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Blood on My Talons

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“I challenge you for the throne , ” Orca said lifting her head high and flashing her scales in challenge.  

I stood in the council room  looking  at my daughter  with shock.  This is just a dream , just a dream , I told myself. I looked around the council room purposely avoiding my daughter's gaze. I wanted to run, to shout, to do anything to get this  feeling  out of my chest. I stared into her eyes it hit me that she was ready to kill me as she was ready to sculpt another one of her famous sculptures.  

“I...”  I can’t accept,  I thought; but dragon traditions compelled me to say to only words I could. “I accept your challenge.” my scales flashed brightly lighting up the dim room with a blue glow.  

~~~~  

We stood on the beach; the same one my ancestors were murdered on by their favorite prince. We were on the Island Palace.  

My brother stood in between me and my daughter, his dull eyes looked at both of us for a long moment.   

Orca looked at me shining her royal pattern and roaring out her dominance.  She's cocky, too cocky,  I thought looking at her confident gaze. Either way this ended with one of us dead on the sands that our ancestors blood spilled on. We would join our ancestors on this island if we died.   

“Princess Orca, do you challenge Queen Coral for the throne?” Commander Shark asked looking at Orca.  

“Yes, I do,” Orca declared in a loud booming voice that carried across the island silencing the ocean, wind and life.  

“Your Majesty ,  Queen Coral,” my brother said turning his attention to me. “Do you accept the challenge from Princess Orca?”  

Why do I have to say anything, I have to say yes, no matter what,  I thought, but stayed silent. “I- I do.”  choked out not quite sure why.  

“We all hear this, on the royal sands of the once island palace. Let the fight for the throne begin!” Shark shouted and stepped back into the  large  crowd.  

I roared into the open sky keeping an eye on my daughter.   

Orca smiled and flew into the air.  She rose higher and higher; I knew she would try to dive down on me.  Unsure what to do I stood my ground and kept a wary eye on her. I was sure I saw and heard her say something  while she looked down at me , but it was probably nothing. She tucked her wings in and started to plummet to the ground.   

I wondered why she would do that as her first move, I could easily dodge that attack.  waited  for Orca to fall closer to the ground.  When Orca was seconds form hitting the ground, I twisted left and faced where Orca shout have been. But she had somehow landed on top of me. I crumpled under the force of her fall and weight.   

Orca  laughed and  stated to slash at my back, he r  claws cut through my scale s  like seaweed.  I did my best to shake her off, but her claws dug deep into my scales.  I roared  in pain as sharp  pain  started to  bloom  in  my back. Orca  dug a talon deeper into  continued to carve her way across my back effortlessly. I hit her with the side of my tail throwing her off with a painful thud.   

Orca recovered astonishingly fast and flared her wings for balance. I looked at her with an fire in my eyes.  I felt warm liquid seep down my scaled back and my vision was slightly fuzzy. I knew that the first hit was what really determined the outcome of the battle; so far Orca was on the path to victory.  

I considered letting Orca kill me on the sands, I really didn't want to kill her. She was my dragonet after all. But the look in her eyes made me ready to retaliate, she was ready to kill me, I was ready to fight back.  

“Oh Mother,” Orca said tilting her head in a confident way. “I’m sorry,” she added softly.  

I opened my moth about to ask what she was sorry about, but my lungs couldn’t get air I started to choke. I gasped from breath and held a talon around my neck willing air to get in. The world started to tilt; my vision became blurry. I fell to the sand.  It's just the blood loss,  I thought, nothing else made any logical sense.   

Black spots started to appear at the edges of my vision and I stopped struggling, I gave in. I was silently grateful that didn't have to kill my own daughter, Orca could ascend the th ro n e  and live a long life and I wouldn’t have to have her blood on my talons.  

Then my breathing suddenly became even, and I managed to take a deep breath of air my eyes fluttered open for a second I relaxed into the warm sand. The roar of the crowed remined me of where I was and what I was doing. I took a deep shuddering breath and pushed myself up. My limbs felt weak and insecure; I was sure they would collapse under me. Somehow, I pushed myself up, my breathing became steadier and steadier. When I regained the strength to look Orca in the eye, she gave me a look of pity, but I could see the humor in her gaze.  

She probably poisoned me, or it’s the loss of blood, that’s the only things that make sense,  I thought to myself. Form the look on  O rca s face it seemed as though this was part of some plan of hers.  

Orca charged at me faster than I thought possible. She slammed her side into me knocking be back into the sand. With the wind knocked out of me I frantically gasped for air, but I was weak, I couldn’t win this fight. Orca ran up to me and started to tear away at my under belly. I howled in pain, or I tried to howl. Orca's face stained with blood was becoming blurry. I gave one final attempt of retaliation; I flailed my limbs, my wings and flung my tail at Orca.  

I heard the watching dragons roar with the force of the whole kingdom. I willed myself to open my eyes. Black spots clung to my line of sight, but Orca’s wasn’t attacking me. Instead she laid in the sand panting.   

My vision became clearer the longer I looked, and I almost cried out in agony at what I saw. The spear that was attached to y tail seemed to have been pulled out and was embedded in  Orca s  chest. Her eyes where wild and scared. Her talons and tail twitched with every breath.  

“I’m sorry,” I sobbed, tears falling on the sand.  

~~~~  

I was supposed to win, I still could, but I don’t want dragons to know who-  what  I was. Mother looked around frantically, she wasn’t ready to let me die. I watched the scene play out, mother cried, the audience gawked with shock at how the tides were turned so drastically.  

I could save myself. My power could heal  me,  and I could win, but I didn’t want to be known as an animus queen. I'd be asked to do magic and lose my soul in the process.  I don’t want to be known as an animus, I don’t,  I thought looking into Mothers panicked eyes.  

I felt my life ebbing away into the sands. “I did this all wrong,” I gasped clinging to the remaining life I had left. “You're going to rule forever, aren't you, Mother?” my words became blurry my eyes closed peacefully. I took one last breath and finished my sentence on my last breath. “You should thank me...no one can stop you now.”  

~~~~  

 I sob shook my body.  I killed  her;  I killed my own daughter!  I thought looking at her lifeless body.  “I did this all wrong. You're going to rule forever, aren't you, Mother? You should thank me...no one can stop you now.”  what did she mean by that? I wondered. I tore my eyes away from her corpse starting to feel wounds through the dull ache that surrounded me and muffled the world.  

Dragons rushed up to me, they lifted me onto their backs taking me back to the palace to heal my wounds. I didn’t have the energy to fight back, I just wished Orca was still alive and this was just a dream. It  has  to be a dream. I let my head roll back and let my tears flow.