The Rowan

(Thanks to NamesFromGraves for the beautiful cover, your hard work is always loved :) )
Before the Falling, there were Dragons.

Dragons who's breath could set a forest ablaze, who's wings could cause hurricanes, who's claws made canyons in the rocky earth, who's scales shone like glass and who's bones were made of gemstones. Fearsome guardians of all elements.

There were no humans who could tame such beasts. Not until The Rowan.

The Kingdom of Tiber was a harsh place, where magic was outlawed, and even the Dragons were on the verge of extinction. But in the middle of hide, the last pair of Dragons find a human baby, cold and alone, left to die with their strange appearance.

As the child grows under their care, a war begins brewing, something ancient stiring beneath the surface, and a prophecy to be fuffilled by The Six Branches, a band of six adventurers who must give up their lives to go and complete training to save their kingdom from destruction.

But they sent the wrong six.

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2. The First Pink Moon

Julij had grown in the few moons that had passed, it was evident to the Dragons, that although they grow much slower than their own offspring, human children filled out much more in the first few moons than the Dragons who remained much the same size until a full cycle had passed.

There had been much to learn in the care of a human child, as Wyrim and Dracia had learned. They had had to find milk for the seemingly endless hunger of the infant, and now, it was begining to stomach the tiniest amounts of meat that had been chewed beyond recognition, for the Dragon's had found their stomach acid too strong for Julij to be able to eat, leaving a little scar above their soft lips.

By now, Julij had taken their first steps, and taken in much of the world around them, learning a little bit of Draconic language, though it seemed to get stronger with each passing night.

In this time too, Wyrim had found that Julij was practically blind, and required assistance if they were not to fall from the face of the cliff outside the Sanctuary, or crawl into the pit of Dragon-Fire that was created to adjust Julij's tolerance of the warm and cold weather. The flames a soft pink that wavered in the wind but never faded even though no fuel was added apart from the occasional top-up from either Dragon.

Light was also a problem, for Julij needed to wear a fine layer of herby pulp over their skin to prevent them from burning in the sunlight, though both Dragons knew it was harsher higher in the mountains, it concerned them their charge was so fragile, but nether-the-less, they began to love Julij, their stone hearts warming to the child with each passing moon.

Word had come from the valleys below, and from the calls of the few other Dragons that flew past though never stopped. A war was brewing amongst the humans.

Apparently, the seal against evil entering the Kingdom was breaking, and the six Branches who controlled segments of the Kingdom and acted as joint council, rather than individual kings, had been teaching their heirs to take over the roles they held. Though word on the wind was that the heirs were not all that the Branches claimed them to be, and were rumored to be cruel.

The Dragons were fleeing, five of the last Sanctuaries had falled already, and the rowan Santucary was the last standing, but even as they watched the tree, Wyrim and Dracia noted each leaf that fell, even though it was approaching summer and should be weighed down with berries.

Wyrim turned to Dracia as another leaf fell, twirling over the edge of the cliff, Julij sat upon his back, feeling the wind on their skin even under the paste that protected them from the sun. Julij was blissfully unaware at the unease that ruffled the scales of their carers, and would often try and babble in baby tongues to cheer them up as they noticed the furrowed brows.

The Dragons had also taken into consideration the human custom of clothing, though with their giant claws, it was almost impossible to make delicate items such as they had seen over their long lives as adventurers came and went in search of glory. The few skeletons that had survived the test of time were stripped bare and the tattered clothing given to Julij, who seemed to be drowned in the large adornments, though it helped to protect her skin against the sunlight.

There was something about caring for Julij that made both Wyrim and Dracia more fierce, more determined to protect the Sanctuary, and their child. But it seemed that more adventurers had tried to take both from them in the past moons, and all had faced their fate with teeth and fire, bones turnt into charred treats for both Dragons.

Humans had been forcing themselves into the Dragon's home, and whispering of a white haired witch that controlled them. As humans do, they brought rumors and whispers of old-wives-tales half rooted in truth long forgotten. Julij hadn't been seen by them, but both Dragons knew that it was only a matter of time before they did and they asked the stars each night that Julij would be kept safe from the wrath of man.

It would be many moons more until Julij was old enough to defend herself and the Sanctuary, but even as the child looked upon the Dragons with weak eye, they knew that destiny had something special instore.

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