The Iron Den

For generations the Dragon Tree has been passed down Alaina's family line, and it has finally reached her. The Dragon Tree taps into the memory of it's owner, and gives them their greatest fear along with their greatest dream. But what if your greatest dream is love? What if your greatest fear is the downfall of your city? She could stop it. Because she is different. She is Srren.

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1. Prologue


Alaina could not remember a time when she had forgotten her dragon tree. It belonged to her grandmother once, and her grandmother had given it to her before she had left. After that, it’d been sat underneath one of the threadbare pillows, until Duane had taken it out to mend one of the broken wings on the dragon.

The dragon tree was no smaller than Alaina’s index finger. Every tiny little detail was so delicate and well thought over, the feathered wings that had engraved in them each and every tiny feather, the tree trunk that had the correct wooden texture. And the little gem that was placed delicately over the dragon’s heart, the colour reminded Alaina of the water that surrounded the Never Sea, shimmering azure that glinted in the sunlight.

Her grandmother left for the Never Sea five months ago, a thin stretch of land that held the Sthenra’s. The Lord calls the Sthenra’s little goblins, they leave a loud cackle behind them as they run back and forth across the Never Sea. The men that go to drink in the bars told stories about the Sthenra’s little pointy hats, and how they used to scamper across the bar jabbing their hats into the fingers of the men. Maybe it served them right for bugging the little creatures. 

The coach jolted as it drove over a large crater in the road, causing a bothered murmur from the driver. Alaina ignored it and turned her attention to Duane, who was settled next to her thumbing through a notebook. Duane felt her heavy gaze and lifted his head to look into her steel grey eyes.

“What?” he asked with humor.

“What’s that?” Alaina pointed to the binded notebook that Duane held in his hands. He handed the notebook over to her with a smile. Alaina flicked through the pages and stopped at one randomly. She recognized the place in the beautiful sketch from her childhood, the small gap that they had found in the forest when they were younger. She remembered the small glossy pond that they used to paddle in, and the chunky tree – which held a tilted rope swing.

“What did we used to call that?” asked Duane.

“The Slot,” replied Alaina.

“That’s right, The Slot, and every Friday after tuition we would run down in our underwear and paddle in the pond until we were called in for dinner.”

“And sometimes we would push each other on the swing if the water was too cold,” Alaina added. Duane chuckled and took the notebook from her hands, the warmth of her skin brushed against his own.

Alaina peered out of the window, the once transparent glass was now spattered with filthy grime, but she could just about see past that. They slowly passed the gardens, the smell of apples and dirt wafted through the slightly open hatch. The servants were working hard to pick the carrots and the potatoes with the help of the Nenyryn. A year ago, the Lord had made an agreement with the Nenyryn, he had told them that if they helped his servants pick the vegetables out in the gardens, he would give them half of the profit. Being the gullible creatures that they are, the Nenyryn had willingly agreed. That had given them the nickname Credulous. In a way, Alaina felt sorry for the Nenyryn, they had never been the big bad creatures that started world wars and post apocalyptic events, they were the shy back-of-the-classroom creatures with no intention for pain and suffering.

The coach silently drove past the gardens and towards the Manor. Two stone statues stood either side of the front door, the Lord had told Alaina that it protected the Manor from the  Ythra, the nocturnal creatures that lurk in the forest during the night. Sometimes Alaina could hear their bitter snarls as they tried to enter the Manor, but the statues scared them off just like the Lord had said.

Duane tapped Alaina lightly on the shoulder as the coach came to a halt just beyond the Manor.

“Nervous?” he asked her. 

“Yes. He hasn’t seen us for over ten years, so what about you?” Alaina’s question lingered in the air as the driver opened the doors for them. His beard was at an odd angle – as were his dismal eyes. Alaina hopped down from her seat and onto the gravel with a crunch, followed by Duane.

“Your welcome,” muttered the driver as he climbed back onto the coach. Duane walked over to Alaina and took her hand.

“Yes,” he told her, answering her question. They both watched as the coach slowly trailed away from them, leaving dirty marks on the path that was being cleaned by a small group of Nenyryn.

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