27 – “Sorrow of the Queen” – Xintalan
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Illustration by Mark Hansen
To my dear friend and support, Ryxitt: Greetings and a farewell.
I am not a poet. I have attempted many times to mimic the flowered words of our wisest ancestors, and I have not the flair that thou hast. So, forgive me, but I shall write thee this missive in prose. Yet I write still in the old tongue of our wyrmkin forebearers, as that is what we need most, I feel, a connection to them and to understand our own. For all of our flaws and inspirations, we are who we are.
Pardon me, friend, but I wax philosophical a bit too much. That is my problem, I fear. I am trying to impose thought and reason onto a kin while I have no understanding of it yet myself.
As we started this royal adventure, thou gavest me encouragement, saying that I would be able to lead the wyrmkin to a new place of peace and nobility. That I have failed at this is obvious. Thou hast more faith in me than I, ‘tis sure.
Now, in addition, I verily bear the dreaded pox. I have read the records and the symptoms and pains are mine. I may seek the healer, but history shows that magic has little impact on the disease. I have no will to die, but I have even less desire to see our nation, young and confused as it is, wiped out by this dreaded disease once again. So, I can not remain in the mountain palaces. I will return to my forest. Perhaps I will seek out the healer in the city, but if I venture there, the humans will likely slay me. I can’t imagine that they would do any less.
I leave the crown of the dragon kings to thee. Whether thou shouldst wear it on thine own head or pass it to another will be up to thy will or the will of the council. I can no longer wear it. I should have never taken it up.
I will leave thee and our kin. Perhaps I will pass. If I do, I’m certain the world will change little, if it notices at all. I do hope to live for at least a while in thy memories.
I am grateful for your kindness and support.
I wish the dragons well.
I wish thee well.
Xintalan looked up from the scroll, dimly lit by a single oculus lamp beside her and the fire bowl next to her bed. She flexed her claw and shook the large metal pen nib free from her finger. It settled gently on the table next to the bowl of ink.
She heaved a deep sigh out of her throat, and immediately lapsed into a raspy, hollow string of coughs that left her straining and dizzy. Shaking her head, she stretched her neck around, her body following. She crept out of her bed chamber, through the antechamber, and out into the long and wide corridor beyond.
Cold air struck her and she turned toward it. She Willed the oculus lights in the hallway to dim, almost to black. Usually she liked it brighter, but it was night and her eyes hurt. She also didn’t want to disturb anyone. Not tonight.
In a moment she stepped out of the opening in the side of the mountain, onto the terrace, and into the open night air. The stars lit the frigid winter sky with brilliant points, swirled together in lines and clusters like clouds of light. She stepped to the edge of the terrace. Below was the slope of the great mountain dropping almost straight down before eventually being covered in a dark carpet of trees.
She closed her eyes, steeled her legs, and leapt out into the air. She dropped like a stone, the wind in her face, but scarcely a moment later threw her aching wings wide and slid into an easy glide, taking her out away from the mountain and over the valley below.
Only when she knew she had flown a long way from her home did she let herself open her eyes.
Author’s Note: A Farewell
Xintalan is so conflicted. That’s what makes her fun to write and hopefully, fun to read. Here she bids farewell to her friend and support, Ryxitt. She’s also saying farewell to the dragons, and to her crown. It’s crazy!
She wants to see the dragons become their own culture, but she doesn’t want the responsibility of being queen. She also knows that no-one else can do it right, because no-one understands it like she does.
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