This is my second story on Nifty, but I have no idea what number it is in real life. I write too much to keep track. This is a little raw. I've edited it as much as I possibly can but I'm not that good at editing and frankly, I lack patience. Hopefully there will be few spelling or grammatical errors. I think the story is more important any way. This is a little one-off I wrote when I was bored so expect nothing thrilling.
Usual disclaimers apply: Fags within--BEWARE.
Comments, critiques or gushing adoration (or flaming hatred) can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Danin was five when he saw the dragon for the first time. He had wandered off, as little boy tend to do, into the wild forest behind the farm. He mother never let him explore the woods because she held a widely accepted belief that they were haunted, which didn't sound as bad as cursed, which was what he father told him.
Such things are quickly forgotten by a little boy, eager to adventure and soon Danin began to climb new rocks and trees. Before long all thoughts of danger had disappeared.
Rocks became mountains and trees became huge lumbering giants he would slay with his trusty silver sword, just like a hero from the stories the bard would sing in town at the festivals.
In a short time Danin came to a clearing. The soft grass tickled the boy's bare feet and the wind whispered a sweet song. Three huge boulders rough and round sat in the middle of the clearing. An enormous oak grew beside them and below, a stream of cool water trickled.
None of this was lost on Danin and he wasted no time. Using the moss on the rocks to climb he stood within reach of the tree's enormous branches. In moments he was climbing. His father never let him climb the trees in the orchard; they were too precious to risk a break. But this tree, this grandfather of the forest, was his to climb and claim.
The climb was long and hard, but Danin beamed with pride when he reached the top. He sat for a few moments, looking over the tree tops. He could see all the way to the farm and nearly the town. The novelty wore off quickly and then came the problem--getting down.
It seemed like the ground had moved farther away than Danin remembered. He made his way slowly, one branch at a time. Half way down the branch he stepped on snapped and he reached out, but the branch he grabbed was coated in balsam and was impossible to hold for long and then he fell.
Branches clawed at his face and bark dug at his skin as he whipped by. The homespun shirt his mother insisted he ware, lest he get a sun burn, saved his life when it snagged unexpectedly on a dead limb.
It was only then, a castle-length from the forest floor, bruised and bloody, that Danin Arian began to cry.
The earth shook and the wind blew up, spinning him around slowly. The something touched him. It was warm and large and it pressed into his belly. Eyes blurred with tears Danin reached out.
It was hard like bark but coated in velvet sheen. A vague cinnamon smell wafted through the area. Two great nostrils took in his scent and little hand gripped ridges like vices.
Suddenly Danin was pulled free and moving slowly, towards the firm ground. When his feet touched the grass he collapsed completely. Danin lie there, crying the last of his tears and sniffing. When he finally looked up he saw it.
A creature that burned softly as the sun hit amber scales. Two great feathered wings rested on its back. A curious look in its eyes, it turned and slipped into the forest with more grace than any dancer Danin had seen at the harvest festival.
And it was gone.
For a moment he was torn between following the dragon, or running home. In the end when the sun started to set, Danin made his way back to the farm.
When he got home his mother yelled at him and his father tanned his hide with a birch sapling but Danin did not cry. He took his punishment quietly and with a solemness a five year old shouldn't posses.
Over the next few days he slowly regained his privileges, and the watchful eyes of his older brothers grew lax. As soon as he knew he wasn't being watched any more, Danin was off. This time he made up a cover story so his mother wouldn't worry, and if he was quick he wouldn't have to worry about her sending Timin or Josh or Georg to check on him.
He swiped a few select treats from his mother's oven before he was off. She saw, but allowed it. As long as he was staying out of trouble she was content to give him small liberties.
Danin sat up a small hiding spot behind the boulders in the clearing, leaving the treats (some of them) on a log and waited.
Lying in the sun, the boy fell into a deep sleep. When he woke up he saw the treats were gone. With a smile, Danin ran home.
Danin repeated this several more times before he caught a glimpse of the dragon's tail. As luck would have it on that day he was fast enough to follow it, a faint cinnamon smell swirled about the forest as Danin went deeper. The sound of a rushing brook grew louder as the boy pressed on.
There was another clearing. This time it housed a large cave beside a small river. The soft grass had become moss and the trees grew thicker here and looked healthier.
Timidly approaching the mouth of the cave where he guessed the dragon must live; Danin placed his last jam pastry and sat on a rock. It didn't take long for a muffled shuffling inside of the cave and a long purple hued tongue snaked out and licked up the treat.
Overjoyed, Danin ran home.
The next day he returned to the dragon's cave. He was astonished to find a boy his own age sitting on the moss covered rocks overlooking the stream.
The boy sat naked. His skin was pale and his hair was golden red. A light dusting of freckles covered his shoulder and his nose. As Danin drew closer the boy turned. Haunting silver eyes looked at him with interest, and then a smile broke across the child's face revealing teeth a bit too sharp to be entirely human.
Carefully Danin sat beside this strange boy. It was then he smelled the vaguest scent of cinnamon that Danin smiled and offered some of his jam treats to share.
And that is how their friendship began.
As Danin grew he was off constantly to play with `Iian'. His family smiled whenever he mentioned his imaginary friend and was polite enough to enquire on behalf of his well being. His mother even gave him extra goodies to take to Iian.
His brothers once tried to set a place at the table for Iian, but Danin explained that he couldn't come. He had gone home. Danin's father smiled knowingly and patted him on the head.
The other children didn't play with Danin and Danin did not make friends. His parents worried at first, but eventually they chalked it up to the boy being naturally private. Because Danin was such a smart boy and seemed to be generally happy, they left it alone.
The two secret friends spent their time playing in the forest and swimming in Iian's river. They explored far, deep into places other people wouldn't have gone, but Danin knew he was utterly safe with Iian around.
His friend didn't speak much, but Danin didn't mind. Often he did enough talking for both of them. He would regale Iian with all the things that happened to him during the day. Things his father or mother said, interesting things he saw. Iian's cave was now filled with strange pieces of wood, odd colored stones and fascinating little trinkets Danin had given him.
Time passed and as Danin grew, so did Iian.
Danin grew as farm boys do--broad shoulder and tall frame tanned bronze from hours in the fields under the hot sun. His black hair showed small streaks of copper and his eyes had small lines from constantly smiling.
Iian grew tall but not broad, he was slim and smooth. His hair became longer and messy, his arms and legs grey long and his voice deepened far more than Danin's. But still his eyes were silver and still his teeth were sharp.
By the time Danin had turned fifteen summers his parents started to worry. It was unnatural to keep an imaginary friend so long, and yet when they asked what he had been doing he told them he was with Iian.
His brothers thought he was just using it to cover up the fact he was meeting a girl, but when they asked around town, they found he had no beau among them, or at the neighboring village.
As the boys grew older, their time was filled more and more with words, but they still swam in the river and climbed the hills.
`Where do you come from?' Danin asked one day.
`Far away.' The boy smiled.
`Did you fly here?' Danin asked, lying down beside the slim boy.
`I think so.' Iian said after a moment, `I can't remember clearly.'
A comfortable silence grew between them and they watched the clouds. Danin closed his eyes and rested his head on Iian's shoulder, breathing in deeply.
`What are you doing?' Iian asked.
`I like the way you smell.' Danin blushed with his confession.
`You smell nice too.' Iian told him.
Iian nodded. `Like summer. Like fresh rainfall.'
Danin blushed deeper as the grass swayed in the soft wind, ticking his bare chest.
`I really smell like that to you?'
`We have better noses.' Iian's eyes sparkled with mischief.
`Is it hard to be...what you are?' Danin asked.
Iian laughed. He often did, and usually at things Danin didn't see humor in at all.
`I'm not sure, Dan. I'd have to be someone else first.' Iian smiled and brushed the other boy's cheek with the back of his hand.
And things were happy for a time.
Everything changed when Danin turned seventeen. As he pitched hay into the barn his father stormed up to him, followed closely by his mother and his brothers.
`Danin!' His father shouted, `Get down here!'
`Yes, Pa?' Danin wondered why everyone was here, `Is someone hurt? What's wrong?'
`Your brother followed you this morning. Into the woods.' The father said, ignoring Danin's questions.
Danin looked to Georg who sneered. Georg never liked him; he was always trying to get him into trouble.
`Why was he following me?' Danin asked.
`I asked him to.' His father said. `I don't want you going out there any more.'
meek and pleasing Danin became like steel.
`The hell I can't!' His father pulled off his belt. Danin didn't even feel it. He would never give up Iian. He would never abandon his friend. As soon as it was possible Danin would run away.
Unfortunately his parents thought of this. They locked him in his room--one of his brothers constantly watching over him. It was Timin who was most sympathetic to his plight.
`Dad just doesn't want you to turn out wrong.' He explained to Danin one morning.
`Turn out wrong? Tim, what's wrong about me?' Danin asked.
`Georg saw you and that other boy...well, you were there. Dad said if he ever finds him he'll lynch him. He's been asking around town all week about him.' Tim said, sitting on the bed.
`I love him.' Danin confessed and Tim looked at the floor awkwardly.
`Is that wrong?'
`No.' Tim told him. `No, it never wrong to love someone. But guys usually fall in love with girls. Isn't there a girl you like in town? Rebecca Cobb? Sussa Kine?'
Danin shook his head.
`I love Iian.'
`Dan, Iian is made up.' Tim said gently. `He's imaginary.'
`No he's--`Danin began to explain when a soft breeze blew through the open window and a faint cinnamon smell drifted in.
Danin ran to the window, peering out into the night. Tim stood to see what had excited his brother when all of a sudden he saw his brother's strong arm shoot out into the night and pull. On the other end was a pale limb and Danin pulled Iian into the room.
`I'm so sorry I couldn't some see you! They're keeping me here. Georg saw us.' Danin hugged the boy close. And Iian turned to look at Tim.
`You're hurt.' Iian said as he touched the welts on Danin's back. `Here.'
He gently guided Danin to the bed and laid his down; pulling some moss from a bag Timin had not noticed there before and laid it on Dan's back.
`It's moss from the river. It will bring down the swelling.' Iian said, running his hands through Danin's hair.
`Shhhh. Sleep. It's alright. Just sleep.' And with that Danin was sleeping.
Tim studied the boy closely. He was dressed in some of Danin's old cast offs that were too small for his height. Silver eyes studied the other boy with neutrality.
`You're a fairy, aren't you? Some kind of spirit come to take my brother away?' Timin slowly backed up to the door.
`I will take your brother away if you continue to let him be treated like this.' Iian said.
`I'll tell father, I'll rouse the village. We'll burn you out. Georg knows where you live.' Tim threatened.
Suddenly Iian was right next to him leaning in close.
`If Dan is hurt again, I will come down on you all.' He said, ignoring everything Timin said. Something fierce burned in those silver eyes, and Tim knew it as love.
The boy nodded and Iian stepped out into the night again with one last look at his lover.
His father questioned Timin when he saw the moss. He knew the boy had returned but would not listen to Tim's stories of fairies or anything else. Danin's father went into town the next day where the recruiter for the King's army was and enlisted his son into their care.
Danin said nothing as his family bid him off. His father looked at him grimly and his mother wept. His brother's gave him hesitant embraces and when Timin grasped him he whispered into his ear.
`You saw him. He's real.' Danin smiled and Timin nodded. `Remember me.'
And with that Danin was off to training. The sovereign nation of Karn had long been at war with Volk to the North. The war had turned bitter and recruits were given training as fast as possible to get them to the front lines.
Danin was accustomed to hard work and learned the ways of battle well. His disposition was merry but there was always a sense of loneliness about him. He did not associate deeply with the others. Instead he was content to keep to himself.
Within a month Danin was on the front line. Within an hour he had killed his first man, and found he did not like it, which gave him great relief. When his squad leader died by a stray arrow it was Danin who took charge, completing their mission and taking the boarder back with only fifty men. He was quickly promoted and in the next three years his natural leadership and mind of tactics and efficient had made him a Commander.
Now and again when he looked to the sky he would see a wing, or part of a tail as it slid into the clouds and he would smile.
Once and again the commander would wander off into the forest. His men knew of this habit and made sure he was not disturbed, assuming he needed time to think. It was in those stolen moments Iian met him.
They were never caught, and no one ever suspected. No one had cause to. And so they were happy once more, after a fashion.
It was a dark day when Danin rode into enemy territory with his one hundred and fifty men on their way back to the boarder lands to replenish supplies. His fame had won him considerable respect, but the draw back was the enemy soon learned of his name as well and sought to rub him out of the war.
It was that day that he was ambushed by a large force. His squad had no chance of overcoming the onslaught of seven hundred. The Volk had decided to wipe out the thorn in their side once and for all.
Yet they fought with everything they had. Half the enemy fell before the vanguard of Karn lie on the ground. And as the enemy took its count a wild looking man dressed in rags ran on to the battle field.
Danin lie bleeding into the snow as Iian pulled him close.
`Looks like...I'm dying for good this time.' Danin uncovered his hands, revealing several deep slashes and Iian's cool tears fell onto his face.
`Kiss me.' Danin asked and Iian pressed his lips to the dying soldier's. Danin's life seeped out of his and in moments he was gone.
Iian, alone on the battle field was soon surrounded by Volk, waiting to spill his blood. It was the same Volk who took Danin from him. The same blades. And it was Karn that sent him here. It was Danin's father's fault.
Iian's tears turned hot. They would all pay. He would extract payment from their hides.
Screams echoed throughout the frozen lands as the entire boarder was consumed by fire fueled by black hate.
It was on that day that a great and terrible beast rose from the shadows of the war. The pain and anguish that had driven it mad were returned to the warring nations in fire and brimstone.
Flesh roasted and buildings burnt. Volk was seared alive first and foremost for their blades struck him down. Next was Karn, for it had given Danin up so willingly, and last was Danin's father who rejected him, who had shown him disrespect. None were allowed to live. All felt the heat of the dragon's hate.
Forests burnt. Cities crumbled. The king of Karn was eaten alive by madness and his palace shattered around him. The Queen of Volk was snuffed out by Iian's blackened heart.
The world was dealt a blow that day by one of the ancient beasts. A blow from which it would never recover. To this day nothing grows in those accursed lands, and nothing setting foot on them lives for long.
They say if you walk far enough there is a monstrous pile of alabaster stones that reaches into the sky like a pillar as a monument to Danin. But beware, if you smell the stench of sulfur and cinnamon, Iian is near and his hate burns ever-bright.