Isn’t Queen Coral the most beautiful queen in all of Pyrrhia? Isn’t she benevolent? Righteous? Perfect?
Wouldn’t you die for her?
Triton wasn’t sure he would. He respected his queen. He was a loyal Seawing, after all. But was Queen Coral the most perfect dragon in the entire world? He didn’t think so.
But Moray, his mother, believed it with her whole being. Triton’s first word was ‘Coral’ because of how often Moray talked about the queen. Every day his mother told him, “Today is another day for us to serve our queen. Be thankful that you are one of the lucky few who gets to see her every day .”
And he did. When he wasn’t training in the Deep Palace, Triton was with his mother. She followed the queen everywhere. He would wake up in his bed in the Deep Palace and by the end of the day would find himself swimming to a random outpost, or inspecting the ruins of the summer palace.
And it was all so boring .
Triton traveled more than any other dragonet he knew, but it was always to the same places, and never away from the Kingdom of the Sea. On the rare occasions Moray left for another kingdom, Triton had to stay home, all on his own. Which was SO unfair. He was six years old, only a year from fully grown. Why couldn’t he visit the Sand Kingdom and see the desert that stretched as far as the eye could see? Why was he stuck at home?
Of course, he never had the chance to say anything like that to his mother. Moray was too busy attending the queen, even when he was with her. He wasn’t even sure how she had time to hatch him if she had been this loyal six years ago.
One day, when Triton was eating dinner in the Deep Palace with his mother, the great queen herself stormed into the dining room, fuming. Bubbles from a silent roar obscured her face, but Triton knew that a murderous glint would be present in her eyes.
Your Majesty! Moray flashed anxiously, immediately getting to her feet and bowing. Whatever is the matter?
Queen Coral’s royal pattern of stripes lit up as she quickly flashed an answer. Lagras has been attacked.
A silent clamour of light flashed through the room as every Seawing expressed their shock.
How? And who? Asked Commander Shark.
We do not know for certain, Queen Coral flashed. But I suspect the Mudwings. They always wanted more of that village then they had a right to.
Moray growled and lashed her tail, almost hitting Triton in the face. Any casualties?
Yes. Three Seawings and two Mudwings. And one of them was a dragonet we planned to send to Jade Mountain Academy. My daughter will be FURIOUS, Queen Coral flashed, rolling her eyes.
Aw, that’s sad, Triton thought. Those poor dragons. At least we’re safe in the Deep Palace.
Queen Coral wasn’t done with her ranting. What are we supposed to do now? Our students are leaving in two days! There is no time to send out a request for more admissions.
At once, Moray jumped at the opportunity to help her beloved queen. Your Majesty, my son Triton could go. He’s the right age and is capable of representing our tribe with dignity.
Triton stared at his mother. Did- did she just volunteer him? To fly far away from home to a foreign school that was full of strange dragons? From other tribes ?
Well, Triton? Queen Coral asked, turning to face him. Will you go to Jade Mountain Academy?
Triton lit up the stripe on his snout that meant, Yes .
If Cypress could pick the moment when she realized Moss didn't trust her, she would have to remember the moment she poked her dark brown snout out of her egg. And even that would be wrong. She was positive that Moss hatched with an instinctive distrust for her, which was certainly not possible because Moss was over twenty years older than Cypress.
Cypress didn’t even know what she had done wrong. She always did what Moss said (well no, she didn’t, but that wasn’t enough to make her so paranoid). Every time Cypress stepped out of her sight, Moss would start screeching and running wildly until she found her again. Whenever she did that Cypress was glad that they lived so remotely that no one was around to witness these fits of hysteria.
The funny thing was, Moss wasn’t even related to her. Moss had told her that she found her egg abandoned in the swamp six years ago and decided to adopt the dragonet inside. Any Mudwing dragonet that hatches without it’s siblings usually perishes from the perils of the swamp. Cypress was grateful that Moss had saved her and all, but it would help if she didn’t bring it up every single day .
They were fighting in front of their hut when the letter came. Every day before breakfast, Moss and Cypress would spend at least two hours practicing fighting techniques. It was a constant that had started since she was old enough to fly.
Cypress darted to the left, dodging a bolt of flames from Moss. The fire hissed as it came into contact with the light drizzle of rain from above. She twisted, swinging her tail in an arc to hit Moss’s side. With a loud thump it hit its mark, and Moss was thrown off her feet. Cypress prepared to leap after her, but she heard a sound not often present by their secluded hut. Wingbeats.
Moss heard it too. Together the two Mudwings scanned the sky for the telltale sign of dragons. A few moments later they spotted one. A small, thin Mudwing with a pouch around his wings soared above them. The dragon twisted into a dive and landed in front of them, shaking water from his wings.
“Are you Moss?” He asked.
Moss nodded her head warily, as though prepared for a fight.
The Mudwing dug around in his pouch and then handed her a scroll. “I’ve been instructed to give this to you and then wait for your reply.”
“And who sent you with this message?” Moss growled.
“Queen Moorhen herself.”
A flicker of surprise crossed Moss’s face and she quickly unrolled the scroll. She stared at it for a long while, her snout wrinkled slightly. Then she looked back up at the messenger and said, “Please tell the queen that we will do as she says.”
The other dragon nodded then lifted off into the sky again, and a few moments later, he was gone.
Cypress tried to grab the letter. “What does the queen want? What does the letter say?”
Before she could say anything else Moss opened her mouth and breathed a bolt of flames into the scroll. A minute later it was nothing more than ash.
“Why did you do that?” Cypress yelped.
Moss turned to face her, her snout stern. “The Queen would like you to attend Jade Mountain Academy. You are to leave in three days.”
“What? How does she even know I exist ? Besides, you would never allow that, would you?”
It might have been Cypress’s imagination, but she thought Moss looked sad as she said, “I will do what my queen commands.”
And then she turned and walked back to their hut, leaving Cypress standing in the rain.
Crimson never thought anxiety would come in a scroll. Scrolls were his friends, after all. From history to crime to fantasy, Crimson never turned away a scroll. The Sky Palace library was full of them ever since Ruby became queen.
But this scroll was not like the ones he spent hours pouring over. This one was sent specifically to him.
He was wandering around the library, trying to find a new story to dig his claws into, when his sister Amber walked in.
“I knew I would find you here,” she teased. “You know, it might be more fun to hang out with other dragons once and awhile.”
“I have fun here. You might too if you ever bothered to read.”
Amber poked a scroll with one long claw. “I read, just not more than I have to. There’s so much more exciting things to do than sitting around mooning over some scribbled words.”
“What do you want, Amber? You didn’t come here just to make fun of me,” he sighed.
“There’s a letter for you.”
The twinkle in her eyes told Crimson everything he needed to know. “You mean- it’s here ?”
Amber smiled and waved a wing toward the door. “Come on and see for yourself.”
They ran out of the library and down the various halls of the Sky Palace. Dragons the color of ruby red to bright orange jumped out of their way. Some called out to them in greeting, or in some cases, scolding.
Since their parents were advisors to Queen Ruby, Crimson and Amber grew up in the Sky Palace, and haunted it’s many rooms and corridors. Amber was only a few months from her seventh hatching day, and would start training under their parents to become an advisor herself someday.
But today was Crimson’s day, not Amber’s. They hurtled into their home, and Crimson nearly ran into his sister.
Their mother smiled at him. “So she told you?”
“Where is it? Where is it?” He said, hopping from talon to talon.
She handed him a scroll. He unrolled it as fast as his shaking claws could and greedily read the contents.
Dear Crimson of the Skywings,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Jade Mountain Academy, run by the Dragonets of Destiny. If you choose to accept, you will leave one week from now. You do not have to bring anything, but personal possessions and small pets are allowed. Please inform us of your decision as soon as possible. If we do not hear from you in one week your position will be forfeited.
Queen Ruby of the Skywings
Crimson roared with joy and jumped all around the room, happiness making his heart feel light as a feather.
“I take it you got accepted?” His mother deduced, smiling as she watched him celebrate.
“YESSSSSSS!” he crowed.
Amber grinned. “Well, you did beg the queen nonstop to let you go, so I suppose it’s not too much of a surprise. Congrats, little bro.”
He hugged her, then his mother, and shouted, “I'M GOING TO JADE MOUNTAIN ACADEMY!”