SEED: Rojen’s Beginning

He alighted at the edge of the barren plateau, the downdraft of his wings making billowing clouds of dust, and the setting sun glinting off his black scales so it looked like he was drenched in blood. He was well aware of the effect, and had used it to his advantage in the past, although he could have done without those evil connotations today. The other dragons cleared a path for him to the center of the gathering, averting their gazes as he passed. While it would have been an insult to bind him or set a guard over him, they still made it clear he was a criminal to be judged.

He held his head up proudly, his talons clicking on the sun-baked stone as he came to a stop before the most ancient of his kind. He lowered his body so his belly almost touched the warm rock, his head curled down in submission. He waited that way for some time, until the elder chose to acknowledge him.

“Rojensyrahae, Night Shadow, Bane of the Eight Tribes, Bringer of Eternal Darkness… you have defied the will of the council too many times. For this we will punish you.”

He kept his head lowered, hiding the mocking curl of his muzzle.

“Rojensyrahae, you were warned. The humans are not yours to play with. We were cursed once for interfering, we will not suffer a worse fate because of your obsession.”

Against his better judgment, Rojensyrahae raised his head. His nostrils flared and his eyes burned. “A worse fate? What fate is worse, elder? The gods have forsaken us.”

“We still have our lives, young one… and our power.”

Rojensyrahae fairly shook with rage. “So we can languish through life with hope until we are sent into oblivion? Bah! They should have just ended it!”

The elder reared up on his hind legs, extending his wings to their full spread. His voice reverberated from the canyon walls around them, stilling even the black dragon’s complaints. “Enough! It is the will of the council that you be punished!” He dropped his foreclaws back to the earth, shaking the entire plateau. The sound of rocks tumbling down the cliff’s edges echoed around them.

“Since you enjoy human life so much… that will be your punishment.”

The air around the plateau thickened. Rojensyrahae peered up into a swirling ring of smoke. He heard the elder begin to chant and knew what spell he was casting. He had used it many times himself. This variation sounded much more permanent.

With the final word of the spell, the swirling cloud dropped around him, beginning the change. Moments later he stood on the plateau, his bare human feet warmed by the stone. He flexed muscles different from those of his true form. His hair, black as his scales had been, blew in the wind. He was already starting to sweat in the desert heat, and he could feel the sun glaring down on his unprotected skin.

The elder peered down at him with an expression of sorrow. “This is the form you will carry for the next thousand years. Where you go is up to you.”

Rojensyrahae clenched his fists, averting his gaze from his people as they vaulted from the plateau, soaring up on the warm air currents running through the canyon. They whirled in the air above him and he gave in and looked up at a sight he likely wouldn’t see again for some time. They darted through the sky with the grace of birds, even though they were a hundred times larger.

He drew in a deep breath and screamed a string of curses at them, knowing full well even if they caught a hint of his voice on the wind they wouldn’t be able to make out the words. When they had all gone he walked to the edge of the plateau and started the long climb down.

SEED: What Can I Call You?

He sat staring into the dying fire, his face calm as the light from the flames flickered across his cheeks. He stared at the fire as if it were an old friend, comforting and more welcome than the food. The girl cleared her throat. He looked up at her, shaking off the dazed expression and raising an eyebrow. “What?”

She fidgeted with her food, turning the half-eaten vegetable in her hands. “I still don’t know your name, nor you mine.”

He grunted and tossed the stick from his last roasted vegetable into the fire. The sparks floated up, but the stick didn’t do much in the way of feeding the blaze. “I don’t care much for human names.”

Her brow furrowed as she stared at him. “You speak as if you weren’t human yourself.”

“I’m not.” He held his hand closer to the fire, feeling the heat flow around his skin.

“Then what are you?”

He glanced over at her, gauging whether it was wise to tell her the truth. In the end it really didn’t matter. She was just a silly human girl, and nobody would believe her anyway. “I’m a dragon.”

She smiled and bent her head, taking a bite of food and chewing slowly. She swallowed and looked at him from beneath her eyelashes. He didn’t look very happy with her reaction. He looked angry. She wiped the smile off her face. “So, do you have a name then?”

He stood and scuffed dirt over the fire, smothering the coals and stamping them out. “Forget it.”

She scrambled to her feet as he started to walk away, grabbing up her bundle of roots and berries and carrying the vegetable she hadn’t finished eating yet. “I have to call you something!”

“Fine,” he called over his shoulder, “your people call me Night Shadow. Or, if you prefer, the dwarves refer to me as the Bane of the Eight Tribes. The elves, fluffy dreamers that they are, credit me as the Bringer of Eternal Darkness. I am known by all these names.”

The girl laughed. “You mean to tell me… you think you’re the terrible black dragon of legend? The one from the stories of my childhood?”

He glared back at her, but didn’t say a word.

“You must have a name. Surely there’s something your family once called you? Maybe something your friends know you as?”

He stopped suddenly and she nearly ran into him. When he turned around, the look on his face chilled her. It reminded her of pain, and rage, and horrible guilt. He stared at her for a moment and the look faded into the annoyed expression she was more familiar with. His voice was little more than a whisper. “My name is Rojensyrahae.”

She swallowed and nodded slightly. “Rojensir- Rojensara-“

He sighed and rolled his eyes, turning and starting to walk again.

She hurried to catch up. “Do you mind if I call you Rojen?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Call me whatever you wish, I don’t care.”

She smiled and stepped up so she was walking nearly beside him. “And my name is Coralyn, but everyone calls me Cora.”

“Good for you.” He avoided her gaze, keeping his eyes on the shadowy trees ahead. The woods were quiet except for the occasional birdcall or tattering squirrel. As he walked, he mentally kicked himself for taking the human along. The death of one more of them wouldn’t have bothered him in the slightest. He didn’t know what had possessed him when he agreed to let her come.