The Birthright Genesis
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'Sweet and everlasting, unpredictable and ever-changing is love…'
~From Mahari's Book of Songs
Eram was united once long ago under one rule -a great monarchy that for generations had maintained order and peace. Mankind can merely speculate what causes one man to become self-serving after centuries of wise, gracious leaders.
Unfortunately such a man came into power and abused it until the nation rose up in outrage and tore itself apart. The kingdom was divided into hundreds of feuding capitals; each city under its own government, and the land was thrown into decades of chaos.
The small city of Varneth was composed mostly of free farmers who counseled together over public matters. There was a small abandoned army fort that served as the city square and as shelter for the outlying farmers in times of unrest. Though altogether a peaceful community, they lived in troubled times and Varneth had its share of strange happenings. It was seated at the foot of the Alsmaene mountain range -said to be the ancient home of giants and dragons and other fantastic, terrifying creatures. Generations of experience had taught the inhabitants of Varneth to be a suspicious, harsh people to anyone or anything unfamiliar. Fortunately for Kael Fandreg, his family had moved to Varneth when he was a young boy, and they looked on him as a local.
The Fandreg farm was not the farthest farm from the city, but it was the closest to the foot of the mountain. His family had lived there for many years until his father died, leaving the farm and land to his only child. Kael's mother stayed on the farm for a few months, but grew increasingly discontent and decided to return to her family in Tordeth far away. Kael couldn't bring himself to abandon the family homestead and worked the farm alone for several years.
He was a solitary, content man of large stature and broad shoulders. His sun-browned face carried the lines from many worries long past, yet the softness in his eyes suggested that he still carried the memories. He enjoyed working with his hands and was perfectly happy with his daily routines and the company of his livestock. Every once and again he would venture into town for supplies or a friendly drink with his neighbors, but would always look forward to be back in his own home.
Every night before taking his rest, Kael would hold his father's old army sword that traditionally hung over the fireplace. He would think of his father's tales of the army and why he became a farmer. When Kael was a young boy he would beg his father for lessons in swordplay, but then complain whenever his father would make him practice.
Peaceful nights, quiet mornings, and long work-filled days: this was Kael's way of life.
One clear morning, the sun seemed to shine brighter, as if it smiled to see someone. Kael was repairing fences in his outer pastures and a sudden gust of wind blew his hair from his sweat-covered brow. He was working his way slowly toward the mountain when suddenly his flock of sheep came thundering in a panicked stampede down the hill, led by the sheepdog with his tail between his legs!
Curious, Kael took his hammer and ran up the hill to see what was worrying his sheep. As he had dealt with wildcats, bears, and occasionally marauding goblins before, Kael was confident as he reached the hilltop. But he was utterly unprepared for what he found.
A tall woman with dark golden hair flowing in the soft breeze stood on the summit and looked directly at him with piercing amber eyes. Kael had never seen anything so perfect in his life. Mystified, he approached her.
"Are you lost?" he asked warily.
"Are you afraid of me?" she asked in a lovely, yet somewhat deep voice.
"No." he answered, rather puzzled.
"Promise me you will never fear me?" she asked earnestly.
"I.. suppose so." He felt oddly comfortable, "I honestly don't see how I could ever fear anything so beautiful." He marveled inwardly at his unprecedented forwardness.
Her countenance darkened, "In my experience the most beautiful things are often the most deadly."
"Never in my life have I feared any living thing." He stated honestly.
She smiled, and the daylight shone all the brighter, "Then shall you and I be friends?" she asked innocently.
Kael smiled as well, "I hope so."
For several weeks Kael walked to the far pasture the same time every day and they would talk for hours. He was amazed by how much she knew about nature and living things, and even more amazed by how little she knew of people. She would often ask about the city and his neighbors and their interactions, but when he offered to introduce her to them, she would become uneasy and change the subject.
One day, months after their first meeting, they were sitting in the autumn shade together when Kael suddenly stated that he loved her.
She looked at him curiously and said nothing.
"I love you." He said again boldly, "I don't have much to offer, but I can honestly promise I will work till my dying day to make you happy. I will make it my life's work to have you smile. I won't promise that someday we'll be wealthy, or that we will even get a bigger house. I promise only that there will always be food on your table and clothing to wear, and a happy, loving husband who will worship you with every breath he takes."
She smiled and asked, "Is this how you show love- with service?"
"I suppose so. It's the most I can give."
She paused, "Then I accept your offering of love. And I likewise promise to bring you happiness."
Kael closed his eyes, "Thank you..." he stopped short. "I don't know your name."
"I've told you before that it would be difficult for you to say. And we don't believe in giving our names-" she paused suddenly, "But I will tell you." she clasped his hand, "I am
Qulvadrazshe Savkeztorul. I am she who burns the unholy ground and slaughters disciples of chaos, daughter of Mygheshnanvelkran the Great and Golden."
Kael took a moment to digest what she'd said, "Your father, will he come for you?" he asked as soon as he could, assuming her father was a great leader in another city.
"He has no control over my decisions." she said stoutly, with a hint of defiance, "I will be happy here with you." she added lovingly.
For simplicity's sake, Kael introduced his newly betrothed to his friends and neighbors as Sav, and said she was from across the mountains. Sav was surprised at how much she enjoyed interacting with others. She was for the most part accepted by the community, most shrugging it off and blaming his mother's foreign influence, some holding reserve against her as she was an outsider. Nevertheless, hopelessly in love, Kael and Sav lived in happiness together for many years.
Sav learned quickly in everything and delighted in manual labor. Kael's life was enriched every moment he was with her. He loved her with every fiber of his being and smiled more and more with each passing day. Laughter was frequently heard as he taught her to plow and sow crops. Teaching her to milk cows was difficult at first as the cows were always nervous and fidgety whenever she was around. As the years wore on, though, all the animals became accustomed to her and she loved living among them.
One spring's evening, as Kael's workday came to an end, he found no wife in or around the house. Searching worriedly for some time, he found her sitting in their large barn which was empty, as all the cattle were out to pasture.
"Sav, I was so worried!" he embraced her in his large arms, "Why are you crying?"
Sav wiped the tears from her cheeks, "I was afraid."
"Sav, you know you have nothing to fear with me here for you." he said in his comforting, gentle voice, "Tell me, what frightened you?"
She breathed once, "I have a child within me."
Kael's eyes went blank and his jaw hung loose. He was silent, but then suddenly began to laugh, "This is wonderful!" he hugged her tight and asked several incoherent questions pacing in a tight circle.
"Kael." Sav took his hand, "Kael!" she shouted above his antics. "We can't tell anyone!"
"But why?" he kneeled in front of her with a broad, dazed smile.
"Our child is so special."
"Dearest, I know! That's exactly why I must tell the whole world!"
"No, you don't understand. We can't tell anyone. They would be afraid if they knew."
"Knew what? What are you talking about?"
"Kael," she said quietly, "I haven't been honest with you. I was afraid to tell you the truth about me because I wanted to be with you."
"I already know, Sav. I know you're the daughter of a king somewhere and you're afraid he'll come and take you away, but that won't happen! You've been safe all these years and our family will grow and live and be happy - Royalty or no."
"I'm a dragon." she stated
Kael fell silent.
"My father is not only a king," she continued, "But an ancient gold dragon who forbade me from taking human form.
But I was too curious, and once I found I could change my form I just couldn't resist but to see what it was like to look up through the branches of a tree and into the sky, to be near other creatures and not have them run in terror," she squeezed his hand, "To love someone and be loved. These are the things I left for, to find and experience. And I love you, Kael. I want to spend eternity with you." she looked expectantly at Kael, but he said nothing.
Tears began to roll down her cheeks again.
After a long pause, Kael held her face gently with one hand and wiped the tears away with the other. "You are perfect." he whispered, "As you have been always."
Sav was comforted, "But what about my father… and the others? They say a half-breed is an insult to all things living. They will be offended; they'll come for the child! What of the humans? They won't understand, they'll be afraid and try to harm us-and the baby."
"Then we won't tell anyone." he said calmly, "Just as you said before: we'll keep it a secret and no one will harm you or the baby. I promise."
The days following were spent in mixed joy and worry. Delirious with happiness, though bent by what-ifs, Kael and Sav prepared the barn for an unusual task: the birth of a dragon!
Though mostly pleasant, there were a few inconveniences for Kael, such as filling their bed sheets with small rocks for Sav was suddenly unable to sleep without them, and her appetite seemed to double again and again. The farm was neglected somewhat, but they blissfully ignored the fact. As the year crept on, Kael and Sav were forced to keep to themselves, for her stomach had grown very large. In the late months near winter, Sav was forced to remain in her true form and stay nested in the barn. Kael worked hard to feed her and his livestock began to grow scarce.
One early morning as Kael began his day, he opened the barn door to the usual, yet always unsettling sight of a fantastically beautiful, giant gold dragon sleeping peacefully nestled in the hay. Sav opened her gleaming golden eyes drowsily and smiled at Kael without showing her teeth.
"Good morning." Kael greeted her softly, "It's cold out today."
"But it's warm in here." Sav's gentle dragon voice rumbled. Her giant figure shrank gracefully down to the lovely human form, revealing a large tawny-brown egg lying in the hay near her.
Awestruck, Kael kneeled near Sav and kissed her cheek. Her eyes were heavy with fatigue, but she managed to smile. Kael turned to the egg and excitedly laid his cheek against it –it was so warm and smooth.
"Is it a boy or a girl?" he asked.
Sav giggled, "I don't know. We have to wait and see."
"When will it hatch?"
"Sometime in the winter I suppose..." her tired voice trailed off.
Kael looked with loving reverence at his future child,
"What will we name... him or her?" he asked eagerly, but then noticed his wife had fallen asleep. With one arm around her and one hand on the egg, Kael and his family spent a long morning together resting.
The next day, a neighbor and his young boy came to visit.
Upon inquiry, Kael told him that his wife was visiting family for a few weeks. As they were discussing the latest in agriculture and breeding, unnoticed and bored, the young boy went in search of amusement near the barn. It was not long before a white-faced, terrified child came running to the house screaming for his papa.
"What is it?" the father demanded.
After a substantial amount of sputtering and blubbering, the boy got out, "D-d-dragon! Huge dragon in the barn! He ate all the cows, papa!" the child burst into tears and refused to leave the house.
Kael froze in fear for a split second.
"Are you an idiot boy?" the father scolded, "There's no dragon." he stomped outside to see what had upset the boy so.
In the field everything looked normal. There were a few cows grazing near the barn, and the sheepdog was sleeping in the shade of an apple tree not far off.
After more scolding and a promise of a whipping when they got home, the neighbor apologized and left.
If only the event ended there. Unfortunately in spite of the whipping and scolding the boy received, he was no idiot as his father accused, but knew full well what he'd seen and began spreading the story of a giant, bloodthirsty dragon hatching eggs in Fandreg Farm.
Some folk passed it off as nonsense, but others more suspicious were willing to believe. The rumor became more and more popular and the Fandregs were alienated from the community, which led to even more whispering and conjecturing. Kael found a group of young men and a dog sneaking around the barn one night and was forced to run them off his land, threatening to bring out his father's old great sword the next time he caught them there. Things became increasingly worse as the months wore on.
Sav spent most of her time lying with her egg, keeping it plenty warm. Kael still worked hard to feed her, and harder to keep up with the farm work. Both of them worried for the situation, and secretly Kael planned to leave the farm and move his family as soon as the baby was hatched.
But matters were worse than he knew. Word travels slowly through the dragon community as they mostly keep to themselves, but eventually an evil black dragon of ancient lineage caught wind of the turmoil between the greatest of the gold dragons and his only offspring. Hatred long in brewing was stirred up once again in him and he resolved to take his revenge by slaying the daughter. And if it were true that she was dabbling with humans it would make his job all the easier. For over a year he searched the towns and villages roundabout the mountain range before he came to Varneth where the people were all on edge… and he heard whispers of dragons.