Chapter 1:



A warm summer breeze pushed its way through the thick clusters of trees surrounding the small village. With most of the homes still somewhat noisy, the decidedly tiny settlement seemed to carry an air of bustle. A few fireflies flitted around the more quiet homes, their iridescence arranging in tiny light displays on the aged wood.Bookmark here

A blonde haired man passed by one such home, his presence scattering the insects out into the forest as he neared the edge of the village. He had a heavy, brown sack tossed over his shoulder, its contents jingling with the promise of untold riches.Bookmark here

A lone cabin stood slightly out of the way of the rest of the buildings, a thin, overgrown cobblestone path leading from the village square to the building in question.Bookmark here

The man gave a long sigh as he opened the cabin door, the sight of his wife nursing their newborn bringing no small comfort.Bookmark here

"I'm home... how's he been?" He asked quietly.Bookmark here

She pulled the satisfied child from her breast, slipping her blouse back over her shoulder.Bookmark here

"Not a peep from him, as always... the thought of forgetting to feed or change him is terrifying. I'm worried he doesn't even have a voice." She said. "What's more, he's started leaving marks on me with his teeth."Bookmark here

"Well, at least he's keeping us on our toes." The man laughed. "Have you decided on a name for him yet?" He asked.Bookmark here

"No... I don't figure he'll need one for another few months... it's not like he can understand us yet anyway." She smiled.Bookmark here

The tiny boy shifted in her arms, turning to face his father. The child's face was emotionless, but his arms reached out to the man as his identity registered.Bookmark here

The woman gave a laugh, holding the boy out to him.Bookmark here

"Take him for a bit. I need to go out and stretch." She said. "Once you think he's settled down enough, you can put him to bed. Don't forget to wrap his face up too, or he'll never go to sleep."Bookmark here

He nodded, taking the baby gently in his arms.Bookmark here

"Go on... I'll take care of it." He smiled.Bookmark here

The boy turned his head towards the door as the latch clicked shut. His eyes fell on the sack that his father had been carrying.Bookmark here

"Oh... interested in that, little one? I'll show you what's inside, eh?"Bookmark here

He hoisted the boy into the crook of his arm, then carried him to the door, kicking his foot against the bag and sending its contents spilling out onto the floor.Bookmark here

A small mountain of thick, golden coins gleamed with a haunting flicker as the dim candlelight washed over them.Bookmark here

"This... my son, is the thanks we are given for our role in keeping this land safe from bandits and other unsavory types. This is gold from the King... although... it seems a little lacking in value when I compare it to you... my little treasure."Bookmark here

He brought the boy back to the bedside, laying him down and grabbing a large cloth. He set about wrapping his son, then setting him back on the bed with a sigh.Bookmark here

"Just another day for you, eh little one? That's okay... you're just a baby after all. I'm sure you'll be running around on your own in no time." He laughed.Bookmark here

He pulled the cloth over his son's face, tightening it across the strip binding his chest.Bookmark here

The baby gave a noiseless yawn beneath the cloth, the darkness bringing him a peace that his parents would never understand. Moments later, he was sleeping peacefully, completely unaware of the coming events.Bookmark here

The man gave another long sigh, leaning down to gather the gold that had scattered around on the floor.Bookmark here

"I wish I could sleep that calmly... hell, I'd give anything to be as heavy of a sleeper as you are. I can't imagine what your dreams must be like."Bookmark here

The door opened slightly, his wife's voice chiming through the crack.Bookmark here

"Kel! Come look!" She said.Bookmark here

He stood to his feet, turning back to his son hesitant, then pulled the door open, stepping outside.Bookmark here

His wife was standing a few meters away from their home, her head angled up to the sky.Bookmark here

"Look at that! Isn't it gorgeous?!"Bookmark here

He turned his head to the sky himself, taking in the sight she had called him out for.Bookmark here

A cascade of enigmatic dark purples and reds filled the sky high above the clouds, turning the typically black sky into a beautiful cosmic canvas. Stars littered the background with bright white dots.Bookmark here

Kel took a breath, the sheer beauty of the sky filling his mind completely.Bookmark here

"That star..." He said, pointing to the brightest star in the sky, hiding just behind a cluster of clouds. "You said it had a name, right?" He asked.Bookmark here

"That's right! I'm surprised you remembered. It's called Kainrall, named after the God of Earthborn Strength." She explained.Bookmark here

The man thought for a moment, then gave a start.Bookmark here

"That's it! Let's name him Kain!" He shouted with glee.Bookmark here

She considered the name, her face curling into a smile as she nodded her head.Bookmark here

"I... I admit... I like it... I don't see why we can't name him that. Kel... Kara... and Kain." She grinned.Bookmark here

They pulled each other close, chuckling happily as they nuzzled into one another.Bookmark here

"Teaching him his name is going to be fun." She said.Bookmark here

They talked a few minutes more, before stopping and focusing their attention on a man walking towards them.Bookmark here

"Evening, you two." Came his gruff voice.Bookmark here

"Good evening, Mayor. Nice night, isn't it?" Kara asked quietly.Bookmark here

"Indeed... it's been a while since I came to check on you three. How's the little one?" The old man asked.Bookmark here

"Kain." Kel said happily. "We think we're going to name him Kain, and he's doing quite well, thank you."Bookmark here

"That's fantastic to hear, and Kain is a wonderful name. I think he'll come to love it as he gets older."Bookmark here

"We agree... we have the Gods to thank for his name." Kara said.Bookmark here

"Well, it's getting rather late, so I'll leave you be, since I'm sure he's already asleep. Bring him around sometime, the Missus absolutely adores him." He said.Bookmark here

"Will do. Have a good night!" Kel called as the man slowly disappeared from sight.Bookmark here

*Whup* *Whup*Bookmark here

A loud whooshing sound washed over them from the forest in the distance.Bookmark here

"My... sounds like some large birds out there." Kara said. "You think something has them riled up?" She asked.Bookmark here

"Dunno. They sure do sound big though." He agreed.Bookmark here

*WHUP* *WHUP*Bookmark here

"It sounds closer now... actually... I DO remember rumors of a dragon being sighted around the area... but... even if it does come, we'll be fine... it's not like we haven't seen dragons before." He smiled.Bookmark here

"That's true... besides, why would a dragon care about u-"Bookmark here

*WHUMP*Bookmark here

An enormous red beast dove from just over the tree line, horned head angled down toward them.Bookmark here

It flapped its great wings a few times, catching itself on an air current and halting in the sky. A few more wing beats brought it down to the ground.Bookmark here

It had large, yellow eyes that honed in on the two humans before it as it craned its head. It's entire body was clad in thick, shiny red scales that glistened with a lustrous beauty, reminiscent of the red sky above their heads. At nearly fifty feet from head to tail, it's great size meant that it struggled to fit in the space between the forest and the cabin. Still, it managed.Bookmark here

"What a sky tonight, humans... the Goddess of Devastation has blessed me on this evening with foresight that I appropriated to sate my greed. You have quite the treasure in your home, and I'd like it."Bookmark here

It's voice... HER voice, seemed to emanate from nowhere, and yet it drowned out all other sound.Bookmark here

"With all due respect, Madam Dragon, the gold in our home is rightfully ours." Kel said.Bookmark here

The dragon focused on him momentarily.Bookmark here

"You would reject my demands? If you refuse to do as I ask..."Bookmark here

The beast's body twitched, quickly shrinking down in size, then gurgling as it began to change its shape. Standing before them after a moment was a woman. She was entirely nude, her skin only slightly covered by long locks of dark red hair that swayed with every motion of her form.Bookmark here

She moved in a blur, closing the distance between her and Kel in a single step. Her palm shot forward, tapping Kel on his shoulder. His body lurched with an unseen force, slamming into the ground just in front of their home.Bookmark here

"Don't test me human, it won't end well for you OR your lovely woman." The dragoness sneered.Bookmark here

Kel pushed himself up to his feet, surprisingly unhurt after the attack.Bookmark here

"Typically I'd argue with you over it... but I'm willing to acquiesce this time." He grimaced.Bookmark here

He disappeared into the slightly open door, returning moments later with the sack of gold he had so proudly displayed to his son.Bookmark here

The woman gratefully relieved him of the bag, her body rumbling with an incoming change.Bookmark here

Her pale skin grew red welts that raised from underneath her flesh. They hardened, becoming brilliant red scales once more. Her physical body underwent a number of equally drastic changes as it morphed back to its original form.Bookmark here

The newly reformed dragon pressed her nose to the bag, taking in the scent of the gold within.Bookmark here

A scream from somewhere deep in the village broke the trance of the beast, who raised her head.Bookmark here

"You trifling little things startle so easily don't you?" She asked with a hint of amusement.Bookmark here

She inhaled a second time, her large nostrils flaring as they widened to fill her lungs. She gave a huff as she took in the scents around her.Bookmark here

"I smell your filthy hands all over this place, human..."Bookmark here

Her claw raised up and crashed into their home, tearing the rooftop off with reckless abandon.Bookmark here

The dragon craned her neck over the side of the splintered walls of her victim's home, almost immediately spotting the brown bundle sat motionless on their bed. Kara gave a squeal of fear, her concern for her sleeping child overwhelming her.Bookmark here

"Oh-ho? Trying to hide the best bits for yourself? Well unfortunately for you I'm no fool." She murmured, leaning into the building and wrapping the thin lips of her snout around the bundle, careful to avoid swallowing it.Bookmark here

She lifted her head from the home, her wings already beating, prepared to take her wherever she deigned.Bookmark here

"Goodbye humans, with this, I've taken everything valuable to you... may you never cross my path again." She growled.Bookmark here

She bolted faster than anything her size should ever be able to move, disappearing over the trees in the blink of an eye.Bookmark here

Kara and Kel rushed back into their home, dread consuming them entirely as they realized that the beast had taken their child.Bookmark here

The sound of footsteps nearing their home with was drowned out by the woman's scream.Bookmark here

"KAIIIIIIN!!" Kara's voice pierced the night air, her shriek even reaching the distant dragon, now nearly a mile away.Bookmark here

"Kain? Kainrall? He wouldn't dare try to stop me." The beast chuckled.Bookmark here

The creature continued her flight for almost a day, night already having returned to grace the sky as it honed in on the mountain she had made her home. She descended lazily, circling the mountain a few times to clear the forest below of birds and noisy animals.Bookmark here

Finally, she landed at the mouth of a cave about halfway up the mountain face. Her mouth opened, letting the small bundle drop to the cave floor.Bookmark here

She morphed back to her human form, immediately setting upon the bundle, unwrapping it gently. Her eyes widened with utter confusion as she finally laid eyes on her "prize".Bookmark here

A small baby boy was looking, no, leering up at her, obviously upset at all of the motion and force he had been subjected to.Bookmark here

She nearly fell back as she registered the events that had occurred the previous day.Bookmark here

"Kain... Kain... Kain... you are Kain, aren't you?" She asked quietly, her eyes locked with the child's.Bookmark here

His eyes were a blood red, and his tiny shock of hair a pure, snow white.Bookmark here

"You're an odd looking boy... you don't remind me of your parents in the least." She said.Bookmark here

She took the boy into her arms, bringing him to the mouth. She held him out, letting him dangle his legs, the only think below him being the face of the cliff.Bookmark here

"Young one." She said, doing her best to acknowledge the child before releasing him to his doom.Bookmark here

A rush of air swept up the mountainside, blowing the nude child's hair upwards in a puff of fuzz.Bookmark here

"Hehe."Bookmark here

The boy had giggled.Bookmark here

She stood motionless, her eyes widened once more with disbelief.Bookmark here

"You would look death in the face and laugh? Brave of you." She said.Bookmark here

She gave a sigh, then pulled the child back against her bosom, where he instinctively nuzzled himself against her.Bookmark here

"I suppose I should take you home, not kill you... you aren't the one who made me look like a fool." She said.Bookmark here

"Scry..."Bookmark here

Her yellow eyes began to glow, granting her visions of the village she had just plundered.Bookmark here

It was gone.Bookmark here

Gone was a strong word, as the buildings remained, although some had been burnt to the ground.Bookmark here

Her eyes focused on something closer to the edge of the village.Bookmark here

It was a pile of bodies, most charred and black, some missing limbs and other various parts.Bookmark here

She was sure she could make out the bodies of the boy's parents, both near the top of the pile. She gave a sigh, ending the spell and clutching the baby a little closer.Bookmark here

"You should be grateful to me, child. I saved you from the horrors of this world... now I suppose it falls to me to rear you... at least until you can care for yourself... like I said... be grateful that my pride is keeping me from throwing you off this mountain." She said.Bookmark here

She sighed a final time, looking out to the darkened sky from the cave mouth.Bookmark here

"A human, eh?"Bookmark here

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