Chapter One- Life Anew
Legend is often based on history, and history formed from legend. Such is the stuff of many tales; such is the fulfillment of dreams. Lifeâ€™sâ€™ secrets are for beyond mortal comprehension. This, however, does not seem to daunt the sages and philosophers throughout time. Nor does it do but form a basis for religion, of men grasping at straws far beyond the scope of understanding, man or beast. The truly wise do not question that which has been set, for no light graces the path of the lost. Most simply say that â€œit was,â€ for some inexplicable cosmic power or event had shaped the world and, indeed, life itself. Such feeble minds cannot grasp the scope of the infinite; they are for more likely to go quite insane. However, perhaps such beliefs are not completely false. There are powers high above and all around. Powers that drive the path of history, with peace or war. Those who, in ways forever unreachable by any ordinary being, can manipulate our very existence itself. For example; there grows a flower on Mallor IV, very common and oft unnoticed. However, that flower is not only found on that small world. It is, in ways nature never intended, flourishing on a world so unlike Mallor IV. This flower, as only a small example, was transported to the world of the dragons â€“ a world whose true name is utterly incomprehensible to all but itâ€™s inhabitants, a word of such power that itâ€™s mere mention could cause catastrophe to the speaker untrainedâ€¦ and the world on which the poor soul stood. The dragons, of course, kept this name a secret, instead calling the planet simply â€œDragon World.â€ Dragons are themselves a mythical race, held in distrust by many as simply not existing- this is not true. Dragons simply exist when and where they would be best suited. As an example of this, dragons live on a small world named Krynn â€“ a place where mountains run thick, forest grow unchecked, food lives in surplus, and the dragons are held in awe and reverence. On the other hand, polluted, uncontrolled worlds such as Terra are deemed inhospitable, and dragons do not live there. Only a few of these mythic beasts can transport easily between worlds and times, and these are held in utmost respect. Such dragons are often unique, marked from birth as those set apart by fate. One such dragon is Shadowhunter, Chaos Dragon, Member of the Dragon Councilâ€¦and expecting father. Those sensitive to the currents of destiny, as Shadowhunter was, knew that these dragonets would be exceedingly powerfulâ€¦One in particular was steeped in magic and fate. This young one would be known as Myriad.
Two dragons lay comfortably on a mountain plateau, speaking softly to each other. Dragon Worldâ€™s second sun was just cresting the horizon, basking the lush forests in soft light. Small animals poked their heads out of their burrows, chattering to each other and immediately going off on the daily hunt for food. Larger animals lay in wait for the ripe morning prey, knowing that a momentâ€™s patience would bring a feast later. In addition, a small herd of deer-like animals went to the sparkling river, crushing dew-wet grass underfoot as they walked. Small white flowers, fresh in blossom, lay scattered about towering trees, providing a morning snack for them. Wispy white clouds promised a warm, bright day for the inhabitants of Talecar Valley, with not a hint of rain. Near the middle of the valley jutted Shadow Mountain, named for itâ€™s master- the great dragon Shadowhunter. Many dragons flocked to ask him questions, wishing for help shaping their lands, often. Or perhaps to request his presence at a Council meeting. This morning, however, was joyous and peaceful. Dragons of all sizes and colors circled silently throughout the orange morning sky, too many to count. All waited for the hatching of the eggs of their leader. Dragon eggs were rare, and the type of bond Shadow and his mate, Celesta, shared was even more exceptional. It was a day of joy for the peaceful Dragon World.
â€œAh, what a lovely day this is, my dear Celesta. I could not ask for more than I haveâ€¦â€ sighed Shadowhunter in contentment. He was a truly massive dragon, reaching nearly four hundred feet in length- a size matched only by the Dragon Slayers of millennia past. Shadowhunter recalled that dark time most clearly- for he was also to be as old as time itself. This apparently immortal dragon was covered in black scales the size of a manâ€™s head- and stronger than any weapon ever made. Some of the scales, especially those near his head and neck, were shot through with gold in striking contrast. Each of his four feet sported ivory claws, each larger than a man, and each capable of cleaving a tree in a single swipe. Beyond this, Shadow had magical powers beyond any seen before. It was oft rumored that he could shape time and space itself to his will. Yet, despite his majesty and power, he never grew tired of his worldâ€™s own quiet glory. He looked fondly upon his mate, Celesta, a three hundred foot female who sported ruby-hued scales. While he was an obvious embodiment of power, she was beautiful and sleek, skillful beyond her mere 2,000 years.
â€œIt is indeed, Shadowhunterâ€¦it seems a sign from the gods that our children please them. And imagine! Two strong children, and so soon!â€ Indeed, it was rare for dragons to have children. Unlike humans, dragons were not always â€˜in seasonâ€™. As a whole, they are solitary creatures, comfortable within their lairs and upon large piles of gold and silver. When dragons mate with another, it was a special thing itself, and completely devoting on to another, becoming as one. Children, though, did not come easily, even to these couples. They may go through the motions, giving mutual pleasure, but dragons simply are not often fertile, even with both in season. For this reason, mating was only between very close dragons, after much self-inspection, and was kept throughout their long, long lives.
Celesta and Shadowhunter lay together, watching the coveted eggs and guarding them from non-existent threat. Dragon World was at peace, and all dragons were happy to hear of their mutual triumph. Tired, Celesta curled into a more comfortable position, her wings and tail folded closely to her. The children were safe, the day was glorious, and all was well. Shadowhunter smiled as he saw his precious wife taken to sleep with puffs of smoke shot out her nose. He was tired, tooâ€¦strangely so. He lifted his head abruptly, casting about to find the culprit.
â€œWhoâ€™s there?!â€ The mammoth dragon instinctively covered the precious eggs with his body, still searching for whoever had tried to put them to sleep.
â€œSpeak!â€ Shadow roared, as he still could not find another dragon. The activity in the sky quickened. Was it time? Were the eggs to hatch? The excited onlookers wondered.
Your children will be in love with war. One before, one with, one after. Beware, for dark forces draw near. One has the potential to saveâ€¦. Beware.
â€œYou speak nonsense! Dragon World has not seen war for millennia! SHOW YOURSELF!â€ At the lack of response, Shadowhunter roared again at the sky, at the world that had so frightened him. A pillar of fire shot from his mouth, narrowly missing a blue dragon watching hopefully. What was wrong? they said. Have the eggs been taken? The joyous fervor began to turn to anger, to fear. The day was being spoiled by this mysterious visitation.
â€œWait! There! The EGGS!â€, cried a golden female. The dragons near her, startled, looked to the plateau. It was true! The eggs were hatching. Shadowhunter immediately lost his anger and forgot the incident. He would think upon itâ€¦. later. â€œCelesta! The eggs hatch, my dear!â€ Celesta snapped upright immediately, ecstatic eyes focused on the two large orbs in front of them. One was a milky blue, with swirls of sapphire adding to its perfection. The other was golden, with a slight green cast to the smooth eggshell.
A jagged tooth poked through the shell of the blue egg, cracking it a little. The top section bulged slightly, the dragonet inside struggling to break out of its prison. The waiting dragons watching anxiously as the egg shuddered violently. At last, a red head broke through! The child! The baby dragon tumbled out of the shell; its wings fanning the air gently. It would be some time before he, for it was a male dragon, could fly. He looked about with almost a glare in its watery eye. The scene was so funny, and yet so tense, that Shadow could not help but laugh. â€œLittle child of mine, I call you Sheel, after the legendary red who saved us all from the Slayers. Wear your name with pride.â€ Shadow nudged his youngling gently, urging it to greet its proud mother. â€œGo on, lit-â€¦â€ Shadow stopped as another dragonet stepped out of the blue shell.
This one was a blue, sapphire in color. He (the twins were boys) darted out quickly with undiminished energy, bowling over its read brother. The tussled for a moment under Celestaâ€™s kind eye before she separated them with a talon. â€œAnd I shall name you Skye, who loves life above all else.â€ Skye looked up at Celestaâ€™s eye, large as he was, and battered her claw. Twins! A glorious day indeed! The dragons above roared in joy, releasing blasts of fire and ice in tribute to their new sons. Twins.
The dragonsâ€™ jubilation, however, fell as they saw that the second egg, golden of color, remained inert. No young dragon poked its egg tooth out of the soft shell, nor did there seem to be any motion inside. Some of the dragons circled off as the egg remained still for several hours. The day wore on, almost al the dragons having spiraled off into the clear blue sky. Shadowhunter remained confident in his third son, whom he new was very special indeed. Celesta did not share his great knowledge, though, and began to worry. What could have gone wrong with this third child of theirs? The twins had long since fallen asleep under her watchful gaze.
â€œWhy donâ€™t you go inside, my dear? Do not worry, I shall watch most carefully.â€ With a loving look, Celesta woke their new babies and herded them into the mountain lair, where they were revitalized by the smell of fresh meat. Their admirers and well-wishers would keep them well supplied for a time, while they spent the days lavishing affection on their twins.
As she disappeared inside, Shadowhunter sighed. â€œI know you are well and alive, my son. But what keeps you inside?â€ Shadow sent a tendril of thought towards the shell, looking for answers. The dragon lay curled inside, not seeming inclined to break out of its shell. All at once, his probe was seized by an untrained yet immensely powerful mind. His sonâ€¦
My dear son, why do you not break free? Such glory waits to be explored!
A wordless set of images filled Shadowâ€™s mind in response, staggering him with its intensity. Fear. Dark. Cold. People. As each picture picked through his thoughts, he realized just why his youngest did not come to his father.
Do not be afraid, young one. I am here, and your mother, and your brothers. You need not fear with us. I promise, I will never hurt you, and will do all in my power to protect and teach you, my dearest.
The youngling appeared to consider this. While the language was yet beyond him, the feelings that ran strong in Shadowhunterâ€™s â€“ his fatherâ€™s â€“ speech were warm and comforting. The egg began rumbling as the last child explored, trying to find a way outside. Dark. Light. Trust.
I promise, my son. Now come, see the glorious light of day.
After a momentâ€™s scratching, his last sonâ€™s head popped out of his shell. The eyes seemed to drink in his surroundings, wide with wonder. It was a wondrous sight- the day had remained cloudless and blue, the sun just beginning to set. The tall mountains they both stood upon, Shadow Mountain, were some of the most beautiful to be found the worldwide. The valley below was bathed in the sunâ€™s light, revealing rivers and lakes, tall evergreens, bountiful wildlife; all natural wonders in the Talecar Valley. Behind him, the mouth of their home, their lair, yawned invitingly. Celesta came padding out with the first children, Sheel and Skye, nipping at her claws. Her eyes looked upon her third child, brimming with happiness and loveâ€¦ and then recoiled, casting a quick glance at her husband before sheparding Sheel and Skye back inside. The third born looked hurt that it had frightened its mama. Though young, the childâ€™s gifts were indeed strong.
â€œWhat can this mean, Shadowhunter?â€, asked the red urgently.
â€œIt means that this one has a grand future in store for himâ€¦ though other dragons cannot know. Noâ€¦I cannot allow him shunned as I was!â€ the frustrated dragon said while pacing the plateau, his great length allowing only a few steps. â€œYes, dragon kind is at peace, but this oneâ€¦â€ here he looked at his child, â€œâ€¦he will anger them. There are those opposed to change. We shall hide him, hide his colors. We shall not speak of this further. Nobody must hear before we are ready. You understand?â€
Celesta was scared by his sudden fervor. â€œYâ€¦yesâ€¦Shadowâ€¦â€
Shadowhunter relaxed visibly. â€œYes, good. I shall take care of his appearance. And we shall call him Myriad, he of many colors and of mine. And he shall beâ€¦â€ he trailed off.
Just like meâ€¦
Chapter 2- Manifest Destiny
"Come now, Myriad! You can do better than that!," Skye exclaimed as Myriad's sword clammered into a distant wall. "Ach, looks like he's in his own world again. 'tis a poor dragon that can't keep his mind on a bloody duel! Come, Skye, let us fight!" Sheel scowled when Skye waved hiim off. The three humans stood near the center of a sparring circle, easing sore muscles. Or, perhaps it would be better to say: the three dragons stood their, albeit in human form.
"I still don't understand why we must wear these pathetic human bodies while fighting. It's a waste of time, and I for one won't go around concealed among these humans. Dragons are the masters of all, not some pitiful servant to humanity! If you want something, TAKE it!," Sheel exlaimed, the fire of battle bright in his eyes. The young dragon, a hundred years of age, wore his human form like an ill-fit cloak.
Skye sighed. "This again? You keep going on about this every day! "
"It's because I'm right! Because- "
"You're an overly angry young dragon whose impatience will get him killed one day," said Shadowhunter, striding into the chamber. He, as always while in human form, wore gold-trimmed black armor, with a styalized K on the breast. A cloak clasp in the form of a yellow bird's head (he called it a Chocobo, Sheel called it lunch) held his black cape up. And on his side was a black scabbard, holding his large sword. "And until you understand that, and can wear the human form comfortably, you will never be the great warrior you so want to be." Sheel recoiled at the rebuke, but still looked like he didn't agree.
"At least I'm not Myriad! This is the third time this week that he's been distracted!"
Shadowhunter looked at his youngest, his eyes momentarily pitying before they snapped back to Sheel. "Be that as it may, you cannot use his distraction as an excuse. Maintaining human form is an excersise in control, as well as strengthening your magic. Do you doubt my judgement?," he added, as Sheel looked stubborn.
"Good." Before Sheel registered a movement, his sword had been knocked out of his hands- it now stuck quivering in the wall-, and his father's sword at his throat. "See that you don't forget again, hmm? Myriad, come with me." Myriad silently left, leaving an astounded Sheel staring at the sword in the wall.
"What's wrong, my son? I myself have noticed you being distracted more often than not. Is there something wrong?," the great dragon inquired, concerned for the health of his son. Beyond his natural fatherly love, he was concerned that this may affect his future unless resolved. To be what he was destined to be, Myriad must be at peak physical and mental health. Anyone who could not focus would not triumph. However, Myriad showed no strain keeping on his human form; that of a young man, with shoulder-length brown hair, intent eyes, and loose green leather armoring. So it must be something else...
"I....I see such colors!," he exclaimed passionately. "You must think me quite mad," he added as Shadow's eyebrow shot up. "Oh, no, my son. I don't think you mad at all." He turned and looked at the Talecar Valley, for they stood upon the same plateau that the children were hatched. Myriad felt something about this place....something about him... "Please, tell me what you see."
Startled at shadow's calm and almost relieved tone, Myriad continued. "These...colors. I feel as if I can see power iteself. You are very strong in colors, more than any I've seen.," he added, nodding at his father, who appeared unsurprised. "My boy, what you see are..." "And the pictures! I see things, wonderful and terrible things! But when I try to focus on them, they dissapear!" His father sighed, as if this was an expected, but unwanted, problem. He proceeded to explain that what Myriad saw was indeed a being's magic, and possible futures that each might take, a sign of his growing power. "But this is not for you to know. No, not yet. In time you shall be... like me." Shadowhunter laid a cool hand upon his son's brow. Myriad relaxed as the bright colors and fantastical pictures dimmed and died. He had not realized just how much they pained him. "You will remember when it is time. my wonderful son..." Myriad stood quietly, seeming entranced. Shadow stood looking out over the valley, wondering where the future would take his young one. But now he heard Celesta's inquiring touch, and knew that this must wait.
"Myriad.", he said softly.
Myriad woke from his half-awake state. "Yes, father?"
"It is time for us to go inside. Celesta waits for us." The two walked back inside, revelling together in the beauty of their home. Myriad would not remember their talk for some time, Shadowhunter was certain. He would have to train Myriad properly before his gifts re-emerged, however. And his colors... Myriad was now a green dragon with impressive control over the wind. But his true form, too, would also emerge. And his father hoped to be there for him.
"Then, Myriad's powers are beginning to manifest?," Celesta asked worriedly. She, despite all her skills, knowledge, and power, was still a normal dragon. Like anyone, she held unconcious bias against those unlike herself. That Myriad was her son did not matter; in fact, it only served to heighten her fears.
"Relax, my dear.," Shadow said soothingly. They sat together in the kitchen of their lair- much like any other chamber in the vast mountain, it was sizeable enough for the two full-grown dragons to sit comfortably. Shadowhunter was back in his scales, so to speak, and look peacefully at Celesta. "Trust me, Myriad's powers are quite under control. I've supressed them for now, though I must be sure to train him...and yet not let him know..." He trailed off, pondering the problem. "Ah, well. Suffice to say, his growing powers are one of the least of my concerns." Then he looked embarresed, as if he'd said something without having meant to.
"What....are these more important things?" Celesta asked nervously, worried anew.
The Chaos Dragon sighed. "I didn't want to worry you, my dear.... but there is war brewing." At Celesta's expression, he quickly continued. "The youngest of our dragons have grown tired of peaceful living. They want to roam the multiverse, ruling humans as they see fit. Nor are they the only ones strangely aggressive... there are increasing signs of war on the human worlds, those I can pay attention to. I plan to leave soon, do what I must to stop them. now that you know, I can leave sooner." He sighed again.
Now that Celesta had been forewarned, she noticed things that she had not noticed of her husband before. The slight droop of a wing, the clench of his jaw... her husband, believed omnipotent, was tired and grim of the future ahead.
"Tell me what I must do," her voice firm.
Her husband looked upon her with amazement, which soon softened to love. "You must take care of the training of our sons. I am sorry, my dear, but you cannot help me in the worlds afar. Our sons... they will be focii for the upcoming chaos. If they do not learn, then they cannot help. Do you understand?," he asked, tone pleading.
"Of course, you will let me know if I can do more to help?" Her wings fanned restlessly, then stilled as her husband slowly nodded assent. "That is all I can ask. I shall this for you... for love."
Shadowhunter sat in the dim afternoon light, petting his dear pet Choco. The chocobo pens he had made extended a quarter of one side of the mountain, stopped only by a rock face jutting out the cliff. It also extended several hundred feet away from the mountain, taking in grasslands and forests. Choco cooed softly as its master scracted its crest feathers idly.
"Choco, I need your help.," he finally said. The chocobo at his side cocked its head and warked curiously. Shadow smiled, knowing Choco was as intelligent as he. The merry eye housed the mind of a joker, the morality of a really moral thing, a thirst for good, and the body of an overgrown canary. Perfect.
"Then, without furthur ado, let me get you started, eh?" The chocobo warked again happily, whatever it said causing the dragon to chuckle. "Right you are. Here, then..." His beloved pet and friend blinked, finding its simple mind filled with information... and power. Choco was one powerful bird now. The two spent the rest of the evening talking softly, and watching the sun dissapear. Shadowhunter now had his Avatar.
Chapter 3- Blah, Blah, School, Blah.
Shadow left three days later. Nobody knew where he had went, but it was noticed that his favorite chocobo was also gone. Celesta honored her agreement to train the children, hers taking the form of dragon lore, mainly. While the three were already amazing warriors (which neither told Sheel), they did not understand the tapestry of history, and those laws that bound dragon kind. Skye especially took to this aspect of their training, though Sheel, predictably, ignored Celesta more often than not. The only course study he paid attention to was war.
Myriad glanced up from his notes to see Sheel engaged in what appeared to be a war game. Different-colored stones lay on a marked sheet of parchment, and appeared to be tokens of each sideâ€™s forces arrayed on a map. He was amused to note that the red stones- those he figured to be Sheelâ€™s own forces- were camped inside the chocobo pen of this very mountain. Glancing at Skye, Myriad flicked his fingers at the stones lining the map, using his wind control to arrange the tokens in a line of script:
Focus, Sheel. Not all life is a war.
The red dragon glowered at his brother before moving the map away. Celestaâ€™s hand came down on his shoulder when it was gone. â€œI would suggest focusing, son, as Myriadâ€™s rather injudicious use of magic says. Both of you focus on the work at hand.â€ Both assented before turning to their class work- an assignment asking for a report on the formation and function of the Dragon Council. Sheelâ€™s already had a topic line written, hastily scratched out. From his position, Myriad could make out â€œâ€¦dusty old ineffectual geezers.â€ He smirked, as he looked down at his own paper, still blank. The green had been referring to his notes before writing anything, preferring to play it safe. Skye, of course, was already up to a full sheet of parchment, and was now beginning to describeâ€¦. was it true? the personal histories of each sitting Council member in exquisite detail. Myriad shook his head at the strange obsessions of his brother. The three of them were as different as night and day- Sheel on one extreme, Skye on the other. Myriad thought glumly that he was just a nobody, destined to be overshadowed by his auspicious family. Shaking his head again, Myriad signed and applied himself to his work.
The past three years have been so busy, Myriad thought ruefully. While we havenâ€™t been as focused on war exercises, mother had been giving us so much history that, punctuated by literacy lessons, have kept us all so occupied. I wonder why this sudden rush in work?â€¦Dad. It has to be. But how could this have anything to do with him? Myriad almost slapped himself as the obvious answer came to him. Of course- sheâ€™s scared for him! I mean, weâ€™ve seen the love they shareâ€¦. not like Sheelâ€™s â€˜conquestsâ€™. Myriad looked at his older brother again, his â€“both of their- distraction evident. Just a week ago, Sheel had flown some female. Myriad didnâ€™t care himself, preferring solitude and peace over the incessant chattering of female kind. Then his wayward thoughts turned back to his father. But where IS he, and why did he leave? Myriad felt lonely without Shadowhunter around. Sheelâ€™s aggressive attitude, Skyeâ€™s jokes and games, and Celestaâ€™s odd coolness towards him did not ease it at all.
â€œMyriad! Pay attention!â€ His raven haired, red robed mother stood above him. He flushed in shame as he realized Skye had turned in his sheets, and Sheel had a full paragraph on him. â€œYes, motherâ€¦â€
Two weeks later, Shadowhunter returned. Exhausted, he immediately went to sleep, refusing to answer any questions before he awoke.