There weren’t always dragons in the valley. Dragons had been extinct for years, and although there used to be dragons roaming the land, the land had been void of them for so long. There weren’t always dragons in the valley, until one cold winters day started to change the world as we know it.
“Genevieve, has your brother returned?” My mother shuffled towards me; concern etched on her face. “It is nearly sundown.”
“I know Mama,” I replied, turning my ice blue eyes towards the horizon. “He only went to gather wood for the fire. I can go find him?”
“Please do. We cannot be out after dark.”
My mother pulled her shawl tightly around her thin shoulders, her curly black hair caught between her neck and the fabric. She hurried back into the cottage, escaping the sharp breeze outside. I frowned as I examined the forest. William should have been back by noon.
I stepped carefully as I made my way through the forest. You never knew what was lurking around a corner. It was dangerous to be in the forest, especially after dark. I figured William would have gone to the Valley, that’s usually where he collected the wood from. It was empty and dark, but there was always plenty of downed trees. I hurried to the edge of the forest, desperate to collect him before the sun set.
A shriek escaped my lips as I emerged from the trees. Large eyes were staring down at me. The creature roared and large wings flapped, the wind knocking me to the ground. I heard a shout and my brothers arms encased me.
“What the hell?” I whispered, clutching onto him.
William carefully drew me to my feet. “It’s a dragon,” he breathed, excitement in his voice. “A dragon.”
“But they’re extinct.”
He shook his head and pointed at the creature. Large scales covered its body, glistening in the setting sun. Its amber eyes pierced through me, studying me. Wings beat in a steady rhythm, keeping it above the ground. It was a dragon.
“How?” I asked. “How is there a dragon here?”
“I don’t know,” replied William. “I got here this morning and it was here. It had injured its wing and I couldn’t leave it.”
“We have to tell the Elders.”
William gripped my arm tightly. “They’ll kill it. They can’t ever know.”
“That’s a crime,” I growled. “We need to tell the Elders of a dragon existing. It’s law.”
“She’s innocent,” replied William. “Please Genevieve! She’s gentle, she doesn’t deserve to die for just existing!”
I glanced at the dragon. A shiver went up my spine as its eyes connected with mine. A dragon was unheard of; they had been hunted to extinction. Its eyes softened as it stared at me, and it slowly lowered itself to the ground. It looked less threatening by the second.
“Fine,” I replied. “I won’t report it, but it can’t stay here. The Elders will find it.”
“Her,” he said. “The dragon is a female.”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “It doesn’t matter William. What are you going to do with it… her?”
“I think she’s lost. There’s others, I’m sure of it. She needs to get back to her own kind.”
“How are you going to do that?”
William pulled a small device from his pocket. “I created this,” he whispered. “I didn’t know I could… but I felt desperate, I had to help her… and then this appeared. It is showing me the way to go, I think it’s where other dragons are.”
My eyes widened. “Magic?” I breathed. “But that’s impossible. Magic has been lost for centuries.”
“Since the dragons disappeared.”
Something clicked in my mind. “You don’t think that the old magic is tied to the presence of dragons, do you?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it was in us the whole time and we never knew to use it? Maybe it is tied to dragons? I don’t know. But I feel it in my heart that we need to protect her.”
I sighed. “Mama is not going to like this.”
“She doesn’t need to know. Telling her will only implicate her. We need to keep her safe, keep her in the dark from it all.”
“What are we supposed to tell her? We’re going on a trip Mama, bye?”
William frowned. “You’re staying with her.”
“No, I’m not. You’re not doing this alone.”
“She needs you, Genevieve. We can’t both go; she needs one of us.”
I knew he was right, but I didn’t want to admit it. “The sun is setting. We need to get home.”
William nodded. He gently patted the dragon’s head. “You can follow us but be quiet. We’ll leave in the morning to find your family.”
The dragon let out a gurgle and gently flew into the air. It was barely visible as it soared the skies above us. We hurried back to the hut. The forest was full of creatures that emerged during the night, it wasn’t safe to be out while it was dark.
I saw a bright orange light as we neared the edge of the forest. It looked almost like flames. I stumbled as I watched it grow brighter and brighter.
“Fire!” yelled William. “Mama!”
We sprinted to the cottage. The Elders were surrounding it, watching the flames as they soared into the sky. The oldest, Theodore, turned towards us as we approached. “This may be an incentive, William,” he hissed.
“Mama!” I shrieked. “Where is she? What have you done?”
He sneered. “She is gone. A simple warning. You will be next unless William gives us the dragon.”
William’s eyes widened. “How did you know?”
Someone shuffled behind Theodore. His son, Arthur, stared us down. “I saw it,” he said. “I heard what you were saying. You were going to hide it from us.”
William twitched. “So, you decided to kill our mother?”
Rage simmered inside me. Our mother was sickly. She did nothing wrong, she was always loyal to the Elders. Always. William placed a hand on my shoulder. “We need to go,” he murmured.
The dragon roared overhead, startling the group. She landed beside William, smoke escaping her mouth. He took a step forward, hand brushing her wings. “She is not dangerous,” he said. “I will protect, especially now that you have killed our mother. We will never hand her over to you.”
Theodore snarled and I cried out as one of the other elders aimed an arrow at my brother. It was fast, too fast to dodge. I saw my brother drop like a rock. There was no way he had survived the hit. I took one step forward, staring at my brothers still body. The dragon roared behind me and I felt something surging within. I twitched and stared at our attackers, rage fuelling me. A scream escaped my lips, something warm exploding from my body as I screamed. My hands squeezed into fists and my eyes shut tightly as I screamed and screamed. I felt the power erupt from within me, a magical presence I never knew I had.
I don’t know how long it had been before I felt a gentle pat on my head. The rage left in an instance, and I slowly opened my eyes. The area around me had been flattened, my brothers body the only thing within reach. I glanced over at the Elders. All except one were on the ground, lifeless. Arthur was staring at me with wide eyes. He took a step backwards and violently shook his head. “Power… Too much power! This will be your end!” he screamed before sprinting away.
I collapsed to the ground, crawling over to William’s body. The dragon had already laid next to him, placing a gentle paw on his chest. I could’ve sworn I saw a tear escape her eyes. I gently dusted his face, my tears splashing on him. They’d taken him from me. All over a dragon. One dragon.
She picked him up in his claw and let out a roar before flying off. I let out a sigh and stared up at the sky as rain started to fall. We were on our own now. I had to continue William’s task. I had to get the dragon back to her own kind and away from those that would harm her. I had to protect her from this world, for my brother.