Written by: Cherise McDunnough & Vanatosis Arentire
Images by: Filipa Thespian
You have searched a long time for this, the next tome in the history of the dragons, Vanthorin and Nerudiamethis. Finally, you find these delicate, aged parchment pages. At long last, you think to yourself, as you carefully begin to read through this crumbling legacy of the Lifegiver and his sister…
The mithral dragon Shezebeverdin watches from afar as Nerudiaceruthin’s egg hatches. His metallic toned snout breaks into the draconic equivalent of a twisted grin as the hatchling slowly emerges. “Yes, a female – perfect!” he exclaims under his smoldering breath, making note of her immature, yet incontestable features. This neonate’s scales are green in tone, like her mother, but with very subtle differences in coloration. Also already noticeable is her absence of fins … where they should be instead are horns, which will one day grow to be very much like his own. His grin widens into a full smile. He is very pleased indeed as his heritage is manifesting itself immediately in his offspring. A good sign. The true test will be her mannerisms, and that would take time to develop.
Nerudiaceruthin’s cave echoed with Shezebaverdin’s malevolent laughter … his task, for now, is complete. “Let the experiment begin,” he muses, betraying more than just a hint of hope in his tone. Surprised by it, Shezebaverdin is taken aback. Hope is not a virtue embraced by his kind. A dragon must project confidence and power – hope implies a loss of control. Shezabaverin rationalized this momentary lapse by reminding himself that he has expended a great deal of time and energy searching for just the right female of the species. Yes, he will keep an eye on the newly hatched hybrid, and guide her development because there is a certain other dragon he wants her to meet one day … when she is ready. Shezebeverdin then allowed his mind to settle momentarily upon thoughts of his first spawn – a true gift, and if all went well, it would be his to control … in time. And of course, if the experiment failed, he would simply destroy it and start anew. Not the greatest loss – for a dragon – as a few hundred years is only a minor setback in time.
With a flap of his leathery taut wings, he departs for his next destination, leaving his green-hued offspring to be reared by her mother, Nerudiaceruthin, and schooled in the ways of her green heritage: manipulation, deceit and guile. His plan hinges on the potency of her persuasive powers.
Shezebeverdin doesn’t venture very far though. He wants to check on the progress of his other child, as it has been 50 years since last he saw him. He comes upon the den of Daskthurirl and Vanthorin, also metallic colored mithral dragons, as they sleep. Daskthurirl, being the ever vigilant mother, smells his foul scent and awakes, letting out a low warning growl.
The subsequent meeting between Shezebeverdin and Daskthurirl would be incomprehensible to human ears. Draconic is an ancient, arcane tongue known to only a handful outside the dragon species. It is replete with husky syllables and growling sounds, however belying its harsh intonations is a formality, an almost etiquette which requires the use of certain honorifics and verbal rites acknowledging rank and position. A code of ritual and ceremony that is used except in times of severe duress and that would put to shame the ritual and pomp of even the most polished royal courts. The essence of Shezebeverdin and Daskthurirl’s conversation however in the tongue of man would boil down to the following exchange:
“What business have you here?” Daskthurirl demands as she warily eyes Shezebeverdin entering her den. Receiving no immediate response, she employs her sight to peer beyond his stone-cold demeanor, then adds, “Your heart has blackened further. You no longer are the one I took as my mate.”
Shezebeverdin’s eyes reflect sorrow at her words for just a moment; he remembers that this, his darkness, was not his choice, but he cannot – nor will not – stop its progression now. The evil had taken him completely – his soul is thoroughly corrupted. In a stern tone, meant to admonish Daskthurirl for her impertinence, he replies, “I simply wish to know of the welfare of my offspring. I trust you are training him well?”
“Aye, I have been, with no thanks to you. He has taken your absence in stride, perhaps because I told him you left to fight a great war … trying to save a bit of dignity for him. If he saw you like this …”
“Nevermind my involvement with him, Daskthurirl, it is best I observe him from afar. I would hold your tongue as well – my business is my own. I choose what I wish to do.”
“Oh do you now?” she snaps. “You chose to be this heartless, evil beast you have become? I thought that was the product of an overanxious drow. Or did you really wish to do this to yourself?”
Shezebeverdin ‘s eyes smolder with rage. “You have no place to speak to me this way. I say again: hold your tongue, lest I rip it from its cavity. Now, speak to me only of what I ask. What of his abilities? Is he the Lifegiver?”
Daskthurirl’s eyes narrow, but she knows Shezebeverdin does not make idles threats, and she relents. She nods, saying nothing.
“Has he been trained in its use yet?”
Daskthurirl pivots her head on her slender scaled serpentine neck side-to-side signifying a no, then explains, “He is still too young to understand; he will learn in time.”
“That he will. I will make sure he does.” Shezebeverdin replies as he turns to leave the cave. “Take care of him, Daskthurirl. I will have need of him someday.”
Daskthurirl murmurs under her breath as she watches him vacate her den, “Over my dead body …”
Shezebeverdin chuckles eerily thinking to himself how true those words will ring.
Over the next 400 years, Shezebeverdin leaves his spawn to their own devices while monitoring them from afar. Pleased with the progress in his female offspring, Neru, as she came to be named, he watched her draconic powers develop, especially those associated with green dragons. Yes, as he surmised, her mother instilled in her exactly those traits: deception and manipulation. Yes, Shezebeverdin was quite pleased indeed, and knew now is the time to bring his nefarious plan into fruition.
Invoking the prescribed incantation he whispers to Nerudiaceruthin’s subconscious from afar, exerting control over her Higher Self with the power of his knowledge of her true name. He simply commands, “Tell her of me, Nerudiaceruthin.” Only dimly aware of his dominion over her, she, of course, complies, powerless to resist her enslavement by use of her true name. All of the lessons of purism, and the importance of being pure blood she had taught Neru over the centuries, would now come back on her.
Neru is stunned by this revelation – the truth about her father and her true heritage. She explodes at Nerudiaceruthin, “After all you preached to me about the superiority of the green dragons and the importance of purity, you now inform me I am not pure?!” The basis upon which her core beliefs and identity are built is now comprised. “How could you have indoctrinated me into these beliefs when you knew I was not pure? How could you have mated with him, you hypocrite!?”
“It was not my choice, replies Nerudiaceruthin in a cold, detached tone. “He is very powerful, Neru. It was magnetic, something I couldn’t seem to avoid. I couldn’t stop him. That one day, he’d commanded it of me, in such a way I felt helpless to deny him and thus, you came into being.”
Furious, Neru turns and departs the cave with an agitated flick of her tail, taking flight the moment her magnificent form is free from the constrictions of the cave walls. Blinded by rage, she flies for hours, and then days, seething with anger and betrayal – pushing past all her limits – powered only by an intense hatred towards her mother, Nerudiaceruthin, compounded by a deep new-found self-loathing. All the lessons she had been taught about purity and true blood, races through her mind. She will be an outcast if those of her kind discover her true origin. That fear of discovery ignites the charges of adrenaline pumping through her large scaled body pushing her faster. Finally Neru can fly no more and collapses into a woodland clearing. She made a decision then to hide this fact from the world. She would be a green, and nothing more. After long hours pondering her future in that distant clearing, she gathers herself and returns to her cave. Over the next few years Neru’s hate for her mother only intensifies. She still loved her down deep but this betrayal would be something not easily rectified…