The large, beautiful and expansive range of land in the kingdom of Dawn held many wonders. It was the largest country on the largest continent of Eltaera, one with millions of people inhabiting it, even if few and far between the towns and cities. It held grand mountains that found their footing in ancient times with snowy tops; forests that felt endless, with trees so tall and wide that men found them daunting to try and cut down. The cities and towns themselves were wonders, the pinnacle of human achievement during the metal ages. Kings and queens ruled strongly, their thrones gaining a lot of respect throughout the years—and a lot of disdain.
The creatures that lived there were just as special, and just as plentiful. There were dragons, fairies, creatures of the elements and an energy that was unimaginable. Magic, some would say, followed those creatures, and specifically the dragons. Wherever the grand beasts stayed, everything was far livelier. The humans that lived there, usually outside of the cities and in the small towns and farmlands, benefitted from the magic that came from the beasts of fantasy; their crops grew faster, their animals were raised healthier, and illness was lightened by the mere presence of them. Though they were never domesticated, they were usually given offers of food to keep the symbiotic relationship alive.
They were the pride of Dawn, from the perspective of working men.
From inside the city and castle walls, they were strange, unknown, and dangerous.
When few people inside the walls knew how to properly approach the beasts, it was very unsafe. Dragons, while they could not talk, were not dull creatures. They were aware of their surroundings and knew of others’ intentions far before anything were to happen. Much like a dog or a cat, they were able to judge a person on the aura they gave off, and when the dragons were approached by armed knights from the king’s land, they were on guard. Men in shiny metal wielding sheathed swords meant to do harm; they couldn’t be trusted. At first, it was nothing more than a test—groups of knights encroaching on dragon territory, outside of villages in forests and around mountainous ranges. They would judge the dragons’ reactions to their existence, or scouts staying out of the way to watch how the local people would interact with them. They did not use force to befriend the dragons, or take control, at least, not without being told to.
All it took was one young naive prince to take the dragons’ kindness for granted, and their knowledge for simplicity. His fascination with them was a warning sign to his aging father, who heeded the words of his forebearers: Do not toil, only watch. It was not the kingly way to intervene with other species, he believed that quite strongly. The people of his kingdom could benefit from the working relationship, but any move of power could frighten the balance.
A quick spreading disease was what took that king’s life, and when his son was crowned, it was the turning point of history. Not long after, the new king went out with a party of trusted advisors and guards to capture a dragon. He wanted to bring it back to the castle, to move it into the dungeons so he could tame such a magnificent creature.
Dawn watched in horror as the relationship built up over the years was demolished all in one night.
When the group snuck up on the sleeping congregation of dragons, they released their ropes and trapped the nearest dragon they could find: a white-scaled beauty. It awoke in fear as they tightened the bonds and pulled, pushing its large wings and head into the dirt. They did not account for the heated breath to come coursing through its nose, burning the near ropes and grass surrounding it. The commotion brought the rest of the herd to life, and the poorly equipped men had the face the wrath of a whole thunder of dragons; swords meeting scales but being no match for the scorching fire that rained down on them in a flurry. Claws pierced chest plates, the metal having no chance against the sharpened talons of a grand beast. The young king watched in horror, all the while stepping back, not once swinging his sword. His men were burned and cut down, and when there was nothing left, he turned and ran for the horses, but not without receiving a blast of flames to his porcelain face. Once beautiful, fresh skin blistered into a contortion of reds and wrinkles, his screams echoing into the forest, marking the beginning of a new era.
The king’s fascination had died with his men that night. He was found by a traveler, and brought back to the nearest village for healing. The dragons had long gone, and when he was aware enough to explain what had happened to him, he was met with shock. No one had tried to capture a dragon and make it their own before, it was unheard of, and completely preposterous. He faced scorn, and as soon as he was well enough, he was forced to leave the village; unable to stay by force. He was weak, tired, and all he wanted was to return to the castle.
Upon returning, his personality had changed. His optimism had crumbled like a fragile wall, and his want for a dragon shapeshifted into a red-faced anger to see them destroyed.
Weeks turned into months and months turned into years, but after a proper amount of research and design, he moved another group of men out into the wilderness to hunt down the group of dragons he had faced when he was younger. They held shields made to withstand heat, and layers of armor to cover themselves from the fire and be able to take a hit. After weeks of searching, they tracked down the ones they were looking for, and with great pleasure they hunted them with a skill the dragons were not expecting. In the end, four dragons were killed, and five men out of forty. It was a victory for the royal, and a defeat for all of Dawn.
When returning home, the king made a mask out of the white dragon’s chest plate and wore it over his burned face as a trophy of his accomplishments. He made it a royal decree that dragons can and should be hunted, embarking on more journeys throughout his years. His city’s banners changed from crossed swords over a shield to a rugged image of a dragon’s head with a sword spearing the jaw and straight through the head.
Soon, the dragons stopped interacting with humans. The symbiotic bond was stripped, and dragons were rare to see within the forests and mountains surrounding the towns and villages. As the dragons moved further and further away to escape the constant battles, the scouts and warriors ventured farther.
And soon enough, the dragons could not be found at all.
The city, having heard the tale of the king and knowing nothing of the true nature of dragons, rejoiced as he announced their extinction. The vicious beasts are dead! Long live man! Fearless is our king!
The king, in his later years, came to be known as The Burned King, and he wore it with pride. He remained proud until his last breath, where his legacy had moved onto his child, and then their child. The dragons were gone, and if they were ever to make a return, they would be made to regret it.