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Home » Encyclopedia » Raising A Family
Raising A Family
Siblings play on a beautiful day.
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It was a beautiful day.

I stirred lazily as the rays of sunshine warmed my hide. My body lay sprawled across the grassy field. For a fleeting moment, I felt content. Prey was plentiful here, and after a successful hunt, my siblings and I had stopped to soak up the light and life around us.

My mouth stretched into a smile as I opened my eyes to survey the landscape. It was different than I recalled. So much was. I yawned, stretching my jaws, bringing them back into alignment. Yes, it was different, but that didn't matter much. The sun felt good on my head. How long had I been lazing in the dirt? I chuckled, a deep, rumbling echo. Forever maybe!

I shifted my ungainly bulk, stretching out my front legs. The air was warm, but there was still a bone-chilling cold gripping my left flank. I had hoped for the sensation to return, but I’d been waiting a while. In my core I felt a deep emptiness. I was hungry again.

I looked to my older brother. His crinkled, sun-bleached face was worn with his advanced years, and his wizened head snapped around to regard me with a snarl. He was anxious to continue, and pushed my unsteady body forward with a lurch in his haste to advance. I tried to recall if he’d always been this impatient, but it had been an age since we’d last seen each other.

Letting out a hiss, I rolled onto my feet, joints cracking and popping, and my back legs buckled. While giving them a chance to regain circulation, I turned away from my brother. Sluggish from a longer nap than mine, my sister was loath to fully wake up, her great head hung in weariness. She stole a peek at me from under her remaining eye. It was a shame our mother and other siblings weren’t here for our reunion, but I was still pleased to have found what family I could.

The three of us began to traverse the field, my impatient brother driving our pace as we searched for sustenance. We silently relished in one another's company, lolling our great maned heads in the strong winds. My brother lowered his head and let loose glorious streams of fire from his mouth. The flames curled and crackled, burning intricate patterns into the dry grasses around us.

I spotted movement on the horizon. All three of us snapped to attention as we moved in for the kill.

Prey flushed to the sky when they saw their doom. I shook my wings, torn and twisted; I couldn’t pursue. No matter. There was still plenty of prey frozen in place, too afraid to even move. My sister’s low hung head snapped up a meal, greedily swallowing the morsel before rooting for more. Small forms fled into unimpressive structures built for their diminutive size. I easily knocked over the flimsy architecture, and sifted through the rubble with my snout until I found my quarry, warmth filling my mouth as I bit down with a sigh.

A feeling of joyous abandonment came over us. My older brother had always had a penchant for play-fighting, and snapped his head forward, his fractured canines gleaming in the setting sun. Reacting clumsily, my sister rocked her head out of the way, colliding with the base of my neck. The impact rolled me slightly on my side, and my flank crushed another set of the ridiculous stonework structures.

I tried to recall if we had ever played like this as hatchlings, tumbling, growling, and laughing through open fields, but my hazy memory yielded no answers. It didn’t matter, though. Not really. After a time, we tired of our joyous rampage; the hunger had returned. My brother urged us forward again before my sister had fully recovered, and she lazily flopped and lagged behind as we advanced. It was good to be in the company of family. The three of us had always been so close. The great Luminax bloodline was together once more, and we would never be separated again!

I breathed in deep, and turned to face the pinks and oranges that painted the western horizon: it was beauty incarnate.

--


It was horror incarnate.

Gleam’s flight had been diverted as she followed the swath of destruction to its source, circling around from what she hoped was a safe distance as the monstrous Emperor laid waste to all before it. Huge tracts of field and forest lay burned to cinders in the creature’s wake. Its three rotting heads roared in deafening cacophony, drawing a flinch from Gleam. She almost released the claw of her wheezing companion. Behind her, the Ridgeback youth resumed his litany of complaints.

“LADY, ARE YOU TRYING TO GET US BOTH KILLED? LET’S GET OUTTA HERE!” Umbrann exclaimed, terror creeping in his high-pitched voice. He’d claimed he was just some kid on an ‘adventure’, not a shadow flight assassin. She was grudgingly inclined to believe him; no assassin whined this much.

“Look at its wings, both sets are in tatters...” Gleam tried to capture details of the creature’s appearance to her memory. She had to tell someone, had to warn her flight of this lumbering doom. The Guardian turned her head around to face her captive, “Change of plans, I’m not turning you over to the Hewn City border patrol.”

“You know, it was a short trip, but I’ll always have the memories. Back to the Tangled Wood we go!”

“No time for that either! We’re going straight to the Beacon of the Radiant Eye.”

“But I wanna go hoooome!” Umbrann sobbed as Gleam pulled him to the east. Behind them, death screamed, releasing wind, light, and flame skyward.



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