Chapter 9:

Fallen Kingdom

DRAGON’S FLIGHT


Aurelia had been flying, fleeing for her life as fast as her wings could carry her, body battered and bloody. Her mind was spinning, wings barely able to support her, and she could hear the blood pounding in her ears.Bookmark here

Queen Viridian led Aurelia to the entrance of the Spires, and they both burst out, soaring over the ledge without a second glance. Dragons were everywhere, spilling out of all the halls and dens their kingdom contained. The sky was a cacophony of colors; some soaring to safety, while others faltered and landed. No dragon knew what was going on, or where was safe— it was utter chaos. 
Aurelia scanned the skies for the familiar cobalt scales of Veskar, trying to pick his form out. Surely her Father had escaped safely... But what if he hadn’t? 
A chill ran down her spine. Surely he was safe. The Guardian of the Storm would not be felled by such an event.


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The rumbling continued, shaking the earth, and splitting the very ground of Azmanthus. The Spires creaked eerily, hairline cracks hissing through the white marble.
Queen Viridian called a halt after they were distanced from the towering structure, whipping her wings out to hover in place. Aurelia nearly slammed into her back; luckily, her Queen had greater concerns at the moment, and merely continued.


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“Stay here, daughter of Veskar. And do not land,” She motioned to the earth below, pointing a claw. “Azmanthus is shattering. The earth is dying, and it is not safe.”


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“But Your Majesty, I must find my Father. I don’t... know where he is...” Aurelia’s voice choked her, and she faltered into silence. 


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Queen Viridian raised her head imposingly. Her eyes narrowed, and she whistled air through her fangs. “Veskar is more than capable of protecting himself with his magic. I have no doubt he is safe. Putting yourself in danger is foolish—“


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A thunderous crashing interrupted them. The Spires were collapsing.


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Cracks  in the marble had opened into gaping fissures. The Spires, no longer able to support their own weight, crumbled underneath themselves. Dragons screeched in terror as those close to their home were crushed underneath it, injured dragons on the ground staring in shock at the boulders of rock falling down upon them, entranced by their impending doom. Her beautiful kin were crunched and reduced to unrecognizable pulps of scales and bones jutting from hauntingly incorrect angles. 


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Aurelia felt acid rising in her throat. She looked away. Queen Viridian, however, kept her gaze steeled on the carnage below. “... I must go rally our kin. You will remain here and wait for us— that is an order.”


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“... Understood, my Queen.”


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And with that, the great green dragoness left her side, flying higher into the sky. Her roars echoed throughout the area, filled with sorrow and rage. 


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“MY DRAGONS, TO ME!”


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At her call, hundreds of dragons responded with their own. All that were capable of flight swarmed to her in droves, some working together and carrying incapacitated family members. Aurelia spot a familiar crimson dragon and yellow dragoness in the mix— Carnelian and his friend. But she still couldn’t see Veskar. Where could he be..?
Queen Viridian swirled gracefully above them all, leading them back to where Aurelia was holding her position. There was no time to rescue any more dragons who could not join them. 
The flock rushed past Aurelia, spiraling into the sky, and heading for the neighboring islands below Azmanthus. She joined in, flinching in pain as wings and tails unintentionally whipped her body in the crowd. Wind whistled in her ears as they all dived, rocks raining around them from the island above. 


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As their flight leveled and slowed, Aurelia pushed her way through the ranks to fly by her Queen’s side, who was giving orders to an orange drake. She motioned with a flick of her tail to excuse himself, and he fell back, hanging his head in exhaustion. 


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“Daughter of Veskar. I see you chose to be obedient; for your sake, that is most pleasing. What do you need?”


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Aurelia could not mantle her wings or bow while flying, so she made the standard draconian aerial salute, pushing a clawed fist into her open paw. “Your Majesty, I would not dream of disobeying you... I still haven’t found my father, though. I wanted to ask if you had, since you... Since you’re leading everyone. Isn’t it odd that he hasn’t shown up? I’m sure he would come find me if he could.” 


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“Hmm... Yes, you are correct. My mate once told me how Veskar doted on his daughter an unreasonable amount. However, I have not seen him.”


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Aurelia drooped. She could feel her heart clenching in grief and anxiety. The sensation spread through her body, numbing it. 
“I see...” she wheezed. None of the injuries marring her scales could hope to compare to the agony she felt inside at the thought of losing her father— her only family. 


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“Calm yourself. As I have already stated, Veskar is a powerful drake. One does not obtain the role of an Elemental Guardian so they can perish to the rocks of their own kingdom. His storm magic is unparalleled. Have faith.” 


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Queen Viridian gently rubbed the soft skin on her neck, bulging slightly where she had swallowed her clutch of eggs. They were stored safely in a pouch dragonesses had for carrying their eggs, located below the jaw. Dragon paws could carry eggs, but during flight, it was dangerous. You could drop them. 
“My eggs are dreaming. They know nothing of all the suffering and fear that surrounds them right now. Perhaps ignorance is a form of bliss.”


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“...”


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“Here, hold this one, little dragoness,” she bobbed her head, rolling the egg out of her pouch and taking it out of her jaws carefully. It was bright green, a shade lighter than its mother’s scales. “You gave it your blessings during my ceremony. While we are traveling to Orsor, the island below, give it more.”


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Aurelia gazed at the egg, delicately grasping it in her paws. She’d never swallowed an egg before... What would happen if she accidentally ate it? But the moment she put it in her mouth, her instincts guided her into rolling it down into her own egg pouch. It felt weird, but she could sense a faint link between their minds, just like at the ceremony. It was oddly comforting. 
To entrust another dragon with your egg was usually an intimate affair, a display of trust. Mothers were fiercely protective of their clutch. But in this case, it was more of an order. Aurelia didn’t know why her Queen trusted her with this egg, but she wasn’t disrespectful enough to ask. She did as she was told. 


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As the flight of dragons continued on, a final, incredible boom sent a shockwave through the air. Debris once again rained down, and she looked upwards, Aurelia saw Azmanthus crumbling. The entire island now broke apart, and dragons scattered, abandoning their formation. 
Aurelia rolled in the air, dodged a stalactite that would have skewered her organs. 
Queen Viridian turned to her, opened her mouth to give an order—


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And then the word went black.
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