An Early Dawning
Thoughts gradually poured in, breaking the flat silence of...of it. A void. A black, indiscernible void, and yet it brought comfort and warmth. Its vice grip did not strangle, but coddled instead, thrumming with energy and safety.
Day by day was spent like this, in the full void’s embrace, with only faint mumbling breaking the mindless sleep. Lately, the mumbling was becoming more distinct, like one was approaching its source faster and faster against one’s own will. It was terrifying, the thought of leaving the full void’s embrace. To lose the safety it brought and start to think for long moments rather than brief instances, but they wouldn’t stop. Images poured in against one’s will, and when panic was starting to take hold and drown the void, calmness returned.
The sounds from outside the warm void relaxed. They brought a sense of safety that the darkness could not, no matter how tight it became over time. The ‘one’ soon started to become more aware. Of the void, of the growing tightness, and most importantly; of itself. Images sparked through the growing awareness, breaking past what was once just faint flickers of the dark and its gray, watery streaks. The images helped grow the ‘one’s’ sense of self and awareness. They ranged from viewing strange visual stimuli, then learning of their names and purpose. Their associations and dangers. ‘Green’ and ‘grass’. ‘Light’ and ‘bones’. ‘Meat’ and ‘hunger’.
The images were disjointed, but understandable. Easy to follow, but they became grander and more elaborate, overwhelming the occupant of the warm void. Try as they might, the occupant could not hide within the darkness' embrace. It had wrapped them with all of its ability already, and the images were filling it. They were pushing the occupant out. The ‘one’ didn’t want that! She didn’t want that! She wanted to stay within the safety of the void and its loving embrace. Its tightening embrace. The only recourse against the flooding images vying for the occupant's attention was to fight against them. To use the very knowledge the images taught her. They were trying to tell her that there was something outside of the comforting embrace of her void. Absurd!
Her body was heavy and slow, as though her home was holding her back, compressing her. It felt like her body was collapsing in on itself and struggling was making it worse. But, the occupant wouldn’t relent. This was her home, and she loved this void. She would protect it, so she forced herself forward, unaware of whatever shape she had, only aware that she had appendages constrained and held down by the images. She could feel tension in her and finally pushed against the suffocating grip and met with something hard. It produced a loud cracking, startling the occupant but proving that she had wounded the invaders attacking her mind and void. She forced herself forward again, and again, although not every movement had met with success.
Eventually she felt her undefined form go limp. Become weak and heavy, and felt the warm void getting colder, letting her go. It let go of both her love and efforts to save it, but it did not leave immediately. It had something else to show her. The void rushed back and forward at the same time, creating a depth that did not exist. Reaching forward, the occupant found herself being cast in its own current without her body moving. Figures appeared in front of her, growing from the dark ground below in quick, grouped succession.
The occupant didn’t know them, but she recognized them. They were the ones that came before. Those that lived outside the void. They had known the void’s loving embrace of warmth and were cast away from it. Their eyes were the only color breaking through the violent tempest of the void, picking away at their edges like...like blue. Like water. They were a living memory. They were the source of the images, and there were so many of them! The occupant saw them as...huge, tremendous beasts, their heads engulfing her view. Heads that turned in unison to see her pass by.
Some were bulky angular, others svelt and smooth. Some possessed...horns. The numbers of these horns varied greatly. Some were broken and others had too many, but the occupant was only aware of the concept of ‘too much’. She wasn’t sure what it meant, only that she was ‘told’ it. These beings all had long...long snouts, or muzzles. Many different shapes crested their bodies, and their sizes changed as well, but the occupant could not define the words. There were too many different ones flowing to her. Not one word stuck with one image. They all had similar traits, and on their backs were wings. All these beings had them. Regardless of whom they were attached to, the wings were majestic, and the occupant wanted to see more.
The further she went, the more the void-borne entities were blurring and fading out...or, they were supposed to. The occupant felt panic rushing through her. It was fear! The images in her head were not able to answer her questions, and they gradually went from clear, simple, and colorful, to drab, erratic, and eroded. The entities became larger, mightier, stronger, and prouder. The occupant felt something emanating from them that the smaller entities did not have. Something without a name, but with a core understanding. The occupant...She knew without knowing. This sentiment became stronger the further she went, until the towering figures parted before her, melting into the black void below.
She felt a tightness. A great fear that she shouldn’t feel. A fear caused by...by anger. Frustration. And...lamentation. She didn’t understand the last word. It was too alien to her, but what stood before her was not. Looking at her from a reverse-semi-circle were blackened figures engulfed by the void. Their forms, like mountains! Their bodies, all unique, and yet so similar! So different from those that came before. Those she had seen. She could move back as much as she wanted, but their positions would not change. They still stood over her like she was at the base of a terrible mountain with eyes glowing like deadly s...s...stars. Some images still came to the occupant of the void, pushing through her fear. Coercing her to look higher than the nine figures crushing her with their presence.
Another figure. This one...even bigger. Its head could engulf all nine of the mountain-sized beings...but it was only showing its head, and its eye was drab and lightless. It was turned away, looking into its own void -because this one was the occupant’s and no others’- while the mountains made their presence known. It reacted to its being here, like it was awoken from a dream, and its eye shifted left and right before finally falling on the occupant. A flicker of pale, white light came from its eyes, but the occupant felt all her fear flood from her. She felt a sense of abandonment. Of loss. Then the melancholic entity looked back to its own landscape. The occupant wanted to reach out to it, curious about these emotions it had, but the void had other goals.
The occupant felt the images compressing her from all sides once more, and once more they were kept at bay by the void. No. They were held at bay. Held by...by that thing. Illuminated by a black sun with white outlines. It absolutely dwarfed the ten below it, and its four...six eyes bore down upon the occupant with a vicious and otherworldly purpose. It...it didn’t belong. Its form was so different from the others the occupant had seen. Even the mountains were the same, at basis, but this thing was not. Everything was wrong. Its face was not elongated like the others, but still just as wide, and it had...it had two mouths in one. Then it had three in two, then back to two in one. Then four eyes. Then twelve horns and none more. Fins as its crest, then spikes. Thorns and drops.
While absolute terror gripped the little...yes. Little. Small. Tiny. The small occupant was held, unable to move, and then the thing, it smiled, and the occupant felt a great warmth and love, amplified by the sounds from the outside. The voices. Great beams of void reached from the sides, ready to embrace their occupant, but the outside voices didn’t give in. They became louder and louder, and the images rushed in from the void, bringing back the occupant’s concerns from earlier, and she fought and fought against the images. She fought. And fought. And fought. A single word reached the occupant’s mind as she fought. One with a voice. It came from the thing.
Then, a loud ‘craaaack’. The former occupant felt herself fall on something hard, kicked out of the void that bound her. She couldn’t see! Something was covering her! It was sticky and gooey! It was so disgusting! She wanted to tear it off, but she was so...so tired. Her body wouldn’t let her pull it off, and the only thing that came to her were the fading images left to her by the void. She had to call for help. She had to roar! She opened her mouth, and...squeaked. That wasn’t right. She tried again and only a tired ‘eep’ escaped from behind her teeth. The voices became clearer and more distinct as time went from beyond her loving void.
“Nine eggs!” a voice stated with enthusiasm. “Eight of them hatched! That’s amazing!” it cheered.
A loud whimper followed. It didn’t have the same tone. “Please do what you have to.” There was a pause. “I wish that all nine would have hatched. My little one.” There was a stutter. “Perhaps this one was meant to another family.”
Ruffling filled the former occupant’s ears, on the side of her head. Such a bizarre sensation, when everything was already in her head before.
“Don’t worry,” the first voice said respectfully. “We’ll...take care of this, as we always do with our dragons.” The voice spoke no more, and loud thumps quieted until vanishing into some distant depth the former occupant...the small dragon could not see.
“Look at them,” the second voice said. “Our first clutch. The dragonlings are adorable,” she cheered.
“Yes. I can’t wait to see what our children can do,” another voice said. It was thundering and strong. A polar opposite from the first. “I should go out and hunt for food and bring them some copper from my storage.”
“You don’t need to do that,” yet another voice spoke. How many were there? “We have plenty of food for them. They--”
The thundering voice interrupted the new one. “Nonsense. I want to see them greeted into the world by a freshly hunted deer or ox. It’s my way of celebrating their successful release into our world.”
They talked too much. It wasn’t important. Just more cooing and...other squeaking sounds. The small dragon tried to get up and walk back to wherever it went, but she only flopped about, fatigue awakening her senses and giving her awareness of who she was. Of her body. Something unseen hit her muzzle. A long, wet thing, but now she could breathe. She could...she could smell. So many different odors, but one overwhelmed her so much that she couldn’t take in the rest. A soothing, sweet smell. It reminded her of her warm void, but...but softer. The little dragoness turned away from where she thought the void was and went towards the source of the smell, relying on her nose instead of her stolen sight.
“Look!” the first voice whispered. “She’s using her nose to find me.”
The thundering voice hummed. “She might be a good tracker, or hunter even.” There was another pause. “A mount, even?”
Yet another new voice chimed in. So many! “Something’s wrong with her scales. At her muzzle, where you cleaned the sac refuse.”
“Nonsense!” the thundering voice boomed. “It’s just his...her scales glistening from my mate’s saliva.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
The small dragon felt another stroke, but this time over her whole body, and the cheering and cooing from the two voices -the only ones that seemed important- quieted. The dragonling looked up to the titans sat and laid down before her, the tooth mouths agape at her. What was wrong with them?