Sign In

Close
Forgot your password? No account yet?

Naya's Tale by Doran Eirok

Naya's Tale

Naya’s Tale

By Doran Eirok

June 22-23, 2010

I.

It took a lot of work for her to remember that there had been anything before the pain. But when she really tried one day, she found that the first thing she could remember was a beautiful dragoness leaning over her and smiling, bright green eyes full of warmth and love, telling her she was beautiful.

Mother. Eteryssia.

There was another too. A black muzzle joined the deep red one of her mother, and his eyes too were full of the same love and pride. His eyes seemed to glow when he smiled and told her she was clever and wonderful.

Father. Gailyn.

Naya was so young then. It was hard to remember back that far. Some of it was the distance of time; most of it was the memory between then and now. The bad memory. The pain. Back in the time of these earliest memories, where all was warmth and love and safety, she had something wonderful once, something perfect. The kind of perfect that most people of any species or culture are likely to spend their entire life trying to gain. As parents, Eteryssia and Gailyn had done everything right. The love they had shared was deep and true, not the mythical storybook kind of love that young girls dream of but an even more extraordinary real-world kind of love. The kind where disagreements did happen from time to time, where sometimes for brief moments they would make each other feel miserable, but before any of those bad feelings could settle in the love would always win out and they would move on past the problems together, the stronger for having once more reaffirmed their devotion to one another.

At least that's the way Naya believed it was with them, based on what little she could remember of that distant time. And reaffirmed years later when she finally discovered that kind of love for herself and at last understood its nature.

Eteryssia and Gailyn had been wonderful. The perfect parents, with only their private and solitary nature as the one thing that could possibly be considered a fault. They had chosen to live far from their kin, choosing a small and comfortable lair in the mountains, wishing to raise their daughter in peace away from the distraction of other dragons. They did not deserve the fate that befell them. Naya did not deserve it.

But be it fate or chance, account is not always given for what is deserved. Unspeakable things sometimes happen to the most admirable of people, and if there is any reason for it, it is for wiser beings to discern.

Naya never learned what really happened to them that day. It began as many others had; on a cool, clear autumn morning, Eteryssia and Gailyn woke, nuzzled and embraced Naya and reaffirmed how much they loved her and each other, and set off to hunt for the family's meal.

Gailyn returned. Eteryssia did not.

Many years later, with reflection and a clearer head, Naya would correct herself. Gailyn did not return that day either.

What came back had her father's body but nothing else of him. Where his golden eyes had once been gentle and warm, they were now empty and crazed. The love and cleverness had been replaced by a look of constant, muted terror and hysteria. The warm voice that had told her she was clever and wonderful was gone too; he never really spoke after that, only growled and grunted and often woke out of his sleep howling in terror and rage.

Naya often wondered as she grew if she would some day come to understand what had really happened, what could turn such a perfect father into this. But age and experience never brought any understanding of this. There was no understanding, only wrongness. A horrific absurdity, that her father should be replaced by this monstrous thing that hurt her so. The day everything changed. The day that that bright, warm, safe and distant beginning of her life, at the very edge of her memory, vanished forever. The day the pain started.

The pain went on for some number of years. Maybe three. Maybe ten. Naya could never be sure. She existed only by withdrawing deep into herself, trying to hide from it all, the memory blurring everything together. There was pain, terrible pain, everywhere and every day. There was fear, terror. There was the utter confusion, the complete lack of understanding why this was happening to her, what she had done wrong. And most of all there was the helplessness. The understanding that there was nothing she could do, she had utterly no control over her life, and she was completely at the mercy of another being and as long as that was so there would be only pain and horror.

There was nowhere for her to go, if the thought of leaving her father had ever even occurred to her as an option. The lair her parents had chosen was far from any other habitation, so Naya was alone with the insane black dragon that had once been her father. When she tried to communicate with him or understand why he did what he did, all she could ever discern was that he seemed entirely and wholly consumed and driven by a terror so desperate and so primal that there was room for nothing else left in his being. This terror was all he had left, and he acted on it alone, lashing out at Naya when he was awake, as she was the only other thing there, and lashing out at nothing when he was asleep. She knew nothing but pain and fear and helplessness, and she survived only off the forgotten and discarded scraps of the crazed dragon's meals. But he was her father and she would not leave him.

II.

Some years later, everything changed again. Deep within a mountain winter night as the wind howled through the canyons and barely-surviving trees, what remained of Gailyn did something different. Usually the terror that guided his actions manifested in varied violent acts upon Naya, when she wasn't lucky enough for it to simply leave him huddled in a corner of the cavern alternately sobbing, laughing, or sleeping fitfully. This once however, his terror seemed to act upon him differently, leading him to roar and howl at Naya fearfully as he chased her right out of the small cavern and into the winter storm. She tried to return but he chased her away again and again, the last time sending her far and high enough that the wind took her and sent her deeper into the mountains. Naya became lost, never having been so far from her home and blinded by the wind and ice, she cried out in despair as she searched for what passed for her home and could not find her way back to it.

The storm battered her and the winter starved her, until her desperate searching found something other than what she had been seeking. Deep in the night she heard a voice on the wind, echoing off the glacier-carved rock of the land, and it was singing. A beautiful, mournful tune that might have turned most away, but the deep sense of sorrow, loss and agony conveyed in that haunting voice spoke to Naya who knew these feelings well, and she sought its source. The song, she found, echoed out of the tiniest of cracks in a mountainside, nearly covered by an ancient landslide, along with the faintest green glow that still shone like a beacon to her against the deep night. Emaciated and numb from the cold as she was, Naya fit her body through the tiny crack and entered the narrow cave, desperate to find the source of that song that alone seemed to understand what she felt in her heart.

She crawled into the earth, and after a time the narrow passage that had been hewn by the barest movements of the mountain itself gave way to a mighty cavern deep within the rock, all lit by that faint green glow. In place of boulders and stalagmites there were buildings, deliberately carved from the stone inside the mountain and engraved exhaustively with strange symbols and writing. An entire underground city filled the massive cavern, deep under the mountain and by all Naya could determine utterly forgotten by time.

And then there was the song, and its source. In the center of the city was its only inhabitant, otherwise giving every appearance of having been abandoned for perhaps centuries or more. A solitary figure sat in the largest courtyard, a dragon, green and ghostly in appearance, the source of both the glow and the song. His eyes were closed and his head was back, his jaws open as he howled his low, droning chant that was beautiful and heartbreaking to listen to. Entranced by the sound of it, Naya moved through the ruin, her abused wings too tired to take her any farther and forcing her soft black paws to carry her over the broken stones. She came before the green dragon whose body seemed at once less present and more present than it should be in a physical sense, somehow, and continued his song to its conclusion. When his voice fell silent he lowered his head and sighed, sharing the silence with Naya for a time before beginning to speak.

"We were so magnificent once. So proud. So beautiful. So clever. We explored the secrets of the cosmos with our magic and our knowledge, we learned and created so much... but we were so terrified, too. We gazed out upon the rest of the world, our distant brothers and sisters, and we feared for what would become of us if they knew... if someone learned what we knew... if someone began to grasp the kind of power we had created for ourselves. Too much fear. So we locked ourselves away here in our wondrous city beneath the mountain, certain that no one would find us, that no one would discover our secrets that we so jealously and selfishly guarded. Maybe someday we would emerge again.... when what? When we were powerful enough? When our own fears released us from their grip? No... so foolish... fear never lets go. We stayed here, against all sense we sought ever to hide ourselves more effectively, to guard ourselves against what we perceived the outside world to be."

Naya listened in silence. The winter had stolen her voice, and even if she had been in command of it she was still so entranced by the wizened, sorrowful figure before her. The figure continued, eyes still closed and giving no real indication he even knew Naya was there, speaking equally much to himself or as though lecturing to an entire crowd.

"Staying hidden wasn't enough, though... we needed more... what if it failed and we were discovered anyway? We needed a guardian... someone appointed to defend the city if worst came to worst. Someone who could be trusted to do so. Someone who could channel the collective pool of the entire city's magic in its defense if needed. So we formed the linkages between each dragon here... all of our magic, united together, grounded firmly to this city, and channeled through the Guardian... the one they appointed... me..."

Naya fidgeted a little, shivering as she tried to warm herself up, but only distantly feeling her cold and hunger. She was captivated by the Guardian's story.

"We were so clever. So proud. It all worked so perfectly. We were safe from the threat of the outside. Nothing would find us, and if it did, I would protect our city with all our immense magical power at my clawtips. And I did my part... I did not betray their trust, not ever... but it wasn't enough. It never is. Not when the danger comes from the one place you don't guard against. It came from within. We never found out what it was. Some natural disease we overlooked, some side effect of the magic we never foresaw... it hit us so hard and so fast when it finally did hit us. There wasn't time. Not at the slow, studious pace of my people who were unused to acting quickly or in desperation. I watched them die... all of them. Individuals, families... it was merciful for the rest of them, in a way. It ended our city so quickly. There were only days for them to look around and lament the loss of everything we had spent centuries creating and protecting. There wasn't enough time for any of them to really fathom the awful sorrow of so much loss, the end of an entire people. Only I remained."

Naya opened her mouth the tiniest bit. An instinct in the back of her mind, dimly aware that she was at the edge of survival, cold and starving and bleeding and spent, tried to coax her into asking this strange dragon if he had any food. But he kept speaking, and before she could respond to such base concerns she was captivated again by his tale.

"It's the magic... and the nature of my Guardianship. Each citizen that died gave his magic back to the collective pool of the city, the pool that my Guardianship tied me to directly. Each death meant more magic for each remaining dragon. Each death concentrated it more in fewer dragons, especially me. And with that growing concentration of magic channeled through my body, I became less and less a creature of flesh and more and more a creature of magic. So even as the disease took my people, and took my body, it could not take me. Not in the face of such raw magical power that sustained my being against all that is natural. When they all died, I didn't. I couldn't. And since the magic that sustains me, that IS me, is tied so completely to this city... I cannot even leave."

The Guardian gave a soft, rueful chuckle that carried so much pain and loss with it, that again Naya felt a sense of kinship with him. Her pain was a very personal thing, while his was the loss of his entire people... but pain was pain. They had both had everything good in life replaced by horrors, and that was all that mattered.

"I have been alone, Guardian of a dead city, for so, so long now. Not allowed to leave. Not allowed to die. Were my people still here I could pass the Guardianship to another, born of this city and tied to it as I am. But alone there has been only me to carry the magic."

The Guardian opened his eyes, looking right into Naya's.

"Now there is you."

Like so many other things, Naya did not understand. In the next moment the Guardian had moved upon her, holding the back of her neck with one forepaw and her muzzle with the other. The green dragon's eyes were full of desperation and a wild hope. Naya gasped and struggled weakly in his grip but could not break away from it. What she knew next then was a searing pain, like liquid fire flooding into her body through the Guardian's claws. She was distantly aware of her own screaming, but heard the next words of the Guardian all the same.

"I give you the gift of this power. My city is dead. My people are dead. There is nothing left for me to guard. Take the magic that once belonged to this city, take it far away from here. You are not bound to this place as I am. You will still be free, as I have longed to be all these years... and I... I will finally be allowed to die..."

Naya kept screaming as she felt the magic rush into her body, filling every bit of her and merging with her being. It was pain but it was different from the pain she had known for so long; this pain felt pure and bright as it raced through her body and spirit. It felt like the pain of bathing in too much sunlight, rather than being buried in the dark. As the green dragon finished and released her, she collapsed to the ground. Before she completely blacked out she was aware of the Guardian fading from view and from existence, his final words to her spoken through a sob of relief so great she knew she would never truly fathom it.

"Thank you..."

III.

She did not know how long she was asleep for. When she woke she was still in the cavern city and the Guardian was gone. She was alone. That same gentle green glow lit the cavern, but it was very dim now, and in the absence of the green dragon seemed to be coming from her. Turning and inspecting herself she was mostly the same as she had always been; Her body, head and tail were the same deep wine red of her mother, while her wings and legs were the deep black of her father, and all of it soft, leathery hide rather than scales like some others of their kind. Except Naya had gained a new feature now; all down her back and neck were a series of markings, designs that looked to be some manner of writing or runes of the same style as those adorning most of the ruined buildings around her. Her runes glowed with a delicate green light, and it was these alone that now lit the cavern.

Within her she felt something new as well. Deep in the core of her being, interwoven with the very fabric of who she was, a new sense of warmth and power. She teased at it curiously in her mind, wondering at it, and when she did her runes glowed just a little bit brighter. She realized that this must be the magic the Guardian had given to her in order to free himself. For a moment she was frightened, what would she possibly do with such power? How would she ever learn to use it? But as she lay there and toyed with it in her mind, she found that somehow she knew how to work the power. It was such an integral part of her now that all she really needed to do was focus her will on something and, depending on what it was, it would happen.

She began simply enough, making her runes glow brighter to light the cavern a bit more for her. She tried creating a new light source outside of herself and got that to work too, and it felt a little different. Like she’d created something separate from herself using the magic as a tool, rather than simply doing something to her own being. She found that she could project her senses outside of her normal ones to see further into other areas of the empty cavern, even peer outside the mountain. Should could use it to look inwardly as well, rather than just feeling hunger or pain she could really see her injuries and weakness from the inside, and instinct helped give her a feeling for what her body should look like in the absence of her wounds. She moved tentatively and carefully, not wanting to do anything wrong, but realized that with this power and perception she should be able to heal her injuries, both deep and shallow. As she experimented she found it less difficult than she had feared, as the magic and her body seemed to have a tendency of guiding itself toward the most proper and healthy state.

She experimented further. Casting her perception to the exterior of the mountain she found she could sense where life was present, detecting the bears in their dens for the winter, what few birds chose to stay and weather the snows, and the small burrowing rodents that scurried about the high tundra. Focusing on one of these latter creatures and brushing it with her magic, she discovered she could manipulate it as well, especially with its relatively simple mind. As she worked and practiced she was able to summon the creature to her, down into the crack she had found and into the abandoned city. Repeating this process a few times, it gave her a source of food where traditional hunting would have been impossible in her weakened state.

Naya remained hidden away from the winter in the forgotten city for weeks, nursing her body back to health and exploring her new power, coming to understand how it worked and just how powerful she might be. The ease with which she could manipulate the physical world from a distance, perceive things that her normal senses never could, and even summon and kill creatures to be her food was astonishing. Gradually, as she rose out of simply reacting to the world as it happened and began to let herself remember, tentatively and fearfully opening up her mind to the previous years and all that she had endured at the hands of her insane father, she began to realize something.

She was no longer helpless. She didn’t have to be afraid anymore. Now she was the one with the power.

In the eerie green glow of her own magic, in a forgotten city of dragons and magic deep beneath a mountain, Naya discovered anger.

And when she had healed her body and mastered the use of her magic, she emerged from the city and went to find Gailyn.

IV.

The anger that had awakened in her wanted to make him pay for everything he had done. She wanted him to suffer for days before he died, and understand as she had what it truly meant to be helpless. As she was new to her magic and clumsy with it, he only lasted a matter of hours, and years later when Naya reflected on it and recalled the look in his eyes as he died, it was hardly more terrified than the look he’d worn ever since the day he’d come home without Eteryssia. The pain was probably nothing next to whatever he’d endured all those years before, whatever had happened that day, that had truly ended who he was. There wasn’t enough of her father there anymore to really suffer, or even understand what was being done to him or why. If Naya had reflected on this at the time she would have gotten little satisfaction from his death, but it was what her anger had demanded. What her fear had demanded.

In a small mountain cave just out of reach of the clear sunlight of a late winter morning, Naya discovered revenge.

Leaving the ruined body to the lesser creatures of the mountain wilds, she left then, spreading her newly healed wings and venturing out into the rest of the world. She had tasted power and domination. And, having only pain, fear and helplessness to compare it to, she found she preferred it.

V.

For the next few years, Naya wandered aimlessly across the land and made a name for herself as the sort of creature desperate parents used to frighten their children into obedience with. She perfected the use of her magic and practiced it on creatures and travelers she might happen by, always craving the feeling she got when she did so. When she heard someone begging her for mercy, or screaming because of something she had done, or felt them struggling uselessly beneath her paws, it made her feel powerful and in control. She needed that feeling like a drug, because without it she felt small and afraid and helpless again, although it wouldn’t be until later that she understood this.

Many of her victims she discarded, frightened but otherwise more or less unscathed once she had lost interest in them. Some she left changed in some way if they had done something to annoy her, or if they had simply had the misfortune to find her in a particularly foul mood. Some she dispensed a brutal and creative sort of justice to if she witnessed them bullying another, using their size or power to hurt or intimidate. Those times always left her feeling mildly more satisfied and kept the fear from returning for a little bit longer, although not recognizing the irony of it she simply justified the added satisfaction to herself as having taken someone who had dared to think they were powerful and shown them their place.

Some of her victims she killed. After all, what domination was more complete than ending the life of another being? At the time she never bothered to remember or keep track of the various people she terrorized during those years, but later when she forced herself to remember, she would determine that seven people lost their lives under her mercy, for the only purpose of amusing her and fighting off her fears for a time.

During those years she became very practiced with her power, very adept at discerning the fears of others, and very skilled at making enemies. She found no relief from her own fears however deep she tried to bury them, all the horrors she committed being based on that singular goal, her determination to never feel that helpless again. But nothing ever made the fear go away, she could only ever bury it for a time.

VI.

Naya’s emotional wounds were too deep to be healed by time alone, but one chance encounter on an early spring day was enough to begin the process.

She had been on the move for a while now, having fled from more familiar lands where her reputation had grown enough that enemies were on the lookout for her. She was confident in her ability to defeat any challenge with her magic, but all the same preferred encounters to take place on her terms. So she had moved on. In a pine forest spread out over a hilly country, far from any towns or settlements, she came upon an attractive male dragon who took her fancy. Having been on her own for a while, she captured and used the dragon for her pleasures, but in the course of doing so he surprised her with less fear and more tenderness than she was accustomed to. He didn’t protest her treatment of him, but rather seemed eager to share the experience with her, not on a level of base desires but with some deeper connection that nagged at the edge of Naya’s mind and understanding.

They stayed close to each other for a couple days, alternately sharing intimacy with one another and just talking and travelling together. This dragon confused and fascinated Naya. He seemed very easygoing and unfrightened by her power, while at the same time giving no indication that he was waiting for a chance to catch her in a moment of weakness, despite her fears to that effect. It confounded the way she had grown up viewing the world, and the structure of how it fundamentally worked that she had formed in her mind over the years. More than that, being with him gave her flashes of things she hadn’t known for so long, things she had forgotten were a part of the world. Tenderness. Safety. Feelings that seemed curiously familiar, yet distant as though out of a forgotten dream. When she reflected on these feelings, late one night while her companion slept soundly curled against her side, it brought back vague images of looking upward to see a black and a dark red muzzle touching above her, nuzzling and speaking in gentle tones to her and to each other.

Mother. Father.

It was the first time she had really remembered them. Remembered before the pain that taught her the way of the world, before she was made to understand how weakness and strength were all that mattered. These memories troubled her and threatened her understanding of everything. What if there was something else? Something that mattered even more than being powerful? What if there was another way to be safe?

Naya grew afraid. She didn’t know how to deal with this, all that she knew felt like it was crashing down around her.

Deep in the night while her companion slept, she slipped away from him and took to the air, leaving him behind, unable to face him in the morning, unable to face her own fear and confusion.

She did not understand it, not yet, and she had fled from it, but on a bed of soft pine needles, amidst the gentle breezes of a spring night, Naya had discovered love.

VII.

Naya flew far from that place and wandered aimlessly for a time, seeking the reassurance of more familiar feelings. Each time she came upon some being and considered her usual games however, she held back. Something in her mind and heart had changed, and she knew without needing to try that such things would bring no satisfaction. Not even the shallow, ephemeral forgetfulness it once did.

She turned away from inhabited lands then, making her way north and following the snows of winter as they retreated poleward. She needed to be somewhere cold and distant and alone with her thoughts.

She had avoided talking about her past with her temporary companion, but he had seemed to guess a great deal about it all the same. As she flew high above the clouds in the bitter cold air, many of the things he had said came back to her. Things about power and fear that Naya hadn’t thought much of at the time. She had been so much more focused on her own way of seeing things that she hadn’t stopped to really consider his ideas much. He had never pushed her, never openly accused her conception of the world of being wrong, only making gentle suggestions of alternate ways she might consider looking at things. Alone now with only her thoughts and the cold blue sky, she put more thought into it all and began to realize some things about herself that she had always known deep inside, but carefully hidden away from admission.

She was so terrified. All the pain and fear and helplessness she had grown up feeling, that she had then buried away so deep, were still there, just as strong and raw as when they were new. Those horrible feelings had never gone away. Her power had never banished them, only offered her a way to ignore them for a little while. Even that tiny thing had allowed her to carry on this long, where otherwise she might have curled up in some dark hole and given up living altogether, many times since if she’d been forced to face that fear every day. But simply existing from one day to the next wasn’t much.

At last she came to land on a large, low boulder near where an evergreen forest met an expanse of tundra that extended flatly over the horizon, both still mottled with patches of unmelted snow. As her paws touched the stone the final realization hit her. All the times she used her power, all the ways she had tormented and toyed with beings that she came across, innocent or otherwise, had never made her fear go away, only allowed her to ignore it for a little while. But when she had been with that other dragon, for just that short time, the fear had been gone.

Naya laid down on the cool stone to rest after her long flight and gave a small sigh. She felt like a bit of an idiot; she had just finished flying so far over nearly a week trying to get away from that dragon and the strange feelings he had stirred in her. And now that she’d realized something that seemed so plain and obvious now, she wanted nothing more than to turn around and rush right back to him.

Her wings were exhausted though. She had flown hard and needed time to recover. Maybe she would rest for the night there and feed herself, then start back in the morning. She was sure she’d be able to find him again using her magic. She knew the feeling of him and would never forget it. She hoped he wouldn’t be too hurt or angry with her for the way she had just abandoned him. She found it a bit perplexing that, of all the horrors she had committed in her life, at the moment it was that one she regretted the most.

It gave her pause however to consider the other things she had done, as she lay on the rock and began to drift toward sleep. She had frightened people. Hurt others. Even killed some. Not for food, not for any good reason, but only for her own selfishness. A few of them had perhaps deserved it, but most did not, and for the ones that did… she was still doing what she did to escape her own fear. Not for any real sort of justice. But maybe in the future… maybe, she thought, there could be better uses for her power.

She drifted in and out of sleep, her thoughts constantly interrupting her attempts at rest. Sometime around the middle of the night however, her solitude and reflection was broken by the sound of approaching wingbeats and then a roar of triumph and rage.

She had been so caught up in her thoughts that she hadn’t bothered with her usual habit of keeping some ‘tendrils’ of her magical perception outward to watch for anyone else in the area, so the other dragon had come upon her nearly unawares. With a yelp she threw herself to the side, off of the boulder she had been perching on a moment before her attacker collided with it, powerful hindpaws smashing into where she had been an instant before with enough force to crack the boulder in two.

He was larger than her, nearly twice her size, and covered with deep brown scales. His golden eyes burned with anger as he turned to face her. “You’re the one,” he spoke, his voice gravelly, both from the journey and from rage. “Even fleeing this far, I have tracked you down… you’re the one who killed my brother.”

Naya got to her feet and faced him, her ears falling with sorrow. She wasn’t certain she could remember exactly which one he meant, but there had been a young brown dragon who had cowered satisfyingly. It was one of the ones she had found on a very bad day.

She stood upright and relaxed, a brief look of confusion flashing across the brown dragon’s eyes, wondering why she wasn’t in a fighting crouch. It was possible he didn’t even know about her magic, and only knew that it was her who had killed his brother. Either way, she wasn’t prepared to fight.

Naya gave a single nod. “Yes. It was me. I know there’s nothing I can—“

“Then fight me and die!” roared the brown dragon, lunging at her, fueled more by vindictive rage than reason. Naya stood her ground and didn’t move, only closing her eyes as the swipe of his claws raked across her muzzle. The brown froze after his first attack, staring at her in astonishment. She hadn’t even tried to dodge, and now her muzzle bore several deep parallel gashes.

She quivered a little, but bit back the pain and spoke past it. “Listen to me.”

When he roared and came at her again, Naya’s runes flared to life and the brown dragon stopped, frozen and unable to move in the middle of his attack. Naya opened her eyes and looked up into his.

“Listen to me,” she said again. “I am the one who killed your brother. Nothing I can say will change that. Nothing I can do will change what I did then, or can bring him back. No apology I can give you will ever make it okay. But for what little it is worth, you have it. I am sorry.”

She gazed deep into his eyes, trying to let him see how deeply she truly meant it. In return she still saw nothing but rage. She could not blame him.

“I am a monster,” she continued, swallowing a little. “If there were a way I could give my life to bring back your brother, to undo the things I have done, I would. But letting you kill me will not do this. The only purpose it will serve is to satisfy your anger and your need for revenge, but it will not fulfill you and it will not bring back your brother. It won’t bring back any of them. Nothing that you or I can ever do will.”

She sat down, shaking a little, tears welling up in her eyes and mingling with the blood from her wounded muzzle. “Your brother died because I was selfish. So I am going to be selfish once more, and not waste my life feeding your rage. I need to atone. If I can’t undo what I’ve done, I need to do what I can to correct for it and balance it out. It is selfish of me, and perhaps it would be better justice to just offer you my throat and die here in the wild, but I think the world will be better served by what I can do now if I keep my life.” She stood up again, wincing a little at the pain in her muzzle. His claws had dug deep and if she didn’t see to healing it soon it would be trouble. But healing the wound in front of him felt insulting, somehow. So she didn’t.

“I am going to leave now. You will not see me again. I’m sorry that your vengeance will go unsatisfied, and I hope someday you can find some measure of peace all the same. The monster that took your brother’s life… still exists. With luck, not for much longer. But she is for me to end. Not you.”

Gazing into his eyes once more she again expressed her regret, then turned and walked out of his sight before fanning her wings and taking to the night air. She could have easily killed him, or manipulated his memory into forgetting his brother had ever existed, or thinking he had killed her, or any number of other things. But she just left him frozen like that for several hours before he would be allowed to move again, and when he was he would find that his nose would not track her scent, his ears would not hear her sounds. He would remember her words and all that happened, and remember the loss of his brother, but he would never see Naya again. He would have to find his own peace without vengeance and it would not be easy, but such a personal thing was for him to see to. Not Naya.

As Naya flew into the night and slowly healed the gashes across her face, she reminded herself that her new resolution did not make her current actions right or just. She had done horrible things and was only beginning to grasp this. Justice might call for her blood, but she wanted a chance to give the world something better first. For all her power, she could make a difference that might someday make up for the things she’d done with it before. She could not bring back the seven lives she had taken. But perhaps she could save seven more and work from there.

The companion she had left was back the way she had come, to the south and a little east. As she rose above the silvery moonlit clouds, she turned gently until she faced south and a little west. She wanted more than anything to return to him, collapse in his wings and feel that warmth and safety again. To tell him everything about her and see if he could forgive her and help her move on.

But her encounter with the brown dragon had convinced her that that would be selfish. And as much as love called her to do that, it was her fear as well.

She didn’t deserve to feel what he offered her. Not yet. Maybe using her power to help and save people was a manifestation of the same feelings that had driven her so far. Maybe it too was just a way to feel powerful. But if it could be a start toward making up for the things she had done, maybe that wasn’t so bad. And she owed it to herself, to everyone she’d hurt, and especially to him to try and atone before she could come back to him.

Naya flapped her wings once, then settled into a high, smooth current that took her west of south. She would find her dragon and know love again, but not yet. She had work to do.

Naya's Tale

Doran Eirok

9 May 2013 at 06:06:24 MDT

(2010) My character Naya appeared in several drawings before I got around to writing this, and of all the various characters I have created for roleplay or stories she's the one with the most depth and who feels the most 'real' to me apart from my own dragon self. For a while now I've had a history in mind for her, explaining why she is the way she is. This is her story. There is darkness and pain in it, but also love and it ends in hope.

It's a little shy of 7000 words, just over 13 pages long, and the first bit of fiction I've written in quite a long time. I just finally decided it was time that Naya's story be written up in proper short story format, and personally I'm pleased with it.

Listed as mature because of adult themes, but no graphic detail.

Naya is pictured here.

Submission Information

Views:
214
Comments:
0
Favorites:
0
Rating:
General
Category:
Literary / Story