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He had started out as the offspring of one of the few dragons left that remained free. He didn't remember the specifics of those first few years of his life very well, but he knew where it all went wrong.

The orcs came, and they took his parents away, and shipped him off to work in their mines.

His memory hazed on the exact specifics of the day, but that's the earliest he could go to remember when he had first had the collar of slavery clasped around his neck. It was standard for all dragons pressed into service. He was different from the other dragons that were stuck in the mines with him. They were dull-eyed, hopeless, while he was sharper in mind, and never let a thing about the world around him escape his notice.

He immediately swore he would never let the orcs strip his life away from him, or his mind. This might have been when he remembered life before slavery, but he wanted to watch the Orc Empire, the one built on the backs of his kind, burn and break into pieces. He wanted the dragon race to be free of their tyranny. However, he saw no way of going about it that did not end in a horrible and pointless death. He knew the other dragons would take some convincing if they were to back the idea, if even take a note of interest in it. Him dying to free them certainly would not inspire confidence.

Despite his angry thoughts, Cael kept his head down, simply observing and waiting for an opportunity to get a one-up on those who held him as a slave. It must have been around there that he forgot everything before the mines. Still, the idea of freedom was enough to keep his mind sharp, and churning with ideas. They may have been able to take his freedom away, but they would not strip him down like they did the others, he wouldn't allow it.

He thought he had found a handhold in another dragon, one like him, who remembered freedom, and wanted to fight for it. Runen. Red, oriental, and with a sense of determination about him that nothing seemed to be able to break, he had caught Cael's respect, and mild admiration, after their first meeting. It only grew when he was told that they were trying to build some kind of resistance against their orc masters. So far, it was just the two of them, but Runen said he knew more that would be willing to help.

A whole week have gone by, during which Cael could practically feel the fresh air wafting under his wings, imagine what it would be like when he finally got out of the hot, damp darkness of the mines. Just to see the sun would be welcome now.

The night when they would make contact with the other rebels came far too delayed for Cael, and he followed Runen back to their group's cave for the night, watching the entering crowd of another group carefully. Some of the caves had been demolished in an accident, so they were being stuck with the other digging groups to compensate. They all seemed to have the same dull, downtrodden expression, though he supposed that was the mark of a smart slave; to be able to hide whether or not you would be a problem. Once everyone had settled down for the night, Runen and Cael had ended up next to a trio of dragons, a blue, green, and yellow. The inert looks immediately swept away from all, and Cael saw the clear, bright spirits underneath. They were indeed similar to him and Runen.

However, the orcs had caught them speaking with one another, and, even to this day, Cael could remember the words they had said as they had zapped their group into unconsciousness.

"These ones are independent, and that makes them dangerous. They shall be used as sacrificial dragons; it is the only way to be sure they are taken care of."

When he had woken up again, it was dark, and he was in a wagon, muzzled and bound. The orc vehicle rocked as it went over the uneven terrain, sending him into the sides enough to hurt. By the time he got to the place where they sacrificed his kind, he was sore all over. The drizzling rain was felt for only a moment before they shocked him back into oblivion.

This was it, everything was over.

That's not true, Cael.

Hmm? Who was that? An orc? It didn't sound like one. The voice was much more sonorous compared to the guttural sibilants of his masters.

You can escape your fate Cael, but in order to escape, you must learn.

The sudden flapping of wings filled his ears, his wings. Opening his eyes, he found himself in the air over a barren landscape, wings beating powerfully. The sky was cloudy, and Cael felt a flicker of disappointment at the fact that the sun wasn't out. The voice went on to explain that the world he was in was just a construct, that none of it was technically real.

But he would see the sun again; feel the air rushing over his wings.

He would survive, persevere, and learn if he had to.

Anything to be free.