What was the nature of dragons?
Az Rizla thought idly to herself as she pressed down on the treadle of her loom with a forepaw. She didn’t often think this question; she found philosophy of the sort a bit tired, and she had far too many years to have such things become tired to her. But minds do wander while working the weave.
It was as simple as looking at what dragons do, she mulled. She looked out past her small den in the hill, door-cloth drawn open, at the field outside. There she was watching several of the smaller hatchlings play with each other. An orange-scaled drake and the largest of the recent broods, Ozle she recalled, was currently terrorizing his younger sister, the red-furred Mola, in a play-fight. Az Rizla smiled, if only internally, as their little game played out. Was the nature of dragons shown in hatchlings? Was it to play? Or perhaps to dream?
Her reverie was suddenly interrupted by a small voice below her. “Matria Az! Matria Az!”
She looked down to see another hatchling, this one the green-and-white Clow, daughter of Du Lrya. She took after her mother, an ever curious soul, and would certainly choose to take the Du family name come the naming ritual, Rizla thought to herself before she spoke. “Yes, little one?”
“I wanna hear a story!” Clow said, her small tail thumping against the dirt floor.
These hatchlings warmed Az Rizla’s heart. Not literally, of course, not any more at least… But all the same, such innocence. “It is too early for stories, little one. Your broodmates are still out under the suns.”
“Awww… Pleeease? I don’t wanna be outside. I wanna hear stories.”
“Well…” her foreleg joint creaked as she pressed down on the treadle again. “Since you asked so nicely, dear Clow, I can. All you have to do is get your friends here to listen alongside you.”
The little Clow immediately perked up. “Okay!!” she then scampered off to the others, and Rizla watched as she shouted at the other playing hatchlings.
Negotiations, such as they were, were not initially going well for Clow, Rizla noted. But then Clow smacked Ozle on the head with a forepaw, and Ozle jumped on top of the smaller hatchling, and they tussled, wings and legs fighting to pin the other. Eventually, Clow managed to end on top in an unexpected upset, making the other hatchlings watching cheer. Ozle huffed and squirmed out from under her, before they all began running in Az Rizla’s direction.
“Well hello there, little ones.” she said as they began gathering around her. “I hear you are all in the mood for a story?”
“Clow is! I’m not!” an indignant Ozle said.
“Yet you are here, dear Ozle.”
“Well… Uhh… Yeah…”
“Don’t worry a bit. I have a big and exciting one for you today.”
“Ooooh!” Clow’s eyes went wide. “What is it about? What is it about?”
“Let her tell it!” Mola butted in.
“It is the story of dragons! How we came to be.”
“All dragons!?” Clow gasped. ”That’s a lot of people in one story…”
“Indeed. But before there were dragons, there was the Olden. They were much unlike dragons in many ways. They only walked on two legs. They were small creatures, and lived woefully short lives. They had no Breath, no Aspect. Most of them looked the same, and so they wore clothes, to tell each other apart, not just for keeping out the weather or for carrying things.”
“That’s weird.” Clow said. “No two dragons look the same! You told me that! But these Olden…”
“Yes, Clow. They did have fur of some different colors, white and tan and grey, but that was it. Do you hear that, Mola? They had fur just like you, dear.”
Mola eeped softly, looking on in wonder, but said nothing.
“Now, where was I? … They once made great things called cities, like our dens but so much larger. Despite not being able to form Breath like us, they harnessed the elements in their own ways. They were very crafty things, the Olden. They made great towers of steel, and even fashioned great beasts from the material to protect them, called the Guardians.”
“No Breath?” Ozle objected. “How could they do all that without it? How could they even cook without fire?”
“You may be a Fire dragon, Ozle,” Rizla said, “but there are other ways to make it. The Olden learned of it long ago.”
“I’m better.” As if to prove himself, Ozle puffed forth, a mote of flame leaving his snout before dissipating into smoke. That hatchling was becoming quite a handful after learning his Aspect, Rizla thought, as she began to continue her story.
“I am sure you are, little one. Now, it was not easy being an Olden. They had evil kings, the Alphas, who would force them to toil away for them, instead of for their whole dens. One day, one of these Alphas was so greedy that he wanted all the lands to be his. But the others would not simply give him what he wanted. So he made the Olden fight to the death among one another.”
Clow gasped. “That’s terrible!”
Rizla nodded softly, her neck joint creaking softly. “Indeed. This got worse and worse. They made vast legions of Guardians to fight one another as well. Cities were destroyed, Olden lives lost. But, gods were watching. From the Void high above us, they saw this, and were saddened. So with heavy hearts, the Twelve Gods descended from the Void to stop this pointless fighting.”
“Twelve! Like the number of Aspects!” Mola said softly.
“You’re a bright little one, Mola. Yes. One for each Aspect. They came down, and begged the Olden to stop fighting. But they would not listen. They instead turned and began fighting the gods as well. One would think it foolish, to attack a god, but they had no need for Breath, so what need did they have for the gods, either?”
“The Olden fought until they could fight no more. Their numbers dwindled as the Alpha continued to order them to fight. Eventually, just one Alpha was left, standing before the gods. The gods asked him to yield. He refused.”
“That’s so sad… They’re all gone…” Clow said, drooping her head.
“The gods were sad too. So sad, all twelve of them came together. They wanted to ensure this never happened again. After much deliberation, they decided to create something, where they once only removed. They made the first dragons, the Godborn. And in each one, they infused with Breath, giving each a fraction of their incredible power. They commanded these Godborn that they never fight among each other again, something which we all now try to follow… Well, mostly, at least.”
“So why do we all only have one Aspect?” Ozle said.
“Everyone has all the power of the gods in them, little one. In your case, the God of Fire smiled upon you from the Void a little more than the others. It is like that for all us dragons. We have but one Aspect, lest we become too powerful, like the Olden Alphas.”
“I can’t wait to find out what my Aspect is.” Mola, the youngest of the assembled hatchlings, said.
“So they’re back in the Void?” Clow then asked.
“Indeed. After making us, they ascended back to the Void, leaving us only dragons and the Divine Flesh. And thus, dragons were left to inherit our world of Lucania. We must never forget the gods, and what they did for us.”
“Wow…” Clow was briefly speechless, but that did not last long. “Whose flesh is the Divine Flesh? What happened to the Guardians? How many Godborn-”
“Little Clow, slow yourself!” Az Rizla chuckled. “All that is for another story. Now, this old doll has to get back to her work. You all go play now.”
“Okaaaayyyy…” Clow said, huffing despondently. “Thank you, Matria Az…”
“It was my pleasure, dear. Ah, before you go. Could you fetch me my oils? I’m a bit creaky today.”
Rizla watched the little dragons scamper back outside. Perhaps the nature of dragons was curiosity.
“I bet they were super soft and fluffy! Like a cloud!”
“Nuh uh. Matria Az said they were like me. Silky smooth fur. You’ve never felt a cloud anyways!”
“When I learn how to fly, I’m gonna! I bet they’re soooo soft! Just like an Olden!”
“Noooo! They’re not like that at all!”
Ozle sat on his haunches, his ears flicking in annoyance. Of course the other two went to talking endlessly after the last story. They always did. Come on, he thought, at least tussle over it! Then he could join in and totally win! He thought a second before having a little idea. This would get them to play with him.
“Oh yeah? I’ll find an Olden and tell you how soft they are!” Ozle said, puffing out his neck.
“But Matria Az said they’re all gone! Did you even listen?” Clow bristled.
“I was listening.” he hmphed. “And she never said what happened to the last one. I’m going to find them.”
“Oh yeah? Where are you gonna find them?” Mola said.
“Somewhere nobody has ever looked. Like… The forest at the bottom of the hill!”
“But we’re not supposed to go down there without a grownup.”
“Oh come on, Mola, do you always do what they tell you? There’s adventure there! Who’s with me?”
“... I don’t wanna go. It’s spooky.” Mola huffed.
“... I’m not leaving Mola alone.” Clow said.
Ozle sighed. “You’re no fun. Fine! I’ll do it myself! And I’ll keep the Olden all to myself!” he hmphed confidently. “You’ll see!”
“Yeah right.” Clow stuck her tongue out at Ozle. “Good luck, you’ll need it!”
Ozle let out a small puff of fire before confidently padding downhill, towards the trees in the distance. After only a few seconds of walking away, the two were already back to fighting about the particular qualities of Olden hide. Ozle rolled his eyes. Now, he was less concerned about answering their stupid question and more concerned about his pride. They doubted him! The oldest hatchling in the den! He had begun learning how to shape Breath and everything. But no, they would never believe him…
He decided he would absolutely, totally show them. He held his orange-scaled head up high as the trees came into proper view. They were tall and old, creating a constant state of dusk within their boughs. But with his trusty fire, he could see in the dark, he thought as he took a confident step into their domain.
He had been here before, of course, with some of the grownups, to learn how to hunt for food. The place was alive with many animals, none of which were superior to the mighty dragon. Or so Ozle thought, since he’d never seen anything dangerous in here while accompanied. He treaded in further, leaves crunching underpaw.
The forest sure was noisy today, he noticed. He could hear the rustling of leaves above and the calls of birds around him, and the scutting of other, unseen animals. He thought to himself what could be making those noises as he looked around. Sure, it could be the Olden he was looking for, but what else? He thought back to stories told around night-time fires of large predators, mean beasts of tooth and claw that could fell even a dragon… But he had never actually seen one of these things. They weren’t real. Right?
He had to keep his wits about him. Ozle decided that. He much more nervously now padded deeper, looking around each tree as he passed. If something mean happened upon him, or he got lost, he could just climb a tree with his claws, he reassured himself, to escape danger. He really, really wished he could fly as he peered around more old-growth trees, but that was some time away, if his broodkeeper, Mi Arya, was to believe… If only he had waited until then before embarking on this stupid quest!
He much more quickly inspected around each tree, looking for the Olden, but also for any unseen dangers. Slowly, he realized that the sounds of the forest were growing quieter, the birds halting their song for a second… As if something was near. Was it them…? Or was it something else…? His eyes went wide as he heard some rustling from behind him, and he decided not to give it a chance.
Ozle sprinted as fast as his paws could take him in whatever direction he was facing; he wasn’t so sure any more. He just had to get away! He couldn’t let it get him! He ran and ran, narrowly avoiding many a tree and bush as he made a mad dash anywhere other than here. His earlier plans of climbing up one of the great trunks was completely forgotten, as was any other sense, as he fled in wild terror. His only thoughts were of regret of not following Clow and Mola’s advice…
That is, until he tripped on a thick tree root protruding from the dirt. Then his thoughts were a bit scrambled as he flipped head over claws, tumbling into the forest floor. Suddenly, everything went dark. Everything sounded muffled and quiet. Was this it, he thought? Was he dead? After several agonizing moments, he opened his eyes and let out a small puff of flame to light up his surroundings.
He didn’t look dead, which was good. He was on his back in what looked like a tiny dirt cave, entrance between two roots. Some small animal den, perhaps. As he stared up at the entrance, he saw something briefly look in at him, one of those small fuzzy prey animals he had hunted before, before darting away. So that was what he was so scared of? He scoffed at himself as he twisted his body, getting back on four paws. He was tougher than that, braver! He was the eldest hatchling, and he was going to prove it…
He then peered deeper into the small hole he found himself at the bottom of.
At one end was the top half of a big skull.
Its lifeless sockets peered at him forlornly as he stared back. His eyes went wide as he studied the thing. Did someone die here? Like, actually die, for real? Where were the rest of their bones?
He looked around in the small dirt pocket for more, but stopped when he heard something come from the skull.
It sounded like a voice.
He froze in abject terror. It took him a while before he could even think of something to stammer out in response to the voice. “A- are you an Olden…?”
The voice took terrifying seconds to respond. When it did, it responded weakly, scratchily, hollow-sounding. “I am no Lucin… Nor Guardian… I am but a dragon of Soul…”
Not a Lucin? That must be some old-fashioned term for Olden, he thought. And wasn’t Soul one of the twelve Aspects? Something felt really, really wrong, regardless. Skulls shouldn’t be talking to him.
“But… But you’re… You’re not…” was all Ozle could make come out of his maw.
“Please, hatchling… Come closer…”
Nope. Noooope. Nopenopenope. He was out of here. He let out an undignified little scream and jumped up towards the entrance of the den as fast as he could, scrambling out and immediately up the nearest tree he could find. He was relieved that this skull didn’t somehow follow him as he dashed up to the top boughs, so he could find his way and get home immediately. That was enough adventure for one day!
Az Rizla inspected the latest cloth she had made, nodding in approval. She had a few plans on what to sew it into, but nothing definite yet. The nice thing about her state was that she knew she always had the time to deliberate on such things, she thought. Perhaps she would take a walk around the den before deciding. Perhaps see if any other dragons needed anything.
She looked up from her craft as she heard tiny pawsteps rushing towards her. Ah, another little one… She was surprised to see that it was none other than Ozle bounding towards her. The hatchling was fiercely independent and stubborn, so if he was coming to her, something must truly be going on. Her attention was immediately upon him.
“Phew… Matria Az!” Ozle said, obviously quite out of breath.
“What is it, little one?” Az Rizla couldn’t quite mask the concern from her voice.
“What are Soul dragons like?”
She tilted her head slightly. “Now what has you curious about such things?”
“Nothing… Just curious…” he was lying, she could tell. Still, nothing to do about it but wait until he fessed up.
“Well, if you want to know… Every dragon has a soul. You, your sister, your broodkeeper… Why, even me. They’re very special, and what makes you, you!”
“So we’re all Soul dragons?”
“No, dear. We all have souls, but only Soul dragons can shape Breath to see them and work with them. That’s the power of the Aspect.”
“Work with them…?”
“Yes. Many Soul dragons learn to read minds, for example. They can know what you’re thinking. They can even change what you’re thinking, if they want to.”
“I like my thoughts! That doesn’t sound very nice.” he thumped his tail on the ground aggressively.
“Indeed. There are tales of Soul dragons manipulating others for their own gain. You have to be careful around most Soul dragons! That includes me, dear. I’m a Soul dragon, as luck would have it.”
The small orange hatchling froze, eyes suddenly wide in terror. “You can… You can read my thoughts…?”
“No, dear. You have nothing to worry about. The same Aspect can manifest in different ways for different dragons, and I was never any good at soulreading.” she chuckled softly. “I’m much better at soulbinding, myself.”
Ozle soon relaxed, but still looked a bit nervous. “What’s that?”
“It is moving the soul from place to place. Now, moving a soul without their permission is one of the worst things you can do, but in the right hands, such power can be very important. It can save lives.”
“Well.” she sighed. This was a bit of a heavy topic to explain to an innocent little thing like Ozle. “When a dragon is dying, and you can’t save them any other way, for example if there is no Blood dragon present… Sometimes, you have to-”
She was stopped by the bassy tones of the large bell at the top of the other hill, ringing slowly and rhythmically. Ah, it was that time again.
“Dinner time!” Ozle shouted, perking up immediately. “Sorry, Matria Az. I gotta go!”
She chuckled. It was prodigious timing for her, at the very least. “We will continue some other time. Go, little one, eat your fill.”
She watched as Ozle bounded away towards the other hill. It was definitely in the nature of dragons to enjoy the little things in life, like food. She wished Ozle well.
Ozle was horribly conflicted for the longest while. Even after he slept on it, he couldn’t figure out what to do. Should he tell Matria Az, or another grownup, about the weird skull? Should he simply never speak of this to anyone again, leaving the terrifying Soul dragon to its fate? Or should he go back and get answers…
All the teasing and ribbing from Clow and Mola didn’t help him, either. The second he came back without an Olden, they laughed at him.
“Toooold you so!” Clow had said.
“Guess the mighty Fire dragon isn’t so mighty now!” Mola had chimed in.
He never thought up a good retort, mostly keeping quiet. He couldn’t tell them about the skull in the forest, or they might taddle on him… This secret felt like a leaden weight on his shoulders, keeping him drooping. The worst part was the other hatchlings didn’t even notice, or so he thought. They just kept playing with each other.
He considered his options further as he sat near the rounded rise that led to Matria Az’s den. He couldn’t tell anyone about it, that was for sure. As a part of spilling the beans, the others would find out that he had been out and about without their permission. He didn’t want to get in trouble! But just leaving the thing there felt… Dangerous. What if someone else came across it? He didn’t like the thought of that either.
He slowly came to realize that there was only one thing to be done. He would have to be brave and deal with the strange forest presence himself. The dawning realization of this didn’t make him feel any more brave, though; in fact, he couldn’t stop himself from shaking a little from the thought.
He had to do this, though. He was gonna be a hero. So then he raised his head up high and tucked in his paws to keep himself from trembling, and looked around to see if anyone was paying attention to him at the moment. It didn’t seem like it… Matria Az was tucked in her den and the other hatchlings were yelling at each other about something again. So he began silently padding off towards the thick canopy of trees.
Knowing what was in the woods this time made Ozle feel a bit better as he began scanning trees for ones with large above-dirt roots, like the one that he tripped into. Just small prey creatures… And a talking dragon skull. That was it. That was all. He tried very hard to reassure himself as it began to get darker and darker in the forest. The perfect time for all the suns to go into hiding, he whined to himself, as he continued to look around. Luckily, he had his fire, which he used to light his way, as he stalked deeper into the woods.
As it turns out, looking for one single hole in the entire forest was not easy. Ozle learned this the hard way. It felt like silent, creepy forever passed while he was searching. He swallowed down a ball of growing anxiety, as he looked at what he was certain to be the same tree from some time ago… He couldn’t panic again, he told himself, trying hard to suppress a shiver… It was fine, the forest was harmless, he was brave, he had to do this…
He was so busy trying to look forwards and steel himself that he almost didn’t notice as his forepaw met air instead of dirt. He yelped as one leg sank into the ground, now caught in a crevice in the earth. He flailed for a second, trying to get back up, before realizing that he had found it. Here were the roots he tripped over! With a sigh, he hesitantly tucked in his forpaws and dived into the hole he stumbled upon.
This was the one. The small old animal den with the dragon remains sitting there motionless at the end of it. He stared at the skull for a moment, closed his eyes for a second, and re-opened them. Okay. Time to be the good guy.
“I’m- I’m here to stop you.” Ozle croaked out. So much for sounding brave, he thought.
It took an agonizingly long time to hear any sort of response from the skull. But eventually he heard that same strange voice, almost otherworldly as it was quiet.
“For what crimes…”
“For being creepy and manipulating thoughts and removing souls and stuff!” he confidently said. Matria Az said that Soul dragons could do all that evil stuff, so this spooky thing probably was guilty of it.
It took even longer for the skull to respond. “Very well… If this is how it shall be…”
Ozle hesitated. He didn’t expect the Soul dragon to just lay down and take it. He kind of expected an epic battle, where he would have to use his fire and everything, to save the day. Something felt even more wrong about all this all of a sudden. Still, Ozle had a duty, he supposed, and stepped forwards, raising a forepaw, claws out.
“Without Breath… You see my fate… Do what you must…” the skull was seemingly lamenting.
The orange-scaled dragon blinked. Such strange behavior from what was obviously a villian. He came this far, so he supposed he owed himself some answers, at least.
“But all dragons have Breath. That includes you. Even if you’re a… Skull?”
“Child…” The skull whispered. “Flesh absorbs Breath… I forsake mine long ago…”
Ozle suddenly felt bad for this mysterious being. Apparently, they lost their body somehow, and were now almost entirely Breathless. Which, as it seemed, was near total powerlessness. This skull hadn’t moved once since he found it, and could only talk to him in near inaudible whispers. Being stuck in a hole for who knows how long, unable to even move…
“Any… Last requests?” Ozle said softly. It was the least he could do, right?
“Come closer, child… And listen… I have much to share with you… Before my end…”
Ozle nodded softly, suddenly not feeling so keep on ‘stopping’ this being. Was this all they wanted? He sat down next to the skull, tail wrapping around behind it, getting as close as he could to listen to the quiet thing.
“What do you want me to know…?”
“What do you wish to know…”
Ozle suddenly wished Clow was here, to be curious and ask all the good questions. She was good at that. But today he would have to channel her just a bit.
“Tell me about the battle between the Olden- I mean, Lucin, and the gods.”
“You have heard much… I am sure… But few tell the truth…”
“What’s that?” He tilted his head.
The skull spoke now in a whisper so weak and quiet, he could hardly make it out. “That in the war of the Lucin and our gods… The Lucin emerged the victor.”
Ozle was only met with silence.
Uneasiness spread within his chest as the skull continued to be silent. Were they… Dead? Well, double-dead, considering skulls were already dead? Did they just expend their last Breath on him? Before they could share the rest of the story? No, this couldn’t just end here! He nudged the skull with his snout nervously, but nothing happened. He had to do something!
He quelled the rising panic and thought. What would the Matrias and Patrias of his den do? When a dragon was dying, or dead? Didn’t Matria Az say something about that? He racked his brain.
Matria Az was a Soul dragon. She did soulbinding, whatever that was. Perhaps… Just maybe…
He scooped up the skull, letting it rest on his snout. It was a very poor fit, dangling off his small head, but it would let him carry it where he needed to. Ozle had a soul to save. He jumped up out of the hole and immediately sprinted for home.
Az Rizla cut across the fabric with an ivory claw, being careful not to fray the material. Mi Arya was in need of some new flank-pouches for gathering her bits and bobs, she had noticed, and was hoping to surprise her with a new, nicely embroidered one. It was little things like that she enjoyed in her long life. She hummed as she worked, a hymn to the Godborn she had picked up long ago from some traveling performers. The noise she was emitting almost masked the sound of galloping dragon footsteps outside her den.
She looked up from her sewing-bench and peered at the door-cloth. It was closed now, as she liked keeping it in the dark, but that did not stop the approaching dragon from flinging it aside. The small figure was definitely one of the hatchlings, but they were obscured by a large dragon’s skull apparently stuck on their head.
Of all the things she expected silly hatchlings to get stuck on them, it was definitely not one of those. She couldn’t help but gasp slightly at the scene. “Little one, where did you get that? If you have been playing in the tomb, you have to tell me.” She had to put on a stern voice for this, despite her concern. Their broodkeeper would not like this news.
“N… no!” a small voice came out from behind the skull. Ah, it was Ozle. Always the troublemaker.
“Don’t lie to me, Ozle dear…” she approached Ozle briskly.
“Really! I- I need your help! I found this in a hole and it spoke but then it stopped and-”
Az Rizla couldn’t help but tilt her head quizzically. “It talked to you?”
“Yeah… It told me it was a Soul dragon…”
Everything suddenly made sense for her. Well, except for how Ozle found this skull. She would have to interrogate the hatchling later. For now, she could guess why the lone, talking skull stopped. She reached out with a foreleg, concentrating her Breath around the skull, searching for souls around her. She felt Ozle’s, bright and strong, but with him… A faint spark, inhabiting the skull.
“Come with me, dear.” She padded over to the back of her den, where she opened a small wooden cabinet. She pushed aside several bundles of scrap cloth to find a small box, with an even smaller lock. This lock had no key, however. She had enchanted it herself long ago with Soul magic. To unlock it, she focused on the box, bringing to focus specific images in her mind. She winced as she brought into her mind’s eye the image of her old love, now lost to her, Kaj Storos. It still hurt, what happened at the end, but remembering him also brought a fondness to her. This feeling uncoincidentally made the box’s lock open with a soft click. She nuzzled the lid with her snout, opening it.
Inside was a small scrap of golden, stone-like material, glowing very softly with pure Breath. This was her most valuable treasure, economically speaking- a piece of Divine Flesh. Sentimentally speaking, she had something else in her heart. But regardless, she kept this on hand for emergencies. Some dragons pursued this stuff to become stronger, which she thought of as crass. As a Soul dragon of her nature, having a handy source of Breath was necessary, however. Her thoughts were then interrupted by Ozle gasping.
“The Divine Flesh, little one.” she sighed. “Now, please, hold still while I try to help your new friend.”
Az Rizla Took the Divine Flesh in one claw. She could feel the stuff leech into her, filling her body with Breath. She tilted her head downwards and looked at the skull, putting another claw onto it, shifting onto her hindlegs with the soft creak of joints. And then she concentrated on the soul, so deprived of Breath it was about to leave its mortal vessel entirely, and forced the Breath to flow from the Flesh to the skull.
Ozle’s eyes went wide as her claws began to glow softly, she noticed offhandedly as she concentrated on the transference of Breath. The Flesh made it so much easier… She was thankful for the gift of the gods as she channeled. She could feel the spark settle once more in its vessel, which elicited a sigh of relief. Az Rizla lifted her claw from the skull.
For a few long seconds, there was only silence, even the loud Ozle quieted. And then from the skull came a voice, thankfully clear.
“My soul… Once again finds mooring…?”
“You’re alive! Well, uhh.” Ozle stopped and thought. “You’re not gone!”
“You saved me…”
“Yes, with a little help.” Az Rizla interjected. “I have… Many questions for the both of you.”
“I wasn’t doing anything bad! I swear!” Ozle exclaimed.
“The rest of my body destroyed… I had been trapped under root for so long… Your hatchling saved me…” The skull said.
“You are very lucky little Ozle here knew of a fellow lich. I doubt a mere soulreader would have known what to do…” Az Rizla said, sighing softly. She was just glad to help, in all honesty, even if she had no idea where this mysterious visitor had come from.
“... Lich?” Ozle said.
“Yes, little one, liches. Some dragons, like me and your new friend…”
“Ba Lysga.” The skull gave.
“... Ba Lysga, they put their souls in something other than a body, like yours. Ozle dear, did you think some dragons are simply born made out of porcelain?” She tapped her chest with a claw, making a hollow tinking noise. No, she was not born with this body of earth and steel; it was a most precious gift from Kaj Storos, one she would never forget.
“Uh…. Maybe…?” Ozle said, blushing a little.
“You have much to learn, child…” Ba Lysga said slowly.
“Thinking about it, Ba Lysga. I’ve never heard of another Soul dragon living here. You either met your predicament a very long time ago, or you hadn’t made yourself known to us. Are there any threats around here we should be worried of?”
“Ah… The story of my circumstances is a long one… But worry not, you are safe… I ensured so…”
“We have all the time in the world, Lysga dear.”
“I don’t!” Ozle said. “Ba Lysga, do you wanna see the lair? See my friends??” The hatchling was apparently excited to make a new friend, strange old lich or not.
“I would love to, child…” Ba Lysga replied. “I will need your help until I can procure a new body…”
“I had better tell the rest of our most interesting visitor.” Az Rizla said. She wanted to trust this poor Soul dragon, trapped for who knows how long, but she had to be cautious. “Go on, Ozle. I’ll catch up with you. Keep a close eye on Lysga dear for me.”
She closed the box of the Divine Flesh, lock clicking shut on its own avail, and she put it back in hiding. It was funny how dragons needed each other sometimes. Even immortal liches would find themselves in need of help when they ran out of Breath. Living beings like Ozle had the advantage of natural, biological Breath reuptake, but living dragons also often needed one another. Like how one dragon can wear a flank-pouch like the one she was making, but it was made for another dragon to put things in and out of. Curious how inventions like that came to be. It was even perhaps like the warp and weft of fabric; one without the other could never create something as wonderful as a flank-pouch in the first place. Yes, perhaps the nature of dragons was to help one another.
At least she hoped.
In this story, a young dragon, blessed with the Aspect of Fire, finds something he should not have... But what is he to do when things aren't as he expected? Lucania awaits.