone had been worried about her. They had been so close. Her parents kept waiting for her to do something rash. Like take this trip alone to Europe. The trip she was supposed to have taken with her grandmother.
"We have no choice. I am sorry Majesties. I have done the scurrying an unprecedented three times and I have confirmation from my sister seers. If the dragon brethren are to survive we must renew the blood. Talon must go back."
"No," the Dark Lord growled at his trusted advisor. Anyone else would have backed down at that sound, but the chief advisor held his ground. "This makes no sense. I will not have it. I will not accept this."
The Lady Sierran placed a golden claw on her mate’s dark scaled shoulder.
"Draakar we have no choice. Valour speaks true and you know this."
Three dragons stood in the open arena that was the heart of the palace, surrounded by the sacred circle of standing stones. This was a circle of power. The runes cast within, were cast true.
Draakar, the Dark Dragon Lord spread his wings, a wingspan as long as a six foot man and so thick and dark they appeared to be black velvet. The air around him vibrated from the draft. He raised his mighty head. With a roar that emerged from the depths of his soul, he bellowed out his rage. Crimson fire stretched towards a purple heaven. There was no one in the land who did not hear the cry of pain and rage that issued from the depths of their Lord's throat, and none who did not share in his pain. Five thousand dragons answered with roars of their own and crimson, green, gold, and blue fires lit the skies.
"I did not open that gate over a thousand years ago to condemn my only son to death," Draakar, the Dark Dragon Lord roared.
A dragon, with scales that glittered golden, stepped within the circle and faced his sire. He was the image of his mother but not as large as his father, the Dark Dragon Lord.
"Sire…Father. I must go. I am ready. I will survive. With your help, I will do what I know I was born to do."
The great dragon looked into eyes of emerald fire that matched his own. "Oh my son, would that it were not so. Do you really understand what is being asked of you?"
"Yes father I do. I must relinquish my birthright; but only until I return, and I will return. But father by the claw of the First Dragon Lord, I will find my mate. I must. We all know that she is not here. She is one of the Forgotten Ones. One left on earth."
The Lady Sierran rubbed her head against her son’s shoulder. "Ah, Talon. We know that you must go. But it is so hard for us. Your father’s power is waning. The power that sustains our life force here is tied to his and is also weakening. We do not quite understand why. But, you must mate in order for you to come into your full powers and become the Dragon Lord you were meant to be."
"Ah," Valour spoke up. "No majesties, not just mate. He must find his truemate. I am convinced that she is the key to his powers."
Valour left unsaid what they were all thinking. Only with a true mating could Talon hope to produce a Dark Dragon Lord. "We must restore the balance of this world. Too late we have come to understand why this world was abandoned to begin with. The power of a Dark Dragon Lord is required to sustain it. The temperature of this dimension fluctuates between extreme cold and extreme heat. While we can survive in a form of hibernation in extreme cold, we dragons need heat. But there must be a balance because too much heat is also our weakness. "
Talon scoffed, "too much heat means death. From fire we’re born but by fire we die." Some of the old memories were starting to make sense. Akgon was a land of fire and ice, and the temperature throughout the land was changing.
The dragons were weakening along with Draarkar. The periods of extreme temperatures were getting longer and more intense. In time dragons would start dying. They were long-lived, but most of the dragons were old, older than Sierran and Draakar. Old even for dragons. And while dragons had been born in the thousand years since Draarkar opened the gate to Akgon, the home world, they still only numbered a few thousand. Not the hundreds of thousands that they should have been. Talon was one of the last born, at four hundred years he was young for a dragon and he was also one among a small number only willing to mate with their truemates.
Sierran looked at Draakar and then quickly away. Sierran and Draakar did have an inkling why his powers were waning. It was because she was not his truemate. Although they were joined and Talon was their offspring, their mating had been done from necessity.
The only reason they were able to maintain the illusion that they were truemates is because they both had great power. Only Valour knew the truth, he had realized long ago, but no one else knew, not even their son that they were not truemates. Sierran suspected she would now pay the price for forcing Draakar’s hand so many eons ago. But it was still worth it. While they may not have been truemates she did love him and she knew he loved her. Not at first, but he had come to love her and he loved their son.
But she had to face the truth. It was because she was not his truemate that she could not help him sustain his powers, she could only enhance it, and not for much longer. Her life force, her power was being drained fastest of all. But she told Draakar none of those things. She, as always, kept her own counsel.
At first both Sierran and Draakar thought to convince Talon to take one of the stronger females as his mate, a gold or a bronze. It was what his father had done. But Talon would have none of it. He wanted his truemate or he would have none at all. Not even for his people would he sacrifice his mate.
He had always known that she was not of their world. He had simply been waiting for her to be born, for her life force to grow strong enough for him to be able to find her. For a short while now from time to time he could sense her, but only for brief moments. Like a passing caress across his heart whenever he catches just the right wind current.
He needed to be ready when it was time to claim her and it may take time for him to find her. Talon knew he needed to go to Terra now to begin his search for his mate and once he found her they could return to Akgon together. He had no doubt that he would find her and she would come back with him.
Resigned, Draakar turned to his son. He was proud of him. He was willing to do what Draakar had not done so long ago. Draakar had known that once he stepped through the gate on earth he had left his truemate behind. He sacrificed them both. But the Brethren needed him. Unfortunately for the dragons, he realized too late, they would also need her.
"I am not even sure we have enough strength amongst us to reopen the gate," Draakar said.
"I have faith in you father," Talon said. "I will help. All of Akgon will help. And when I cross over I will change."
"Yes," Valour agreed. "You will not be able to hold your dragon form for long on Terra. You will revert to human, but you will still be stronger than most humans and you will have some powers."
"Do you know how much of his dragon powers he will retain?" Talon’s mother asked.
"I’m not sure," Valour replied. "I suspect earth magick has changed, but he should still be able to wield it and once he is joined he will come into his full strength and his mate should be able to help sustain him."
"But will it be enough?" Draakar asked.
"It must be," Talon replied.
"It required thousands of dragons to help me open the portal the first time."
"Yes," Talon said, "but once opened you were able to hold it on your own."
"Just barely," Draakar said.
"But that was to get us all through and then yourself also," Valour said. "This will be easier, the energy output required would be less and there might be others there who maybe able to help Talon reopen the gate."
"But I thought the dragon magick had been purged from Terra?" Sierran said.
"Not really," Valour said. "The dragon bloodline is still there. Talon will have to find a way to tap into it."
"How, Val?" Talon asked.
"Blood will call to blood," Valour replied. "But not all will answer. And not all will be able to be trained. Next to your father, you will be the most powerful dragon ever born and your son has the potential to be even stronger than your father. But any son you have must be born here. If he is born on earth his powers will be lessened."
"What if he has a daughter?" Draakar asked.
"You know Dragon Lords only have sons, Highness."
"But the blood has been changed on earth. The earth magick had been tampered with when the brethren drained theirs into it. What if the change affects the gender of the child? What if he has a female child?"
"The prophesy says the child of the Dragon Lord will be the next Dark Dragon. The prophesy speaks of Talon, he is the heir. Only males can hold the power of a dark dragon, his son will be a Dark Dragon. That is why we are risking opening the gate. Only a Dark Lord can save us and rebalance the magicks of our realm."
"You are right Valour."
"It will take time and the strength and the will of all the brethren to hold the balance until another Dark Lord can come into his own. A mated Talon will allow us that time. He and his truemate would provide the necessary strength."
Draakar’s sigh was long and painful, the knowledge that Valour was right burned in his heart. "I know. Call the dragons to the circle. If I must do this thing I will do it now."
"Majesty, I think all already know your decision. Look."
Valour as usual was correct. Draakar looked to the sky and as far as he could see dragons were in flight headed towards them. He looked over at his mate. While it was true, she was not his truemate, he did love her she had given him his beloved son. Whom he must now send back to Terra. She nodded her head to him to show her support. She didn’t know that he knew what this was going to cost her. He knew she was weakening and opening the gate would sap most of her remaining strength.
He looked at his son. He hoped the love and pride he felt for him shone through his eyes. But still he said the words. "I am proud of you and I love you. This is your time. As it was mine to lead the dragons through the portal, it is your destiny to return. But come back to us. Return to your mother and me."
"Fear not father. I will do what must be done."
Valour stepped from the center of the circle of stones to stand with the other dragons that began to form an even larger circle around their Dark Dragon Lord, his mate and his heir. As one, as many of them had done, so long ago, they channeled the power of the brethren to their Dark Lord who harnessed it and opened the gate for his only son.
A hint of smoke was carried on the air, while above the head of the golden male dragon a swirling gray cloud appeared. Without glancing at his parents, who stood behind him, he spread his wings and in one great sweep of air flew through the cloud.
As blood red tears fell from his eyes, Draakar watched the gray cloud fold in on itself and disappear. He looked down to see the tears solidify and turn to two rubies that lay on the tiles, and his mate Sierran in a crumpled heap at his feet. He bent down and gently lifted her within his great forearms.
"Do not fret mate mine," she said. "I’m not dead yet. I just need to rest."
Draakar flew to one of the more comfortable regions of the realm and set down with his mate beside a waterfall surrounded by pink crystal rocks. He carried her beneath the fall and allowed the healing water to bathe her. Slowly, Sierran’s scales lost their dull sheen and began to glow again, after awhile she was able to stand on her own. But they both knew that it was only a matter of time for her. She would not live to see many more risings.
"For the last time beloved." Sierran changed to her human form. Golden scales shimmered and blurred until a perfectly shaped naked human woman form appeared.
Draakar watched her change and changed too. Where once stood a Dark Dragon there now stood a man. He gathered the woman to him; her golden tresses draped over his arms as he kissed her. It was the kiss of peace.
"I release you," Sierran said. "Your truemate is also one of the forgotten ones, the ones left behind. I know that you have to go too."
"I made my choice long ago," Draakar stated. "I cannot leave you."
"You don’t, it is I who leave you. I am sorry that I was not the one. But she is out there and you must find her. Go to her and watch over our son."
I love you."
"Then you must do this for me, for the brethren and for yourself. You have suffered enough. You have never come into your true strength. With it we would not be in this predicament. I love you. Take me to the air Draakar let me feel the wind on my face."