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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4. The Sixteenth Storm Moon

The Prophecy had finally reached the ears of the Dragons.

It had been confused at first, just whispers on the wind not quite making sense, and mixed meanings laced between each line. But finally, after a full moon's waiting, it had been fully recited.

 

The Rowan was blind, but now may see,

The Birch who's skin is as mottled as bark,

The Oak who's spirit is ancient and free,

The Ash, who has a heart seen only in dark,

The Willow who cures even when tainted,

And The Elder, who's soul is young and yet to be awakened.

 

There was much confusion amongst all the races, as to the wording. The rulers had known about this Prophecy for years, and many wondered how they aimed to enact it, but some gossip from their strong-holds had been let slip.

The Rowan's son had been blindfolded since birth, but since the Seal began to break, he had undone it and allowed his son to see the world for the first time in his twentieth cycle. The Birch's son had been burned by his father to make his skin mottled like that of the tree he was meant to be resemble. The Oak's heir had been forced to meditate for his whole life, raised by the Brothers of Fire, to make his soul 'pure enough'. The Ash's child was only allowed out in the dark, and was rumoured to be a sweet boy. The Willow's child had been given a disease as a child, one that stuck with him for life and tainted his blood, but he had been trained in medicine by the mountain folk. And the Elder, his son was only fourteen cycles old, and so small they reckoned he looked much younger.

The Dragons had disapproved, so many children cruelly treated just because their father's wished to keep the power within the family, but nobody spoke up, like always, they were glad it was not their offspring becoming sacrifices to the Seal.

Julij had grown more sure of themselves, even though they could not see. Their voice when speaking out-loud was gravelly, thick and slow, like tree sap, something that pulled you into every word as they spoke. Upon hearing about the Prophecy, they had seemed distant for a moment, but then stated slowly;

"What is the point? Why must it be the heirs of the Branches that have come before? What if.. what if something went wrong?" Puzzled, Wyrim and Dracia held no answer for their strange little child, as they sat wrapped in a thick woollen jumper and leather pants, the knees rough and worn from years of wear.

Dracia's bluish-white scales had become less colourful as the cycles went on, and she grew tired, even though Wyrim laid close to her at night and warmed her with his fire, they both knew that eventually, they would have to explain the Julij that they were not a Dragon and that when Dragon's die, it is very different to the Non-Magical humans.

But for now, they were all content to let Julij believe.

Word from the Silver Forests had come again, the evil within was once again moving, stirring. Sending shivers through the magical networks of the land and causing small disasters through the six valleys of Tiber. Even the graves of the Founders had been disturbed, their stone monuments cracked and beginning to fall to the waves of the sea.

Dragons refused to name the evil, though they knew it well. There was no reason for sleeping secrets to rear their heads and cry into the night, but now they were and races like the Night-Feeders, the Skinless, the Burners and the Magicals, even the Silver-Borns of the Icy Isles were waiting in anticipation, hoping that the Seal would hold.

But there was nothing any of them could do.

They could only hope and wait, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. For their heroes to save them all. 

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