Seril woke up and sighed. She was back under her mother's wing, and no longer in the wonderful dream world she had taken the time to enjoy only moments before. Of course, she admitted as she got herself more comfortable by her mother’s warm flank, she always enjoyed being with her family. They cared for her and gave her everything she could need. Just what you would expect from a pair of loving parents…but, as of recently, there seemed to be something missing, and thinking about it would only leave her feeling confused and alone, even when her parents tried to help her. As if they could even understand anymore. She shook the thoughts from her head. No, this was not a time to dwell on depressing matters. Today should be a good day and this was not how to start it.
Seril heard her mother yawn. 'Are you awake already?' She asked, pulling her wing back to look over at her daughter. 'Normally you sleep later than this.'
'Not today it seems.' Seril answered. 'I'm hungry. I'll go and find something to hunt.' At her mother's approving nod, she rose and walked out of the dim cave and into the light of outside.
Being a dragon of about seventeen, Seril was old enough to fly and almost old enough to be able to breathe fire, yet still she was young enough to be called a hatchling by the adults. Her scales were a deep violet and red, envied colors among dragons, though she never could understand why.
She spread her wings and kicked off from the ground, easily steadying herself in the cool morning air as she veered away from the caves and towards the Great Plain at the end of the valley.
Most of the other dragons were already awake, judging by the amount of activity going on. The busiest dragons were quickly traveling from one cave to another, either to deliver supplies for complicated projects or news for hungry ears. Out by the valley basin the fostered hatchlings were grouped together to receive their morning teachings.
The memory of being fostered was still fresh in her mind, for it was not long ago that she too was one of the hatchlings down there. It was horrible being separated from her parents. They said it was for her own good, but still, she hated it, her entire being wanted to refuse to leave, but her parents eventually had to force her out. They had no choice, they said. When she got back, she was thrilled to be with her parents again, but for some reason, it didn't make her nearly as happy as it should have. Thinking about it, that was when that feeling of being alone really started. After that time, she never really felt a connection with either of her parents. It was like they no longer were as important as she used to think, and it troubled her.
No, enough of these thoughts already! She shook them from her head once again as she neared one of many massive groups of cattle, mindlessly grazing and completely unaware of the sudden death that each one of them would eventually have to suffer.
Quickly she scanned the group and chose one of the smaller, younger cows which would serve as just enough to fill her with nothing to waste. Diving down, she dropped onto the selected cow, startling it before its neck snapped quite audibly. Quickly she dug her claws into the flesh and carried it away before any of the others could become fearful and scatter. Stupid creatures. Once she was out of their sight she dropped both herself and her kill to the ground and began to eat.
She always had a habit of thinking about and deciding the quality of her meals. This one was excellent. Being from a young cow, the meat was tender, which she liked. The bones too were soft, which made crushing them much easier, another plus. And the blood finally, the blood had a slightly sweet taste to it, perfect!
Her musings were put on hold when she spotted another dragon bring his own kill nearby to start eating.
Garelin was one of the few other hatchlings her age, and certainly her favorite of the lot. His scales were maroon, not a very popular color. He was slightly smaller than her, a fact that she often teased him with when they played together. He was put into fostering little late however, so he still had a while to go before he could return to his parents once again. Often she would try to provide him with support on the matter, not liking to see him so depressed.
'Good morning.' She thought warmly to him.
He looked up like he had only just realized she was there, though of course he purposely had flown over to eat with her. He was kind to her in that way, and with him there she could begin to forget that sense of being alone. 'Good morning.' He thought back simply.
'How have you been doing?' She asked as though they had not seen eachother for a while, when in fact they thought just the evening before.
'Well, enough. I can't eat this all, do you want to finish it?'
She was amused. 'Are you too small to eat it?'
He growled. 'Hey!'
Seril gave a rumble of draconic laughter. 'Alright, sorry! I'm not hungry though. Thank you for asking.'
There was a pause, and slightly awkward tone crept into Garelin's next thought. 'So, do you want to meet again tonight? I was hoping we could spend a little time together then.' He curled his tail around himself as he thought. He had wanted to ask that for a while, and with it finally out, he was even more nervous than before, now anticipating Seril’s answer.
She blinked, that was not something he usually would have to ask. Normally they would just wait to bump into eachother and start talking then. That always worked in the past, but she liked the idea of planning it first this time. 'That sounds good, I like that.'
Despite her agreeing with him, Garelin's awkwardness remained. 'Well, good, we'll meet again around here.' Before another word could be thought, he kicked off from the ground and started to fly back home to the caves.
Surprised, she quickly took off after him, but one advantage of being a smaller dragon was being far faster in the air, and it wasn't long before he vanished from her sight.
Although she was confused as to why Garelin vanished so quickly, when she returned to her family's cave she was still in a good mood. Her parents were not there, likely gone to work on their studies, so she decided to continue her own.
In one of the corners of the cave, she had a small pile of books, rich with information on everything she wanted to know at the time. Finding one of the larger books, which was more just a collection of studies, she decided what she would read. She picked it up and set it down in front of her, making sure to keep her claws held back as she did so. Paper wasn’t necessarily made for dragons. With that done, she laid herself down on the stone floor and began to read.
Part 29. The Research of E. S. Lerels.
She read. Most other dragons would have found the book to be uninteresting, being mostly composed of the rambling of researchers, but Seril loved it. The subjects of course interested her, things like discovering new alchemical recipes and figuring out the significance of some old artifact, but she most enjoyed reading the parts that had nothing to do with any of that, when the researcher took the time to write about something completely unrelated, usually his own personal life and what goes on in it. She enjoyed getting the small insights into their life, rather than how to create some potion.
This one paper was particularly interesting. Several times, the author diverged from his studies, and went off to write about his feelings for one of his crew-mates. The little notes were so mixed in with the actual research, that it was all included, nothing at all left out. Reading this, her tail wagged with excitement. She was disappointed however, when the study was finished, and what other things the researcher had written were lost, not important for the book.
She sighed sadly when it ended, closing the book and putting it back with the others. She was done reading that for now. She picked out another, smaller book, and began to read that instead.
She read, but no words would appear on the pages for her. Her mind was elsewhere, only she couldn't tell where that was. She tried to think about it, but could only come up with the feeling that this was not where she wanted to be now. She thought about it harder and was met with the mental image of herself with another dragon beside her. She tried to shake the thought from her head and continue reading, but when the book was closed and finished, she couldn't remember a word that was in it, and the picture still persisted in her mind.
Putting that book back as well, she got up and left the cave to see how much of the day had passed. She was happy to see that the sky had started yellow with the evening. Her parents still hadn't returned yet, but they would probably trust that she was safe if she wasn't there. So, taking off, she began to return to the plain.
Garelin was already there waiting for her. She could see his tail twitching with anxiety as she landed in front of him. 'So you came.' He thought as if he expected otherwise.
'Of course. I came since you wanted me to.' She thought back kindly, hoping to ease his nervousness. She didn't like him like this.
What she said certainly did not help. If anything, it only made it worse. ‘Well, do you want to talk a bit?' He asked as though it were an absurd idea.
'Well, there isn't much else to do here, talking is always a fine option.'
His tail twitched. 'Well, umm…' He didn't know where to start.
'The sunset looks nice.' Seril started for him.
He was surprised by that. 'Umm, yeah, it is nice.' He looked back east towards the sun setting. Clouds had formed, adding fluffy pink blobs to the orange sky.
'Do you want to fly with me and see the sunset from the air?' She asked suddenly.
His tail twitched again as he looked back to her again. ’I-I would love that.'
She extended her wings out wide, blocking some of the light. ‘Well, come on, let's go then.' She thought to him, getting ready to take off.
He readied himself by her, not looking away even when they kicked from the ground and into the air.
It took a bit of effort from such a flat surface, but it was well worth it. From five hundred feet or so in the air, the sky was beautiful, a canvas of bright orange, pink and yellow, with dark blue and purple back towards the mountains where night was closer.
'Isn’t this incredible?' Seril asked, looking over to the other dragon as they glided through the still warm evening air.
'Oh, umm, yeah, it really is.' He hadn't actually been looking directly at the sky, and was instead paying his attention to Seril, who looked beautiful in the air, the variety of colors all going together so perfectly.
She flew over to his side. 'Then let's watch it together.' She thought warmly.
They glided around for a long while, slowly going in circles while watching the sun slowly dip below the horizon until the colors had faded into pure black night, letting the moon take its shared place in the sky. Slowly they began to drift back to the ground in silence.
'That was nice.' Seril thought, folding her wings back to her back.
'It was. It was nice being with you to enjoy it.' Garelin agreed, yawning toothily.
'We're both pretty tired. I suppose we could sleep out here for the night. My parents…probably wouldn't mind.' She suggested.
'Yeah, I'm probably allowed to sleep out here too.' In truth, he wasn't allowed outside this late in the first place, much less staying out for the whole night. He would likely be scolded when he returned, but he payed that future no attention.
Seril lowered down, getting as comfortable as she could manage in the grass. And snorted when she saw Garelin do the same a couple meters away. 'Well, I'm going to be cold sleeping alone out here.' She complained.
He blinked and edged over until he was lying by her side. 'Is that better?'
'Much better.' She purred. She laid her head down over his neck softly as she began to fall asleep.
Garelin closed his eyes, prepared to sleep peacefully, but sleep never came to him.
'Well, it looks like a couple hatchlings chose a bad time to spend the night outside…' An unfamiliar voice spawned in his mind.
His eyes shot open. In front of him in the near complete dark, a large orange-scaled dragon stood, looking down at him with fierce eyes. 'Who are you?' he asked.
He could almost see a spark light up in the dragon's eyes. 'My name is the last thing you should worry yourself with, hatchling, but since you asked, it's Thalen, remember it.' With that and a flick of his paw, Garelin found himself unable to move save for breathing.
'What are you doing?!' He demanded to know, luckily he didn't need to move to think.
'Simple.' Thalen thought as he picked up the two dragons effortlessly and placed them between his wings. 'I'm making it easier to bring you with me. It's a long flight ahead and I don't need you struggling.'
'Garelin? What's going on?' Seril asked. Her eyes were stuck closed, and she had no clue what was going on around her.
'I…really don't know…'
Thalen answered for him. 'You're going with me on a little trip to a place where dragons like me live, and dragons like you get to serve dragons like me. It’s quite simple really.’
The two were silent at that.
'What’s wrong? Did I scare you already? Because there's going to be a lot worse when we get there.'
'Oh well, it'll be all the more enjoyable for me to watch.' He took off and blasted the hatchlings with a rush of air that nearly knocked them off the adult dragon’s back.
The two hatchlings waited. The flight seemed to last forever, and while the darkness lasted as they remained still, they had no clue what it was they were flying over. All they knew was that as they went on, the stars and moon began to become blocked out by thick clouds, and the air quickly began to grow chilly. As cold as it was though, fear ran through them even colder. Wherever they were going was slowly drawing closer, and Thalen only confirmed that their fear was not misplaced.
The suspense grew to be near unbearable when it finally ended. ‘We're here…’ Thalen thought finally, beginning to descend.
They could feel his paws settling on the ground, and hear snow crunching under them. Garelin was the only one who saw as Thalen brought them forward into a cave darker than the outside even was. It was not a cave like from their home, being lit, clean and welcoming. This place was pitch black, and when he tried to focus in the dark, Thalen's folded wings were in the way of everything. There was only darkness and a putrid smell that made the dragons hold their breaths while they could.
After a while of walking, a blue glow started to form. Whatever it was from, the hatchlings were unsure. They could hear footsteps, many footsteps, all around them. There were many others living here as well it seemed. There was the noise of crumbling rock echoing around constantly, and every now and then they would hear a pained whine from some poor creature, sometimes a dragon, sometimes something that they couldn't name. They had to strain to hold back the thought of their own cries being added to them.
Finally Thalen stopped again, picking the two hatchlings off of his back. Garelin took the opportunity to finally look around. The cave's walls were jagged, and the strange violet glow seemed to come from several thin cracks in the wall. Very little else was there, except for one thing that made the dragon draw breath in shock. In a sad corner of this section of the cave, at least twenty creatures were held, each with a glowing blue chain holding them to a part of the ground. They were all young, but they were all different ages. One dragon looked just out of her egg, while a gryphon on the other side of the room looked to be already fully grown. They were all breathing with life, but not one of them stood or made a single noise, even at seeing the new hatchlings. Before Garelin came to the conclusion that they were also paralyzed, one of them quickly gave his side a scratch before moving back to the exact same position as before.
‘This is where we'll be keeping you until we decide on a better position.’ Thalen explained cooly. ‘I suggest you save whatever energy isn't taken from you while you wait. We'll need it.’ He dropped them down on the ground and they instantly felt control of their limbs return to them. Before they could react however, they each felt a stabbing pain in one of their hind legs that forced them to drop to the ground, whimpering. Looking back frantically, they saw that they each had gotten one of the chains attached to them. What they didn't see until now was that they were spiked on the inside, breaking through their scales and stabbing into the flesh.
Thalen casually walked away from them and back towards the cavern section's entrance, waving his tail in a taunt to them. Without another word, he left them in cruel silence.
'Seril…it hurts…' Garelin whined.
'I feel it too you know…' Seril thought back sharply.
Garelin winced both at her tone and at the pain in his leg. ‘What…what are we going to do?'
Another dragon, one of the older ones who had to be held by two chains, with scales black enough to be hidden in the dark, answered for Seril. 'Nothing. Nothing at all. We’re all doomed to die here. It's how it's always been.'
Seril didn't respond to him, but Garelin did. 'What do you mean? What’s going to happen to us?' He asked worriedly.
'A variety of things, some they set to work down in the mines, usually lesser creatures like feathers over there.’ He looked over to the gryphon who barely had the strength to give a weak hiss in response. 'And then there are some that they take to strip of resources, like blood, scales, organs. Eventually you'll be nothing but a disgusting pile of flesh.' His thoughts were amused when he saw the two dragons cringe at that gruesome thought. 'Oh, but you'll probably be used for something else.' He looked over at Seril menacingly. 'I can only imagine what they'll want to do with a pretty dragon like you. I wouldn't be surprised if-'
'Stop it!' Garelin shouted. 'Stop it already!'
'Why should I? I'm only…informing you on what's going to happen…’ He thought as innocently as he could.
The next thing Garelin knew, he was lying on his side in pain after trying to jump at the other in an attack. The spikes in the chain holding him had pushed further into his leg, sending an incredible jolt of pain through him, followed by a feeling of complete exhaustion that left him gasping for breath. 'I…I hate you…'
'Garelin…' Seril thought softly, holding back tears from the pain she herself was feeling. Unable to stand up, she used her forelegs to pull herself over to where the other dragon lay, resting against his side.
With Seril next to him, the smaller dragon silenced, finding it more important to comfort her rather than get angry. He was thankful for the silence that let the two of them rest peacefully, but he could feel the older dragon's eyes on him as he began to drift off.
When they woke again, it took a while for them to notice Thalen at the entrance, looking around the cave with that evil glow in his eyes. The dragon who was picking on them was now shying down, trying to make himself less noticeable. To his despair, Thalen's eyes stopped on his black scales, the menacing glow growing brighter still. 'You. Get up.' He commanded.
'No.' The other outright refused, shaking his head.
'You know if I drive those spikes any deeper into your legs I'll break them…' Thalen tried to intimidate.
He answered Thalen with no emotion in his thoughts. 'Go ahead. It's not my problem if I die.'
Thalen snorted. 'We'll see if you still think that once you starve to death.' He shifted his glare to the hatchlings. 'Well, I see the two of you are as attached to eachother as the chains are.' A toothy draconic grin spread across his muzzle. 'Let us see how much you suffer from it.'
Suddenly the hatchlings were grabbed by Thalen. The chains broke off from the ground, but still remained attached to the dragons as they were set to lay on Thalen's back once again. 'Don't even think of doing anything.' He thought to them before they could even gather the strength to lift their heads, causing them to tense with fear. They might as well have been paralyzed again, for they didn't dare move.
He started to walk through the tunnels. This time the hatchlings could better see what was going on around them. The cave split off several times, leading off to who-knows-where, but all around, the awful noise of pained whines echoed. There were few others who they passed, but those that they did mostly consisted of adult dragons who walked around with a confident glow in their eyes like Thalen had. The few that weren't kept their heads low as they walked by, marked as lower class by the glowing chains attached to them. A gryphon, a huge cat-like creature, a few younger dragons, and even a couple humans or at least humanoid beings who kept as far away from everyone else as possible. They all looked tired and sore. Many were even limping or needed to rest every few steps.
The hatchlings swallowed whatever hope they had left as they were brought into a huge active cavern that glowed with heat. Metal contraptions littered the floors and walls, and canals of a blue liquid that most certainly was not water flowed through. The nose-scrunching smell of seared flesh was all around them, and they saw as the enslaved dragons were forced to work hot metal with only their scales to protect them. To put it simply, scales were not enough. Other creatures were set to other tasks which they were slightly more likely to survive performing. A few were even fighting over the easiest jobs like carrying materials around. At the end of the cavern were several lightless caves, each with a significant amount of smoke and dust freely flowing out from them. Now and then someone would walk out from it, their whole body covered with soot which put them in a constant coughing fit. They either pushed or carried massive loads of a shimmering blue rock which was dumped into the canals to begin to melt down, jumping back quickly in case there was any splashing or popping from the stones.
Their observations of the area were interrupted when they were suddenly plucked off Thalen's back and placed on the cracked and broken ground.
'You two will go and find something to dig in the mines there.' Thalen told them, looking over to the caves. 'I decided to let you start with an easy job. Try not to get yourselves killed.' That was the only advice he gave to them as he walked off.
Afraid, the hatchlings began to walk over to where Thalen directed them. They found no-one waiting for them, and certainly no-one who looked approachable enough to ask for help. So, on their own, the two began to walk inside, having no clue what they would find or what to do once they found it.
The caves were at a constant decline, and the roof was flooded by smoke that gave it a hazy look. There was a slight amount of light, all coming from strange glowing green fungi that grew wherever it could. Luminescence seemed to be a commonly used thing underground here. The awful smell of decay seemed to be everywhere, and here it was exceptionally strong. They discovered why when they passed the corpse of a dragon about their age, his scales sunken into his collapsed flesh. The fungus on the walls must have taken quick advantage of this, for they grew all over his body, destroying the last that remained of him. They gulped with the knowledge that that would undoubtably be their fate if they collapsed here.
They didn’t encounter another living creature as they walked. The caves split dozens of times, being extremely widespread, so it made sense that they wouldn’t, but the complete isolation was haunting. When they reached a dead end, they found the walls completely made up of the blue glowing rock that they saw before. They found absolutely no tools or anything to help them, save for a pair of large buckets which they would likely have to use to carry the ore back.
‘I…suppose this won’t be too bad.’ Seril thought optimistically.
‘What are we supposed to dig with?’ Garelin asked, looking around worriedly.
‘Only our paws it seems.’ She answered, walking up to the wall and trying to pry free loose chunks of glowing stone.
'There's nobody watching us, we don't really have to do any work.' He suggested, cringing with pain as the chain around his leg tightened in a denial of that idea. Quickly he limped over to join Seril in her digging, thankful when the chain loosened again.
The stone was jagged, and their young, soft scales were all they had to protect themselves from being sliced wide open. The stuff was tough to break apart too, and they had to hit it hard before a piece might fall free, bashing in their scales painfully. Eventually they decided that the least painful option was to take turns having one of them run into wall with their side, while the other used their claws to scrape free any loose pieces of rock. Regardless, this was an extremely painful operation. Garelin was the first to have a scale snap off of his body, making him whimper as blood began to freely ooze out of the hole in his natural armor. Countless other scales followed that one, falling off the two dragons as fast as their tears. Their claws suffered damage too, after being scraped against the walls for so long, they quickly began to dull, and Seril worried over one that had begun to move out of place grotesquely.
It was worst when at one point, Garelin ran into the wall at the wrong angle and his wing was suddenly caught on one of the many jagged edges. When he jumped back with shock, the tears quickly ripped along the entire wing to create several massive bleeding gashes in it, rendering the wing useless until it healed…if it even properly could.
After countless hours of pain and injury, they managed to fill the two buckets with the glowing rock before beginning to bring them back with what little strength they had left, holding the handles in their mouths. They traveled back for what seemed to be the longest time. The only sound their ears seemed to pick up was the rattling of the chains attached to their legs. Just when they were beginning to think they were lost, they found themselves back at the smelting facility. Thalen was there waiting for them, a stern look on his face, but the glow in his eyes far brighter than before.
'Get over here.' He commanded the two hatchlings.
Wondering what they did wrong, and scared as to what would happen, they quickly obeyed, running over with the buckets swinging under their jaws.
'Where did you go?' He asked, or rather, demanded an answer. 'I heard the two of you suddenly vanished.'
'We went down there to dig, like you told us to.' Seril explained quickly, trying to maintain an innocent tone.
'You moron!' He swung his paw at her, claws extended. Before he could hit however, Garelin quickly jumped forward to take the blow which knocked him back to the ground. The young dragon was left whimpering on the ground, curling his tail around himself in pain as he bled, with three fewer scales than before.
Being able to hit someone like that seemed to raise Thalen's mood, however. 'Well, at least you seemed to be somewhat productive while you were down there.' With the same paw that hit Garelin, he effortlessly picked up the two buckets and dumped the contents into the canal of blue lava, where the rocks broke up in an explosion of sparks the moment they touched the molten surface. 'There.' He thought, dropping the buckets to the ground noisily and sweeping them off with his tail. 'You've done enough here. Follow me.' He quickly turned away and began to walk out of the caves. Garelin painfully got up and started to follow him with Seril by his side. A soft whimper making up his breath as every step sent a jolt of pain through him.
They struggled to keep up with the adult dragon's pace, especially with their wounds making walking painful, and running even more so. They did get a very good chance though to get an even greater look at their surroundings however, not that there was much to see other than other sections of dim cave and occasionally another creature that towered over them imposingly.
Then, there was something that caught their eyes, a light, daylight, down one of the tunnels. Garelin would have continued to follow Thalen, but in a split-second decision, Seril grabbed him by the paw and started pulling him towards the exit excitedly, running as fast as her poor legs could take her.
Thalen snorted when he saw the hatchlings trying to run away. As if they would even have anywhere to run off to! He started to go after them, but stopped himself. No, if they weren't smart enough to realize that there's no hope for them to escape, then they certainly would have no real use for him. There were other dragons who could serve just as easily.
The two hatchlings never looked back, only seeing the whiteness outside grow closer. The air quickly grew cold and crisp. When they finally made it outside, all that lay before them were endless reaches of white and grey. The ground had a thick coat of snow, and a mist was everywhere, making vision limited to only a few short meters. The moment the tip of their tails exited the cave, a small clink sounded as the chains around their legs released. Was this it? Were they free? The question dominated their minds as they ran out into the cold, hoping to get as far away from those cursed caves as fast as possible. The cold sunk into their wounds painfully, making them numb with the cold. If only they could breathe fire, they might have had a way to protect themselves from the cold, but they had no such ability while they were still young, so they continued to trudge on. They would not go back, they would not allow that awful dragon that pleasure.
The grey air consumed them, making them unable to see anything save for eachother. The sound of freezing wind rang in their ears, and being constantly knee deep in snow, they quickly lost all feeling in their paws.
'Garelin?' Seril thought with clenched teeth. 'Are…are you as cold as I am?'
'I-I can't tell…I'm too cold to tell.' Garelin answered. Icy air had quickly begin to condense on his scales, shifting the color of them to a dark purple. Seril's had gone even further, to a blue which still showed a few hints of her original violet.
Who knows how much time passed? They must have been moving slowly, for the snow restricted their movements. They had to stay extremely close together so they wouldn’t loose eachother. The cold stung even worse than the chains spikes did. It pierced no flesh, but it sunk deep into their very core, making them shiver violently.
Suddenly Seril’s eyes widened, only to close again quickly as snow was blown into them. ‘I…I think I see something…Over there!' She thought excitedly, running out into the mist.
'Wait! I can't see you!' Garelin called after her, running in what he thought was her direction. Moments later, he was shocked when the snow suddenly ceased to fall on him, and his paws finally met again with solid ground. Not only was it solid, but his claws made a slight clink against what looked to be a metal floor, a freezing cold metal floor at that. The structure that surrounded was completely alien to him in every way, but he payed no attention to it, instead focused on the freezing cold dragon in front of him.
Seril did her best to get as comfortable as she could on the ground, but to no avail. She lay there, shivering with the cold that had sunk deep into her flesh. When she felt another cold body lie against hers, she blinked with surprise to see Garelin lying beside her. 'What are you doing?' She asked.
The other dragon hesitated a moment. ‘I…I thought it would help to keep the two of us warm.'
'I suppose you thought wrong then.'
He cringed. She was right. It was no use, they would freeze to death at this rate no matter what they did! He dropped his head to the ground, tears leaking what little heat he had out of his body and freezing it as they touched the floor. 'I'm sorry…’ He whimpered.
Now it was Seril who hesitated. She hadn't meant to upset him. 'Garelin, it's fine. None of this is your fault.'
'Yes it is!' He cried out. 'I should have been able to do something! I shouldn't have just stood there and let the two of us be kidnapped like that! Now we're just going to die here…we’ll never even be able to see our parents again…you know, I was supposed to finally get to see mine again in a few days…’ He thought the last part slowly and sadly, absorbing the sorrow that came with its meaning.
‘It’s not nearly as good as you think it is.’ Seril thought softly, looking away.
‘Meeting your parents again. At first it’s great, but you’ll never act the same way with them again…you’re still alone, even if you are at home again.’
Garelin was shocked. ‘You-you’re serious?’ There was a long period of silence, and when he was about to turn to look, he suddenly felt her tail move over his, wrapping around it.
‘No. That’s not true.’ She thought firmly, looking back to him. ‘We’re not alone. We have eachother, even if we no longer have our parents. Even if I die, it will be with another hatchling who protected me with as much love as my parents did. So…thank you. I haven’t felt happy like this in over seven years, and now that I’m with you, I’m happy, and I’m not alone.’
Garelin paused for a moment before nodding deeply. ‘I-it is the same for me…it’s why I wanted you to come spend the evening with me…because I feel happy with you by my side, like this…’ He dared to place his paw over hers, and his heart nearly skipped a beat when she didn’t try to stop him. ‘It reminds me of how it was when I lived with my parents…who always loved me and looked after me. Seril? Would you do the same for me? I would let myself be beaten a thousand times from that other dragon to protect you, but would you do the same for me?’
She gave his paw a slight squeeze. ‘Of course I would…’ There was a long pause after that, however. A nervous, scared pause. ‘Garelin?’ She asked softly.
‘What is it?’
Her claws scraped against the floor. ‘Do…do you think we are going to die here?’ There was fear in her thoughts, as could be expected, but it was not just for fear of dying.
He gripped Seril’s paw with both of his own. ‘We are together. We will be alright, no matter what happens to us. I promise.’ As the blizzard outside worsened, freezing the air to the extremes, he thought this with more confidence than anything before. ’I love you, Seril.’
‘I love you as well, Garelin.’
Together, the two dragons waited in that cold, metal room, afraid of what fate would bring them, but at the same time, they enjoyed the happiest moment of their lives, just being together, knowing that they loved eachother, and that they always, always would…
Thalen snorted. It seemed the dragons weren’t returning. Too bad for them. It had been at least two hours, more than long enough for the cold to kill them. He sighed. It seemed he would need to find a pair of new workers to take their place. Walking out of the cave and into the cold, he gave a quick look around to see nothing there. Indeed, those two idiotic dragons must be dead by now. Nothing could survive for long out here in these polar conditions. Spreading his wings out, he took off from the ground and began to fly south to the Dragon Caves, where he would find some other poor dragon to take back with him.
Over fifty long years passed, and after countless events that changed the world, the preserved bodies of two young dragons were found hidden in the entranceway to one of the many ancient structures of the North, less than half a mile away from what used to be the hideout of a large group of malicious dragons and those that they had enslaved who had already caused so much trouble in the recent years.
The poor dragons were brought back to their home to be found and recognized by their parents. The two families had been grieving for the longest time over the disappearance of their only children, and when they were returned, they grieved further as they mourned the deaths of the two.
As was custom when a dragon died, the flesh of the two dragons was burned until none remained, leaving behind only bones and scales, nothing else at all. None of their parents could bear to watch this happen, for they did not think they would be alive to have to witness it. The bones of the two dragons were buried where many others had been buried before them; in the Great Plains where the mountains ceased to rise. It was little known, but the area had long served as a graveyard for dragons. A single scale was kept from each of the hatchlings, imbued with magic to look just as they did while they lived, and kept in the grand cavern that held a single scale from every dragon in history. Side by side the scales were put down, just as side by side the two dragons would stay, for all time.