Shame and sorrow were to be her lot in life. The legacy given to her and the legacy she herself would pass on.
“I should go first,” Azi whispered, wiping his brow and adjusting his cap in one movement. It was unnaturally warm in the dragon’s den.
The little brown mouse, standing on her hind legs beside him, twitched her whiskers. “You’re too big. She’ll hear you, and she’ll smell you. We’ve already decided. Why do you waver?”
There are flames in the distance. There is a dragon in the distance. We must ride out to meet him.
It is said that the first dragon was born of hatred. And all of the things that follow hatred. Envy and greed. Bloodlust.
It is said that the first dragon was born from a person, right here in this very village. It is said that the first dragon was born of a curse. A curse that was meant to save, for some curses can save.
The hero Frederick did not know that when he faced the warlock king in battle, he faced his own father. Twenty years past, the babe who was the heir to the kingdom had been sent away into hiding by a fearful queen and mother. Green eyes gazed into green eyes. The warlock did not know his son. He did not know he had a son. Frederick had made it to the chamber in the castle where the king and his fellow warlocks had wrought their blasphemy. An immense slab of stone stood in the chamber, its night-black surfaces swirling with primordial lightning and glittering with stardust.
The hero tried to wound and capture the king, but the king would not yield. In the end, Frederick killed the warlock king. He unknowingly killed his father. As the blood of battle dried, Frederick called upon his allies to secure the great stone. It was not a thing that was meant to be trifled with, not by mortals. But already his fate swooped toward him, for the gods had seen the patricide. They had sent a Fury to punish the hero. They had marked him for eternal torment in the underworld.
For centuries, he stalked among the villagers at their smithies and spinning wheels. He haunted their dreams with the fear of his ever-growing appetites for treasure and for flesh. They crafted swords with jewel-encrusted hilts, stitched crimson robes with gold brocade, raised ever plumper cattle, all for one wicked dragon.