(This first chapter is something I kind of loosely typed up on a whim, so don't expect much. :P)
“When can I join in the war against the outsiders?” Egan asked his father, Edan, “I’m sixteen now, and as the chief’s son, I should fight along side you in battle!” Edan smiled at his son’s question. It was one he heard every year on Egan’s birthday. Edan’s answer was always the same.
“The battlefield is no place for a child,” Edan said as he always did, “and the outsiders are the most dangerous of enemies.” Egan knew it would be no use to argue that he was no longer a child. When Edan had an idea, he stuck with it. While they were talking they had been walking through the busy Fire Village where Edan ruled as chief. Houses of rough hewn stone rose up on either side of the narrow streets. The clawed feet of the various Fire Tribe members made soft thumping noises in the soft earth as they went about their duties.
Of course, the Fire Tribe was not made up of humans. They were Dragonbloods. Though humanoid in body shape, they were slightly larger than us, and scales covered their bodies were skin should have been. Their heads, instead of being round like ours, were long and reptilian like those of a dragon. Though many humans believed the Dragonbloods were half Dragon and half human, it is more likely that they descended straight from the ancient dragons. Every Dragonblood in the fire village had red scales. There were different hues of red, ranging from pink to crimson, but they were all red.
Edan and Egan stopped at the gate of the Fire Village, facing the east and the rising sun. Sunrise was very important to the Fire Tribe. Fire ran in their blood. The chief and his son faced the light, watching the hunting parties leaving for the day. “I know you won’t always be a child,” Edan said, “you should be prepared for the day you enter battle, and when you rule the tribe in my stead.”
“Do I get training?” Egan asked excitedly, “do I get to learn how to fight?” He was practically jumping with excitement. Being a great warrior was the dream of every boy in the Fire Village.
“Someday, you’ll learn that war isn’t just honor and glory,” Edan said sadly, “it’s filled with pain and sorrow too.” He stood in silence for a moment. Egan knew that his father was trying to teach him something, but he still invigorated by the prospect of combat. Turning away from the sunrise, Edan began looking around for one of his servants, Adwin. “Adwin, come over here!” Edan shouted when he had sighted him.
A rather tall and thin Dragonblood broke away from the others and immediately rushed to Edan’s side. A pair of round spectacles sat upon his nose at a slight angle, no doubt upset in his haste. “There is no need to shout sir,” Adwin said, “I am always nearby.” Adwin was Edan’s advisor and also the village teacher. Unfortunately for him, he was also the target of every prank pulled by the children of the Fire Tribe, something which annoyed him greatly.
“Adwin, I want you to take Egan into your combat class,” Edan said, “as the son of the chief he should know how to fight.” Adwin looked surprised at first. Egan didn’t understand why. His father’s command had seemed perfectly fine to him.
“But sir,” Adwin objected, “you said…”
“Forget what I said,” Edan interrupted, “it is irrelevant now. You will teach him from the beginning.”
“Yes sir,” Adwin said with a bow, “please follow me, Egan.” Folding his hands in the sleeves of his robe, he began walking at a brisk pace to the schoolyard. Egan followed, half running to keep up with Adwin’s long stride. They entered an outdoor walled area, round like and arena. This was the schoolyard where all the village children went to learn how to perform the jobs they would one day do when they were adults. It was empty right now; it was too early in the morning for classes to begin.
“Now young master, you must learn not only how to use weapons, but your natural magic as well,” Adwin said, “how well can you control your power?” Every Dragonblood had magic in them from the day they were born. Dragons are very magical creatures, and so their relatives, the Dragonbloods, inherited this ability. The Fire Dragonbloods of the Fire Village had power over fire. It was their element.
“Well Adwin,” Egan said with a grin, “take a look at this!” Without anything more than a thought, he conjured three balls of fire in his hands and began juggling them as if they were solid.
“That is a nice trick young master,” Adwin smiled, “but I do not think it will be of much use in battle. Try throwing one at that pillar over there.” He pointed at one of several short stone columns, a bit shorter than a full grown Dragonblood. They were covered with black scorch marks, vouching their history as targets for fire magic.
Concentrating hard, Egan formed another blazing orb and threw it at the target. But, instead of going straight like Egan intended, it went at a loose arc and exploded on the ground next to the pillar. “It should have hit it,” Egan muttered, kicking his feet in embarrassment, “there must have been a wind.”
Adwin tried to stifle a laugh, covering his mouth with his sleeve. “I doubt you can blame the wind for that one,” he smiled, “if you threw a ball like that, would it reach the intended catcher?” Egan shook his head. The loose throw he had made would not work for any ball he had played with. “You must throw it with a twist,” Adwin instructed, “so it spirals. That will make it much more accurate!” Creating a fireball himself, Adwin threw it at the pillar. As the flaming projectile moved through the air it spun around on its axis while moving in an almost completely horizontal line. Egan watched in amazement as it hit the target dead on. He had always imagined Adwin as the scholarly but weak type. It turned out he wasn’t so bad at fighting after all.
“Let me try now!” Egan said excitedly. He followed the motions his teacher had, throwing the orb in an overhand swing. It hit the pillar with incredible force, sending pieces of burning masonry everywhere like little missiles. When the smoke cleared, Egan and his teacher could see the top of the target had been almost completely blown off.
“Very good young master,” Adwin said, “but I think you may have overdone it a bit.” Egan grinned. He would rather be known for overdoing it than not doing at all. “Next let’s practice your fire breath,” Adwin said, “it’s a very basic technique that every Fire Dragonblood knows. Just pick any target, well, not the one you just obliterated, and fry it!” Egan looked to the target just to the right of the one he had previously attacked. Taking a deep breath, he proceeded to blow it back out as fire. The flames swept the area, covering more than one target with its scorching tongues. Egan was able to keep up the attack for almost ten seconds before he ran out of energy. He suddenly stopped, panting for breath. He looked up at Adwin for approval.
“That was good young master,” Adwin said, “but try not to go to the point where you’re gasping. It gives the enemy a second to attack.” He then showed Egan a better way of doing it. He continued having Egan practice for little over an hour, repeating the basics over and over.
Taking a break from directing Egan, Adwin walked over to where a stone chair sat and dropped into it. “You may sit down,” he told Egan, “I’ll let you rest a while before we continue.” Egan was more than happy to flop onto the ground. He was still exhausted from his performance.
“Hey everybody, look who’s finally decided to get out of his little imaginary world and learn how to fight!” a sneering voice come from the entrance to the schoolyard. Egan sat up and looked back to see who had insulted him. In the gateway to arena shaped area, a group of young Dragonbloods, about Egan’s age, were standing. One of them, a burly male, stood in the front with his arms folded. Egan guessed he was the one to blame.
A female Dragonblood pushed her way to the front, grinning down at Egan. “Hey Egan,” she called to him, “have you learned how to stand yet? Or is that next lesson?” The group of younglings burst out laughing, the male who at first insulted Egan giving his female counterpart a nudge of approval.
Rising to his feet, Egan faced them defiantly. “If you don’t stop,” he growled, “I’ll have you all locked in chains!” He pointed at them threateningly, confident in his powers as the chief’s son. They only seemed amused. The two ringleaders laughed only more, holding on to each other for support.
“All of you stop!” Adwin rose to his feet and towered over them, his eyes flashing. “Egan, you will have no one thrown in chains without your father’s approval, and you!” Adwin pointed an accusing finger at the two leaders, “Visola and Kimoni, being brother and sister, it’s no wonder you share the same annoying qualities,” they both grinned sheepishly, seeming to take sudden interest in the floor, “Egan would have joined my class sooner if he could, so leave him alone!”
“Yes sir,” Visola and Kimoni answered quietly. Adwin turned around and went back to the head of class where he remained standing. With a wave on his hand he indicated for his class to enter. Dutifully and quietly, they lined up in front of their teacher. Unsure whether he was to learn with them, Egan moved to the side of the courtyard, away from the rest of the class.
Adwin noticed his slipping away and turned to him. “You may go now Egan,” Adwin said, “you have done very well for your first day.”
“Thank you sir,” Egan said with a bow. Adwin returned his bow with a smile. The other students moved aside as Egan walk to the entrance. Visola and Kimoni looked a little guilty. As Egan left the schoolyard he heard Adwin beginning to instruct the others. No doubt they were much farther ahead in lessons than he. But he was content with what he knew.
Egan was tired from his training. Magic took a lot more energy than he had thought it would. Egan decided that he that he would take a walk down to Frostbite gorge. For reasons unknown, the gorge was always cold and surrounded by snow. It ran north to south, serving as the barrier between the Fire Village and the lands to the east. Egan often went there to find quite and peace. Few others from his tribe would brave the cold. So Egan left the village and set off to the east at a leisurely pace. He had nothing to do except what he wanted. Little did Egan know what would happen to him at Frostbite gorge.