A:N: Yes.. it's been a long time since I updated this story of mine.. it's been... what? Three years. It feels distinctively odd coming back to it, and only by request because frankly, I didn't know anyone else had interest in it.. and looking back on it a lot of the writing is a bit.. inferior to what I would like it to be now.. So my writing style has changed - for the better, I hope... so you'll probably notice some distinct narrative changes, but that'll be a good thing.
This chapter is actually a mix of old and new writing. Mostly old.. but meh, if I continue, the next chapters will likely be entirely new, though still following the outline I'd planned. So yeah.. what else?
Lets see.. I'm eighteen now, and a college freshman intending to get an English Major with emphasis on creative writing since I want to be a novelist still.. and yes, I stll love cats. : )
Heart of the Storm
"It is a time when one's spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the future but a way to death."
The sun rose slowly, haltingly, over the horizon. The rain had gone, with broken tree limbs and scattered pieces of damp foliage the only testament to last night's fury. Even so, Dravidian still remembered it vividly – the images of lightning, rain, and thunder flashing continuously through his mind.
While his three companions slept, he had stayed awake, for the first time in his life unable to find sleep. He tried, but he couldn't – too much was on his mind to let him rest; too many emotions stirring about inside his tired body.
Guilt ... pain … anger…
Dravidian wondered what his father would think of him now, his ruby eyes staring duly into the heart of the golden Dragon's Tear, now clutched in his palm, strung around a vine he had tied and found himself. It had been next to his other one about his neck before, but just wearing it felt, well, too much of a burden. It felt wrong to wear the emblem of another tribe, another prince. Arrogant, almost.
/You won it, little Prince. You murdered the dragon and won his family's crest. It's no different from olden times./
He could now challenge the Storm Dragon throne if he wanted to.
"I didn't mean to kill him…" Dravidian muttered softly in the deepening light. "I didn't."
But that didn't change the fact that Taranis of the Storm Dragons was dead.
"You stayed up the whole night didn't you?"
Cytosine's words had an accusing tone, almost like a mother whose child stayed up later than it was supposed to.
Dravidian paused for a moment looking at the felida guiltily as he continued to travel along the forest path, damp puddles of muddy water scattered about.
"Couldn't sleep," he said, shrugging his shoulders as if to dismiss the whole idea as if it was nothing.
"Don't antagonize yourself over something that's already over with," Silver said, shaking his head. "It's foolish. Don't carry the weight of the dead. He was mad, Dravidian."
"Not mad," interjected Luna from in front of them all, his paw-pace looking like he was prancing. "Not Taranis, no. He was sad, that's all. Definitely not mad."
"I don't mean that kind of mad," Silver snapped. "I meant mad as in crazy."
"He wasn't crazy neither. He was just . . . confused . . . that's all."
Silver snorted as his twin darted around a corner bush and out of sight. "Confused indeed . . ." He sighed. "What I mean to say is what happened, happened, and nothing you can do now will change it –" Silver's fur bristled as a clearly audible splash came from in front of them –" Luna! Didn't I tell you that now wasn't the time to be splashing around in those –"
Luna's black head peeked around the corner of the leafy-green foliage, golden eyes blinking. "I know you did."
"Then for Solana's sake –"
"He's just having a bit of fun, Silver . . . " Cytosine said slowly.
Luna wrinkled his nose. "And I didn't do it either.."
"Then by Solana, who did?"
Luna blinked, as if the answer was the most obvious in the world. "The dragon, who else?"
As if on cue, a yellow blur darted through the brush, its form just smaller than the size of the three felida It skidded to a stop, rearing on its hind legs. Dravidian supposed it was meant to be an intimidating stance. "Prepare yourselves, Outsiders! Make no move! Why are you here? Umm... no, I mean –" the dragon paused, taking a deep breath, making his voice change to a lower tone. "-I mean, why have you dared trespassed on our land? Answer me, Outsiders, for I am –"
Luna, who had been watching the black-striped dragon with a mixture of fascination and curiosity, pounced, bowling the tiny dragon over onto his back. The dragon struggled helplessly, pinned to the hard ground, hissing in annoyance and obvious embarrassment.
"Hey! Hey! What do you think you're doing?"
Luna blinked. "I'm Luna."
The dragon merely growled in response, his long, whip-like tail flicking about erratically. "Get off! Or I'll... I'll..."
Luna looked rather nonplussed, waiting patiently for the young dragon to finish his sentence.
"That's another... Storm Dragon right?" said Darien, looking over at the smaller creature rather uncertainly.
"Yes," said Dravidian. "Just a little one – young."
"Not very intelligent either . . ."
"I am not little!" the voice retorted, filled with annoyance. "I'll show you! You disrespectful Outsiders!"
The Strom Dragon closed his eyes, and Luna's fur at once began to stand on end, and a strange, vibrant energy began to fill the air. Luna yelped in surprise, bottle-brush tail held high, while the rest of his fur bristled and with static energy. Luna didn't seem like he was hurt – rather, he seemed immensely surprised, his golden eyes wide.
"Did you do that?"
The dragon growled, green eyes snapping open. "You're supposed to be quiet! I can't concentrate when you do that."
"Well –" the dragon looked put off at the question. "Because that's how it is… and, well, you're an Outsider! Anybody can see that."
Luna blinked. "I am?"
"Is this your forest?"
"Yes … well, no, I guess not. But – well . . . well . . . you shouldn't be here! I mean, you're trespassing on my father's lands, which will some day be mine . . . "
"You think he's realized he's outnumbered, yet?" Silver said, yawning.
Cytosine shrugged. "Doubt it. Doesn't seem to bother him in any case."
"Then it is yours then," Luna continued from his perch upon the dragon's belly.
"Well, I guess it is but – argh! Just be quiet, how am I supposed to concentrate on doing this right when you Outsiders interrupt me? This is not how it's supposed to happen! You're suppos -"
"Nope!" exclaimed a rather loud, boisterous voice, and Dravidian's head snapped behind him. A much bigger yellow form was barreling towards him at high speed. "This is how you do it, little brother."
The smaller Storm Dragon immediately stopped struggling, he grinned sheepishly, and rolled his eyes. "You're in for it noowww, Outsiders!"
The larger Storm Dragon leaped upwards, yelling aloud, accompanied by a hearty laugh –
"Whahaha! Watch and learn, little brother. Feel my rage!"
Dravidian didn't even have time to move, as the large Storm Dragon – from as far as Dravidian could tell, a female – dived into him, flattening him into the ground, taking his breath away.
"Now get off my brother, cat-" The she-dragon growled menacingly. "- before I do the same to you."
Luna leapt off the smaller dragon, looking awed. "Hiya. I'm Luna –"
Dravidian coughed, and Silver, regaining whatever composure he could said in a haughty tone of voice: "Well, now that that's settled, could you please get off our companion, dragon? He needs to breathe you know."
The Storm Dragon eyed the four felida for a moment, then, deciding that they obviously weren't much of a threat, moved grudgingly off a Dravidian. "All right – but I wouldn't try anything if I were you."
"Wouldn't . . . dream of it," Dravidian gasped, rising to his legs again.
"Now…as for you…" The younger dragon cringed. "What did I tell you, about confronting creatures that are obviously bigger than you? Well, Barek?"
Barek shrugged. "They were coming in to my – I mean . . . well, you know … our territory, and besides, it's not like you don't do it either, Audra. Father says –"
"I don't care what father says." At this, Audra began to turn, looking at Dravidian with distaste. "Well, what business do you have in the Storm... lands…"
Audra froze, her forest-green eyes wandering over Dravidian's hand, where the Dragon's Tear was held. Her eyes widened.
"W-what are you doing with that Dragon's Tear?"
Barek crept behind his sister on all fours, gazing at Dravidian, too. He was obviously confused, and sensing the strange atmosphere that was beginning to surface, stayed still.
"It's the business of the one who concerns it," Silver growled, "not any of yours."
Audra ignored Silver entirely, an odd eagerness present in her once furious eyes. "Please, whom is the message from? You can tell me. I swear that whatever business that you bring with you will concern me…"
She sounded almost…. royal.
With ever increasing fear and dread, Dravidian couldn't help but wonder if this was the she-dragon whom Taranis had spoke seemingly so fondly about.
/And what if she is, little prince? What will you do then?/
"I'm Prince Dravidian of the Sky Dragons," Dravidian began, his voice stiff and mechanical, Audra was nodding enthusiastically, urging him on. "I've come on behalf of a Storm Dragon Prince named Taranis –"
At the sound of Taranis' name, both the Storm Dragons jerked, and Audra laughed a grin spreading across her features. She raced over to him in obvious excitement, and Dravidian's cold dread increased ten-fold. She looked so eager… so… happy. He didn't want to destroy her happiness.
Right now, she was looking around the clearing, no doubt hoping to catch a glimpse of a dragon who would never come.
"Taranis? Taranis is here? Where is he? Please, you can tell me! I'm his sister! Please, it's been so long –"
… He could lie. He could lie and pretend that everything was all right.
"Taranis' here?" said Barek, following in his sister's earnest footsteps. "But Father–"
"I told you: I don't care what Father says," said Audra impatiently, turning to Dravidian once more. "Please, in Sol's name tell me where he is."
But then again…
"You . . . can't see him."
… where would lying get him?
"Why not?" Audra questioned, none of her exuberance lost.
Dravidian paw clutched the Dragon's Tear even tigher, as if everything would go away if he did. "Because … because he's dead."
Audra's smile slowly faded into a darkened frown. "You're lying."
"He's not lying," Cytosine looked away. "I'm sorry, but your brother's gone."
"He's free now," commented Luna absently, but no one seemed to hear.
"You're wrong!" Audra yelled, voice rising in volume. "He can't die."
"I'm not lying," Dravidian reiterated, approaching her slowly, opening up his paw where the Dragon's Tear rested, glittering in the sunlight. "He's dead. I…" The words caught in his throat and they burned like poison. "I killed him myself. I'm sorry, he asked me to give you thi –"
Audra snatched the Dragon's Tear roughly from his paw, a lethal grow rising from deep within her chest. "He would not lose a fight to one such as you! He's stronger than anyone; he would've killed you! You lie!"
She lunged toward him again, but Dravidian managed to move to the side. She skidded into the leafy vegetation, halting and glaring at him with anger-filled eyes.
"If you'll only let me explain!"
"You're words mean nothing! You lie! You lie! YOU LIE!" She made no move to lunge at him again and her eyes lost their furious glow, replaced by the shimmering light of tears threatening to fall. "You lie . . ."
"Audra, the storm last night …" Barek said slowly, now on the right side of his sister, his green eyes looking up at her with worry. "I think he's telling the truth."
"He was confused and sad," said Luna suddenly from the gloom. "He was unhappy. He wanted to be free, but he couldn't."
Luna's words seemed to strike a chord within the she-dragon. Her emerald eyes lowered, and she stared at the ground. "He never lost – he was stronger than anyone. He – he promised to come back once he had . . ."
/Look at the grief! All because of you. Murderer! Murderer!/
"I'm sorry. I . . ."
Dravidian's paw reached out to console the Storm Dragon, but she snapped at him with her jaws. Her eyes finally seemed to accept what he had said, yet he could see that part of her did not – could not – accept his words. And the tears she had been holding in fell.
"You're making her cry! Stop it! Stop it, Outsider!" Barek yelled, moving protectively in front of Audra. His tail was twitching and sparks were dancing over his golden scales. "She never cries, and you're making her cry! Go away!"
"If you'll only wait," said Darien. "Just let him explain."
Audra was shaking her head, and with burst of speed unexpected for one of her build, she spun around and fled, bolting at full speed through the brush, crackles of electricity following in her wake. Barek, with a confused glance, darted after her.