Prev: A World Without The Moon
Finally posting the first chapter of this. Amazing how the months (and years) keep coming and they just do not stop coming.
Roselle can be seen in the second image in this tweet here
The green Faerie Dragon, Roselle, frowned at the tree she was trying to grow with her magic, stomping her foot against the dirt as it immediately shriveled up and died from the harsh sunlight. Her hands glowed a soft green aura once more, as she tried to revive the dried out husk. Thin tendrils of her magic seeped in, the light spreading across the plant, yet having no effect. Her face fell, and she only increased her attempts, waving her hands over other dead branches. “Oh, come on, grow…”
No matter how hard she tried, every branch she grew would die the second the sunlight touched it, as everything outside of the caverns did. And she couldn’t deny that she was finding it harder and harder to handle the heat. She looked at her map… she hadn’t wandered too far from Willow’s Den, had she?
“I guess I should get back…” Roselle murmured to herself, flapping her green, leaf-like wings in an attempt to cool herself off. As she took off from the ground, she noticed a bright, white light in the corner of her eye, the pink fins on her head perking up. “Wha?”
Focusing on it, she realized it had the silhouette of a dragon; one that looked colder than any Ice Dragon she had ever met before. The dragon looked unlike anything she had ever seen in her life, for that matter. And the dragon fell from the sky, like a god or monster from beyond the stars.
The dragon herself, the Elementum Dragon of Ice, dove towards the surface in a shower of ice and snow at incredible speed, claws pointing forward. New planet, new people. Probably scared people, once they see me. But you never find anything if you don’t try, so why not see what’s here?
Glaciem spread out her glittering icy blue wings to catch herself, landing on the ground and setting off a glorious explosion of ice and snow that smothered the immediate environment in a blanket of frozen white. Not even the harsh heat of the sun seemed able to melt the ice away, and Glaciem stood tall and proud once the micro-snowstorm cleared, looking around at the wasteland. Hope that didn’t disturb anyone too much…
“What is that?!” Roselle squealed to herself, jaw dropping at the sight of the newcomer and the patch of winter she had brought with her. Roselle clung to the remnants of the dead trees to mask her colourful body as she flew closer to the silvery dragon, unable to stop herself from trying to get a better look. Had she not been so fascinated with the newcomer, she would have run away.
Glaciem herself looked around at the desert, seeing nothing that looked remotely interesting. Nothing but sand, dirt, dead trees, and rocks for miles. Maybe she hadn’t chosen a good planet to land on after all… But she still should scan the surroundings a bit more to make sure, and so she began to wander away from her landing site.
Roselle followed Glaciem from behind, using trees and rocks to keep herself hidden from the truly massive dragon. She hadn’t seen a dragon this large before, although she heard tales that the Dragon Gods were even bigger. She was amazed all the same.
The closer Roselle got to Glaciem, however, the colder the air around her became. At first the coolness was a welcome respite from the unrelenting heat, but it very quickly turned unbearable in its own way. She could have sworn her wings were beginning to freeze, and that momentary lapse of concentration allowed Glaciem’s tail to nearly collide with her and launch her across the landscape. She shrieked, startled and indignant, “H-hey!”
“…Hm?” Glaciem paused, turning around and meeting the smaller dragon’s glare. Her tail swished back and forth, like a cat that had seen a bird fly by. Her tail soon smashed right through a tree, freezing it instantly and holding it in place. “Oh, hi.”
She glanced over at the tree. “Oops.”
“G-Gah!” Roselle flew back a few inches away from Glaciem’s face and most of all her teeth, staring into her eyes. She spread out her wings to make herself seem bigger than she was, barring her teeth and angling her rose-thorn covered tail at Glaciem. “Grrr!”
Roselle took notice of the tree, and that only intensified her glare and snarl. Unfortunately for her, it had the effect of making her, an already cute Faerie Dragon, look even cuter. Nonetheless, she still tried to intimidate the much larger Ice Dragon. “You broke that tree!”
Never mind that it was already dead.
Glaciem shrugged, giving a noncommittal flick of her tail as well. “It’s not like I was trying to do that.”
“It’s still very rude!” Roselle shrieked with even more force, her green and pink scales turning red with growing rage as she struggled to look threatening instead of terrified.
“Aren’t you scared of me?” Glaciem didn’t miss the redness or the shivering of the tiny dragon’s body. And yet, the Faerie Dragon insisted on staring her down, on snarling and glaring at her.
Roselle scrunched up her snout in what she hoped looked like disgust. “I’m not scared!”
Glaciem’s eyes widened in a pleasant surprise, though she didn’t quite believe the little dragon. “Oh, that’s a nice surprise… Most people just see me and instantly think monster. Can hardly get any sort of meaningful conversation.”
Roselle blinked, her brain firmly on autopilot. Her soft pink eyes narrowed. “Well, I’m not scared!”
Glaciem chuckled within her throat. “Yes, you said that already.”
“Yes, and I mean it!” Roselle roared as best as she was able, her voice doing little to tear through the air.. “Now who are you?”
“Stella Glaciem,” Glaciem answered, folding her wings at her sides. “You can call me Glaciem.”
Roselle took it in, rolling over the name within her mind. Finally, she decided that she should share her own name with this newcomer. “I’m… Roselle!”
Glaciem’s muzzle contorted into as much of a smile as she could manage. It still appeared unnerving. “That’s a pretty name.”
Roselle’s eyes widened, her heart swelling at the compliment. “You think so?”
Glaciem nodded. “Yes.”
Roselle took the moment to look back at the trail of ice and snow that Glaciem’s footsteps seemed to have left in their wake. “…You’re not from around here, huh?”
“You could say that,” Glaciem replied, spreading out one wing to shake a bit of sand off of it. Her pearly white armour shone under the harsh sunlight, blinding to look at.
Roselle felt a lump form in her throat. “You… might want to leave, then. Or you could come with me, where it’s safe.”
“Why?” Glaciem asked, folding that wing again.
“The Dragon Goddess of the Sun won’t be happy that you’re here…” Roselle answered softly.
Glaciem stared at her with a blank expression. “Who?”
“Um…” Roselle thought to herself about how to best explain it, scrunching up her snout. “She’s not really friendly to… anyone that isn’t her or her worshipers. If she found out about a weird icy dragon like you, she’d kill you!”
Glaciem didn’t look concerned at all. “She’s gonna have a tough time of that, then.”
Roselle blinked. “What makes you so sure?”
“I’ve got quite a bit of power myself,” Glaciem gestured to the ice and snow she had passively created, none of it having melted in mockery of the heat.
Roselle looked at it all, grimacing from the brightness of the shine. “…I guess so.”
“Particularly because of my thermal immunity,” Glaciem added. “There’s nothing this heat can do to me. I’m the coldest Ice Dragon you’ll ever find here.”
Roselle thought about it for a moment, ideas swirling inside her mind. “…Can you come with me?”
Glaciem raised her head in interest. “Where to?”
“Uh… Where I live,” Roselle said, looking Glaciem over. “You probably won’t be too big. Probably.”
“Alright,” Glaciem didn’t have anything better to do, anyway.
Roselle began flying, making sure that Glaciem was behind her. “Follow me!”
Glaciem followed Roselle across the wasteland, leaving a trail of ice and snow with each and every step she took. She kept her eyes open for any potential threats, but noticed nothing within the rows of shriveled up trees and the emptiness of the desert.
Eventually they reached a large rock, half-buried in the sand yet standing up to around Glaciem’s own height. Roselle flew out to the rock, placing her tiny hands on it and summoning what magical power she possessed. Swirls of green snaked around the rock’s surface, and then it split in half, revealing a passageway.
Glaciem hummed at the sight, mildly impressed as the passageway opened before them. “I knew you must have had some kind of trick here.”
“Well, we have to make sure our homes are well-hidden, or Helvuur’s forces will come…” Roselle shuddered, flying through the entrance and leading Glaciem down a vast tunnel that, to Roselle, was of immeasurable vastness.
To Glaciem, it wasn’t nearly as vast, forcing her to hold her wings at her sides and keep her head low to prevent her antlers from scraping against the rocky ceiling. She kept her eyes on Roselle. “I see.”
The cavern itself was dimly lit once the passageway closed behind them. The tunnel took them further and further down, and soon it was lit by torches.
“Welcome to Willow’s Den!” Roselle announced, gesturing towards the much more expansive cavern. She watched dragons, equines, and other beings walk and fly around underneath the dim blue and green lights on the cavern ceiling. Roselle turned around to face Glaciem, spreading her arms out to try to show the enormity of the cavern, at least to her. “It’s… well, it’s home! And safe from that harsh sun up there!”
Glaciem stepped out of the tunnel and into the city cavern, raising her head and unfolding her wings, looking and feeling far more relaxed than she had when she was walking through the tunnel. The people walking around stopped in their tracks and stared at her, eyes widening at the sheer size and perceived viciousness of this newcomer. She pretended not to notice it. “Hmm. Home, is it?”
“Yep!” Roselle’s face broke into a wide grin, although Glaciem could see hints of pain behind her eyes, though she didn’t comment and instead let Roselle continue to speak, “It didn’t used to be, but I think we’ve all carved out a nice little place!”
Glaciem nodded, looking at the buildings carved into the rocks. All simple, but nothing looked out of place. Lights of various colours shined through the windows of each building carved into the rock walls. She gave her best smile. “It’s nice.”
Roselle moved to fly to her house, but paused in her aerial tracks. She looked back at Glaciem and laughed nervously. “My house is uh… too tiny for you to fit in, but there’s an inn and tavern further down if you’re interested! We do get some travelers, surprisingly. Just very hush hush, you know… Can’t let Helvuur find out we even exist…”
“It’ll do for now,” Glaciem followed Roselle as she began flying into the center of the city. She still ignored the people staring at her in fear and awe, used to such looks from previous worlds she had visited.
Roselle eventually led her to a large building carved into one of the cavern walls, windows shining with golden lights from the inside. She hovered in front of the inn’s entrance, presenting it to Glaciem. “Here we are!”
“So, this is it, hm?” Glaciem looked it over. The inn didn’t look like much, but it was enough, especially for what they had to work with. It fit the general style of the rest of Willow’s Den.
“Yes, sure is!” Roselle replied excitedly, picking up the metal door knocker and letting it go, listening to the sound it made as it collided with the door.
“Hello Roselle, where have you-“ An Earth Dragon opened the door and spoke to Roselle, his eyes widening at the sight of Glaciem. “G-Gah!”
“Hello,” Glaciem said pleasantly, even as the smaller Earth Dragon recoiled from the sight of her.
“W-Who are you?!” The Earth Dragon had never seen someone so frightening before, aside from Sun Dragons that patrolled the wasteland and the images of Helvuur herself. Glaciem looked like she had walked out of one of his worst nightmares.
“Stella Glaciem,” she replied, almost looking as bored as she felt.
“It’s okay!” Roselle flew in front of his face. “She’s a friend! She’s not as scary as she looks!”
The Earth Dragon relaxed slightly, but still looked at Glaciem with unease. “…Alright then… What do you need?”
“First, for people to stop being terrified to death of me, it’s gotten quite old,” Glaciem answered very matter-of-factly. “But besides that, food and a room would be nice.”
“Of course, right away…” the Earth Dragon replied, reaching behind his desk and picking up a small scroll with a copper key. “Uh. Food and drink’s on the scroll, the symbol on the key matches the one on the door of your room.”
“Sounds fine,” Glaciem took the key and gave the scroll only the slightest glance before returning it to the Earth Dragon.
He took the scroll back nervously, rolling it back up. “Any idea what you might want, then?”
Glaciem leaned her head down to meet the Earth Dragon’s eyes. “Everything.”
The Earth Dragon blinked, looking at the staff members who were overhearing the conversation, all of them looking just as baffled as he felt. He looked back at her, asking to be sure he heard her right, “…Everything?”
“Yes,” Glaciem answered, her voice a bit more firm, the look in her eyes showing the Earth Dragon just how serious she was about it. “Everything.”
The Earth Dragon nodded slowly, his brain scrambling to keep up with the enormity of the request. “…Yes, of course, right away, you can pick a table or go up to your room… we’ll, we’ll bring it all to you…”
He hurried off into the kitchen, leaving Glaciem and Roselle behind in the lobby.
Glaciem looked at the tiny key in her hand. “…I don’t actually have any money. Oops.”
“Uh, well, we don’t actually do currency nowadays, not with the whole eternal sun thing going on,” Roselle replied, hovering next to Glaciem’s head. “With the world kind of being literally on fire on the worst days, a complete wasteland on the best, shiny things aren’t as important as they used to be.”
“Ah, alright,” Glaciem began walking towards the room she had been assigned. “And where are you going to go?”
“Uh, home, I guess,” Roselle replied, feeling tired after the flight to and from the wasteland. She definitely needed some food and sleep herself, much as she wanted to stay with this stranger who had proved so interesting to her. She thought to herself, speaking up again. “But, uh… do you want to maybe meet down here in the tavern tomorrow?”
“What for?” Glaciem asked, although she didn’t find herself opposed to the idea regardless. She found herself growing fond of this little dragon at a breakneck pace, amused by her attempts to seem bigger than she was and endeared by her current insistence at spending time with her instead of being afraid of her.
“Oh, well, I was just thinking you’d want to know more about things around here,” Roselle replied, scratching one of her fins. “I could give you a map, too.”
“That sounds nice,” Glaciem agreed, making her way up to the room, folding her wings and lowering her head again to fit inside the hallway and into the doorway. “I’ll see you in the morning then, won’t I?”
“Yes, I’ll be here!” Roselle nodded vigorously, instantly feeling lonely the moment that Glaciem closed the door. She stared at it for a moment, flying away when a unicorn approached carrying several plates, bowls, and mugs with her magic.
Glaciem found herself much more interested in all of the food that had been set out before her. Thoughts of Helvuur entered her mind, whoever this Helvuur person was exactly, and she resolved to think about that at another time. She couldn’t really plan to overthrow a tyrant on an empty stomach, now could she?
Not that Elementum Dragons were really affected by hunger and thirst, but it was the principle of the thing! And the food really did look delicious, plenty of meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, bread, cheese…
And plenty of coffee and tea, too, not that they’d have any affect on how she’d sleep, either. Regardless, she’d enjoy every single bite of it and every single sip of it. She could already tell just by looking at it all.
The food, indeed, was delicious, and Glaciem made sure to mutter a quick thanks when the unicorn returned, not that the unicorn seemed willing to appreciate it. Nonetheless, Glaciem didn’t let that disrupt her feast. She had to give them credit: it was good.
Glaciem arranged the now empty plates, bowls, and mugs in a way that she hoped would be beneficial to the unicorn, or whoever came to retrieve them later. She looked over at the bed, and noticed two things immediately: firstly, it looked very comfortable, and secondly, it was way too small for a dragon of her size. It was practically a pillow to her. A very comfortable looking one.
With a shrug, Glaciem walked over to the bed and rested her head on it. Oh, very comfortable indeed, and she didn’t really need a blanket, not when she had her wings and was an Ice Dragon anyway. Who didn’t get cold. Because she was an Ice Dragon.
She thought about Roselle, mostly, and this mysterious Sun Dragon Goddess, Helvuur. She didn’t like the sound of this dragon, but she also wanted to know more about her. She didn’t think she needed to know much, because she didn’t have much reason to believe Roselle was lying about her. She had seen the wasteland created by the harsh sunlight herself, after all.
She didn’t want to know Helvuur’s motives or her backstory that she would no doubt try to use to prop herself up as sympathetic with. All Glaciem wanted to know was where Helvuur was and how to defeat her, and free the people of this planet. That’s what she’d done for some of the planets she visited before; helped them.
And Roselle… Glaciem thought that she might be able to build a friendship, a kinship with Roselle. Nothing else, however, as she was aromantic and asexual. She needed nothing more except friends and her queerplatonic partners (she did refer to them as her wives when she thought about them)… none of which she had at the moment. She’d met a few people from the previous worlds she’d visited, but no one who wanted to stay with her, and she certainly hadn’t met any one of her wives.
As she drifted off into sleep, she thought about the coming morning, and a chance to see Roselle again. Maybe they could be friends, after all. She would like that, she thought to herself.
She really would.
Next: not yet