Dragons of Fire & Ash

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Chapter 2: The Poor Soul

No one can ever measure, maybe not even god, the limit of human endurance. Countless people will lay down their lives without a second thought to save and preserve something they hold close to heart. And not just that, they are willing to take every blow of the world over and over again if it saves someone they love and cherish.

But what if that someone is not a someone per se, but something. A fraction of Earth and all the things that thrive on it. How deep can one’s love and devotion go for one’s home? One’s country? A place filled with all the people you have ever known, and will possibly ever know. How far is one willing to endure for that chunk of land and that bunch of beings? We might never know until faced with a likely situation ourselves.

Adora looked in front of her. The mirror showed her a girl with eyes full of determination and shoulders full of grace. But only she knew the contrast of it, weighing her inner feelings.

She’d be lying if she said she was not scared. She was very anxious about her future at the moment. She was scared of the unknown. The variable. The very bleak prospect which was her life.

In Airendelle, above all is pride and honour. She, being no alien to the ideation, would do everything to keep her dignity intact just like any Airen. She had vowed her subservience to duty as a princess. And she had no intentions to break those vows, not now and hopefully not ever.

She took in a deep breath, held it for a fleeting moment and then gently blew it out. She could do this. She had to. However scared she might be, she still had a responsibility towards her people.

She can do this! She told herself one last time before opening the big oak door of her room and stepping out. The guards stationed outside her room were four in number. All bowed gently and let her through to the front and followed after.

“Princess, you are not to meet anyone as per the orders,” one guard told her from behind.

“I know,” she replied, her voice barely above a whisper. She had already come to terms with the fact.

What would become of her outside the grounds, she did not know. If the dragon were to kill her, it would be a mercy. Truly.

But if by any chance she were to survive, it would be worse than death. The loneliness would creep in one day in the wilderness of the forests and kill her sanity. Kill her.

That death will be slow and torturous. Her soul would die a slow death, shredding every last bit of hope one by one, until there is nothing left. Nothing left to live for but only to die, that too for nothing.

She hopped on the horse presented to her and began racing it. Her guards followed closely after. She looked into the stretched land far and wide. For her people, she would do this. Dragon or not, she was willing to take anything now. A new burst of purpose swept through her at her new thoughts.

Soon enough they reached the outskirts of the kingdom and the guards left her below a giant oak tree on the edge of the forests. She took her place below it on a boulder of sorts and leaned her head towards the tree’s body for support.

She straightened her palms and studied them for a good amount of minutes. She did not know how to read palms but one palm-reader had told her that she would be blessed with unimaginable happiness. She snorted at the thought. She sure feels good for doing something for her people but being happy, she is far from it.

Sighing deeply, she shifted her gaze towards the sky. What happens now? Does she go inside the forest to meet the mighty dragon or stay here and wait to decompose till death? Both are unpleasant options but options nonetheless.

She decided she would go inside the forest later. Not now though. Right now she only wanted to drown herself in her pool of sadness and thoughts of her impending future.

Just as she was easing herself on the tree, a very loud roar shook the earth. She was so startled by it that she lost her balance and hit the ground with a thud. Panic coursed through her body like blood. Her heartbeat grew erratic and her breaths became laboured. That bellow had shaken in her a new kind of fear. One she had never known.

She looked around for its source. But deep down she knew who it was. It was only a matter of moments before the giant dragon revealed itself and burned her to death.

Another bellow of the mighty creature rounded about the forest. The ground quaked at the intensity of it. Every last bit of colour and strength in her, if there was any left, drained from her.

The sound was closer this time and she suddenly felt a great surge to cry. But nothing came out. It was just a sort of sad, sickening feeling pooling in her gut. One of sheer terror and utmost dread.

She now knew the authenticity of all the tales of the dragon, if she had ever doubted any. Those tales passed around in whispers of grotesque details were enough to keep anyone up at night. She knew it now. The reality of her situation.

Just then a big, plate-sized pupil swirling with gold appeared in her vision. And she let out the screech of her life.

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