“Snoot-Snoot, do you like your pebble?” I ask, squatting and nervous, with a tremble to my hand as I hold out the gift.
As Bezzel eyes the gift suspiciously with a strange tilt to her head, she slowly pulls her neck back. She strikes forward with an almighty growl, snapping right through the rock and breaking it into little granules. As she squawks and scuttles around along the ground, chewing on the grains of rock, she smiles with her teeth as she growls in a purr, up towards me.
“I knew you’d love it,” I stroke her little golden head, while we are surrounded by all the members of the Horde of Venom. Fire Spitters, Tempest scum, including Rawk and Zoraul, the two official Dragon Lords, are within this meeting cavern.
To my distaste, the number of Lords was about to increase to three.
I shiver in fear and equal disgust as I refuse to look around, hoping not to catch the eye of the unexpected arrivals when they eventually made their big entrance.
In the mean time, while I was with Bezzel, Rawk and Zoraul were parading around the cavern. It wasn’t overly large but it was big enough for the Horde to fit into within our mortal forms.
While this morning was originally meant to be a quiet introduction of Zoraul as the second Lord - it had quickly changed.
Apparently a vision was sent to their father; Storm. He was now visiting soon with with their mother; Silver. My literal in-laws. Which meant yet more Tempest scum. But instead of being simply sickened, I was quietly terrified. In fact, I had never been more terrified in my life.
I wasn’t sure why, other than I hoped I didn’t receive any looks of outright distaste. It would no doubt further the arrogance of my Lords.
While Rawk and Zoraul had been lovely last night, they had both locked me in the cage to sleep with a pillow and blanket as they both slept on the bed.
It had angered me after they proclaimed I was safe and loved. Luckily, other than being escorted to my gilded cage, I had received no further taunts last night.
I had slept and I had woken to the cage door open and the chamber room empty. While I had brushed my teeth with a golden ornamental brush, Snoot-Snoot had sulked in with a shy smile, clearly missing my company. She hadn’t left my side since.
Now, as I watch her chew on the magic pebble she has mauled to death, I slowly stand and wipe my sweaty palms on my leather pants.
As I gaze through the crowd, I see everyone lounging by a huge fire place, warming hands, chuckling, gossiping and congratulating Zoraul on his new position.
Every time I think about running, I glance to the two large wooden doors, guarded by the blue headed Tempest scum breeds. They're also the same guards that protect the entrance to the Horde.
I scowl at them as they smirk at me - they could see how uncomfortable this situation made me.
Not to mention, my Watchers were close by, standing behind pillars of rock, murmuring their thoughts to one another.
I had already forgotten all their names.
When I hear the cavern doors start to creak open with the humbled acknowledgement of the blue headed Tempest breed guards - I gulp and take a step behind the pillar of rock I am closest to. I slip behind it and Bezzel hops towards me, curiously tilting her head at me with wide eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that. I am not scared, Snoot-Snoot!” I hiss down at her, before I raise my gaze and abruptly squeak with the arrival of the two figures I was trying to silently dread.
One is gigantic, dressed like Rawk in grey leather pants and a grey coat with a white tunic.
One is tiny, wearing a purple dress.
I had almost squeaked with surprise from my throat when I see the likeness of Storm to Rawk. They are almost identical, aside from Rawk being clearly not fully grown with the added scar across his face. Storm was contrastingly massive. While father and son shared burnt silver hair, Zoraul had his mother’s untarnished silver. Both my mates also clearly shared the golden eyes of their father - which held pure magic - extremely powerful.
I try to pass off my squeak as a sneeze and then a cough as Bezzel laughs at me with snorts of fire as she dances around in a circle... whereby she eventually starts to chase her own tail.
I watch as she starts to run faster, round and round, growling louder and louder until she makes her self dizzy. She abruptly halts and lifts her baby Dragon head, now lop sided as she hops a few steps to the right... and then collapses on her side right in front of Storm’s gait and Silver’s curious violet gaze.
“Welcome, father,” Rawk steps forward, same time as Zoraul, from the quietened crowd as they meet Storm half way and Bezzel remains collapsed in a heap, “This is our humble Horde - small in size for now. We are mostly Fire-Spitters... which is also our mate’s breed, ironically. Excuse little Bezzel, she is a handful.”
“You have had a child already?” Storm asks, in a deep brawl and a serious tone... which has Rawk and Zoraul looking a little nervous, until Storm grins and steps over Bezzel to grasp each son’s forearm, “Have you lost all sense of humour? Smile.”
“We know,” Rawk and Zoraul shake their heads, while Bezzel jumps to her feet. At that moment, Storm accidentally moves his foot back and the heel of his boot collides with her head.
I can not stop the absolute rush of horror and rage that fills me.
“Be careful you brute!” I snarl out as I dance out from my corner, gracefully running forward, sliding down to my knees and scooping up a whining Bezzel into my hands. I slip her into the middle of my bra and I twirl around Storm and Silver to stand to the sides of my mates and their parents, “... she is but a babe, watch your heels more carefully while she scurries about,” I speak to Silver, who glances at me in both shock, wonder and apprehension at my appearance.
I glance to my mates, who look irritated by my aggressive display.
However, an itching claws its way over my skin, telling me I should be terrified of the new brute... that I boldly called a brute. After all, he was a 700 year old legend who murdered his entire first Horde including his first mate.
When I finally do raise my gaze, I see the side of Storm’s cheek which was hidden before from my position near the rock pillar. Now visible... and it’s broken, cracked... leaking Broken Fire.
Only ancient warriors could acquire such leakage of an old wound.
So... Storm was truely old, although he looks young.
And Storm does not seem to approve of my greeting. He watches me like a hawk while my eyes rage.
“...this is our mate, Mi-” Rawk tries to speak up, but I quickly cut him off while watching Storm.
“I am Minx, a Bellum Minima Dominus... I am pleasured to meet you both,” I growl this last part, “But please be more weary, Snoot-Snoot is reckless but she is precious,” I turn to Silver, who tries to reach out a hand while smiling at Bezzel.
“She is so sweet,” Silver speaks and I watch in apprehension as she reaches out for the little baby, hanging her head from my bra.
I am surprised when Bezzel shoots out friendly fire, instantly liking her.
I gasp in jealousy and jump back a step or two out of Silver’s reach.
“Don’t be so childish,” Rawk growls at me.
“Watch your chosen actions, pet,” Zoraul also warns, in protection of his mother.
But it is not my mates that I need to worry about. As Silver looks hurt, Storm suddenly steps forward when I do not expect.
I hold up my chin as the hair raises on the back of my nape, even though he is simply choosing to stand before me.
“...I can read you with one eye, little beast,” Storm murmurs quietly, even though I know it is a threat, “Two sides. Fury and Hunger. You haven’t explored many other emotions, have you, child? You hunt and eat.”
Now... I am speechless.
Storm met me formally for a minute and he knew exactly who I was.
“I am a fire that can not be tamed,” I proclaim, “I agree.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Silver speaks up this time and I’m curious to see her step forward, still with a kind smile on her face, until Storm holds out his arm and keeps her at bay.
“She is also violent, pipsqueak,” Storm looks over his shoulder at Silver, “Until she is tamed, she can not be trusted,” Storm then looks back to his sons, “Do you need any advice? If so I will freely give it.”
“We already have a cage set up,” Zoraul murmurs, “She’s branded. She’s well fed... most of the time. We haven’t had much time to explore many other options other than negotiation -”
“Father, be rest assured, though it is early days, I tell Zoraul often that we will need more than negotiation to calm Minx’s attitude,” Rawk adds in, while Storm snorts in approval.
“She’s a beast, she needs a collar and a chain,” Storm is bold.
“Excuse my Lord’s rudeness,” Silver surprises me again as she ducks under his arm and stands in between us, “You are beautiful and intelligent - he failed to mention those simple aspects to your aura. Sometimes fury is referred to as passion... Storm has plenty,” Silver steps forward and slips to my side before Storm can bother to scold her.
“...we’ll have words later, pipsqueak,” Storm growls at his mate before turning to his sons, completely dismissing both of us.
“Excuse him,” Silver adds in a whisper, “He is very old in his ways... very,” Silver gives me a small smile and I turn to her with a sudden grin.
“I was terrified you’d hate me,” I admit, “I really like you already, Silver.”
“Good,” Silver shrugs light heartedly and reaches behind her back, pulling forward a flower that mirages from thin air. It’s a purple rose. As she holds it out to me, Bezzel growls at the unknown entity.
“Snoot-Snoot, shh,” I scold her as I take it with an awed smile, “I have not seen a rose in years,” Silver winks.
“It is a gift. I’m sure my beautiful sons are a handful - but they are good Dragons and good men,” Silver boasts this proudly, “Are you happy in this relationship? We saw a vision through our Sprite Medium... she said you’d reunited the broken bond between our twin sons. For that I am eternally grateful. The rift between them grew deeper over the years, cracks kept appearing... and then... they hated one another, very suddenly, one day,” Silver says this with such sadness, “...I often thought that I was the one to fail them.”
“No - they are bonding again, I assure you. Um... may I ask, how you are Storm’s mate... when legend says that he killed his first?” I ask, out of the blue, with true curiosity. It’s only when I see Silver pause, that I realise I asked a very blunt and personal question.
“Jinx was my twin,” Silver explains, “I didn’t hatch from our egg for several centuries. It’s a complex story. How about you, Minx, do you have any siblings? Where do you come from?”
“None that I know exist. I was sold to the highest bidder as a baby to Amadahy. I was her pet while she was a princess... I was born in these horrible lands,” I shrug, “Now I am a pet again. Uh, I hope you don’t mind, sweet Lady, but I’m going to get some fresh air -”
“Not at all, darling,” Silver steps back and I breathe in the scent of the purple rose.
“Minx!” before I can even turn to take my leave, to breathe through the shock of how nice their mother was to me... Zoraul growls my name.
I turn to see Rawk and Zoraul watching me, while Storm lovingly gazes at Silver.
“Yes?” I ask, trying hard to sound like a Lady.
“You may not leave by yourself... that is not very polite, little beast,” Zoraul chooses his words carefully as he takes a few steps towards me and he reaches out a hand to push a few stray stands of my wavy purple hair off my nose and behind my ear, “Why don’t we show our guests the best view in these lands?”
I bite my tongue and nod, while I breathe in the scent of the flower... to hide my annoyed scowl.
“Yes! Let us see the views,” Storm agrees while Rawk takes the lead.
“This way, father, mother - you will love our position in these lands,” as Rawk strives out of the cavern, the crowd all watch on, simply admiring how everyone was getting along.
Bezzel falls asleep in my bra while Silver walks with me and Zoraul walks around me to put an arm around his mother’s shoulders.
“You are so big now,” Silver proclaims to Zoraul, “But so slender... are you still a sly snake in the shadows?”
“You know it, mother,” Zoraul chuckles and leans down to place a fleeting kiss on the top of her hair, “...and you only grow smaller - while Storm grows larger.”
“I fear one day he will simply step on me like he almost stepped upon the little babe in Minx’s care,” Silver sighs.
“Never,” Zoraul accompanies Silver all the way out while I hang back with Bezzel.
Eventually we all make it outside to the best views of this immediate area, on top of our rocky plateau, over looking the horizon.
As the morning winds whip through all of us, we still make it to the edge of the boulders to gaze at the white sky.
“I’m proud of you both,” Storm proclaims, growling while at ease, “...and thankfully I can say ′both of you′ again...because your unruly mate brought you all together.”
While I am aghast with the clear distaste from Storm even with the benefit of my presence, I stand a little behind the four of them, observing them and wondering of their unity.
And I keep my mouth shut.
“She is full of spirit,” Silver proclaims, “I can see that -”
“You always see what you want to see, darling,” Storm chuckles playfully while Silver punches him in the ribs and their twin sons grin.
“Full of spirit?” Rawk laughs out loud, “Minx is more than that.”
“Far more,” Zoraul adds “She is a lot to think about.”
“Not that we cannot handle her, we were taught well to Master Feeling,” Rawk adds, admiring his father, “You are our inspiration, father, we will tame our little beast in no time -”
“I am a Lady!” I interrupt, or at least, I aim to.
Unfortunately, I am not heard, except by Silver with the briefest of amused glances from Zoraul.
“Do not let a Fire Spitter like herself, proclaim she is something she is not,” Storm aims to say this quietly but even I hear the words travel with the wind, “She can only be a true Lady when she learns how to master more emotions. Because she is simple minded, you will have to master them for her.”
Now, my ears prick even further while my heart beats faster in rejection of the words which describe how I should be handled.
Again, as if I am a pet.
It is even more insulting that they do not talk to me directly.
I am right here!
“Father, she is ours,” Rawk reassures Storm, “Entirely.”
“Ready to breed us lots of little fledglings,” Zoraul can’t help but be a smart ass.
“I do expect grandchildren one day,” Storm murmurs this in approval.
Then, the whole family fall silent while gazing over the horizon. The morning sun is obscured by clouds as always, there is snow falling in the distance and the white glint of the forested fields below between the outreaching Tempest mountains, capture a keen artist’s eye.
While they all happily watch the sun rise and the scenery, I am now boiling with anger.
I could keep my cool if I heard talk that I didn’t approve of as long as it wasn’t too insulting.
However, a line had been crossed.
They spoke of me like a breeding machine - when I was a war machine.
Was no one going to discuss the ferocity of the legendary Breed that I am?
Was no one going to mention my skills in combat?
I slowly walk forward, until I stand between Rawk and Storm - to grab their attention.
“I am a warrior,” I speak, calmly, “Will either of you speak otherwise?”
My attitude is in full force, but so is my venom.
I make sure I am firm with my words.
However, I am also ready - ready to do battle.
“Calm that mind of yours, pet,” Rawk sighs in frustration, “You are quick to anger.”
“Do not skirt around the issue,” Storm growls to Rawk over my head, “Especially when dealing with a plain bred simpleton - be honest with her. Simply say, you will breed a-”
Storm does not get a chance to finish.
For the second time in less then 12 hours - I push another Dragon off that same rocky plateau.
And I dare say, as my hands and ferocious strength haul into Storm’s side... as I launch him off the cliff... he is truly unprepared for the sudden assault.
But I am furious.
I am ready for the blood to spill.