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The stone was huge, almost the size of three human fist; black as the raven’s cloak, yet somehow alive with a quite blue gleam that pulsated like thunderbolt across a raging midnight sky.  Rhae looked at it with a strange longing in her eyes, as if expecting it to come alive with the merest of whispers.

“Your eyes are that of a child but in your lips I can see the woman that you will become one day” the witch was saying to Rhae.

She was a child of Eventide; the dark island where the unknown manifest itself. The forest didn’t frighten her. But the old witch with her nasty smirk did make her cold and uneasy.

“You are hungry, but not for food” croaked the old witch. “Take this stone with you; it will be your destiny one day. Remember, the child’s kiss will create magic unseen.”

She had fled from the place, the last words of the witch still ringing in her ears. It was part of the legend that surrounded her land; a land now rife with treachery and bloodbath.

Rhae lived with her grandfather at the edge of the forest, in a battered hut of mud and straw. Her village was located in a small and negligible part of Thesir, a kingdom ruled for the last 300 years by the cruel Elfish King Aethonas. They said, there was a time when their land was ruled by huge fire-breathing dragon lords, descendant of the Dark Warrior, the guardian of the North.

The dragon lords were known for their benevolence as well as their temper, ruling over Thesir for over a thousand years; but then, the powerful Elves from the West came down and killed all the dragons one by one. Legend has it that on the 5th year of the Serpent a child born of Eventide will make the Dark Warrior rise once again and overthrow the cruel King, establishing peace and order in the land of Thesir.

Perhaps it was all fables but there had been rampant killings in recent times. The pronounced year has arrived and the king had given orders to kill all children below the age of eight. The countryside was rife with tales of fresh horrors everyday but Rhae was safe because no one knew her actual age. Rhae didn’t remember her parents. She was found sitting by the village well four years ago, hungry and forsaken, with the mark of the Eventide round her neck. The old man who found her took her home, fed her and had looked after her ever since.

Earlier that day, she had gone deer-hunting. The deer slipped her; instead she came across the witch who gave her this stone. Now, as she held it in her palm she was reminded of the legend she heard her grandfather hum to her in the evenings,

 “Lethodar vinaquirem idish estivas

Damen vigis jistrah Eventide!

Wacan eh mihtig ainaz

sweorcan hamremmi Thesir næht”

 A warm gust of air suddenly brought her back to the present.

It cannot be, she thought. The witch must have mistaken her for someone else. True, she was a child of Eventide, but so were Yaered and Hosein.

But what if the witch was right? She wondered.

That means what she was holding in her palms was a true dragon egg! The thought sent strange shivers down her body.

There is only one way to find it out.

She touched the stone to her lips and whispered

“Wacan eh mihtig ainaz

sweorcan hamremmi Thesir næht”

The stone started to gleam softly, its veins exuding a bluish light of unnatural radiance.

Perhaps the legends were true after all, she thought, her eyes glued to the vision unfolding in front of her.The egg started cracking. It was puffing small columns of smoke, as if a house on fire.

Slowly, a black head pushed its way from the crack and squawked. The creature was no bigger than a wolf puppy, its metallic black scales rippling like the Midnight Sea, powerful wings extending from its flanks, the body ending in a spiked tail. It swished around and looked directly at her, the clear blue eyes seeking out her contour, as if trying to read her mind; and then suddenly it lunged towards her.

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D is for Dragons! In Dragon folklore, Oriental Mythology speaks about the Genbu/Black Tortoise or more commonly, the Dark Warrior, who represents the Northern Constellation of  the Chinese Zodiac. Its imagery corresponds to the north, winter, black, wisdom, faith and the element water.

Linking this to Day#4 of the Challenge.