08 May, 2011

A Normal Wish - A Short Story

Lukat Sharp was never deemed likeable by the other students. Every day he saw the yellow school bus pull up to his house, and he dreaded the day ahead, passing rows of students throwing things at him and laughing as he walked to find a seat. They called him names and stole his supplies; one time they set fire to his graduation cloak, telling him that he wasn’t smart enough to have even graduated, let alone accepted to one of the finest schools for their kind.
When Lukat’s mother met with her Syndicate every Monday, the women would all tsk and ask her if Lukat would still be able to take over his father’s business one day – if he would be able to handle it –  as everyone knows how much skill it takes to breed and raise dragons. Mrs. Sharp would assure the women that Lukat was a smart boy, and if he wanted to do something he would be able to do it. The women always sensed the hesitation in her voice. Lukat’s father tried countless times to teach him about the dragons; how they were bred, how to care for them in their shells, how to assert dominance so they would listen, but Lukat never wanted to focus. He would rather be outside with his staff, wandering the forest and collecting herbs, leaving his father as the sole caregiver of the dozens of species they had.

The truth was Lukat was never very good at remembering spells or lessons. His teachers would continue to pass him due to the fact his mother was a Maven; one of the most powerful spell casters in the country. And his father was a member of the Good Council, which oversaw the rise and maintenance of the Runic Militia. Lukat felt that his parent’s pushed him too much to follow in their footsteps, when all he wanted to do was go to regular school and be in a regular grade where no one would judge him on his inability to perform magic, know which dragons were poisonous, and which species of Nymph could drown you from the inside out.

He didn’t care about magic or the Runic Army, he just wanted to be normal like the other kids he saw on television; the ones who drove cars and didn’t teleport, dated human girls not Kitsune or Harpies, and who had a dog instead of a basilisk. He hated the fact he lived in a gated State where the Others - or Zoets - couldn’t come inside, making a life outside his own impossible.

Lukat graduated on his parent’s graces last July, and started at the Academy for the Numinous a month ago in September. He was in his Elemental Control class when he saw her. She was the most beautiful vision of perfection he had ever seen - her blonde hair rippled down her shoulders and arms in soft waves, and her green eyes glowed like nothing he’d ever seen before – he needed to know her. When the attendance sheet went around later that day he saw that her name was Tyrin, and his heart galloped in his chest whenever she looked his way. He would spend the whole class looking ahead but focusing on her in his periphery, watching her doodle or jot notes down. Most of the students in his class were noticeable classes; almost everyone could be distinguished from their abilities. There were a few Witches, a Wizard or two, Fairies and Trolls; you could see from the colour of the Homeroom binder what species everyone was. He was considered a Trainer, majority of DNA from his father’s kind, and his binder was Maroon. In the course of his life Lukat had seen every colour associated with about a hundred species; his mother was Mauve, Naga’s were Light Blue, Warlock’s got Olive, Bright Indigo was for Ogres, and dark Indigo was for Trolls. But when he glanced down at Tyrin’s binder and it was a bright Emerald, his heart froze – what could she possible be? He studied her face in stolen glances; she had no determining physical factors, no wings, she was average size – nothing to possibly categorize her.

When class ended Lukat ran to the library and gasping, asked the Librarian what the Emerald species was. His stomach dropped when she told him he should know better than to ask a question like that, it was forbidden to divulge or talk about class colours of students outside of their homeroom, as the school made an effort to keep some species information private for security reasons.

The next day Lukat decided to follow Tyrin to her Homeroom, to see who else had an Emerald class, and to see if he could figure out what she was. He crept behind her as she walked gracefully, stopping to pretend to tie his shoe or look at a bulletin board flyer when she turned around. He was a few paces behind her as she got to her door he didn’t recognize and slipped inside. He slowly walked by the room and peered in the little window. The room was a pale green; the walls were devoid of many common things found in most homerooms: Posters of their species, class-specific information, etc. The room had multiple desks and a plain wooden table where a teacher sat. The teacher - also devoid of any recognizable attributes – sat in a simple pink dress at the table, talking to Tyrin.

The next day at his locker, Lukat felt a tap on his shoulder; he turned around expecting to find a bully when he saw her. She was an absolute dream; a light blue sweater with a white skirt, her golden hair in a loose braid down the side of her head. His chest thundered as she asked him if he knew where a specific room was, explaining she had just moved with her parents and had started the semester a little late. Lukat took her all the way across the campus to another bare room, and even waited with her until her teacher arrived. He was 25 minutes late for his next class but he didn’t care, she was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. It was then Lukat decided he needed to impress Tyrin, and step up to do something amazing.

That night Lukat locked himself in his room and thought about his plan. Tyrin obviously was some sort of class deity, being the only one of her kind in the school, and this made Lukat want to do something to show her he was gifted in his class – even though he wasn’t. He would change, he had to, and it was going to start today.

Over the next few days Lukat popped in and out of the Dragon Roost, surveying the Dragons and trying to remember which ones did what. They were all in stalls, similar to horses, with some species in metal cages or plastic enclosures. Lukat thought to himself that these Dragon’s must do something special enough that they had to be kept in confinement and made a mental note. He wandered up the stable to the hatchery where he looked inside the glass. Rows of eggs lay in straw, some on pillows, and some in their own metal cages. The eggs were all different colours; yellowed cards stapled to the wood below had the species name scrawled in his father’s handwriting. More mental notes.

One night after dinner Lukat told his dad he wanted to learn more about the dragons, and he wanted to help him with the eggs. Mr. Sharp was overjoyed, and his mother was delighted. Every day before school his father would bring him into the stable and go over the types of dragon, their abilities, and what kind of egg it laid. They opened a door on the far side of the stable that lead to a nursery, where about a dozen dragons lay in separate stalls; some open, some caged, some with metal shackles on their necks chained to the ground.

After his father gave him a mini lesson, Lukat would go to school and chat with Tyrin – they were becoming fast friends and Lukat was worried that he was running out of time to impress her before some other males did. He was so preoccupied with coming up with a plan he never told her how he felt, for fear he wasn’t important enough yet, and would be rejected.

After school his father would take him back into the stables and have Lukat help him with the delivery of the eggs, letting him count the ones born and put them into the hatchery. One day an expecting red dragon laid a white egg with black spots, when his father saw this he frowned and told Lukat to destroy the egg. He explained that he was experimenting with hybrids, and he had taken DNA from two dragons that would not mate naturally and placed them in a surrogate body, that of the red dragon. He had been doing this for some time and the white eggs it normally laid were male, and the white egg with the black spots was female. Because of the two normally quarantined species he experimented with, females were dangerous let survive as they would take the position of Matriarch, which were impossible to domesticate. His father had been destroying the female eggs, as there was too great of a chance the Matriarch would start a mutiny and endanger the roost and their family, or god forbid escape.

Lukat took the egg to the edge of the river with instructions to throw it in, to let it sink to the bottom so the dragon would drown when it hatched, if it hatched at all. He held the warm egg in his hands, and he stood there, arms outstretched with the sound of his own breathing overshadowing the sound of the rushing water. As he stared at it, the wheels in his head started turning. He would break and domesticate the Matriarch, and everyone at school, the Council, Syndicate, and his family would praise him and he would finally become proven in his class enough to feel worthy of Tyrin’s attention. He ran into the forest and found the perfect clearing far enough away from the house no one would ever be that far to risk his plan. An old tree trunk lay strewn on the forest floor, hollow in the middle, half submerged in the soil. Lukat carefully placed the egg inside the hollow and built around it with fibres from plants, soil, leaves and small twigs to insulate it.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Lukat helped his father with the birthing and storage of the eggs, fudging the numbers so he could take more eggs unnoticed into the forest. His plan was to create his own Dragon fleet, with the Matriarch as his pet. He took a few dragon eggs from each breed when he could, carefully picking a few from each species and rolling the last of them inside the hollow tree trunk with his Matriarch, spending his time daydreaming of Tyrin instead of listening to his father’s lessons. He estimated he would have about a month’s worth of time before the eggs hatched, and he would spend the remaining time constructing some sort of metal shackle for the Matriarch.

Then one day Lukat returned to the forest to find the hollow log cracked down the middle, opened wide with remnants of shell scattered around the forest bed. His heart beat in his chest as he looked around to see about 7 multi coloured dragons the size of Great Danes. They were hopping around fallen logs and peering out at him from behind the foliage. He looked around to see a significantly larger dragon, silver in colour with bright orange eyes perched on the side of the split log. Her head cocked to one side as she studied him. He stood, wide-eyed and unsure in front of her. He wondered how long they’ve been hatched for or how fast they grew. He was nervous now, second guessing the ability to control them, not being there for their birth and establishing dominance especially with the Matriarch hatching first. He was unprepared to deal with them at this size, he only had one shackle. He decided at the very least to tie the Matriarch down, he could come back after and shackle the rest.

The Matriarch chirped and bent down inside the split log and was chewing something. Lukat stopped in his tracks and watched as her head emerged once again with her snout bloodied. He carefully sidestepped, letting the other dragons hop away from him, until he could see down the log. Inside was the carcass remains of a male stag. His heart thundered, as he was suddenly very aware a pack of dragons in their infancy took down a grown deer. The more this thought went through his mind the more he was determined to tie her down first. He sidestepped back the other way, drawing closer to her as she snapped pieces of the deer in her mouth, one eye on him as he moved towards her. She let him come up in front of him and look her in the eye. Lukat remembered something about dominating a dragon by challenging them, and at this point in time he wished he paid more attention.

She chirped again and looked at him standing in front of her. The chorus of chirping from the other dragons silenced, as they watched. This was it; if he was able to shackle her then the others would allow him to lead. He had the neck clamp open and held it with both hands, slowly going for her neck; his blood was hammering through his veins as he could feel her nostrils blow hot on his skin. In a flash he lunched forward steadily and clicked and slid the bolt in place, successfully having her by the neck. Relief washed over him, and she bent down to grab another mouthful, barely taking notice of this. Lukat had the other end of chain in his hand, headed over to a large tree where he could fasten her to for now. Luckily the chain was long enough from where she perched to the trunk, that Lukat could clamp the chain around the tree without tugging on it. She was successfully contained – for now. He would run back to the roost later this week to grab more shackles and to figure out a plan, but for now the other dragons wouldn’t leave their “nest” or their Matriarch, so he was safe for the time being.

Lukat attended school as usual that week, being with Tyrin, watching the other males fight for her attention. In the back of his mind he wasn’t worried; he has successfully shackled a Matriarch, and she let him. He would soon be able to tell her and everyone would know he wasn’t a loser anymore, he was worthy of his colour and class. After this, he would never have to showcase anymore magic, never have to prove himself again, and he would be free to live a normal life – maybe even move to a Zoetic area and live with Others. He would have shown Tyrin he was important, and she would be so impressed she wouldn’t care if he wanted to be normal. It was a great plan.

The next week Lukat snuck a few more chains from the roost and went into the forest, and when he got to the clearing he stood, horrified. On the ground lay half eaten dragon corpses, the forest floor was soaked in blood, tattered wings and body parts lay among the bushes and tree stumps. The Matriarch was sitting – still chained – on the log once again, staring casually at the massacre before her. Lukat glanced to his right and saw a blue dragon hiding just out of reach of the Matriarch’s chain, and a yellow dragon beside it; these were the last the Matriarch had not been able to reach. Lukat just realized that with the Matriarch chained, she wouldn’t be able to hunt for food – as she must have been the one who took down the stag – and the rest of the dragons relied on her for their meals. With her being chained, the only food source was the flock of dragons, which she killed off one by one.

Lukat didn’t know what to do. She had almost doubled in size over the last week, growing exponentially compared to the two dragons left. Her neck shackle was now pressing into her neck, now too small for her massive growth - he would have to change it to one of the ones he carried. He opened a new one and padded softly to where she sat, her head moving slightly to follow him. His hands shook as he extended his arms, gradually leaning into her to clasp a new one on her. He was almost there as his foot stepped on a small twig and the crack echoed through the trees. Her head snapped to face him, inches away from his nose, and she let out a piercing shriek. Lukat’s heart stopped as he dropped the shackle and stumbled backwards, aiming to run out of the chain’s reach. She leaped off the log and sprinted after him, letting out cries that resonated in his ears.

He rushed past the reach of the chain as he whipped around to see her get snapped backwards, back inside her reach and land on the floor with a sickening thud – a few hundred pounds landing at once. She got up and glared at him with her chain pulling as tight as possible as the metal was tested against this giant beast, the links straining as she leaned her weight towards him. She backed up and Lukat could tell she was trying to get her wings open, as normally the wings aren’t developed enough to open or support a dragon’s weight so early. Her wings shot open and spanned the length of a modern driveway, more than 4 times her body size. The wings started to pump, while Lukat stared in amazement as the Matriarch was lifted off of the ground, her wings like blades slicing twigs and branches off the trees in her path. The force of the wings made him fall back, as he sat in shock watching her straining the chain now flying above him. She screeched as the continual power of her wings started to crack the tree trunk where her chain was rooted, and Lukat watched as the tree moaned and cracked as the chain ripped right through the bark and she lunged at him. Lukat could feel nipping and biting as she toyed with him, while the slow timid footsteps of two more dragons came and stood over him watching, waiting for the word they could participate.

The game ended soon after that; the dragons were hungry. The snapped and tore at his flesh, spilling his blood, while his screams echoed like the snap of a simple twig. All that flashed through his mind was Tyrin and how she’d never know he did this for her, to impress her, to prove he could be just as great as whatever she was.

No one found the three dragons after that. Although every once in a while the door on Mr. Sharp’s roost would be open, and an egg or two would be missing. The school was told what happened, and while most of students didn’t care, one of them did. And every day after that she tried to escape the attention of very powerful and talented men; Knights, Shape shifters, Warlocks and others, while she walked to her bare green room, sat with her Emerald teacher, and dreamed about the day she would again meet someone who wanted to be normal, as she was.

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