26 – “Anger of the Queen” – Xintalan
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Illustration by Mark Hansen
Ryxitt’s voice was deep and resonant as he intoned the poem.
Xintalan listened to Ryxitt’s voice rise and fall with inflection and drama, with her own eyes closed. This was partly to focus her attention and to appreciate the imagery. It was also to ease the dull ache behind her eyes. Even still, she liked his recitation, and, in truth, didn’t feel nearly as badly as she had when she first arrived at the council chamber.
When the reverberations of his voice in the high-vaulted chamber faded, her ears faced only silence. One of the dragons snorted, starting a new chain of echoing emptiness.
She opened her eyes and looked out over the gathered members of her Draconic Council. Most were young, but a few were more mature. Their faces; red, blue, green, white, black, and gray; all stared up at Ryxitt in silence.
Maybe he got through to them. One dragonmare in the front narrowed her eyes and twisted her head to look up at him quizzically. Others looked similarly confused or just simply disinterested.
Or maybe not.
Ryxitt cleared his throat. “Thiss, ah, this example is frrom the time of the reignn of the ssecond dragon king, His Mmajesty Yxtal II. It’s not known which wyrmm was the original auuthor of the verse, but…” His voice trailed off as a murmur ran through the room and dragons glanced at each other and growled. He continued, “…It’s aactually a very beautifull verse in the original wyrmmtongue, but this transsslation doesn’t…”
A large blue-green dragon to Xintalan’s right slammed his hand down on the floor, shattering the awkwardness in the air.
“Ffine. Wwonderful,” he rasped. “If you’ll alloww uss to move passt the cultural enrichmment portion of the daay, can we get on with the real isssues?”
He definitely did not get through. Xintalan sighed, and extended a claw to indicate the interrupting dragon could speak.
“Whhat’s happenedd to Dinaxx? He wasn’t hhere the lasst time we met, and he’s not here nnow.” The dragon scowled at Xintalan.
Another dragon, a much younger red, spoke up. “He told me he wass going to the top of the spinne peakss.”
“Reeally?” a third one asked, “What ffor?”
“I don’t knnow!”
“Anotherr told mme he went to communne. He ssaid he wouldn’t be back for a whille.”
“He’s communing? Coulld it be withh the Six?”
“Maybe with Yumirin himmsself!”
“He did ssay that we should rreturn to the days when drragons were godss…”
Xintalan clapped her palm on the floor repeatedly, trying to restore the focus of the meeting. Finally she raised her throat and roared. It hurt more than a little to do it, but she sounded out until all of the others in the council had followed suit. Finally she stopped and let the sound fade to silence. She growled her throat clear and nodded to the first dragon she had recognized.
His eyes narrowed suspiciously and he continued, “I just havve a hard time believving that the drog that wass giving you sso much argumment here in the council would suddennly need to find his sspirituality.” His eyes narrowed on Xintalan. “It’s very connvenient for you to havve him gone, issn’t it?”
As this implication washed over Xintalan, her anger surged up her spine like a burning evergreen. “Doest thou dare? Verily doest thou dare to accuse us? Where is thy proof? Lay thine evidence before this council!” She looked down on him from her dais with fury in her eyes. “Surely thou wilt not, for thou hast none!”
The two drakes stared into each other’s eyes, inching more menacingly closer. A deep growl raised up in Xintalan’s throat and she bared her teeth. Her stomach churned and quivered.
“Hold your flames!” Ryxitt quickly intervened, stretching a wing between the two of them to break their line of anger.
Xintalan turned away. She sucked in a breath, stretched out her wings, and drew her head back. This chamber felt suddenly stuffy. She wanted to be in the open air again, not cramped in this tiny dark space, not with these imbeciles. Please, to be anywhere but here! She folded her wings and stamped her foot forward.
“If anyonne,” she hissed, “were to ssay anything harssh about annother here in the chhamber, they’d better be rready to show that they sspeak the truthh. It was the depth of desception and disstrust that brought down Maxxin II at the hand of his own sson, and even Kirraxal annd Exakas here in our own tiime.”
A hush passed through the chamber. Somewhere a voice spoke, “…For of ssuch is the dragonn.”
“No!” she shouted, “Thiss is why we learnn our hisstory! This iss why we hear the poem–” Her own coughing cut off her speech, making her gag and hack. Her head felt momentarily dizzy. She coughed and coughed, her eyes gripped shut by the pressure in her guts. Finally, she spat a large blob of flaming bile onto the dais, splattering and spraying burning droplets all around. She tried to breathe, but it only made her gag more. Great drops of burning mucus dribbled from her nostrils and the corner of her mouth. She tried to shake it away, backing away in an attempt to regain her dignity before the council. She tried to raise her dizzy head and roar again, but it just choked in her throat. She sat back on her haunches and huffed the rest of the flames from her mouth. Her neck and upper chest shook with her gasps.
“Sstand back from herr!” Someone called out. “Could thiss be the return of the great poxx?”
The room quickly dissolved into shrieks and growls. The dragons of the councils stepped away from the dais, each one staring in horror at the sickly queen.
“She iss cursed!”
“Yumerin prrotectt uss!”
Xintalan hung her head and closed her dripping bleary eyes. She looked across the room at the tense, frightened, and disgusted faces. She backed away, off the dais.
Well, this doesn’t look very regal. Some queen. I can barely stand. What should I do? What can I do? I’m a failure. I’m so tired.
I can’t stay. I can’t rule like this. I’ll get everyone sick, then we’ll all die.
She looked up at Ryxitt, her eyes almost masking her fear.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe I should go see the healer.
I have to get out of here.
Author’s Note: A Dragon Poem
As I was writing book 2, I needed some way to give the party clues as to the nature and location of Heathrax Dragonfriend. At the time, it hadn’t been revealed yet that he was a dragon. The most immediate set of clues they had was a book of his poetry. Eddiwarth read them to Thissraelle, one poem at a time.
To do that, I had to figure out what kind of poem a dragon would write! So, I created a whole new format of poem and wrote a bunch in that form. Poem after poem. It was a fun exercise.
Then I wrapped it all up in the lore and history of Wynne, and now we have a dragon poem!
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