Terror. Flashing crimson.
Morzanna was paralyzed with fear. The creature appeared so suddenly that she hadn’t had time to react. No. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. She had neither sword nor shield. No mythical power from the Crypt of Kings to help her in her fight. She was no hero, she was a scared girl cowering in leaves and mud. She didn’t realize she was shrieking in terror.
Looking from high above the ground, she panicked and banked left. It wasn’t a deer or hare at all. it was a human girl. She dove for the trees. She could hear more human girls - the ones from the fire. As she crashed through branches she shifted on the way down. Limbs reached out to grab her and tear her clothing but she could not risk landing in her other form. She fell to the ground with a thud. She stood up and nursed her sore arm - the wing had almost completely healed but the fall had caused her re-injury. She wondered if she would be able to fly again once she found her way out of these woods. She could still hear the women pounding across the clearing while the other was still screaming. She followed the sound. When she neared the location of the screaming girl she paused behind a tree and covered her face with the sleeve of her dress to conceal her wisping breath. She watched from afar as the girl with raven hair screamed at the top of her lungs. “Why was this human still screaming?” She had veered and landed and was nowhere to be seen. She would never understand these fragile creatures. She was still watching when the golden-haired and fire-haired women bounded into the wood and happened upon the screaming girl.
“Morzanna! It is you!” cried Zíva. As she stopped abruptly as not to tumble over her terrified sister. The youngest of the sisters crouched on the ground with her face pointed at the sky, screaming.
“Morzanna, it is fine now. The Dragon has gone and if it hasn’t Rhiannon will surely protect us.”
At the mention of her elder sister’s name, Morzanna’s screaming stopped as quickly as it had begun.
“Rhiannon,” she spat, venom soaking her words. “I do not need her help. Why are you here? To steal my glory? To overshadow your poor “little one” once again?”
“Morzanna,” this time it was Rhiannon who spoke. “I do not think this is the time for a petty squabble. There is a Dragon lurking in the darkness and I intend to find it. I do not know why you must make everything a competition. But you are Morzanna. You are as clever as you are stubborn. You are more clever than Zíva and I and maybe even Father. Why must you be so insufferable?” Rhiannon said in equal parts frustration and exhaustion. She loved her sister and did not understand why she acted so.
The words did nothing to sway the little one. Jealousy had taken root in her heart. She would not be outdone. She lunged at Rhiannon of the golden hair. Rhiannon was so stunned that she did not react instantly as she did with most enemies. This was her sister, this was her little one. Her slow reaction allowed Morzanna to grasp Rhiannon’s dagger and pull it from her belt. Instead of lunging at Rhiannon with the blade, Morzanna turned and ran for the trees. Rhiannon raced after her, sword in hand. The Dragon was out there and no matter how clever or determined she was, Morzanna was not equipped to handle such a beast.
The so-called beast stood watching from the shadows in the form of a dark-haired maiden with alabaster skin, her emerald eyes flashing in the darkness. She stood her ground as the girls went dashing into the forest. “Fools,” she thought. However, curiosity eventually got the best of her and she dashed into the forest after the pair of quarreling sisters. She wondered what would happen if they came face to face with the monster of their dreams...
She came upon the golden-haired woman called Rhiannon first. Rhiannon carried a sword in one hand and a shield in the other - the shield was emblazoned with her likeness. “They never get my mane right,” she thought. The golden-haired spun on her heel as she heard the stranger approach. Her bright eyes flashed in the moonlight and she gritted her teeth - she was ready for a fight. The stranger approached with her hands stretched before her to show she was not a threat. She motioned to the golden-haired signs of peace - her hands outstretched to she was not holding a weapon.
“I am not here to hurt you though you fear me so,” she said softly, her voice drifting sweetly on the frozen air. A look of panicked confusion crossed Rhiannon’s face.
“Who are you?” Rhiannon demanded.
“I am the one you seek to protect your “little one” from. I am your dragon,” she said, her voice still sticky sweet. This did nothing to remedy Rhiannon’s confusion. She noticed this and said, “Let me show you. I am not the monster your kind makes me out to be. Do not act rashly. I do not wish to hurt you. Only to teach you,” she said and then shifted.
Before Rhiannon’s eyes where there once was an ebony-haired maiden was now a monstrosity. But from the Dragon’s throat came the same sweet voice and everything became clear.
“Now do you see? The maiden your kind has sought to rescue is also the monster you sought to destroy. You are the first of your kind to know the truth. Not everything is as it seems. My name is Andraste and I am your Dragon.”
Rhiannon stared in disbelief unable to say a word - when suddenly a visceral yell echoed throughout the wood. Morzanna.
She screamed as she dove from a branch high on a tree, dagger in her hand. She drove the dagger deep into Andraste’s flank. The Dragon roared in pain. Fire escaped through clenched teeth. She did not want to hurt them. The smell of blood and fire filled the wood. Andraste shook her great leg and tossed Morzanna to the ground.
“Why have you done this?” Andraste asked. “You heard my story.” She shifted and fell to the ground clutching her leg.
“Your treasure will be mine, beast!” cried Morzanna, madness flashing in her eyes. But deep in her heart, she knew she was wrong. So she turned and fled into the darkness. Zíva came upon the scene and with a brief explanation, for she trusted her sister, she began to bandage the Dragon-maiden’s leg.
Morzanna disappeared into the trees.
Rhiannon and Zíva returned home to find there father. He was deeply saddened by Morzanna’s disappearance for he loved all of his children equally but he knew that once jealousy and anger had taken root there was no way to undo the hate in her heart. The sisters introduced Andraste in her magnificent glory and their father felt the same astonishment they had when she had revealed her double nature. Andraste, the invincible, the clever, the Dragon.
Rhiannon, Zíva, and their father Caderyn never had to worry about the cold or hunger again. They joined Andraste in her castle home. She now had someone with whom to share her knowledge and they now had someone with whom to share their love.
Author’s note: In the conclusion to this project I wanted to bring the title of the storybook full circle. Blood and fire are mentioned in the introduction and now here, in the conclusion. There are a few loose ends I wish I could tie up but alas, the semester is coming to an end. Thank you all for coming along on this adventure. I am a sucker for a happy ending so I just had to give the Dragon some company and the fisherman and his daughter’s a warm place to sleep. Andraste, the Dragon’s name is from Celtic mythology and means “invincible” and is the name of a Britton goddess of victory. I may actually keep this website around and randomly add stories and expand the adventures of Rhiannon and her newfound draconian friend. I really love these characters, especially Andraste, and I don’t think I am ready to let them go yet. Plus, Morzanna disappeared into the woods, who knows what kind of revenge she may be plotting. Thanks for reading!
Bibliography can be found on the story titled “And So It Begins”