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Broken

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The dragon soared, iridescent scales glimmering brilliantly in the argent sunlight as dawn crept across the heavens. Crisp air pelted his nostrils, delighting his nose with all the lovely scents it carried, most notably mint. He reared his maw to the forming clouds, dagger-like teeth glistening and offered a triumphant bellow, signaling a successful hunt to his life-mate in the caverns a distance away. He could imagine thoroughly the way their newborn clutch would be screeching hungrily and testily fluttering their wings.

Azcaros contracted his claws around the two large stags he’d preyed upon, near tasting them on his tongue and the chewy tenderness they would have. He more greatly cherished the thought of the slowly arriving moment when his children would feast for the first time though, and forbid himself from even thinking of the tempting venison. The drake gave a choppy, throaty, growling sound, a chuckle in the draconic tongue. The hatchlings would have clawed their way from the eggs at this point, stretching their limbs with intrigue, looking about the cave-walls with wonder-filled eyes. Their mother, in the custom of their kind, would have bathed them in her fire, showing them her warmth and the hatchlings would flock to her, reveling in the light.

In some ways, he wished he could once more be a part of the ceremony. Alas, only the mothers were afforded the right of having a presence, something about bonding his father had once informed him. He twirled giddily in the air, blowing streams of smoke from his scaled nostrils. Abruptly, hooks invaded his flesh, rending it mercilessly. He screeched, searching the ground and then raising it to the skyline, squawking with astonishment as two drakes smaller than he came into sudden view from above. They smelled off, oddly unlike his kin. Atop the back of each sat a pompous human male, each burly and their faces plastered with grins through their grimy helms.

He called out in his native tongue, frantic and pleading, his fury rising, fears for his children and his mate taking the forefront, “Brothers, why do you partake in these actions? I am your kin!” One of the humans took a long chain to his drake’s back, slamming it harshly against its left scapula. The enslaved beast cried in agony, slapping its barbed tail obediently against Azcaros. He snarled, lashing out with his own, writhing around in the sky as he attempted to pry the hooks from his flesh.

His glowing pupils eyed each drake with hatred, realizing with horror that each was covered in deep scars and that the saddles were crafted of metal, welded permanently around each of his kinsmen. They carried themselves without the pride of a true dragon, beaten and broken by who knows how many years of forced servitude.

Each piece of cold steel was suddenly torn from his flesh, leaving gaping wounds in his muscular physique. He surged forward, dropping the stags in panic, rushing with all his remaining strength to evade the assailants. A luminous beam encircled him then and he began to feel the air being ripped from his lungs and sucked from under his wings. Azcaros gave a final roar, ended prematurely from lack of oxygen.
His body was sent hurdling towards the green, plummeting morosely from its previous altitude. He beat his wings futilely, crashing into the terrain broken bodied and his eyes left to stare with seeming endlessness as he was sent into oblivion. Were a clock to be nearby, it would be several ticks before his lids finally shut, causing great pleasure to the regiment of human soldiers that had closed in on the corpse. One of them, standing apart from the rest grinned and turned to his men, “Well then, I suppose the device works.”

Come noontime, when the sky had grayed substantially, almost as if Gaia herself mourned the passing of a noble drake and betraying any notions one may have had of it being ceaselessly sunlit, the humans had set up camp, stoking a fire with scavenged kindling. They lounged about it, some had taken the free time to cut or shave their shaggy beards all together. The man whom had spoken earlier sat a bit taller than the others, not quite as burly as his comrades but making up for it with impressive height. He had kept some scruff, the bright curls of his hair going past his chin in a brief mingling.

This man was Cedric, Captain of their squad, a group of attack dogs sent out to test new technology. He ordered the youngest of them to search the packs for food. The boy returned in a panic, scratching his head and not wanting to make eye contact. “I-Sir…There isn’t much left.” Cedric sighed heavily with displeasure, locking the boy in his gaze and standing, “Well then boy,” He pointed to the twisted body of Azcaros, “Get. Us. Some. F*ing. Meat.” he growled out cruelly, his tanned and weathered face contorting wrathfully.

The boy looked uneasily to the creature before nodding and bringing his knife to the corpse, cutting into places where the protective scales had all but disappeared. “Oh, and toss those worthless beasts a couple slices would you?” he shifted his head momentarily to the drakes lying huddled nearby. “But its dragon’s meat, Sir.” Cedric looked to the boy, drinking heartily from a flask of mead being passed around the fire, “They’ll eat what we give ‘em and be thankful for it.”

Wrath and Fury as they’d been named, sniffed submissively at the offering of meat, whimpering sorrowfully at the scent. Wrought with starvation and weakness, they none the less ate rabidly, causing cruel laughter to erupt from the circled men. They turned their hatred for the men inward on themselves, feeling the betrayal they’d just made to their kind.

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Cedric propped his feet lazily on the tavern table, rocking the crafted wooden chair back dangerously and drinking from his mug. The scent of cooking food permeated the air, accompanied by song and laughter and all around drunkenness. “So it works then?” the hooded figure inquired mutedly, rubbing his clearly sweat-drenched hands together with anticipation, the frayed cloth of his graying robes chafing together. An auburn-maned wench stepped forward to refill his cup, but he waved her away hurriedly. Cedric nodded and set the chair to the ground, removing his legs from the table and leaning forward to whisper with a smirk, “Like a charm.”



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