Chapter one: an odd beginning
Sycamore, although being the name of a tree, was also the name of a small village on the Small Continent. The first day of winter bore it a strange gift, a child of six months, wrapped in a blanket the colour of fire. The child had a short fuzz of flame red hair and eyes of blood that were wide and curious as a woman from the village lifted him from the ground with surprise etched into her face. Although his eyes unnerved her, she couldn't leave a helpless baby on winter's doorstep. The sun started to dip below the horizon and the sky became the colour of the child's eyes, like blood had been painted across it.
The woman hurried to the village with the child in her arms, now asleep with his strange red eyes blocked out by his eyelids. She headed towards the largest hut in the village, which was made of stone rather than the usual mud and clay with thatch for a roof. The woman knocked quickly and, after she was invited, stepped into the building.
"Ah, Juni, what brings you here?" a balding, grey haired man rose as the woman entered, his bright blue eyes quickly found the bundle in her arms.
"I found him on the edge of the forest, but I don't know what to do with him," the woman named Juni set her bundle down on the little pine desk so the man could see, "Elder, what should I do with him?" the old man, that was the elder of the village, looked at the child, who opened his eyes and stared right back at him.
"What God has cursed this child?" the elder exclaimed, moving away from the red haired child.
"Cursed he may be but we still cannot leave him to the winter. If we look after him the Gods may bless us for our kindness to any child, cursed or not." Juni was shocked at her own words, spoken to the elder but she did not apologise or take them back.
"Very well, keep him. But he is your responsibility, no one else's," Juni accepted the fact and took her bundle to her own hut. She already had one child of one year and two months, so already had a small wooden cot and all she would need to provide for the child.
As the years went by, the child grew into a boy that was respected by most of the village because of cursed eyes. His foster brother seemed to like him as a friend rather than just being nice to gain favour with the Gods. Of course there was also that small group that refused to acknowledge him as someone to be respected. They just thought of him as a little spoilt brat and tried to make his life as hard as possible.
During his eighth year, an old warrior of the village began to teach him sword fighting. Although the boy was impatient and hot-headed, he was quick to learn. The warrior named him Gawain, for his hot-headed temper and fierce fighting. Soon enough his fighting ability was on par with the warrior's. He almost always won the mini tournaments held in the village. The final round usually consisted of Gawain and the warrior, but the warrior was old and would not live much longer.
When Gawain's eleventh birthday came the warrior died. The whole village mourned for him but Gawain was hit hardest by his death. For the next week Gawain disappeared from the village. No one really worried about him as he disappeared fairly often. Unknown to the village though, Gawain was having a few problems during this disappearance.
"Curses. Go away, God forsaken…" Gawain was getting extremely annoyed with the wings that had grown on his back. The wings were the colour of flame with spokes like ruby, and a long, blood coloured, and talon-like claw at the bend. Blood red scales broke through his skin, a tail developed and his hands became clawed with blood red scales and claws like ruby. His head thinned slightly and lengthened, scaled and developed a pair of short horns and sharp teeth like moonstone. After a few seconds as a dragon he morphed back into a human.
"Damnations! What the hell was that?"
"You too huh?" a voice, from the trees around him, called. A boy, with shortish ash blonde hair and emerald eyes, who looked about a year younger than Gawain, stepped from the trees with dappled dark emerald wings that soon morphed back into the boy's back.
"Who are you?" asked Gawain, his hand straying to the sword on the ground.
"My name's Ash. I'm not going to hurt you so you don't need that." He looked at the sword Gawain's hand was reaching for.
"So you say. Where do you come from? I haven't seen you in the village." Gawain stopped reaching for his sword but was still wary of the boy in front of him.
"I live here, in the forest and sleep with the wolves that inhabit it." Gawain looked closer and noticed the clothes the boy wore were ragged and too big for the one that wore them.
"If you live here, where do you get clothes?" Gawain asked.
"Travellers, which come through the forest, give them to me," Ash replied, "Don't you have somewhere to be?"
"Not really," Gawain grabbed his sword from the ground and tied the belt round his waist before taking his cloak from the branch of a tree behind him, "But it seems you would rather be left alone, so I'll move on." He started down a track, noticing Ash wave then seem to melt into the trees.
When Gawain returned to the village he had learned to control the transformation. He made sure no one in the village found out about it, as it would make him an outcast. He would have been able to talk to the old warrior about it, but now he was dead and Gawain's only other real friend, his foster brother, would not understand. So he struggled along in silence through the years.
Three years later, for his fourteenth birthday, Gawain was given a falcon, as a present from Juni. Gawain named him Fury and soon set about training him. After a few months, Fury was completely loyal to Gawain. He rarely left Gawain's side unless Gawain told him to go somewhere else, and he would do anything for Gawain, if it meant he could help him. Gawain's foster brother was jealous of Gawain because of the falcon but he never said anything or complained, as he knew that he was the only friend Gawain had, as well as the fact Gawain always let him use Fury if he wanted.
The next year, on one of Gawain's wanderings, he met Ash again; his foster brother was looking after Fury at the time.
"You're still here?" He called to the boy sitting on a branch above his head.
"Of course. This is my home, just as Sycamore is yours," Ash replied, silently jumping to the ground.
"How do you know where I live?" Gawain wondered.
"I followed you the last time we met," he replied as if it was only natural for it to have happened. "I also found out your name is Gawain, a fact you didn't tell me that time." Gawain nodded trying not to show how uneasy he was after finding out he had been followed and spied on without realising.
They walked together talking about nothing in particular. The day quickly disappeared and Gawain had to head back to Sycamore. Again, as he left, he noticed Ash melted into the trees just like the last time they had spoken.
That night Gawain could not sleep well; his dreams were filled with torture and flames. Gawain woke with a start and found his room alight with fire.
"NO!" he cried in anxiety. He quickly climbed to the floor, but found he was no longer human.
"Blast it" Gawain had returned to his demon form. "I couldn't have transformed. Not now. Not here!
In his agony Gawain had only filled the area around him with more flames.
Gawain cried for his foster family but with no luck he sent Fury to find them.
After a few minutes Gawain decided that it would be unsafe to wait inside the hut; so he flew up and out of the area as fire consumed everything around him. Eventually Gawain had flown high enough to look down onto his home that was burning to nothing. As he was about to turn away Gawain caught site of his foster mother Juni with Fury on her shoulder, bending low over a body. With amazement Gawain realised the body belonged to his brother. But the body looked cold amongst the heat, it looked dead and broken.
"NO!" he cried; but this only startled the villagers, and caused them to begin to glare at him mistaking him for a monster.
"It is Gawain" the village elder called. "We must punish him for this"
The villagers began to grab their weapons. Gawain watched as his old family lie on the earth below helpless and loathing of him. Gawain flew lower to the ground so that his friend would see him; almost at once Fury left Juni for Gawain's own shoulder.
"You kill your own family?" The voice had come so suddenly that it startled Gawain. He looked around until he found the owner of the voice he had heard, it was Juni.
"You would kill your own family, after everything we have done for you? Elder, it seems that you were right. This boy is a demon from hell! By taking him in we have been cursed"
"Juni is right. We all accepted Gawain into our home and now the gods have cursed us" Spoke the Elder.
"We cannot kill him. That would make us just as wrong as Gawain"
The Elder thought about this for some time; Gawain had thought it best to land a little way from the villagers.
"Juni is right' the elder spoke again in thought "We will exile him from the village. That is the only fair choice that I can decide"
A few minutes later Gawain with his possessions and Fury, were outside the village gates and walking steadily towards the forest. Gawain had been walking to for sometime when he saw a young girl with Sapphire blue eyes.
The girl was so shocked to hear those words that she tripped over the rock that she was standing on. Almost instinctively Gawain threw out his tail to catch the girl before she could do any damage to herself.
"You dare to come after me!" The girl screamed at him.
"What… what do you mean?"
"Don't play games with me, my father sent you didn't he?"
Gawain was so stunned by what the girl was saying that he didn't move or speak.
The girl suddenly pulled out a small dagger and threw herself at Gawain.
"AHHHHHH" came the screech of a falcon launching itself from its master's shoulders. Fury flew straight at the girls eyes.
"Stay away bird. I have no interest in harming you"
Fury ignored the girls warning and aimed a scratch straight for her eyes.
"Enough. Fury Come back" The falcon stopped in mid flight and returned to Gawain's side. "You want to fight but I have no interest in fighting you tonight" Gawain wandered off toward the direction he had seen Ash disappear twice before.
Gawain turned to see the girl staring after him. "What is it?"
"You don't know me?"
"No I don't" Gawain replied.
"Can I come with you?"
Gawain thought for a moment. "As long as you don't try and kill me any more"
Gawain found the girl's name was Willow and she too had no where to go.
The next morning Gawain, Willow, and Fury set off south toward the fire lands on the large continent. The trio walked for sometime before they caught the attention of Ash, who had been sleeping happily.
"Gawain comes to me at last. It's been a long time"
Ash followed Gawain for a long while before anyone noticed. Fury squawked before flying off into the bushes. "Fury! Come back" Gawain cried after his friend; the bird flew a complete loop around the trees before almost flying right into Ash.
"AHHH" Ash cried as he fell to the earth below.
Ash looked up to see Gawain towering above him. "Gawain, you came back. With some new friends?"
"Fury was with me the last time we met"
"Yet you did not bring him with you"
"No I did not"
Ash noticed Willow stood behind Gawain looking uneasy.
"Who is this?"
"Ash. This is Willow, and she's like us"
Now with Ash to guide them Gawain, and Willow were able to navigate the forest much quicker than before.
"We should fly. It will allow us a quicker route to the large continent"
"No Way am I becoming that thing again!"
"Gawain, it is a part of you. You cannot escape it"
"Ash is right Gawain. That's also why I ran away from home"
After a long discussion about flying, Ash and Willow were able to persuade Gawain to morph his wings.
"We should turn south. Toward the fire lands."
"Why there?" Gawain asked in a puzzled voice.
"To teach you everything that you need to know Gawain." Ash and Willow had spoken that line in unison. Gawain thought it strange, but continued flying ahead of the other two, south.
"With so much time consumed already we don't have long to find the others."
Willow had called to Gawain above the howling of the winds. The trio sped up and continued to fly into the sunset, with Fury nesting on the plain of Gawain's back. Whilst flying, Gawain noticed that Ash and Willow had no problem with being so high up. Obviously they've had more experience than me at this kind of thing. Gawain thought bitterly to himself.
"Look down below!" Ash yelled into his ear. And sure enough, below them was a huge forest.
"The town's only two miles from here on foot. Down we go." The trio descended to the earth below. Once fully human again Gawain relaxed slightly.
"You prefer to be human?" Ash had asked him.
"It makes me feel more at home." Gawain admitted.
"Because you look more like everyone else that way." Willow guessed for him.
Ash looked up at the sky. "It's late. We should rest"
"The town is only a few miles away." Willow replied.
"Gawain is exhausted. He has only just left his old life behind Willow, remember that. Besides, we all need the rest to continue our journey tomorrow at sunrise."
Willow didn't like the idea of sleeping out in the open, but she agreed willingly enough.
That night Gawain's dreams were filled with flames, and the memory of what happened to his family. He had killed his brother because he had lost control. His mother hated him because he was weak. Never again would he lose control or show signs of weakness. He would be the proud warrior that his old friend had taught him to be.
"Gawain, wake up." It was Willow and she seemed anxious to leave.
"What's wrong?" He asked sleepily.
"Nothing. I just think we should go as soon as possible."
"Willow is right' " Ash stated. He was perched on a nearby tree with Fury circling above. "We don't have a lot of time in which to get there" He said with a fierce tone. Gawain groggily got up and refreshed himself in the lake nearby before he
Ash and Willow packed quickly and left for the town ahead.
"Which town are we going to?" Gawain asked in earnest.
Hours later the trio stumbled across the last roots of the forest they had found themselves wondering through.
"There it is the monastery" Willow pointed to the tall castle like building that loomed over the town.
"We're going to the monastery?" asked a puzzled Gawain "Why"
"My father closed all the monasteries down across the world. They were a safe haven for all Draco kind, but I happen to be friends with the nuns who work inside this one; they were my mother's personal handmaidens until she died"
The Sun's rays had just begun to hit the town while the trio slowly made their way to the gates of the monastery.