A Dragon’s Perspective
The Goddess of Storms is a fickle one. Sometimes her winds aid us, other times, they work against us. You must learn to read her chaotic currents and flow with them. Kehfre’s Father
A dark fantasy short story featuring Kehfre, a mixed breed dragon living in isolation with her family. Her father, much larger and more powerful than her, is determined to teach her to fly and fend for herself. To that end, she must brave the winds of a storm and prove what she’s learned. Will she survive?
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“Father, why do we have to go hunting today?” complained the young white dragon as she sat examining the new streak of copper scales that had surfaced on top of her front leg. “Couldn’t we wait until the weather clears? I don’t want my first hunt to be in a storm.” It was a discussion she had held with her father many times. Not that she feared flying in a storm; she just had no desire to risk her life in one.
A deep sigh echoed through the air as the dull, cloud-covered rays of sunrise shone through the newly budding tree canopies and fell on the moist cave walls. The sparse sun reflected off of the metallic copper scales of the colossal dragon lying at the mouth of the cave, peppering the dark cavern with soft orange lights.
The copper dragon’s tired reply echoed through the cave as he turned his head to look at her. Her white scales contrasting starkly with the cold, dark cave walls. His crimson eyes met hers. “Kehfre, you will come of age in a few years. It will not be long before you will need to fend for yourself. You have delayed your flight practice long enough. Besides, every male wants a mate to hunt with, rather than having to do everything himself.” It was a jest pointed at her mother, who often opted to stay in the cave, watching her unhatched eggs.
Kehfre conceded to her father as he stood and began strutting out of the cave, his large tail scraping against the cavern wall as he stretched his four legs out, arching his back as he released a yawn. Kehfre snorted as a few pebbles fell on her head, scraped from the ceiling by the spines on his back. She ducked, his tail swinging over Kehfre’s head as he walked through the cave entrance. It was no use arguing with him again; he was set on her practicing this day in this storm.
Kehfre sighed as she rose to her feet. [like anyone would want to perform the dance with a mix breed like myself,] this notion she kept to herself. She wasn’t necessarily happy about it, but it was something she accepted. No male had ever even considered her as more than an abomination. It wasn’t just that her parents were of different colors. Her father was a pure metallic dragon, while her mother was a chromatic. The union itself had been enough to get them exiled from their respective clans.
“All the more reason for you to learn to hunt, and to be comfortable with—” started her father.
“I told you I don’t like it when you read my thoughts,” Kehfre growled. It was an annoying trait of the metallic dragons, the ability to read the minds of others, hear their thoughts, and speak into their minds. She pictured a giant rainbow bear making the craziest face possible to close her mind. The sweet song of her father’s laughter filled the air, reverberating through the ground and knocking loose leaves from trees as they walked out of the cave and between the gargantuan red-wood trees towering from the forest floor.
Sometime later, they emerged from the sea of trees into a large clearing. The scales on her father’s side moved and rippled like the grass on a windy day. He was loosening his muscles, preparing to take flight. It was a necessary procedure she had practiced many times. Kehfre stopped to do the same. She thought through the steps carefully, stretching her copper wing membranes to their fullest, working out the soreness from a long night’s chill. Her wing joints extended and locked into place as her muscles tightened around them. The air was thick with the coming rain; it would be an exhausting flight.
A soft roar reached them from the cave, a final call from her mother to be careful. Her father turned, the aging flap of scales under his jaw vibrating as he responded, assuring her mother they would return.
Kehfre thought a single word loudly in her head: [ready.] She pictured herself in the most perfect stance possible. Her wings were now held partially folded by her sides, appearing nearly twice the size as before.
Her father moved over to her. He examined her back, pressing his massive paw against her to feel the muscles beneath her white scales. “Well done, child! That is a great flight stance.” His voice was that of an affectionate mentor, congratulating his pupil. “Shall we go?”
Kehfre surged forward, getting a running start before spreading her wings, giving her a silhouette nearly twice as wide as it was long.
“Great take off! But your right shoulder was a little loose.” The loud, amused voice of her father was clearly audible over the rush of air that surrounded Kehfre as she continued to climb. She turned, looking back at her father with her left eye while she tightened the muscles of her right shoulder.
Her father stretched his wings, nearly blanketing the clearing with their brilliant sheen that dwarfed Kehfre’s wingspan. With a single surge, he was high in the air. The trees below bent and swayed away as a few flaps brought him to the same altitude as Kehfre.
“We’ll start our hunt in the foothills; we may even get there before the storm hits.” Kehfre’s father pushed ahead of her, leading the way away from the mountains.
Kehfre flew hard, flapping her wings at nearly twice the pace of her father just to keep up. She thought back to her early flight lessons, how she couldn’t fly more than a few minutes without becoming exhausted. Now she wasn’t even tired, and they had been flying for nearly an hour. Kehfre loved the roar of the wind against her ears, blotting out all but the loudest of worrisome thoughts.
Her father’s voice brushed against the wall of her consciousness. [Do you remember your lessons on flying through storms?] This was an unwelcome reminder that today’s practice would be in a storm.
[Only that I should loosen my shoulder and wing muscles when I enter one, to prepare for the high winds.] Kehfre could hardly hear her father over the whirlwind of emotions swimming in her own mind.
[You also want to gain as much altitude as you can before entry, and you must remember to let the goddess Naqam guide you. Never fight her storms.] Her father paused for a moment. [There’s a rainstorm ahead. Do you see it? It’s small, but will make a good first experience.]
Kehfre looked ahead of her father. His thoughts echoed in her head, fostering a foreboding sense of dread within her. Just over a mile away, there was a column of slightly darker air where a light rain had begun. The clouds above were shallow and there appeared to be very little wind. The sight of the apparently calm storm eased her fears slightly.
[We’ll need to enter it as far up as we can, just to be safe. Be ready; looks can deceive in miniscule storms such as this.] Her father’s thoughts were a warning not to become overconfident, and to remember her lessons.
[Why can’t I start storm training when I’m older?] Kehfre’s thoughts were more a plea for mercy than a complaint, as she blocked out an image from a recent nightmare of her falling helplessly through a storm. She knew the answer he would give.
[You are older, and the sooner you learn, the better. Weather in these mountains is unpredictable, and you may one day find yourself in the middle of a storm on your way home. It is better that you know what to expect and how to react before that happens.] The tone of her father’s thoughts betrayed his irritation at her hesitance.
[As you wish,] Kehfre responded, her body already tightening in anxiety.
Both Kehfre and her father steered toward the small section of rain, gaining altitude as they flew. It did not take them long to reach the downdraft. Kehfre braced herself, slightly relaxing the muscles on her shoulders and wings to allow for the wind they were about to encounter.
The force of the downdraft was much greater than she expected. The immediate impact caused Kehfre to fall significantly. She grunted in pain as the muscles along her chest stretched. A crosswind seized hold of Kehfre, causing her to roll onto her back. Instinct took over; she folded her wings before righting herself. Kehfre used the fall to gain speed before extending her wings, attempting to glide upward. But the downdraft forced her into a dive. Her muscles screamed with fatigue. She flapped her wings vigorously, trying to push away from the rapidly approaching ground below. But no matter how hard she tried, her wings failed to catch enough air to pull her up. She was making out the details of the ground below when she collided with another crosswind. This one turned her on her side, increasing the speed of her fall.
Panic set in as she continued to fight, to struggle against the storm. Then it was over. Kehfre was panting, her heart racing as she emerged from the torrent of air. She had fallen dangerously close to the ground, just barely clearing a tree that passed beneath her. A great shadow engulfed Kehfre as her father halted his dive towards her. She immediately felt the need to land and settled atop a small hill. She was shaking uncontrollably, unsure how to feel about what had just happened. Her muscles collapsed, her sore wings laying out of the ground, still joints still locked in their flight position. She struggled to close them, but was met with pain as her muscles refused to cooperate.
“Are you injured?” Kehfre’s father asked her as he landed at the base of the hill. Kehfre did not answer. “That storm was a little more severe than I thought.” Her father’s concerned eyes met hers.
She didn’t know if she was hurt. She couldn’t move her wings. Everything was soar. Her chest heaved. Her mind was blank as she again tried to move her wings. She whimpered in pain as the bones locking her wings out finally gave way; her swollen muscles contracting to pulling her wings in. Kehfre sighed as she pulled them tight to her body, the painful and likely torn muscles in as relaxed a position as they could be in. An image flashed through her mind, rain, lightning everywhere. She was falling uncontrollably, unable to right her wings. She winced, her heart racing as she saw herself hitting the ground or being impaled by a small tree.
The thought was interrupted by her father lying down next to her. He spread his wing over Kehfre as he spoke aloud.
“You know, I was less than a second away from catching you. You would not have hit the ground.” The warmth of his belly stopped her tremors as she pushed her small body against his. He was not even winded. His strong heartbeat was steady and even, while hers raced wildly, skipping beats here and there as it struggled to keep up with the adrenaline still pumping through her.
“This time.” She replied, as she pictured herself as a crumpled corpse on the ground. “How are you not tired?” She looked towards him. His head was turned towards the minor storm that now moved away from them.
“I have told you many times, Kehfre; you must not fight the wind. The Goddess of Storms is a fickle one. Sometimes her winds aid us, other times, they work against us. You must read her chaotic currents and flow with them. Once you do, you will find that you can fly through nearly any storm. More importantly, you will be able to defend yourself in any storm.”
Her father’s calm voice pierced Kehfre. She recalled many lectures about these very teachings, but when the time came to put her lessons into practice, she had forgotten them entirely.
“We will rest here for a while. Come close, relax your muscles and let your inner flame heal you.” Kehfre nuzzled her father in response. She snuggled against her father as she closed her eyes, drifting on the edge of sleep.
Kehfre stretched, opening her eyes as the rumble of hunger graced her ears. Vibrating through every inch of her body.
“We had better head back. We can hunt in the forest.” Kehfre’s father chuckled as he looked at her, motioning back toward their home. The minor storm they had flown through had joined a mass of clouds obscuring the mountain tops, the floor of which was already darkening with rain. “We will have to walk once we get closer to that storm. Are you good to fly back?” This was more of a command than a question. He would make her fly, even until her wings failed her.
“I don’t know,” replied Kehfre, unsure if her exhausted wings would even hold her aloft.
“You will become stronger, my child. In time, you may surpass even me.” Her father rose to his feet, preparing to take flight. Kehfre’s trembling resumed as she prepared herself for the pain that would accompany opening her exhausted wings. She sighed as a dull ache accompanied their movement. Kehfre undertook the practiced motions of preparing for flight before rising into the air behind her father. She again welcomed the rush of the wind as she anxiously awaited the excitement of a grounded hunt on the forest floor.