What is “Nobility”?
“Ok, there they go!” Xintalan heard Telix call out to her from the foggy clouds below her. She closed her eyes in exasperation. He doesn’t have to shout. I’m not flying that far away and his voice carries. She went into a glide then tipped her wings to drop herself down out of the cloud cover.
Not that it mattered how loud he shouted anyway. They were quite a lengthy distance from the flight of dragons down below. They probably wouldn’t have heard Telix’s voice no matter how loud he had screeched. He just, well, irritated her.
“There they are, right below us!” He pointed with one of his claws.
“Yes,” she hissed. “I can see them.” There were about a dozen of them flying together in a strict V-formation. They varied in size and color, but it was hard to make out the distinction with the trees of the Umbrawood Forest sweeping away beneath them. In addition, they were below the shadow of twilight that the distant horizon cast across the landscape, and that darkness, along with the clouds, made it a bit more difficult to see specifics.
Despite this, she did see the bright white uniforms of the high elven riders mounted on each one. She and Telix had trailed them as they flew north, toward their home in the Emberfire Mountains, returning from ground flame sorties over the wood elves in the Umbrawood Forest. Her irritation turned to fully burning anger at the thought of her noble brothers and sisters being ridden by flaming two-legs as if they were horses in a cavalry brigade. We are NOT livestock to be ridden and driven!
Yes, she knew that the attacks on the forest cities had been a part of His Majesty Kirraxal’s plan. She knew that Lord Chancellor Tonklyn had played the high elves into making the attacks. She also knew that it was time to have the dragons rise up against their riders.
But still, to see dragons treated this way makes my guts boil!
“Xintalan?” Telix called out, “what are we doing?”
Xintalan looked at him, anger seething in her throat, and spat through her teeth, “We’re doing what we came here to do!”
She arched up and flipped over backward, folding her wings to throw herself into a rapid dive. Startled, Telix scrambled to follow her.
The dimming twilight shifted into full night as she plunged under the line of the sun’s shadow on the horizon. She pulled out of her dive and leveled off behind the dragonriders’ formation. The momentum of the dive drove her speed through the air, her eyes narrowed against the wind. Not the wind. It’s rage in my eyes. And in my belly.
A shudder ran up her neck as her stomach shook. The wind rushed past her, roaring in her ears. The treetops rushed below her in a blur of darkness. Waves of nausea rushed upward and a long belch of heated smoke blew out over her tongue and out between her teeth.
Her heart pounded with excitement as the trailing Dragonriders of the formation grew close. They’re not my target, but they’ll fall soon enough.
She heard Telex calling out behind her, a bit distant and breathy like he was straining to keep up. She smiled as burning acid bubbled up in the back of her throat and she swallowed slightly to keep it down. This is going to be tricky. Timing will need to be precise.
She took a deep breath, struggling to keep the sulfuric bile from retching out of her. As she came between the last of the Dragonriders, she sang.
It was a low note, almost a growl, but she sang it as loud as she could. The dragons have to hear this. Where’s Telix? He’d better be singing.
She coughed up a small ball of bile and the moment the open air blowing past her mouth touched it, it erupted into flame. She had to cough for a moment and spit it out. She immediately went back to the deep, low drone of the song. As she sped past the dragons in their formation, their heads turned in surprise. Shouts from the elven riders sounded loud, and some called out to their flight leader. Others grabbed their long hooks and tried to pull the dragons’ heads back straight.
Xintalan smiled, looked forward again, and was surprised to see the tail of the lead dragon right in front of her. The rider was shouting in anger and veering his dragon into a dive to the right.
She followed and was on him in a moment. Easy, easy. She flexed her neck and heaved her guts. The gurgling bile flushed up and she threw her neck forward, closing her eyes with the force of the rushing vomit. She felt the heat as it burst into flames just beyond her teeth.
The elf screamed. Yes! A hit! She arched up. Not being able to see right after flaming like that could often be a big disadvantage. She wanted to avoid driving the dragon into the trees.
Eyes open, she beat her wings hard, trying to gain altitude. She swept in a circle as she climbed and arched her neck back to look below. The Dragonriders broke apart and were flying in pursuit, one wing of five dragons trying to rise to her, and several others turning to draw Telix away. These poor dragons won’t be able to ride the winds with riders on their backs. Not only that, but they’ve probably burned up all of their bile over the forest towns.
Xintalan roared in exultation and folded her wings. Momentum carried her forward for a moment, but her weight quickly took her into a free fall. She twisted her body and pointed her nose at the rider of the lead dragon. She dropped toward him like an arrow that had been shot high into the air and was now driving back to earth. Yumirin, guide my aim!
She saw the elf’s horrified face as he struggled to turn his dragon aside. At that moment, she renewed her song, singing the drone note into the free wind as loud as she could. The dragon roared at her, but couldn’t do anything to stop her. It tried to turn away, but she swooped over its head. She stretched her arms and legs down, sank her talons into the elf, and tore him, screaming, from his saddle.
Her wings unfolded to pull her into a turn. She tossed the bleeding elf to the forest below and continued to circle the battle. Telix was high up above with other dragons in heavy pursuit. She flapped her great wings, gaining altitude with each stroke, singing as she flew.
“Sing!” She called out in the old language of the dragonkin, “Ye are free! Sing for your freedom!”
Two dragons were being driven toward her. The riders had turned their hooks around, revealing long sharp lance points. She dropped in the air to avoid them. They swept overhead, and she caught the eyes of the second dragon as it passed. It turned its head forward, nodded, and started to sing.
As she strove to climb, she heard other deep dragon voices joining hers. A rider shouted at his mount and tried to hook the rings on the dragon’s neck. The dragon snarled, took the long hooklance in its teeth, and whipped it from the rider’s grip, almost knocking him from his saddle. As the rider shouted, the dragon bit the staff in two and spit the sticks to the trees below.
The singing grew stronger, and Xintalan heard screams from the elven riders above her.
“Sing ye!” She called out, “Sing ye freedom to your brothers and sisters! Return to them and sing!”
Author’s Note: The Nobility of a Dragon
Here, Xintalan is quite upset that her fellow dragons (she calls them noble brothers and sisters) are being treated like livestock by the high elves. She then fights for their freedom and helps them see their nobility.
But there are lots of layers in the story, here. Xintalan, herself, is in a position where she has to demand that the other dragons in Kirraxal’s circle recognize her nobility, and treat her with respect.
Also, while she respects the nobility of her fellow dragons, and wants them freed, she knows that Kirraxal’s plan is to free them now so that they can be used as soldiers, turning their oppressed rage against the high elves. In this scene, she is fulfilling her role in starting this chain of events. This will be particularly effective in Kirraxal’s master plan since Tonklyn convinced the high elven Nobility to use the dragons to attack the wood elves. This manipulation, while it ultimately frees the dragons, does so only to use them to Kirraxal’s ends. Is this nobility?
Add to that the fact that all of this is done so that Kirraxal can oppress the hominids and rule the land. So, the dragons go from oppressed to oppressors. Is this nobility?
As a writer, playing with imaginary characters, this kind of complicated questioning is a lot of fun! What do you think?