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Fantasy

Circe ran down the gold-inlaid hallway, her heart pounding. She skidded to a stop in front of the copper doors, eying the guards standing at attention nervously. 

“I have something for the Queen,” she told them. They looked at each other, then the one on the left held out his hand. 

“Your scale,” he growled. She winced but handed over her dark red scale. Her body tingled as the small object responsible for her entire life left her touch. He inspected it for a second, then opened the door. She walked through them and down the throne room where her Queen was sitting. 

Circe knelt at the foot of the dais, fist over her heart. 

“My Queen,” she said. A faint humming noise filled the room and only stopped once the Queen stood up, her skirts rustling. 

“What do you have for me, Circe?” she asked. Circe looked up at the stern face of the Dragon Queen and suppressed a tremor. 

“The Book, Illuzan.” 


***1,400 years ago***


The years stretched out like a road through sand, the landscape barren, and every step Illuzan wished was her last. Her skin that had been broken so many times by the whip was a gnarled map of her pain. The sunlight she had loved as a child in her mother's arms was nothing but a curse, for feeling it meant her heart was still beating. She envied the fall leaves curling brown to the earth; surely the Mother would take her away someday soon, someday when the whip sent her blood into the soil. 

“Prisoners. Line up.” The rough voice sent her mind reeling in panic. It was the same voice that accompanied the whip. The same voice that had sent hundreds of her people to their death. King Thanarg. 

The War had lasted only a decade, but the conflict between her people, the Galos, and his people, the Rakon, had lasted millennia. Each side claimed there wasn’t enough land for the two sides, but it was the marriage between Illuzan’s mother and Thanarg’s father that sent the two sides spirling into war. She had hoped the fact that Thanarg was her brother would help, but the male didn’t look twice at her. He spilled her blood as often as he spilled her people’s blood. 

The same way he had murdered their parents. 

Illuzan all but ran to her spot in line, stumbling over a cloth-covered body in her haste. She didn’t even know who it was by this point. 

“Right arm forward,” Thanarg said, strolling up and down the line. The hundred or so prisoners stuck their arms forward. Illuzan studied the scab over her wrist, the same one every single prisoner had. It showed where their scale once resided, their scale that controlled how they transformed from their dragon selves to their human bodies and back again. Thanarg inspected every prisoner's arms, making sure they weren’t in possession of their scales. 

After the War ended, he threw all her people into a death camp, took their scales, and slowly beat the rebelling spirit out of them. Over the span of the decade, he had started killing them off. One every week. Of the thousand who he captured, there were only half of them left. 

Less than five hundred people of a race over a million strong. 

Thanarg was two prisoners away. She stiffened, holding her breath and praying that he wouldn’t notice her. 

Of course, he made it a habit to torment her. With his tight grip, he turned over her arm, making her wince at the jolt. 

“Princess,” he sneered, lowering her rank and making her title to the throne worthless. Of course, the throne was destroyed. The palace was ransacked and burned to the ground, and her mother’s beautiful diamond crown was in his possession. Everything she associated with good memories was gone. 

She lowered her eyes. It was better to not antagonize him any further. He’d already told her that he would kill her last after her people had all died. She knew he wouldn’t kill her yet. At least, she didn’t think so. 

She realized her mistake too late. He punched her in the stomach, and she doubled over, wheezing. He punched her in the face and she fell backward into the dirt. And for good measure, he kicked her in the side, breaking a rib, and she curled up, eyes clamped shut. 

The pain took over a portion of her brain as if dealing with it is energy expenditure enough, without the effort of new thoughts. It stole the part of her she most wanted to share with others, her light and laughter, her generous heart. It was the sort of pain that burned as if some invisible flame were held against her skin. The emotions of loss were that way, right? Death, abandonment, or betrayal, they all led here. 

“You are the scum of the world. Lower than dirt. You deserve to stay down. You deserve death,” he growled. Her throat closed up. Her heart beat faster. She scrunched her eyes so tight that she saw stars. A figure faded into view. A face with long red hair, golden eyes, and warm caramel skin, dressed in the clothes she had died in. Her mother. 

No. Gedith Cairistìona whispered, though her lips didn’t move. 

I am broken. Illuzan thought. She could feel her body giving up. 

No. Her mother thought back. 

I am alone. Illuzan whispered. Her mother shook her head fiercely. 

No. She insisted. 

I can’t. Illuzan crumpled, tears burning against her cheeks. 

Why not? Her mother asked, cocking her head. 

He took my scale. He took my power. I am nothing without them. She said. Her mother laughed. 

The first dragons didn’t need their scale to transform. The scales only harness our power. Little one, you are not nothing without them. They have been within you all along. Her mother said. 

But it has been ten years since...you were killed. Why hasn’t it appeared before? She asked. Her mother only smiled.

Because you haven’t realized your full potential until now. She replied. Illuzan shook her head. 

I- She started, but her mother cut her off. 

You are Illuzan Cairistìona, you have fire in your veins, you are a dragon, and you are not broken. Her mother said, her image fading away. Illuzan was jolted back to reality with another sharp kick to her ribs. 

“...you are worthless. You are broken. You are nothing,” Thanarg was saying, a kick punctuating every sentence. Her eyes opened. Her chapped lips worked. 

“No,” she said quietly. Thanarg stopped, shocked. 

What?” he asked quietly, dangerously. She put her bloodied palms to the dirt and rose to her feet. 

“No,” she repeated. Thanarg took a step back as she stood in front of him, her silver eyes boring into his hazel ones. 

“What are you doing?” he growled. 

“I am not broken. I am not worthless. I am not nothing. I am Illuzan Cairistìona, Dragon Queen of the West, and I am going to kill you,” she said, fire thrumming through her words. Thanarg recovered from his shock with a laugh. 

“And how are you going to do so without your scale?” he questioned. Her silver eyes glowed molten. 

“Like this,” she said, then thrust her hands up, giving herself over to her dragon form. Fire blazed around her as her body stretched out, elongating and replacing skin with hard scales. Within two seconds, a silver dragon stood in her human body’s place, sleek and muscular, with jagged scales along her back and two blood-red horns twisting from her head. 

The dragon dipped her head and looked at Thanarg in the eye. Faster than a blink, she bit off his head. 


***Present Day***


“Where did you find it?” Illuzan asked Circe, the Queen’s knuckles white. 

“It was tucked away in the dungeons. I was interrogating a prisoner when I saw it. He didn’t even know it was there.” 

“Prisoner?” Illuzan asked, confused. “What prisoner?” Circe waved her hand impatiently. 

“One of the men who we caught sneaking into the palace,” she said quickly. Illuzan halted. 

“Someone snuck into the palace?” She repeated. Circe nodded. 

“It’s nothing, Illuzan, he’s just a simple merchant spouting nonsense about the Bo-wait.” Circe stopped and looked at Illuzan with a panicked look. “He knew.” Illuzan moved down the hall with renewed urgency. 

“Then you must show me the Book as soon as possible,” she said. Circe nodded. 

“This way, Illuzan,” she replied. They walked down the winding hallways down to the library. 

Built to withstand the searing heat of dragonflame, the library’s tall ceilings towered over the walls covered with bookshelves. Circe led Illuzan to the table in the middle, where a large, leather-bound book rested. 

The book was a simple earthy-hued cover, warming to the eyes, comforting. After all these years it was soft to the touch and the edges had a similar look to some beloved dragon scale. Inside the pages looked as if they had bathed in golden rays and taken them in, so softly golden were they. And the letters took their places as if by a composer's hand, one who was accustomed to the sweeter notes of beauty.

Illuzan gently flipped through the pages, eyes shimmering as the hundreds of thousands year old pages were opened to the world once more. They spoke of the wonders of their world, species that they didn’t know existed, and dangers that seemed too scary to be true. 

The final two pages were blank, and Illuzan looked at them with a wrinkled brow. 

“What’s here-” she started, but the instant her fingertips brushed against the paper, silver lines spread across it. The two gasped and watched as a map drew itself right before their very eyes. 

Illuzan searched the map, but everything was brand-new. This was a land they had never seen before. And in the corner, two words were inked there, in the same silver ink. Illuzan read them and gasped, this time in horror. 

Mortal World

“How can this be real?” Illuzan whispered, running a finger over the silver map. Circe shook her head wordlessly. 

“It goes against everything we’ve ever known,” she added. Illuzan didn’t respond, but a shadow crossed her silver eyes. Circe noticed it immediately. “What’s wrong?” she asked. Illuzan looked at her. 

“What does this mean for the future of our worlds?” she said. Circe opened her mouth to respond when a commotion outside the library made their heads whip toward the oak doors. They instinctively put the book behind them and the doors burst open. A haggard-looking male panted as he looked wildly at the two females. 

“Who are you?” Illuzan asked, standing tall. Circe noted the lines around the man’s face and gasped. 

“It’s the merchant. The one who knew about the Book,” she told Illuzan urgently. The male’s head whipped toward Circe. 

“My Queen. The mortal world has sent a declaration of war,” he said hoarsely. Illuzan inhaled sharply and turned back to the Book. 

This would change their lives forever.


April 28, 2021 18:53

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30 comments

Nainika Gupta
18:53 Apr 28, 2021

I wrote this a while ago, I'm not sure where it came from. But it fits, almost perfectly, with this prompt, and I thought I would share it! So yeah, hope you enjoyed it! All My Stars part 3 is coming out...hopefully, tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that!

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Kristin Neubauer
17:07 May 02, 2021

So great, Nainika, SO GREAT! The myth, the adventure, the good versus evil....this story has it all. I have loved your writing from the first story of yours that I read (the rom-com series)....you were a fantastic writer then but I think with each story, you are becoming an even more fantastic writer. I get lost in your work, no matter what the style, and especially this one. Loved it!

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Nainika Gupta
10:57 May 03, 2021

Aw, thanks so much Kristin! Really appreciate that :)

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Kelly Kaloo
19:13 Apr 28, 2021

Oh my Circe, this was great!! What fantastic world-building! Your descriptors are just...masterful. This was my favorite part... "You are Illuzan Cairistìona, you have fire in your veins, you are a dragon, and you are not broken." YASS

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Nainika Gupta
00:29 Apr 29, 2021

Thank you so much Kelly! :) awww YASSS :)

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Ruth Smith
15:44 May 04, 2021

Wonderful story! I loved how you went from past to present without making it confusing.

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Nainika Gupta
18:52 May 04, 2021

:) thanks Ruth!

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Rachel Smith
12:36 Apr 30, 2021

So cool this story! Nice worldbuilding! Loved your descriptions. In particular, the 1st paragraph after ***1,400 years ago*** was brilliant. One tiny critique, "...edges had a similar look to some beloved teddy bear". I felt that this comparison (whilst good) didn't make sense for this world. It doesn't feel like a place that would have teddy bears. Overall though, very enjoyable and vivid story. Well done.

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Nainika Gupta
20:08 Apr 30, 2021

Thanks Rachel! Aw, means a lot! Yeah, now that you say it, you're right...maybe...like something to do with fire...or dragons...or something like that!

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Rachel Smith
20:25 Apr 30, 2021

Yeah, something like that. Or that they reminded her of some burnt village/house?

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Nainika Gupta
00:37 May 01, 2021

I changed it to a scale, because they are pretty important to the dragons! :)

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Moldy Potato
02:17 Apr 30, 2021

YOUR WRITING IS SO BEAUTIFUL AAAHHHHHHH the way u describe things is so AMAZINGGGGGG EEEKKKKKKKK btw now you're my new role model ^-^ and the concept of the scale and the transforming thing is really interesting!

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Nainika Gupta
20:08 Apr 30, 2021

Aw, thanks!

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Neri Sompanos
19:18 May 17, 2021

I love the part about the scales and the Book! You are an inspiration!

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Nainika Gupta
11:45 May 18, 2021

Thank you so much!

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Zoey Hailey
21:53 May 06, 2021

OH MY GOODNESS NAINIKA THIS IS AMAZING!!!!! Illuzan became such a baddie when she found herself, and I’m living for it lol The descriptions are all perfect, and it genuinely feels like I am reading a piece of a novel. Great job, as always, and never. stop. writing. Luv you girl<3

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Nainika Gupta
10:30 May 07, 2021

Awww, thanks Zoeeeeeyy <333 ilysmmmmm hahah yes she diddd! <3

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Zoey Hailey
15:35 May 07, 2021

no problem nainikkaaaaaa Ilysmmmmmm yessss illuzan's a queeen (literally and figuratively lol) <3

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Nainika Gupta
15:52 May 07, 2021

<333

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Ana Govindasamy
06:44 May 06, 2021

Beautifully written, really vivid and super creative. I was captivated the whole way through, and it was magical. I found the line “Her skin that had been broken so many times by the whip was a gnarled map of her pain.“ really vivid and heartbreaking. Really well done!

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Nainika Gupta
11:35 May 06, 2021

Thanks so much Ana!

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Ana Govindasamy
13:10 May 06, 2021

No problem!

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Charli Britton
15:15 May 05, 2021

Wow! Such an interesting story! You write a TON. And I thought I was fast... I had to click on this story, because 1. the title caught my eye. You can never go wrong with dragons. and 2. The name Circe caught my eye. I'm a sucker for greek mythology. I was a little disappointed to know that there was no actual greek mythology, but still, well done!

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Nainika Gupta
15:24 May 05, 2021

haha, yeah I like writing lol :) well, thanks...I thought so too - dragons are amazing. lol, yeah, no greek mythology here *yet* but maybe in the future!

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Blue Green
18:34 May 04, 2021

Great story, very imaginitive - had me gripped straight away :-)

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Nainika Gupta
18:53 May 04, 2021

Thanks..er Blue! :)

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18:47 May 02, 2021

Fantastic world-building! I especially enjoyed the descriptions; they're amazing. I love your fantasy stories. This one was one of those stories where you get entangled in the words, and you end up wanting more in the end. Great job!

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Nainika Gupta
11:00 May 03, 2021

Thank you so much! :)

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11:48 May 03, 2021

No problem!

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17:52 Jun 24, 2021

This was a beautiful story, Nika! I loved this line: "...fire thrumming through her words." With this description, I could imagine Illuzan speaking. Wonderful job!

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