“Come on! Just give me your hand!” He was reaching out a hand for her to grab, all she had to do was move. But she was too afraid. Her hand wouldn’t move when she willed it to. “Mizian! Come on!”
“I’m sorry!” She let go of what she was holding. Whatever she was doing, it was for the better. She fell, smiling, and reaching a hand out towards the person trying to save her, “Thank you.”
The black wings of her archenemy lifted to embrace her, “You won’t evade me for long. I will consume you!” Death’s voice rang clear in the silence brought by darkness, the stench of a body which had been dead for some time wafted through the thick air.
“Don’t fall asleep, for Death is but a dream.” A voice rang through her head, “A dream which, if embraced for too long, will pull you in too deep for redemption.”
But she was falling into the hands of Death. He reached her and wrapped his snake like body around her like a snake, crushing the life out of her moment by moment. Mizian freed her arms and pounded her fist on Death’s hard body, fear suddenly making her question her decision to let go. Her lungs ached and she felt her ribs caving in slowly. They could snap at any moment… Darkness crept into her vision from the edges, like water covering over her face. But she let it. She couldn’t be a light to the world anymore; the light was dead.
Mizian didn’t have any fight left, she closed her eyes and decided it was time for her to join her family. To embrace the dream, like her parents had so long ago.
After all, Life, had been defeated by its oldest enemy; Death.
Miz shot awake, left in a familiar yet intimidating darkness. This darkness wasn’t from Death though, an accident earlier in her life had left her blinded.
She picked herself up and walked out of her cave, using the walls to guide her. Mizian took a deep breath, and filled her lungs with fresh morning air. The scents of dew and mountain herbs filled the air, mingled with the sweet smell of dirt and stone.
She was a dragon, one of the protectors of the elements. Sent by the divines long ago. Although dragons were once a sacred species, worshipped by humans, the humans had decided that the time of the dragons had passed. Their arrogance convinced them that they were equal to dragons, superior even. For that reason, dragons were, and still are hunted like common animals. So, sadly, dragons were vanishing from the earth at an alarming rate, and dragons had to stay away from humans.
For some reason, humans liked to collect dragon bones. Why? She had no idea. In her opinion, horns looked better on people’s heads, and bones belonged inside bodies, and hanging wings on a wall? Gross.
Yet, greedy people decided they just had to have them, thus making the world a dangerous place for her kind. The dragons countered the humans with a hex to hide their features. This way, the humans only knew a dragon was in their company if the dragon made itself known.
But some humans made a deal with Death, and their family line was cursed with a short lifespan, but with the eyes of a dragon.
Luckily, Mizian was protected. Not just by a mountain, or a hex, but by certain people; cultists, in a way. They valued her traits as a ‘higher’ being, and protected her. She would in turn, make sure those under her watch had abundance in crops. She couldn’t quite provide protection from other Dragons, but nobody knew that.
Most of the other Dragons respected her and family, they brought life to the world, and shown as a light of hope and peace to the world. Some myths even claimed that God rested the very vitality of the world in the blood of the Life dragon clan. Nobody knows what would happen, or even if anything would happen; were the Life clan wiped completely from existence.
Mizian ran a hand through her long brown hair, pulling it out of her face for no reason aside from habit. She decided to take a trip to the village below, as she did this once a week. Mizian spread her wings and stretched her back, then let out a sigh and jumped off her mountain.
“Look! There she is!”
Voices from below tickled her sensitive ears and she smiled faintly, thankful for the people that she had responsibility for. They mostly took care of themselves, they were a friendly lot. Looking out for one another.
“Hello, my lady!” came a woman’s voice. This was Martha, a baker and babysitter for the people.
“Good morning, Martha.” Mizian smiled the best she could as she walked through the crowd of people, “How are things going down here?”
“Our crops flourish, our livestock is healthy, all is well with us as usual. All thanks to you of course.” Came a man’s voice, her husband, Richard. “How are you? Is there anything we can do for you, my mistress?”
“I’m fine.” She shook her head, “I wouldn’t want to take anything from you.”
“Oh, but you give us so much!” another woman, Amy, argued with her. “We have to give some if it back.”
“We prepared a meal for you!” came another voice, they were timid. As if the fact that they had done something before asking would upset her.
Mizian inwardly sagged, she was very hungry. She wasn’t the best hunter due to her blindness, but would it be acceptable to eat food given to her by humans? She breathed in the scent of the air, and caught the smell of something delicious.
“If you insist.” She sighed. Almost immediately, they guided her towards what she supposed was a house, or possibly a dining hall. “I don’t really want to go inside though…”
Being inside human buildings made her uncomfortable, dragons aren’t really meant to be inside human buildings. Besides, they were so crowded and small, if she ever needed to fly away, she wouldn’t be able to.
“Oh, my apologies! I’ll bring it out to you then.” Martha said as she rushed inside.
“I like to sit over here all the time, you can sit here though.” A child says, Miz turned her head and tried to locate where they were. It was a newer voice, one that she felt was familiar, but also foreign.
“Say that again?” she asked. The child repeated what she’d said, and Miz slowly walked over to where they were and felt for the seat they were talking about. “Right here?”
“Yeah. See how soft it is? Momma made this!”
“It’s very nice.” Mizian smiled, “Thank you. What's your name?”
“Do you really breathe fire?” The child asked, disregarding Mizian’s question.
“Yes I do.”
“Does it hurt?”
“No, not always.”
“Oh! I brought you something! Don't burn it okay?!!” The child exclaimed randomly. Mizian held out her hand and waited for the item to be dropped into it. By the smell and texture, she guessed it was a flower.
“Oh thank you!” She smiled, “It’s very pretty.”
“Sorry its squished, I had to keep it in my pocket.”
She ran her fingers over the flower, and channeled some of her power into the flower, to bring it back to life for a short while.. Slowly, Mizian felt the flower fill out in her hand, and smelled its fragrance strengthen. “There, it isn't crushed anymore.”
The doors behind them opened and the woman walked out with a plate of food and put it on a table in front of Miz. The dragon nodded her thanks and slowly ate the meal in front of her and smiled again. After finishing, Mizian stood up and made her way through the people crowding around her, then walked to the fields.
“Don’t mind me.” She said, “I’ll just be checking the fields and such.”
Miz walked through their extensive fields and gave them new growths, she enjoyed this part of her visits. She knew that her family would be proud of her for keeping their tradition, but was she doing it the right way? Was she missing something important? Should she be doing anything different? Sometimes she wondered if her family even had a tradition that was set in stone, or if they just did what felt right.
No, it wasn’t normal for a dragon her age to take on the responsibility, but it wasn’t normal to lose all of one’s family either. Mizian was only a few hundred years old. Typically, the parents would spend long years teaching their children the ways of their art, but Miz had only just begun before… before they left the realm of the living… Before they embraced the dream.
Death came for all of them eventually, but she felt like it was unfair for him to take them so quickly. What if he was stepping out of his boundaries and taking more than just her own family early? Taking others before Fate said they were ready? It was perfectly normal for her family line to die off, but they had many children to carry on the line, because they are the embodiment of life. But now, Mizian was the only one left.
“You alright, Mizian?” a voice called.
She turned to the voice and smiled, “Decided to give yourself up finally?” she asked. “Am I boring you with my pointless wandering?”
“You didn’t answer my question.” He said.
Mizian sighed, Marcus was the only person she’d ever fully trusted after losing her family. He knew she was blind, and her past, and how to see past her smiles. Although sometimes he made her uneasy with how he tried to sneak up on her. “I’m fine.”
“You're not fooling me with your oh so mysterious and wise wandering. What’s wrong?” Mizian could almost hear a playful wink in his voice.
“I’m just bothered by some things…”
“By what seems like everything.” She huffed, “Death took my family sooner than necessary. I wasn’t ready for them to leave and now they're asleep…”
“If he waited until you were ready, that would make life fair, and we know better than to expect that.”
“But you do know that he's always looking for a way to cheat. To find loopholes. And with my parents gone, he gets to exploit more than ever before. Because the Blind Heir is still learning everything all by herself. Is that not more than unfair?”
“It is, but what’s to be done about it? It’s not like you can kill Death himself.”
“And that’s what bothers me. There's no way for me to level the playing field the way I am now. No way for me to even get back at him.”
“Life isn’t fair, even to its master.”
“I’m no master. I'm actually helpless in a dragon’s eyes. And I'm tired of it.” She let out a sarcastic laugh, “But who’s going to do my work if I don’t? It’s not like I asked for my job, and it’s not like I can just quit either.”
“But you do your job so well.”
“No I don't…” She said, “You see these?” She asked as she pulled her cloak-hood back to reveal two blunt horns protruding out of her head.
“Looks like they’re coming out nicely.”
“These tell everyone that I’m the heir of Life. That means I must keep my followers healthy, protected, and happy. Which means, fly down from the mountain, smile at everyone, grow their crops, smile more, and go home. No time for being a kid, no time to learn anything new.” She paced back and forth, “But do they know what I go through every night? Does anyone appreciate what I do enough to do anything in return? I don't get anything except ‘Oh thank you sooooo much miss LeRay!! You are so kind!’”
Marcus sighed and stood up from the seat he’d taken on a fallen tree. “You’re special, Miz. I know plenty of people who would gladly take your place, were it possible. But only you are born with the right to be who you are, and you have the responsibility to prove yourself worthy as the heir of Life.”
“It’s just hard…” She sighed “Anyway, I should go.”
So, Mizian finished her errands at the village and returned to her cave in the mountains. She wished she could see the sunset, she had never taken time to enjoy it when she was younger, because she had a little brother who was more fun than watching the sun go down.
She could smell the evening now and wondered if sunsets were as great as people made them out to be.
Sadly, Mizian walked into her cave, missing the days when her brother would be there to play with her at night, and her parents would tell them to calm down before they hurt each other…
What she wouldn’t give to have just a few of those days back.
Now she walked alone in the huge cave, that was filled with silence. Most days she wasn’t bothered by them, but today she felt lonelier than usual.
She thought sleeping might help her forget her loneliness as she laid down in her small bowl in the stone floor, which was filled with straw and some stray fabrics she had found. If she kept burying her pain with things like sleep, it would die eventually, right?
She opened her eyes, and she could see again, instantly, she knew that she was dreaming.
She was in a forest that looked healthy and flourishing. But she was alone. “Hello?”
She looked around and noticed the sky darkening as the moon moved in front of it. Miz spread her wings and took flight, thinking that maybe she could see better when she was above the trees.
As she got high enough, she felt a harpoon penetrate her chest and she was pulled out of the sky. She couldn’t fight the pull, and her wings wouldn’t work to catch her. Down she fell to the harsh ground, and all around her, trees turned black and crumbled to the ground like ash. Disease, death, and darkness were all around, and she couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Mizian struggled to tell herself it was just a dream. The pain in her chest and the world wilting were both just part of a cruel dream. A plague brought by Death. A curse. A way to wave her responsibility in her face and make her feel guilty.
Slowly, the fake pain faded away and Mizian came back to the world of reality.
She curled her knees toward her chest and blinked until the tears in her eyes went away. She needed sleep, she needed time to take care of herself. Hygiene, food, rest…
Her dreams told her otherwise. They told her she had to forget herself, and make her people the top priority. No time for hunting, no time for crying, and no time for anything but work.
So she kept working, no sleep. Sleep brought the plague back. Sleep brings guilt, guilt slowed her work. No food, food kills animals, killing animals gives them to Death. No time for chatter, and no time to feel lonely.
Eventually everything caught up to her and she collapsed mid-air. She somehow crashed in the middle of an already created crater. This was her resting place for quite a while. She couldn't wake because her body was still recovering from its lack of rest, even her mind was put to extended rest. As natural as it is for a dragon to use their element, it takes rest to recover the energy used. Mizian did not give herself this rest, and so she fell into a coma.
When she awoke, it was night, and winter had taken ahold of the land. The crisp air nipped at her skin and burned in her lungs. She blinked, then laughed dryly and spread her wings. They were creased because she had kept them folded for so long. She felt every muscle in them as she stretched them as far as they would go.
She stood up and felt around the areas she was in, not finding any of it to be familiar. Mizian hissed in irritation. The only way for her to find a way to her cave would be to find either the village or one of the entrances.
After a few hours of trying different things, some helpful and some not so much, Miz found her way to the village and landed in the center.
Mizian felt… different, then before. Energized and confident for the first time in what felt like a century. Like Death would never defeat her, and she was going to prove it to him by bringing life to his season of cold.
She ran to a tree and pressed her hand to the trunk Wake up! She called the tree out of its seasonal slumber and it sprang to life, flowers split open with a crack that was barely audible.
She turned from the tree and ran through the fields of her people. Letting her power flow forth and bringing life to all the fields. The leftover seeds from harvest erupted from the ground and produced fruit in seconds.
She felt free in a way, and just for a little bit, she was going to act as though everything was okay, and life was fair.
“Nothing is going to take me before I’m ready. Do you hear me Death?!” She called, “You won’t take me down without a fight!”
~The Next Morning~
Hannah stirred in her bed and woke up, she ran outside, excited to play in the snow. But when she opened the door, her favorite tree had flowers on it, the fields looked as though harvest had come yet again.
“Daddy! Look at the fields!” She called as she ran back inside and jumped on her parent’s bed. “I told you she wasn’t dead!”
Her Father sat up and opened one eye while he rubbed the sleep out of the other one. “What?”
“The fields are fully grown! Come and look!”
She took her father’s hand and pulled him out the door to see his field. He took a step forward and smiled, “She’s returned!”
“She has returned.”
“Good, you know what you have to do.”
“But sir, she’s the last heir… If we kill her, who knows what would- “
“Have you let your pathetic friendship get on the way of our deal, Hunter?”
“… No sir, we are not friends. It's simply an act…”
“Then what holds you back?”
“She's the last heir… If she dies the world could potentially end…”
“Don't you think I know that? Do your job before I have someone else kill both of you.”
~The next morning~
Mizian walked out of her cave and yawned, feeling her work last night taking its toll on her. She had no regrets though.
She decided that she would fly down to the village now that she could actually smile. When she got there, everyone greeted her with cheers, affection, and a celebration.
After the main buzz had died down (Around the end of the day), she walked out in the forest and came to Marcus’s small house. She knocked on the door, and he opened it, then stepped out.
“You’re back.” He greeted her, “It’s been a while.”
“It has.” She nodded, “But I’m happy with my decision.”
“Was it right to bring spring to the heart of winter though?” He asked her, “Isn’t that unfair to Death?”
“Now you sound like me.” She teased, “Who cares if it’s unfair to Death. I took nothing from him, it’s not like I raised the dead.”
“I suppose.” There was a silence that was shared, he was being different, why though? Wasn’t he happy she was back?
“Is something wrong, Marcus?”
“No.” He said, “I’m glad you’re safe.”
She opened her mouth to reply, but heard a crash from the direction of the village. She turned her head and darted off. As she ran through the forest, she shapeshifted from a frail humanoid figure, to a bulky, scaly quadruped, huge and destructive.
“What's happening?” Mizian called out loudly as she broke through the tree line.
But what she heard in response made her heart drop lower than it had been in a long time. People screaming, young and old alike, she felt the heat of fire and smelled smoke and the stench of burning flesh.
“Ah, my old friend.” Called a voice, “Back to ruin my season are you?”
She didn’t need to see his cruel red eyes and black wings to know that she was talking to none other than Death himself. “You won’t be taking anything from me, girl. This is what you deserve for trying to best me.”
“I wasn’t trying to do that!”
“What is this then?”
“I was just… I was celebrating.”
He scoffed, “Pathetic. Your people will pay for your… celebration.”
“It isn’t their fault! Don’t take it out on them!”
“If I were to punish you it wouldn’t be true pain.” He sneered, “I know your kind better than that.”
“I won’t let you hurt them!” She called as she charged towards where she assumed he was.
“And what could you possibly do to stop me? You aren’t fooling anyone while you pretend you can see. Plus, you don’t know how to properly fight. To think these people thought you could protect them… What a pity.” He said as he easily twisted his serpentine body away from her.
Mizian roared in frustration and blew fire towards Death, but he dodged it and twined his body around hers. He hissed loudly and wrapped his jagged tail, then dragged her backwards and threw her. She jumped back to her feet and let out a furious hiss, then started clawing blindly. He reached out a cruel claw, and caught her head with his long talons, knocking her aside. “Learn your place, Life. Don’t try to oppose Death. The Light and Dark stay separate for a reason.”
“Then stay away!” She hissed back as she dizzily stood up again. “These are my people, don’t take them!”
“They aren’t doing you any good. I’m sure they’ll prove much more useful to me.” He sneered, Miz launched herself at him and slammed into a rock that was behind him. With a skilled claw, Death knocked her over and pinned her on her back, then began clawing at her underside. She hissed and kicked him off, then flipped over and backed up. She pressed her lower back against the wall and bared her teeth, Death stepped forward and scoffed, “You’re a disgrace to your family.”
She flinched and felt a tear well up and then fall down her face. Before anything else could happen, Death swiped her across the face once more, and she couldn’t pick herself back up this time…
She was forced to listen to her people, that she was responsible for, that her parents had left her in charge of. She had to listen to all of them screaming for her help, her protection. And she could do nothing to save them. Mizian tried shapeshifting to her humanoid form to see if it would allow her more energy, but the transformation only sapped whatever she had left. The noises of the world became muffled, and her tired muscles hurt too much to fight anymore…
“Miz, wake up!”
She shot up dashed towards the village, forgetting about Marcus, her only thoughts were on her people. As she got there, she dropped to her knees and put her head in her hands, “No!” She cried. “This is all my fault!”
“No it’s not…” He said, “It’s mine.”
“What?” She looked up and let her blind eyes rest on Marcus, “How?”
She heard a click and a spring gain tension, and immediately she regretted ever trusting Marcus. “No, don’t!” She stood up and took a few steps away from him.
“I have to. It's you or me, Mizian.”
“You don’t understand!”
“Please Marcus, don’t do this!”
He pulled the trigger on his crossbow, and Miz closed her eyes. She couldn’t die, not yet, this wasn’t how she went… But she felt every second of the pain, she felt the arrow hit her, and then she felt it bury itself in her stomach, like it was in slow motion. She fell backwards onto the ground, and the world went dark again.