Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Family Curse III

I am Cuélebre.

I am the ancient one. I am the last of dragon kind upon this earth. I have lived and I have loved for over twelve thousand years. I was hatched when the ice dominated the land. Then great elephants and rhinos and vast herds of horses dominated the steppes of Europe and Asia. When mankind was still a hot primitive mess. So young and full of potential, yet so few and nonthreatening.

The first humans, we had pacts with. These were not the humans of today, but ones that were more robust and rather different in their outlook on life. They were simpler, but far from less stupid. They hunted and we would hunt, at times, with them. Providing them with the warmth when the glaciers grew vicious, when the ice gods wanted to exterminate humanity. We blessed unique individuals among them and created the first Xana.

Then came the newer humans, the ones the modern humans call Neandertals, and an epic if largely one sided war began. They hunted us, but not directly. They became adept at sneaking into our caves and destroying our eggs. Only once did they lead an army equipped with stone and bone against us. It did not go well for them. Stone tools do not pierce dragon hide well. And as punishment, in a lazy fashion, we hounded them to extinction.

Then, modern humanity.

Far more mercurial than the Neandertals. Or their cousins, the Denisovans. We could make pacts with some, but others were far, far more dangerous than their heavy browed, stocky relatives. Other than actions of handfuls though, they did not come for us and we largely left them alone. Humanity was dangerous, whatever their form. However, the capacity to become Xana was still within them.

When humanity first forged metal, I had warned dracon-kind of what was coming. They had not listened. They had not heeded. Too many had withdrawn from direct dealings with humanity and our kind lives a long time and seasons are for us as days are for humans.

And then the dragonslayers came. In their armor and with their spears and with their evil, genocidal intent.

And we burnt their crops and destroyed their villages and sacked their lairs, their so-called castles. We even tried to bargain, by taking their female offspring, but this seemed to engender a even hotter rage. And the dragonslayers came even more often.

It would be a slow, grinding defeat for my kind. We would fight. We would die. It was only once iron was found that I felt we were doomed. That cursed metal we both love and hate: we need it for ourselves to ingest for our hyperoxyengated blood and it can pierce our hide the easiest of all. And then came steel.

And, finally, humanity found its own 'dragonfire': gunpowder.

Then was when I knew it was time to flee. And I fled. I went west and for a century, I had peace. And then that damnable dragonslayer followed me. And cursed me. I could not rid myself of that sword: it was embedded in my chest.

In fleeing from the slayers, I did, in time, meet, Andrea. She was a sickly human who was dying. Her village had been burnt in some interhuman war over the lands as the Europeans expanded into these new lands and the natives fought back.

I needed help to fight off the slayers. And perhaps rid myself of the sword. I knew the slayers were drawn to it. And until I rid myself of it, they would keep coming. A pact with a human that makes them Xana gives them immortality and magic even as it strips them of some of what it is to be human. Perhaps that magic could rid me of the sword.

The pact was made, I dubbed her Dracen Kaida, but the sword could not be removed. The Curse was too strong. We survived as humanity seemed grow strong, too strong and we fled. We dealt with the slayers as they came. Sometimes they escaped. Some times not. In time, we began to toy with them, like a cat with a mouse. And every time, they died. Save once.

And now, this day, I felt Dracen die. My Xana was dead. I vented my fury. I felt the pain. The shock. The pure drakonian rage. I flew off to the encampment of this latest slayer. The one that was so different, a woman. I sought her and wanted to consume her charred flesh and bone, the pitiful mortal, the one who killed me Xana, my companion.

I found the encampment and found Dracen. I became livid and burned the entire place to ash. I did not find this new slayer though. This one was cunning and only struck when she knew she had the upper hand. This one was dangerous.

I hunted for two weeks, then three. I did not find her. She was already gone. I returned to my cave, my nest, my cavern. Black as pitch and lit only with the flame I so gave. And then I waited. The slayer would be back and I would deal with her.

Six weeks later, I heard a buzzing in the mouth of the cave. Like angry bees. What was it?

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