The Granting Dragon, Marsae --Star33
Rao—son of renowned hunter Finn Dire—had grown up listening to his mother’s stories of dragons, witches, wizards, and all things supernatural and unsurprisingly, with the brave and relentless blood of his father coursing through his veins, he had grown up with the urge to hunt down and face what could be life’s most if not the most unforgiving tests known to man.
Rao, like most children, had wanted to make his parents—his father especially—proud. What man would not be infinitely proud of a son who had done things other men wouldn’t even attempt?
So, once Rao had come of age, he had sought out others like himself but with a different tactic than those who had failed before him—he relied on sheer greed to get him his crew. Rao had always known that greed spoke louder than belief for some men and so, after promising a few men riches for their aid, Rao eventually found a capable ship and crew, with which he travelled and sought out many of the creatures from the stories his mother had told him as a child.
Over the years, Rao searched and eventually began to believe that most stories had been nothing but talk meant to entertain. After all, all he had found were even more men with stories to tell—not one person had seen a living dragon, witch, or vampire with their own two eyes. Not to mention, all of the leads he had found himself being given felt entirely useless or misleading.
But then there came a lead in disguise of another misdirection. After several days at sea, returning from a pointless attempt to find a witch, Rao’s ship had sailed into eeriely still water, amongst which there wasn’t a single ripple or wave to be seen. In all directions, there was nothing. There appeared to be no wind either and so the ship had come to sit in place. Unsure of why it was occurring or how to deal with it, the men decided to simply wait it out in hopes of a shift in weather that could take them home.
The ship sat for two days. The men were cranky, tired, weak, and losing hope—Rao included—and supplies were diminishing quickly.
Rao was leaning against the edge of the ship and staring into the water, eyeing his reflection for hours as he attempted to think of something to pull himself and his men out of the mess he had unintentionally gotten them in. The options appeared nonexistent. Rao’s reflection appeared weak to him—weak, incapable, and lacking sleep. Not to mention, he could swear that he had begun to hallucinate, as his reflection would occasionally shift, the movement too slight to even be sure it had happened at all.
One evening, when two very large yellow eyes had slid open and peered up at him from the depths of the nearly black water, Rao didn’t really even have it in him to breathe as his entire body went rigid.
Slowly, the still water had begun to shift, the eyes growing larger seconds before the features of the creature began to become clear beneath the water. When the creature’s head had finally immerged from the water, the only term that had come to Rao’s mind was dragon seconds before he realized that he was entirely unprepared to face such a creature if it proved as hostile as legends liked to portray.
He and his men were weak, having been allowed to sit in open water for an entire two days. He was not surprised that something had finally come along but he was surprised that it was one of the things he had least expected to be real.
The dragon-esque creature rose, eventually towering over Rao’s ship as he peered down at the crew with what could only be described as a feral expression. Then again, one could not hope to accurately read the expression of a dragon when they had both never seen one before and was currently at the mercy of one.
When the dragon spoke, Rao and his men could feel the voice through out their entire bodies, finding that even those who had never feared anything else before in their life, were suddenly experiencing it then. The dragon appeared to know who they were, claiming to have heard that they were seeking out the existence of creatures otherwise not known for certain to exist.
Rao hadn’t really been able to find it in him to speak and so he had simply opted to listen.
The dragon went on to claim that he did not have interest in harming mankind but knowing that men existed that wished to harm him was unsettling and that it would not be tolerated. Such words reaching the ears of men stranded on a ship in the middle of the ocean weren’t all that favorable. In fact, it was unsettling enough to have some of them trembling.
Sensing the fear, the creature leaned in, causing the entire ship to displace slightly as the water shifted. When he spoke again, he acknowledged each of the men individually and then focused on Rao. The dragon presented the men with a choice—choose to kill one man and allow all others to survive or allow one man to volunteer so that the remainder of the crew may live.
Immediately the crew had begun to argue, throwing names around, none of which were there own. It seemed as though no man was willing to die for each other until Rao himself had stepped forward and silenced the crew, offering his own life in exchange for the others to be spared. The dragon, amused, had showed plenty of skepticism in the man’s choice, wondering why he would be willing to die for men that would not willingly die for him.
Rao claimed that he would be willing to die because he was not a coward; it was not about the men he would die for but rather the fact that, unlike them, he was not afraid to die altogether.
Silenced, the dragon had scrutinized Rao for some time before he pulled back, towering over the ship. In that moment, Rao was certain that the dragon-esque creature was going to sink their ship and that they were all going to die and yet he did not waver. When the dragon plunged forward and crashed down upon their ship, the world had gone completely black.
An unknown period of time later, Rao had found himself on the beach, waking up with one side of his face pressed firmly against the sand, the waves gently brushing against his skin.
When his vision cleared and he could open his eyes without seeing several of any one thing, he soon realized that he did not recognize the beach upon which he had ended up. The entire crew and ship was nowhere to be found. Beside him, however, sat a bag. Figuring it was from the ship, Rao inspected the contents of the bag in hopes of finding either food or something remotely useful. What he found instead was multiple pieces of jewelry that he didn’t remember being on the ship.
When he went to inspect one of the many pieces, he felt the same intimidating rumble go through his entirety as he had when he had first seen the dragon.
One piece for every coward upon the ship that now sits at the bottom of the sea alongside hundreds of others. Use them wisely. Wish for anything, and it will be yours.