This is a story I wrote with a bunch of people on the messageboards at However, it is not based in the universe of that site's virtual world or in any other pre-existing universe. I invented the world of Draconia and we fleshed it out between us. Therefore, I feel it is safe to classify this as original fiction.

This is a compiled version of the original story, edited for spelling, punctuation and grammar and with all off-topic stuff removed. The only parts I wrote myself are the ones where Elendra is the narrator. The parts narrated by other characters were written by one of the co-authors.

The names of the co-authors and their characters are as follows:

Evora: sugarcrazeddemon
Dria: xXGreenXx
Toran: Gaen
Irion, Iriok and Dragon General: Oriqui
Elondar: Moon River
Chi: Silverotter107
Lynn: .Ember.

Chapter One

Elendra

I woke up to another morning at the Great Academy in Brelhan. Yawning, I got out of bed and made my way over to the shuttered window, flinging it open so that I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face and look out over the cobbled streets of the city. Hardly anyone was about yet; the only person I could see was an old man pushing a handcart to market. All in all, it looked like being another fine day.

Hearing a faint growl behind me, I turned to look at the small dragon that lay on the floor, his wings folded back. "Morning, Veehan!" I said cheerfully, watching as he stood up. Veehan was a pygmy dragon, a smaller version of the huge reptilian beasts which inhabited the land of Draconia. Dragons were everywhere here and our people had harnessed their various elemental powers for many centuries; the sight of one of these fifty-foot monsters was an everyday occurence and we thought nothing of it. Dragons were a fact of life. Veehan himself was a Glacial Dragon, one with ice powers. That was why I was allowed to have him in my room, as were nearly all the Academy students who had pygmy dragons. The only exception was Pyro Dragons, whose flames could be dangerous - indeed, it wasn't unknown for a Pyro Dragon to snort fire in its sleep, with pretty obvious consequences. So they were kept in a special stable which had had Fire Proof spell cast on it.

Anyway, I quickly washed my face in a pitcher of water, then got dressed. As usual, I wore a pair of brown leggings with a short tunic on top, practical clothing that I could easily move in. I'm something of a tomboy really and I've never had time for dresses. I sat down on my bed and pulled on my leather ankle boots, before tying a belt round my waist. It was leather too (the belt, not my waist) and I used it to carry the short sword I used for weaponry.

I was just reaching for my gold bracelet when there was a knock on the door.

"Elendra?" It was one of my friends. "Are you dressed yet?"

"Just about!" I called back, slipping my bracelet over my wrist. This was a very special bracelet, the brilliant gold carved with a mysterious design that I'd never been able to figure out in all the years I'd had it. Sometimes, if I held it up to the light, I could just make out what appeared to be words, unfamiliar words. But what language was it? I'd spent hours in the Library and none of the ancient tomes held any answers.

"Well, hurry up! We've got a class directly after breakfast!"

Fully dressed, I stepped out into the corridor, beckoning Veehan to follow me. All along the row, other students were leaving their rooms (several accompanied by pygmy dragons of various types) and making their way towards the large staircase, filling the room with their chatter. My friend and I joined them. Breakfast passed without incident, aside from the moment when a couple of boys at the table to the right of mine tried to start a food fight, only to get caught by one of the Tutors and threatened with a week of kitchen duty if they caused any more trouble. I had to stuff my hand in my mouth to keep from laughing.

It was while I was heading to the first lesson of the day (Draconian Literature with Tutor Lesriel) that someone stopped me in the corridor. It was Tutor Rohon, one of the most respected people in all Draconia. But what could he want? He was our History Tutor and I did not have that class scheduled for today. Also, I had handed in his latest assignment, a report on the Great Draconian War, two days ago.

"Elendra," he said, looking at me with his kindly blue eyes, "I need to see you at once."

"See me?" I echoed, puzzled. "About what?"

Rohon's only response was to turn and walk away, heading in the direction of the Library. I called after him but then realised that the only way I was going to get any answers was to follow him. So I did, still wondering what was so important that he wanted to see me. Whatever it was, I hoped it wouldn't take long; I was supposed to be in my first class of the day soon . . .

Anyway, when I reached the Library, it turned out that I wasn't the only one whom Rohon wanted to see. Seven other students were seated around the circular table in the centre of the room, all of them looking as puzzled as I felt. We all watched as Rohon took his position at the only vacant space at the table and waited for him to explain why he had called us all here. He cleared his throat and began. "Ahem! I expect you're all wondering why I wanted to see you. Well, I can answer that in one word - Malmon!"

We all gasped. Malmon was an evil sorceror, hungry for power, so much so that he didn't care who he hurt or which of our laws he broke. Lately, there had been rumours that he was breeding dragons for warfare, something which had been forbidden for centuries. "Yes," Rohon continued as if reading my mind. "Malmon is breeding war dragons even as we speak. And I fear he plans to unleash them against us."

"But what can we do to stop them?" asked one of the other girls in the room. I had seen her a few times in the past, but, with over four-hundred students at the Academy, I didn't know everyone by name.

"There is only one thing that can stop Malmon and his dragons." Rohon's tone was grave. "The Dragon Queen."


Evora

I eyed the others in the room. Why were we so darn special? And wasn't the Dragon Queen just a legend anyways?

"Um, sir? Why would you want us? Also, wasn't that just a mere legend?" I asked out of curiosity.

Perhaps more puzzling was why would they call upon a witch? Most people met witches and tried to kill them, not ask them to save people. Either way, though, they apparently needed me and the others in the room. "Also, who the heck are these people?" I asked with growing curiosity. "It would be nice to know who I might be working with." I had so many more questions but chances were he had no time to answer them or even want to. I didn't want to risk my life, but one final question I had to ask. Why, oh why, would they call upon a witch? Maybe the others were black mages. Maybe it was all a trick to get rid of us. Maybe . . .

"One more question, sir. Why would you want me a witch to help?" I asked, ready to maybe lose my life.


Chi

The call to the Library had surprised me. I came down and sat with some other students. When eight were present, they told us the news.

I was shocked. I was sitting here, wearing a grim face. An army of dragons was the worst thing possible. Many poor innocent creatures would be lost.

One girl was asking many questions; one included who everyone was. Funny - I was wondering that, too. I don't have many friends; I think that's because I dress different from most people and they think I'm overly friendly. And I don't usually care what names people have.

I turned my head and smiled. The misdeeds of Malmon were temporarily forgotten as I started to meet everyone. I was eager, for once, to know their names. "Hello. Well, I'm Chi. Nice to meet you. And what shall I call you all?" I asked. Everyone here seemed nice. This should be fun, but something itched the back of my mind. Now, what was it . . .?

Oh, yes - why were we here? "And, I'll also ask this - why are we here and why were we chosen to be told this news?"


Toran

I wasn't paying much attention to what anybody was saying. My mind was a few miles away at the moment, mostly thinking over the answers to the test that I was having in the next period.

I did happen to catch a bit about somebody being a witch, and something about dragon breeding. It didn't concern me too deeply since I felt more pre-occupied with the small ball bearing floating in my hand under the table - and who made the first Gate of Draconia. "Stupid history class!" I thought to myself. I didn't even notice Rohon glaring at me for my most likely very apparent absent-mindedness. I quickly realized it, however, when he next spoke.

"Toran! Pay attention!"

It shocked me a little and I dropped my ball bearing, which clanked and bounced on the floor. I grimaced, grabbed hold of it with my power once again and brought it back up to my hand. "Sorry, sir. I'm just a little pre-occupied with my next class." I smiled lightly and shrugged.

Rohon didn't seem to care much about it. "Your next class won't be mattering very much since you will be leaving immediately." He sighed.

I had to restrain myself from jumping up and hugging him; the history test was most definitely not going to be a shining moment on my academic record. "Well then, I'm happy to go! When do we leave?" I asked excitedly, not wanting to risk them staying and taking the history test anyway. Jutting out my hand behind my chair, I summoned the hammer that accompanied my everywhere. It was in a corner near the door and it flung to my hand in a golden aura. "I'm packed."


Evora

I gave Chi a quick surveying glance as she asked the names of everyone. That would be nice to know since we would have to work together for who knew how long.

"Well, my name is Evora," I replied with a cold voice. I did not want to welcome these people in; it seemed kind of pointless, this whole thing. Well, maybe not - maybe there was a purpose to this.

I then turned my gaze to the man telling us all of this for more information.


Chi

I looked at Evora and nodded as she gave her name. Another testy one . . .

I sighed lightly; she'd have to be more relaxed and willing if we were going to get out of this alive. I looked towards the over-eager boy and laughed inside. I liked him already.

I looked around the room at the others. My insides shuddered as I realized that some of us might not make it out alive. Malmon was a ruthless man and there was no telling what other . . . things we'd meet on this journey.

I continued to look around and my eyes ended on the man in the middle. I paid attention to his words.


Evora

"Now that I got a good enough look at Chi, I might as well examine the others . . ." I thought. "Oh, what's the point?!"

They all just looked normal and there was one guy who wasn't paying attention. Apparently he was a daydreamer and not very attentive. "Oh great! An unobservant person!" It always annoyed me when people were unobservant; it was a pet peeve of mine since I was a small child.

I myself was the opposite. I could get a decent idea of who someone was just by a mere action or saying. One thing I could tell was that Chi seemed pretty friendly, social and open, being the first to introduce herself. I just sat back and waited for the others to talk, hoping to learn some more about them.


Lynn

"I'm Lynn," I said, covering a yawn and scratching my chin.

Not much of this was a surprise to me; in fact, the trees in the courtyard had been saying for months now that Malmon had been - and still was - breeding dragons for war. The idea repulsed me. I thought it was brutally ignorant to regard dragons merely as animals. I mean, many of them are believed to be far more intelligent than humans, definitely not beasts of war.

I had to chuckle at the idea of the Dragon Queen. "How juvenile," I thought to myself. The idea was intriguing, but even the soil didn't remember if the Dragon Queen was myth or not.

"Excuse me," I said turning to the authoritative figure that had brought us all here. "If this is an important mission, why get a bunch of juniors to do something that would challenge even our most advanced scholars and warlocks?" As I said this, I surveyed the group. There was the two girls that had introduced themselves and the young man with the short attention span and captivating gold eyes. Besides those three, there were also three other girls with charming features and dark hair and another young man with brown hair and eyes like I had never seen before. Now that I think about it, we all had quite beautiful eyes, eyes like I have never seen before. But, besides that, I couldn't spot what was so special about them, or even me.


Elondar

Slowly, I lifted my chin and glanced about the room. I had previously crossed my arms, quite irritated I was forced to miss training with my mentor, Illrem. I slowly glanced at everyone, judging the physical appearance of strengths and weaknesses at once. I had seen three of the girls - Dria, Elendra and Irion - before, but had not spoken with any on a friendship basis, only business and a kind hello to Irion and, perhaps but highly doubted, Elendra.

"It appears we all have something different to contribute to the group. Whether it be strength of a specific type of magic or the stealth of a killer, there is something that sets us apart," I said gently, my voice rather heavy when I spoke. At the questioning glances, I stood and addressed myself. "I am Elondar, I'm a mere few months from completion of my training here at the Academy, but it looks as though I will not finish early as planned." I then seated myself.

Rohon nodded with approval, his eyes floating over the others. "Unfortunately, it falls upon your hands and not ours," he said. "I only have but a simple bit of information collected, things I cannot say I base any trust in."

I tapped my finger uneasily on my shoulder. Something about age had a reason Rohon and the other highest magic masters weren't going. A pit in my stomach lurched as I then realized we were leaving, for a long time by his words. Though the other boy seemed rather willing, others were reluctant, including myself. "Wait!" I said. "How far is this journey you speak of? What do we need to pack? And how much of this "information" do you not believe?"


Irion

I kept my gaze down, knowing quite well why he chosen me. The clear questions asked and names given were committed to my memory and a few question rose of my own accord; alas, I refrained from asking.

As none of the others spoke, I closed my eyes and took in a heavy breath. "I am Irion," I said strongly, though I slightly hid my arm under my light brown hooded cloak so none could instantly lay their eyes on my scars. I admired the natural leadership Elondar had, but, then, I feared, it would not be his leadership we would follow. This group was full of independent interlocking gears which, ironically, depended on one another to survive; thus, we would simply have to believe in one another to make such a journey.

The youth of the group was admirable, for it was rare to have something so unique to be chosen for such a mission. Unfortunately, this did not employ confidence nor trust at first words or even first glances. I looked up at Rohon, who returned my stone gaze.

"I have an idea why I sit among you unique magic users, though my purpose lies not with magic but with skill in blade, bow and stealth," I said. "I am able to read any rune of elder's age and am quite fluent in map reading. I know not what the rest of you possess, but it must be of great skill and of dire need. Thus is my question posed: What is it that you offer to the group and what reason is it believed you sit among elites?"

"Indeed, it would be wise to truly know your comrades," Rohon said. His gentle smile swept his face as he pulled out small torn parchment and a few books. "While I am preparing to explain everything to you, please discuss and understand one another, for the fate of your eight lives lies in the hands of the people around you."

At that I glanced to Elendra, who was the last to enter and was now, unconsciously, chosen to be the first to speak.


Elendra

I looked back at Irion, realising that she wanted me to speak, to tell the others about myself. I cleared my throat and began.

"My name's Elendra," I began. "And . . . Well, I was born into a family of farmers in Dresh. That's a small village," I added for the benefit of those who had apparently not heard of the community where I had spent my childhood. "We lived off the land, but I always wanted something more, something I couldn't get from farming; that's why I came here . . ."

I paused at this point, wondering if I should tell the others the whole story, in particular the difficulties I had had with my family in recent years. It had always been my parents' dream to see me married to a nice farmboy like my sisters before me, so my decision to leave Dresh and go to Brelhan was something of a disappointment for them. But I decided that I didn't have to reveal everything about myself.

To change the subject, I decided to give them a demonstration of my special skill, shape-shifting. All Draconians possess some magical ability and mine happened to be the ability to assume the form of another creature (excluding dragons since they were too powerful), my favourite form being birds of prey. I elected to transform into a kestrel. Concentrating hard, I felt my body shrink, my arms turn into wings with mottled brown feathers, my nose and mouth into a hooked beak. Seconds later, I was a kestrel.

Gasps arose from the other people in the room.

"Wow!" cried a girl called Chi.

"So, you're a shape-shifter." That was Irion.

I changed back to my human form and nodded. "Yes, I am," I replied. "But I wonder what your abilities are - they could be useful in this mission." I looked at the other seven students, waiting for one of them to speak.


Evora

I gaped at Elendra's power until she seemed to want us to show her our powers.

"Might as well," I thought. Apparently, there was a reason for them calling me and I shouldn't worry about being executed. "What harm could it do?"

"I know witchcraft," I said. I should probably start with a simple spell so I don't do too much damage. I muttered a few words and, suddenly, a loaf of bread on the table turned into an ugly toad and began hopping around the room and out the window. Then, so no-one would get mad at me, I replaced the bread with another loaf. The bread replacing was a new spell that took a while to learn, but, at times like this, it came in handy.


Dria

I was the most excited about the entire thing. I knew that this was going to be a story of legend and history and I was amazed that I was actually able to take part in it. As I sat in the library with all the others, I could hear the pure curiosity emulating from their voices. They too were excited. Or they were, until Rohon told us everthing.

As I looked around, I focused on Rohon. I slowly closed my eyes and began to enter his mind; I knew there was some bit of information he was withholding. I concentrated hard and, finally, I could see his thoughts. Then I knew why he was so afraid and I began to shiver. "Rohon, what is it you are not telling us?" I asked. "I have seen things in your thoughts that do not comfort me. Tell us everything."

And, with that, he began a story that frightened us all. Even the bravest of our group gasped and cried out. And I knew that, in the end, not all of us would come back home alive.


Chi

I looked at the girl who asked Rohon what he wasn't telling us. It was the question we all knew had a dreadful and sickening answer and it was the question that all of us desired to ask but were too afraid of the response.

I was disappointed not to be able to show my abilities to the group of students and I saw the longing to show off on others' faces, but the answer to our near fate and the key to our futures was what made us forget about it and listen, attentively, quietly, staring breathlessly at the man who called us all here. As the tale unfolded, you could see the discomfort and fear on everyone's faces.