The Rise of The Dragon Queen- Chapter 3

The next morning, Vixia and I were woken up early to the sound of a ringing bell. I groaned as I rolled over, opening my eyes. Sunlight poured into the room from the window since the blinds were open and it made the white of the walls too intense to look at. I rolled back over and I could just barely see Vixia rubbing her eyes through my own blurry vision.

“Good morning,” she said groggily. Her ears shifted back as she yawned and stretched, flinging one of her legs over me. I smiled.

“Morning.” I gave her a quick kiss on the forehead and pulled her into a hug. She buried her face into my neck, her soft ears brushing against the sides of my face. We stayed like that for a few minutes, almost falling asleep again before there was a knock at the door.

“Time to get up! Breakfast is ready!” It was a masculine voice, one that I didn’t recognize. Vixia’s ears perked up at the mention of food and she lifted her head.

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” she mumbled, letting go of me and rolling away. I laughed at her and sat up. She quickly got out of bed and headed for the closet to choose her clothes for the day.

“I wonder what kind of quest they’ll send us on today,” she began. I stretched and climbed out of bed, following her.

“Me too,” I replied, reaching around her to retrieve my tank top. “Can you pass me my pants?”

Vixia handed them to me and picked out her own clothes as I got dressed. She laid them out on the bed as I pulled on my tank top.

“Have you seen my brush?”

“I put it in the chest yesterday. Here.”


It wasn’t all that different from how our mornings started at home, but at least when we were there we had some idea of what our day was going to look like. Now we were at the command of the guild, and Nesryn and Queen Evelyn would dictate our schedule for us.

I buttoned my pants and pulled the hem of my tank top down over my hips as Vixia did a quick twirl in her outfit.

“How do I look?” she asked. She was wearing a red skirt with a white, long-sleeved tunic and black socks that reached the middle of her thighs. She had tied her hair up and put on her combat boots as well. She was staring at me expectantly, waiting for what I said every morning.

“Adorable,” I answered with a smile. In comparison, I was wearing a navy-colored tank top with baggy, black pants and similar boots. I usually wore light clothes to keep my mobility even after I put on some armor.

“Should we put on our armor and grab our weapons?” Vixia asked. I shrugged.

“Last call!” the same voice from earlier shouted. Vixia and I looked at each other, then immediately rushed for the door.

As soon as we left our room, the sound of numerous voices met my ears. We rushed down the hall and toward the staircase to find that a majority of the guild was already seated at the tables downstairs, eating breakfast.

“Crap! I hope we didn’t miss the food!” Vixia whimpered. I laughed at her and we headed down the stairs. The smell of what was cooked led us to the bar as soon as we made it to the main floor. The counter was lined with different foods, from vegetables to porridge to thick slabs of meat. After we grabbed our plates and heaped them high with food, we began our search for a table.

“I can barely see,” I grumbled, my shortness thwarting my efforts at looking over the crowd. Vixia, on the other hand, was much taller than me and could see just fine.

“Over there! There’s a little table over by the wall.” I quickly followed her and we sat down. It was a relatively small, round table with three seats. It could probably seat four, but it was pushed up against the wall so that there was no room for another chair. It was a little far from the other tables, but that was fine with me. I clearly spotted some people glaring at us as they ate, but I didn’t see Sparrow, which was a plus. We only got a few minutes to eat before Nesryn’s voice called out over the crowd.

“Attention please!”

Conversations died away gradually and within a minute or so even the faintest of whispers had disappeared. Vixia and I watched silently as Nesryn, who was standing by the bar, began to speak again.

“Good morning, everyone. I hope that you have slept well. Today is going to be a busy day for many of you. So, here are today’s assignments.”

I wonder what we’re going to get.

She looked down at a list in her hands and began reading off the names of different party members and telling them what they would be working on for the day. As soon as they were told, many got up from their seats and began preparing to leave. Chair legs scraped against the floor and silverware clattered against tables and dishes. Unfortunately, due to the ruckus of everyone moving and how far away Vixia and I were from the guild master, we could hardly hear her.

“Ketsuna, can you hear what she’s saying?” Vixia asked, slumping in her seat. I tried my best to listen, but never heard our names get called. Eventually, the last group was summoned and most of the guild members had left, their dishes abandoned at the tables.

“Let’s go ask her what our assignment is for the day,” I suggested. “I’m sure she’ll understand.” I stood up from my spot, bringing my plate with me as Vixia did the same. We headed toward Nesryn and I was the first to speak.

“Hey, guild master.”

“You can call me Nesryn.”

“Oh, um, okay. Nesryn, we couldn’t hear you call our names from where we were sitting.”

“That’s because I didn’t call your names,” she responded. “You aren’t being sent out today. You guys have cleaning duty.”

Vixia and I both stood there, stunned. I blinked.


“Why?” Vixia inquired.

“The queen has requested that you two stay close in case of an emergency. Sometimes our guild members are gone for days on their quests since we send them all over Zaledrid. We can’t afford to do that with you.”

“But, ma’am—”

“I trust that you will make this guildhall spotless by this evening,” Nesryn said, interrupting me. “You can start with your own dishes, if you’d like.” And with that, she turned around and walked away. I looked back at Vixia, whose ears were folded back. It was clear that she was just as disappointed as I was. That was when I heard laughter from the doors of the guildhall.

I looked back to see Sparrow and his team mocking us on their way out. They slipped outside before I got a chance to say anything and I turned back to look at the tables, which were cluttered with dozens of dirty dishes.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Vixia and I stayed behind for the day and our first task was to clean up the dishes that everyone had left behind. We split up the effort and Vixia started washing the dishes while I cleared the tables and wiped them down. After I was done, I helped her with the remaining dishes and we got started on cleaning the floor. By the time we were done, it was already an hour or two past noon and we decided to take a break before continuing with our chores.

“Man, this is a pain,” Vixia sighed, taking a seat at one of the tables near the kitchen. She leaned back against the chair, her ears shifting toward the sides of her head rather than staying forward. I sat down across from her and realized that she had also closed her eyes and was resting her head against the wall behind her.

“Yeah. They could have literally given us anything but this.”

“Excuse me.” Vixia and I both jumped at the sound of a voice calling out to us. We both looked toward the kitchen to see a large, muscular man standing in the doorway. He had short, ashy brown hair and looked as though he would be fit for combat if he wasn’t wearing an apron over his short-sleeved shirt and pants. Despite appearing to work in the kitchen, he was wearing boots.

“Would one of you be willing to help me cook dinner?” he asked. “I can do the main parts, I just need someone to chop up the vegetables.”

“I can help,” Vixia volunteered. She stood up from her seat and followed him into the kitchen. I did the same, finding a new seat by the door.

Even the kitchen was bigger than I expected and it had everything that you would expect. The walls were made of stone like the ones in the main room, but here they were lined with shelves, each displaying dozens of bottles of seasonings and sauces. There was a large sink right below a large bay window, a few different stoves and ovens lined up side-by-side, and plenty of counter space. There was also a sizable pantry annexed to the side of the kitchen and it was almost big enough to be its own room. The man emerged from it when I sat down, carrying a large bowl of vegetables and some hunks of meat.

“Were you put on chore duty, too?” I asked.

“Nah, I basically picked this job,” he answered, putting a large pot over one of the burners on the stove. He lit it with the ease and swiftness of a seasoned chef, dumped the meat into the pot, and then turned to hand Vixia the large bowl full of vegetables. “The guild members love my cooking and I prefer to hold down the fort when everyone is gone. It’s much more peaceful during the day.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” I finally realized that it had been mostly quiet since everyone had left.

“What’s your name?” Vixia asked. She had already started slicing what she had been given.

“Darius,” the man replied with a smile. “It’s nice to meet you two. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“I bet,” I said with a sarcastic tone. Vixia giggled and they both went back to cooking.

The guildhall was flooded with people again by the time evening began and Vixia and I decided to sit in the same spot that we did in the morning to eat. Darius and Vixia made a stew and just the smell of it made most of the guild members drool. Because we were on chore duty, Vixia and I were able to get our food first. We were sitting together when I started to get an odd feeling in my chest. I grabbed my shirt and heaved a sigh. Vixia took notice.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just have a bad feeling,” I replied.

“Like when we saw that dragon the other day?” I nodded.

“Yeah. Keep it down, though.” Just as I said that, Darius walked up, holding his own bowl of food.

“Mind if I sit with you guys?” he asked.

“Go ahead,” Vixia chimed, pushing out a chair for him as I nodded. Another guild member noticed Darius sitting down with us and stood up.

“Darius, what are you doing with the likes of them?” He was staring directly at me and Vixia, and for a moment I could swear that his eyes had narrowed in specifically on my ears.

“What business is it to you?” Darius snapped, his brow furrowed. The shift in his tone made me jump and I looked to Vixia, who was equally shocked. We turned our attention back to Darius.

“Nothing, man. I just wanted to know—”

He was interrupted by a scream that came from the kitchen and I felt the inside of my chest clench. Everyone looked toward the kitchen doorway just in time to see flames shoot out of the opening. More screams followed and Darius was the first to get to his feet and run toward the fire. Vixia and I quickly followed.

When we made it to the kitchen, a crowd gathered behind us. One of the guild members was on the ground, staring toward the large window that I had noticed before.

“Dragon!” he shrieked, scooching backward across the floor. Vixia and I dashed into the room while Darius picked up the guy, dragging him to safety.

“Ketsuna, where is it?” Vixia asked. I looked around the room and my chest tightened again when I looked toward the shelves.

“There!” I pointed toward it just in time for a stream of flames to shoot toward me. I snatched up a pot from the stove and deflected the fire as best as I could. It stopped just as quickly as it started and I dropped my makeshift shield. I rushed for the shelf, knocking a couple of bottles over to find a tiny dragon crouched there. It leaped off the shelf, trying to get past me.

“Temporal halt!” Vixia yelled, throwing out her hand in its direction. The tiny dragon seemed to freeze in mid air and the other guild members stared in astonishment. I noticed an empty jar on the edge of the stove and captured the little beast. After the lid was sealed, Vixia lowered her arm and the dragon was free to move. I let out a little chuckle as it began scratching all over the inside of the jar.

It was covered in wine-red scales and had a cream-colored underbelly. Its eyes were a mesmerizing blue color, but the slitted irises that appeared at their centers were as black as obsidian. However, this dragon’s eyes weren’t empty like the last one’s. There was a glimmer of light that I had never seen in a monster’s eyes before, something different. When its eyes met mine, it stopped scratching and sat down. We stared at each other for a moment while the rest of the guild marveled at us.

“What are you doing?” one person cried, breaking the silence. “Kill that thing!” Vixia stepped closer, but she didn’t take the jar from me.

“I don’t know,” she began hesitantly, looking from the tiny dragon to me. “This isn’t one of the man-eaters that we normally get rid of.”

So she can tell something’s different, too.

“Vixia, Ketsuna.” We both looked over to see the crowd thinning and Nesryn walking toward us. She finally made it to the kitchen and time seemed to stand still.

“Please come see me. I would like to speak to you two privately.” She turned and left, everyone else watching as she went. Vixia and I looked at each other.

What do we do now? After a second of hesitation, we walked through the path that was created through the crowd and headed upstairs.

We came to the door of Nesryn’s chamber and found ourselves standing there for a while, wondering if we should even go in.

“Are we in trouble?” Vixia asked.

“I don’t know.” I looked at the tiny dragon, which was still captured in the jar in my hand. “I think she’s probably going to have us do something with him.”

The dragon tilted his head, still staring at me. I took in a deep breath and heaved a sigh.

“Let’s get this over with.”

I knocked on the door and slowly opened it. I peeked inside to see Nesryn sitting at a large desk and facing the door. She was looking through some papers, reading them intently through the lenses of her glasses. She glanced up at us before looking back down at the documents.

“Come in.” We did as she requested as she filed away the papers. We stood there for a moment, looking at the chairs across from her as she took off her glasses. She folded them and set them on the desk before she realized that we were just standing there.

“Come, sit.” Vixia and I did as we were instructed and took seats across the table from her. “How was your first full day with the guild?” she asked.

“I guess it was all right,” Vixia answered quietly. I shrugged, looking down at the jar. I heard the guild master shift in her seat.

“May I see the little thing?” I looked up to find that she had her hand outstretched toward me, waiting for me to hand her the jar. I felt my hands begin to tremble. She must have noticed, because she added, “I’m not going to hurt it. I just need to assess if it is a threat.”

“Okay.” I finally handed him over and Nesryn eyed him carefully through the glass. She then handed him back to me.

“It’s very small, so it shouldn’t be a problem. I will allow you to release it if you take it to the fields outside of the city.”

“Actually, ma’am, I’d like to keep it,” I admitted quietly. She and Vixia both gave me puzzled looks. “I-I mean, there’s just—”

“Fine, I’ll allow it,” Nesryn said, handing the tiny dragon back to me, “but only if you can keep it out of trouble and out of sight. Any damage caused by it will be on your wallet, though.”

“Thank you!” I replied, beaming.

“You are excused.” She put her glasses back on and began to resume reading through her paperwork. We got up and left.

That night, we let the tiny dragon out of the jar. He immediately curled up in between our pillows and fell asleep, his wings wrapped around him like a blanket. After he settled in, Vixia and I crawled into bed.

“Well, today was disappointing,” my wife began.


“I know that neither of us want to be here, but today was not what I expected.”


“Are you listening to me?” I rolled over to see Vixia looking at me.

“Yeah, I’m just really tired.”

“All right, I guess we can talk about it tomorrow. Love you, goodnight.”

“Love you too. Goodnight.”

Vixia rolled over and somehow managed to fall asleep long before I did. I wanted to sleep, but I was too busy thinking about the guild.

This has to be some sort of joke. Why would we be asked to join if we aren’t allowed to do anything?

I sighed, staring at the glimmer of moonlight coming off of the tiny dragon’s scales. I decided to let my frustration go and fell asleep.

The Rise of The Dragon Queen- Chapter 2

No matter how many dragons I faced or adventures I went on, there was nothing more intimidating than standing before the front gates of Queen Evelyn’s palace. Vixia and I approached them the next morning after we received the queen’s letter and I swallowed the knot in my throat as I gazed at the solid gold bars of the gate’s doors, each one topped with a sharp spike to deter intruders. The rest of the castle’s perimeter was lined with tall walls made from white brick. The roof of the tall palace poked up into sight above the walls and I could remember wondering why a dragon hadn’t attacked it, seeing that it was a large target. We stopped in front of the gates when two guards, clad in matching uniforms, marched over to us.

“Are you Ketsuna and Vixia Wynstar?” the first asked.

“We are,” I replied as Vixia nodded.

“Queen Evelyn has been expecting you,” the second informed us. “Follow us, we’ll take you to her majesty.” Vixia and I nodded in unison as the duo turned around toward the gates. We exchanged unsure glances as the guards opened them. They beckoned for us to follow and closed the gates behind us.

“Right this way, please.”

We were led across a massive yard full of lush grass and we followed a gray stone path that approached the front of the castle. It was as grand as I imagined that it would be. The roof of the castle was a deep blue color like the other roofs in the city, but the shingles were made of a different, higher-quality material. The castle itself was made of thick stone bricks and tall towers were built into its sides. More guards were perched there with crossbows, keeping a lookout. Even the windows were framed with metal and had intricate designs woven throughout the glass, which I assumed to be both for aesthetic and security. We came up to the entrance and there were two large double doors made of what appeared to be solid mahogany. The guards with us looked to one of the towers, giving them a sort of hand signal. As soon as the guards in the tower saw the signal, the doors were pried open and we followed them into the main hall.

Two spiral staircases stood at either side of the room and the whole floor was covered in white tile. The walls were also a pristine white, lined with gold and covered in expensive-looking decorations. Vixia and I looked around in awe at our surroundings, then at each other. That was when both the guards bowed, catching our attention.

“Hello there, dragon-slayers.” Vixia and I both looked over to see Queen Evelyn standing on an indoor balcony above the staircases. We immediately fell to our knees and bowed.

“Your majesty! I am so sorry for our disrespect—”

“Be calm, Ketsuna,” she instructed, her voice soft. “You have brought me no disrespect. You two are an asset to this kingdom. You may lift your heads.”

We both did as instructed and looked at her. This was when I noticed her long, black hair and her intricate dress, which was primarily blue and white with adorning pieces of gold. A matching crown sat atop her head, but I didn’t realize how large it was until she began her descent down one of the flights of stairs and I was amazed that she didn’t have to hold it still.

“I shall meet you in the drawing-room,” she insisted. “I will lead the way. Guards, please see to it that the proper preparations are made for our guests.”

“Yes, your majesty,” they said in unison before they left. She finally approached us after a moment, the heels of her hidden shoes clacking against the tile and echoing off the walls. She offered a hand to Vixia and me. A sweet smile crossed her face.

“Please, follow me.”

After we stood up, Queen Evelyn led us through a wide hallway toward the western wing of the palace and into a large room at the end. My eyes traced the edges of the walls, which matched those in the main room but were now lined with large bookcases that almost stretched to the ceiling, and then scanned the light tiled floor, each square sharing the same freshly-polished shine as the rest. It was decorated much like the main room, but now there were couches and tables scattered around the room, much like a library. I stared at the bookshelves in awe for a moment before I caught Vixia smirking at me.

“Wish you would have married the queen instead, huh?” she joked in a hushed whisper. “Then you would have all of the books you could ever read.”

“Of course not,” I answered just as quietly, rolling my eyes at her. I looked away from her for a moment, adjusting my wedding ring on my finger nervously as we followed Queen Evelyn to a large cedar table at the center of the room. She took her seat in a massive leather chair, resembling a throne, on the opposite side from us.

“Please, sit.”

We did as we were told and took our seats, which were two very comfy chairs that were just slightly smaller than hers. After we sat down, I noticed that her deep blue eyes were focused on both of us.

“You’re probably wondering why I have invited you here today,” she began, “so I will get straight to the point. You two are top-notch dragon-slayers in a kingdom that needs them right now. I have a request for you.”

“Does it have to do with the attacks, your majesty?” I asked.

“Precisely!” Queen Evelyn cheered. “However, not as much as you probably think.” Vixia and I exchanged worried glances as she added, “This mostly has to do with my guild, the Ironscale Hunters.”

“We apologize for any trouble that we may have caused, your majesty,” Vixia interjected, bowing her head. “But we have found that the guild does not respond to attacks as quickly as we can and we cannot stand aside while people are in danger.”

“Lift your head! There is no reason for you to apologize. That is precisely why I invited you here.”

We both stared at the queen in confusion as she smiled again.

“I would like to make you an offer that you cannot refuse, my dear dragon-slayers. Join my guild and I will give you a hefty reward for your trouble.”

Vixia and I exchanged unsure glances, then looked back at the queen.

“I apologize, Queen Evelyn, but we cannot take your offer,” I answered. “I fear that your guild would not be welcoming to us, based on past experience.” The queen’s polite smile grew into a smirk and her eyes narrowed as she stared at us.

“Ketsuna, you are not from this kingdom, right?”

Those words sent a jolt through my body. I averted my eyes and stared down at the floor. I reached up to touch my ears, the main feature that made me stand out.

“No, your majesty, I am not.”

“And you are aware that your marriage to Vixia does not grant you citizenship, correct?”

“Yes, your majesty, I am aware. We learned that long before we even got married.” The grin on the queen’s face widened with that remark.

“You see, this is why I said that it was an offer that you can’t refuse. If you join my dragon-slayer guild and help get rid of the problem, I will grant you permanent citizenship. If you refuse, I will have no choice but to send you back to the land from which you came. Draladen, right?”

I slumped in my chair as the reality of her words sunk in. I still took it better than Vixia, though. She surprised us both when she slammed her palms down on the table, her face turning several shades of red over the course of a few seconds.

“Your majesty, that is ridiculous!” she shouted, standing up from her seat. “Ketsuna hasn’t done anything wrong! How could you risk the lives of your citizens by sending away one of your strongest dragon-slayers?”

Queen Evelyn’s expression fell flat and indifferent, but it only lasted for a second.

“Vixia, it’s okay.” I stood up next to her, staring the queen straight in the eyes this time. “Queen Evelyn, it appears that we have no choice but to accept your offer. Where do we begin?”

Less than a week later, Vixia and I had packed up most of our things in suitcases. It was a bright, early morning when we set out for the guildhall. I locked the door to our home after we stepped outside, admiring it for what would be the last time for a while. I remembered the words of the queen.

You will need to pack your things and live in the guildhall for a while. The guild master and I have made arrangements for you to have a shared room instead of bunking with the other guild members. Do not worry, this is not a permanent arrangement. You will be able to return to your home during the weekends if we can stabilize everything. I am counting on you, dragon-slayers.

I let out a sigh as a thought popped into my head. But when will that be? How do we even start?

Vixia must have noticed how I was feeling because she put her hand on my shoulder, snapping me back to reality. I looked back at her.

“It’ll be okay,” she promised. “We’ll deal with these dragons as quickly as possible and then we can come back.”

“I hope you’re right,” I murmured, turning my attention back to the house as I slipped the key into my pocket. It was like many of the other houses in Tidalsong City, but I was specifically looking at the small garden at the front of the house that Vixia and I had planted together. I realized that we would have to restart it when everything was over.

“We should probably get going,” I said finally. “Otherwise, I may not want to leave.”

“Yeah,” Vixia agreed in a near whisper. So, we turned and left, carrying everything that we could bring in a few bags.

We arrived at the guildhall around noon that day after making several stops to get food and other supplies. It was a large building and, for a moment, I wondered if it was half the size of the palace. It had the same blue roofing as every other building, but the walls were adorned with stones. The windows and doors also had a particular amount of attention paid to them, their wooden frames covered in intricate carvings. There was also a wooden sign hanging over the entrance, which had the name of the guild scrawled across it in large letters. Vixia and I were admiring it all as we walked up to the front steps, which were also made from slabs of stone. We stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do next.

“Do we just . . . walk in?” Vixia asked. I shrugged my shoulders and approached the double doors. With a loud creak, I slowly pushed them open.

The building looked even more massive from the inside. The ceiling was incredibly high, much higher than anyone could reach without a ladder or a spell. The floor was covered in dark-colored wood and the walls were built from light stone, but these weren’t the first details that I noticed. The first thing that I noticed was the crowd of people sitting at tables scattered about the main room. The next was the bar, which stood right beside the stairs that led up to the second floor, where the dorms were. Metal sconces clung to the walls and a large chandelier illuminated the room and the faces of the guild members. They seemed to be having a great time, eating and joking with each other. Laughter and the sound of people chatting filled the room, that is, until they noticed our presence. After a moment, they all fell silent after they looked toward the door and their eyes pierced into us like daggers.

“What the hell are you doing here?” someone shouted. I looked over to see that it was the guild member that we had argued with the other day. He had stood up from his table and was walking toward us.

“Zelora, help us,” Vixia whispered to herself in an exasperated tone, closing her eyes. I gripped the handle of my bag a little tighter. He stopped a few feet away from us, then continued his tirade.

“What, you here to argue some more?” he shouted in an attempt to taunt us. “You can’t do shit here. Get lost before we boot you out!”

“Sparrow, hold your tongue!” a voice snapped. Everyone looked toward the wooden balcony that overlooked the dining area to see a woman with dark-colored hair and glasses glaring down at all of us. “That is no way to treat new members, especially ones appointed by the queen herself.”

“No way,” Sparrow said quietly, disbelief woven into his voice. He took a few steps back but didn’t return to his seat until the woman began to descend the stairs. She began walking toward us.

“Everyone, I’m sure you’ve heard of Ketsuna and Vixia Wynstar. Today is their first day with us at the guild. I expect you all to be on your best behavior.”

“Yes ma’am!” most of the guild members shouted, but immediately afterward they began to grumble and complain amongst themselves. The woman approached us and I realized that she was also wearing some sort of royal uniform rather than armor or adventuring gear.

“Hello there,” she began. “I’m Nesryn, the master of the royal dragon-slayer guild, the Ironscale Hunters. Pleased to meet you.”

“We’re pleased to meet you, too,” I replied, bowing my head slightly.

“I’ve heard a lot about you from her majesty.” A grin crossed Nesryn’s face. “You two should be quite helpful in our effort to get rid of those dragons.”

“I hope so.” Vixia was looking down at the floor. Nesryn gave us both a warm smile.

“Here, I’ll show you to your room. You two should spend the first day trying to get settled, after all. Follow me.”

Vixia and I were escorted to our room upstairs and I closed the door behind us with an exasperated sigh. My wife immediately began unpacking one of her bags, setting up a temporary altar in the corner farthest from the door. Thankfully, she packed just the bare essentials for her worship, so the altar was small and didn’t take up much space in the already cramped room. There was a large bed in the middle of the room that took up a large portion of space even though its headboard was pushed against the wall. A wooden chest rested on the floor at the foot of it and there was also a small closet and a table underneath the only window. Other than that the room was empty.

Good thing we packed fairly light.

I looked to Vixia again to find her sitting on the floor before her makeshift altar, her head bowed in prayer and her eyes closed. I watched quietly, taking in the peaceful expression on her face and how her ears perked up attentively as she listened to the goddess, Zelora, herself. Her long, silver hair draped over her shoulders and down her back and her tail was completely still on the floor. I continued to watch her until I heard someone knocking aggressively on the door behind me.

I felt my brows furrow together as I turned to open it, the knocking not ceasing until I did. When I did, Sparrow was standing there with his two other party mates, his hands on his hips like when we first met. I stepped out into the hall and quietly closed the door behind me, hoping to avoid disturbing Vixia.

“You have some nerve, requesting for the queen to let you join this guild,” Sparrow began. The two other men in his party stood silently behind him, nodding in agreement.

“You’ve got it all wrong.”

Before I could say anything else, he stepped in closer to me, trying to loom over me threateningly. Unfortunately for him, it takes a lot more than that to intimidate me, so I stood my ground and glared up at him. “Do I now?” he asked in a gruff voice.

“Yes, you do,” Nesryn interjected. We all looked over to see the guild master approaching us, annoyance practically written on her face. Sparrow, once again, stepped away from me. “I told you before that the queen requested for Ketsuna and Vixia to join the guild personally. Her majesty recognized their efforts and wanted them to join, not the other way around. Maybe if you actually pulled your weight around here, you would get that same recognition.”

I could almost see the gears turning in Sparrow’s head as the realization of what Nesryn said hit him. His eyes widened and he looked between the guild master and me.

“You should probably avoid harassing us, especially at this time of day,” I warned. “Vixia is praying right now, and if you interrupt her like this again, I will deal with you myself. She may be quiet and shy, but I’m not.” Sparrow and his team remained silent for a moment, glaring at me. Again, I stood firm. Sparrow let out a scoff and started to walk away. The two others followed and, after they left, Nesryn turned back to me.

“I’m sorry about all of that. Sparrow will be written up for all of this.”

“It’s all right,” I replied. “Not your fault that you have some hot-head guild members.” She smiled at me and let out a small laugh.

“Please try to get some rest. I’ll give you two your first assignment tomorrow.”

“I will, thank you,” I said with a nod and returned to my room.

The Rise of The Dragon Queen-Chapter 1

A dragon’s scream tore through Tidalsong City as I tried to combat the panic welling up inside me. I could barely hear it over the pounding of my own heartbeat as I dashed across rooftops, brittle shingles shattering beneath my boots as I ran. I risked a glance over my shoulder, finding the dragon’s eyes fixed on me as it bared its fangs. The ground rumbled as its outspread wings leveled any buildings that were within reach and I turned my attention back to where I was heading. My eyes focused on the gap between the rooftop that I was on and the next one.

I can make it! My breath hitched in my throat as I jumped from one rooftop to the next, abandoning the vacant building behind me just as an enormous, ruby-scaled tail slammed into it, demolishing and crumbling it to pieces. My right foot hit the rooftop first, then my left. The feeling of the sole of my boot hitting the edge of the roofing forced a shooting pain up my leg and I teetered slightly. That was when I fell onto my side. My leg scraped against the roof’s shingles, ripping my pants and cutting my thigh, but that wasn’t the worst part. At that moment, the blade that was strapped to my back escaped its sheath and skidded across the roof, away from me. I lurched toward it as quickly as I could on my hands and knees, but it was too late. It tipped off the edge of the roof and plummeted, the worn metal clattering when it hit the ground below. I pushed myself back up and turned around to watch dreadfully as the beast approached me.

The whole dragon was covered in crimson scales, which reflected a ruby color in the sunlight, and jagged fangs emerged from its mouth as it let out another roar. Its eyes were entirely enveloped in a black that resembled ink, which made its glare appear to hold no soul. We had no idea how it had gotten to Tidalsong City, but then again, we didn’t know where it came from to begin with. My entire body was rendered paralyzed in its empty, yet terrifying, gaze. Everything seemed to stand still for that instant, except for the pounding of my heartbeat and the light breeze, which carried the smell of debris throughout the area. My mouth grew dry as I pulled a knife from my belt and held it out in front of me. I gripped it tightly, but I knew there was no way that it would save me.

“Vixia!” I screamed. Just as I called her name, a blur darted past me and scurried across the rooftop, sunlight reflecting off of the orb that topped her staff. She fearlessly leaped from the ledge and performed a flip midair as she unleashed some sort of spell, which surrounded her in light. The light then broke apart in dagger-like fragments. They shot away from her in a flurry, each ethereal blade sinking into the dragon’s skin. I caught a glimpse of her long, silver hair and her matching wolf ears as she fell. She kicked off of the monster’s stomach, sprung into a backflip, and disappeared from my sight as the dragon let out an ear-splitting cry and recoiled from the pain.

I stood again, suddenly finding my courage, and held my remaining weapon in my right hand. I rushed forward and surged from the roof’s edge, screaming both in fear and anger as I jabbed my weapon at the creature. The blade embedded itself between the dragon’s scales. I was falling to the ground when I heard Vixia’s voice screaming my name.

“Ketsuna!” Just before I hit the ground, I felt something else catch me. My feet and hands began to tingle and my entire body ached from the impact, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it would have been if I had hit the ground below. Without checking to see what broke my fall, I quickly got back up and saw Vixia standing right in front of the dragon. She held her staff in front of her with both hands and began shouting the lines of an incantation.

Trial by fire, burning with ease

Scorching flames of a thousand degrees

Goddess, I request that you ignite this in me

So mote it be!

I took a wild guess at what that meant. I turned and sprinted away as everything around Vixia and the dragon burst into flames. The flames wrapped around the two of them, swirling like a tornado, and exploded, the fire raising up high into the air within an instant. I heard the dragon’s scream again, but I couldn’t see anything through the fiery walls. When I was at the edge of the plaza, I turned back around to look.

The fire burned intensely for a moment, then was snuffed out just as quickly as it was lit. Vixia stood in the center of the plaza, but the dragon was nowhere to be seen. The ground was scorched, charred black by her flames. I stood there for a moment, breathing heavily as I tried to process what just happened. I was just beginning to piece my thoughts together when Vixia slouched her shoulders and her tail went limp. She lowered her head as she teetered for a second, then collapsed.


I rushed over to her as quickly as I could. When I got to her, her eyes were barely open, but she was still breathing. She was staring up at the sky, a look of exhaustion scrawled across her face. “Vixia, stay with me,” I pleaded.

“I’ll be fine,” she replied weakly, her eyes still fixed above us. “I just need a second. That spell was a bit much for me.” She cracked a small smile and I brushed her bangs away from her face.

“I’ll hold you until you can get up, okay?”

“Okay . . .” Her voice trailed off as I looked at the city around us.

All of the buildings surrounding the plaza were either completely demolished or severely damaged; even the poles for the streetlights had been bent or snapped like twigs, if they were even still there. Rubble littered the streets and the sky was clouded with ash. I took it all in as I processed what was going on.

This had become our new normal. For the past year, dragons had been appearing all over the kingdom of Zaledrid, from the winding forests to the major cities. There was a guild assigned by the queen to take care of them, but somehow Vixia and I usually managed to get to them first. This was the first time a dragon had attacked Tidalsong City, Zaledrid’s capital and our home.

Honestly, it was terrifying.

“I’m feeling better now,” Vixia said, snapping my attention back to her. I looked back down at my lap to see her smiling at me instead of staring at the sky. I smiled back.

“You sure?”

“Mhmm.” She nodded and sat up.

“Did you incinerate the dragon?”


“So, all of this ash is—”

“The dragon and anything that was within the casting radius,” she answered bluntly. She held out her hand and waited as some of the ashes drifted into her palm.

Well, guess I’m not getting my weapons back. The thought ran through my head, but then Vixia shifted my attention back to the situation.

“We’re going to get in a lot of trouble if we keep this up.”

“It’s not like the queen’s dragon hunters are doing much better,” I replied. Vixia tilted her head at me and shrugged. She let the ashes in her hand get swept away by the breeze and leaned back against my arm. Unfortunately, her back also pressed on my injured leg. “Ow!”

“What’s wrong?” She jolted upright and looked back at me, startled. I watched her gaze wander to the shredded side of my leg and my scuffed boot. She then changed her question to, “What happened there?”

“I lost my balance,” I answered simply. “I’m super lucky that you came in when you did. Perfect timing.”

She stood up and held out her hand, offering it to me. A sweet smile crossed her face.

“You know I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that.”

I nodded and took her hand, the joints in my knees and ankles popping as I rose. We both laughed at it and I stretched them a little. Instead of letting go of her hand when I was on my feet, I clutched it even tighter. I squeezed it three times briefly and she did the same to mine.

I love you.

“Ketsuna, let’s go home,” Vixia said quietly. I nodded and we began the short trek back to our house, hand-in-hand.

Steam shifted in the room behind me when I opened the bathroom door. The window over by the front door, which stood just down the hall to my left, showed me that night had already fallen and it was pitch-black outside. I noticed that the house was dimly lit because the only lights that were on were the bathroom lights and the one in the kitchen. I flicked off the lights in the bathroom when I caught the scent of Vixia’s cooking.

I stepped off of the bathroom tile and onto the hardwood that covered the hallway floor, closing the door behind me, and looked around the corner of the wall to see Vixia standing at the stove, her tail wagging back and forth. A smile crossed my face as I tried my best to dry my hair with my towel.

“You cooked?”

My wife turned and looked at me. At first, she gave me a look of surprise, but it quickly melted into a smile.

“Well, we both worked hard today. I figured you’d be pretty hungry after all of that.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

She turned away from me again and picked up a ladle that was nearby. She turned back to the pot on the stove and scooped up some of the stew she had made. She lifted it to her lips and took a quick taste, then began searching for the bowls in the cabinet.

“It’s ready.”

I walked up behind her as she reached for one of the bowls and wrapped my arms around her, hugging her from behind. She stopped for a second and I buried my face into the back of her shoulder.

“Thank you,” I said quietly. She looked at me from over her shoulder, but she probably couldn’t see much other than my hair and forehead because she was much taller than me. She smiled again.

“No problem. Go ahead and take a seat.”

I let go and did as she told me. I removed my towel from my shoulders and rested it on the back of my chair as she set a bowl down in front of me. I waited for her to sit down before I did anything.

“Thank you for the food,” she whispered in a tiny prayer. When she was done, we both picked up our spoons and began eating.

This was how our evenings usually were, but it wasn’t always this way. It was hard to believe that Vixia and I didn’t always have each other and, for a brief moment, I remembered what things were like when we first met. I let out a quiet sigh, which caught Vixia’s attention.

“Is it not good?” she asked.

“Huh?” I quickly realized that she was talking about the stew. “Oh no, it’s great. My mind was just going places again. I’m okay.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I promise.” We both went back to eating when a question popped into my mind.

“Hey, did you catch me earlier? Was that a spell?”

Vixia let out a giggle. I adored her laugh.

“Yeah, it’s a new spell that I’ve been working on with Zelora. It basically uses a small barrier to stop your fall. She told me that it would come in handy.” For context, Zelora was Vixia’s deity, the one that she prayed to in order to maintain her magic powers.

“Well, thank her for me, okay?” Vixia nodded as she took another bite of her stew.

We both finished our dinner and I took our bowls to wash them while Vixia went to her altar, which was set up in the living room, and prayed. She finished up as I put the bowls away and we both headed to bed.

The next morning, Vixia decided to come with me when I headed out to get a new dagger and sword. We lived at the edge of the city, so as soon as we stepped outside the door, we could hear the sound of numerous, indistinct voices and the footfalls of passing merchants being carried on the sea breeze. The same breeze rustled the leaves of the trees that surrounded our little home and tall weeds that had grown nearby, beyond our property. From the front porch, you could see the ocean stretched out on the horizon, just beyond the cliff where our home stood. I had picked out that house nearly five years prior to that day, not long after Vixia and I got married.

“We need to water the garden,” Vixia mentioned as we stepped onto the sidewalk. I looked back to see our plants wilting and nodded in agreement.

“We shouldn’t be gone for long. We’ll do it as soon as we get back. Let’s go.” And with that, we followed the cracked sidewalk deeper into the city.

Tidalsong City was sectioned into blocks by pewter streets and most of the buildings were white with cobalt-colored roofs, which was unique and exclusive to Tidalsong City alone. The crowds of people that flooded the streets during the busiest times of the day seemed just as vast and endless as the ocean that the city was known for. I could see the beach as we walked down the sidewalk. Its shore was made almost entirely of white sand and was spotted with people walking alongside the waves, most of them sailors. Further down there were massive docks with people dragging cargo toward the city. I was watching some struggle with a large crate when I was snapped back to reality by something slamming into my shoulder.

“Hey, watch it!”

I looked up to see a man who was slightly taller than Vixia glaring at me. His hair was dark brown with eyes to match and he was wearing a familiar set of armor, but I couldn’t figure out where it was from. He stood there with his hands on his hips, leering down at me.

“Sorry,” I began, noticing that there were two other men with him, standing behind him at either side. Vixia, who was standing beside me and had taken my hand, was eyeing them with a scowl on her face.

“Wait, I know you,” the man started again, an accusatory tone in his voice. “You two are those nosey dragon-slayers! You two caused a lot of trouble for us yesterday.” That was when I realized that their armor was from the queen’s dragon-slaying guild, the Ironscale Hunters.

“Couldn’t be that much trouble since we did your job for you,” I replied bluntly, “but fine.”

“What, so now a pointy-eared freak and a mangy mutt are going to tell us how to do our jobs?” Both the men with him tensed at the comment and I could tell that they were also getting heated. That didn’t stop me, though.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I replied. “If you did your jobs right, we wouldn’t have to step in. If you don’t like it, then hurry up and do it yourselves. It’s not our fault that you guys are slacking.” Vixia squeezed my hand. She hated confrontation but knew that I’d hold my ground.

“Now hold on just a—”

“Let’s go.” I squeezed Vixia’s hand three times and she nodded, doing the same back. We went on our way, stepping off the sidewalk to go around them. I could feel their glares like daggers on my back, but I ignored it. I got that a lot because of the way I looked, especially my ears, so I was used to it by then, but there was more to their anger than I realized.

The rest of our day wasn’t very significant; at least, not until dinnertime. Vixia and I made it back home a few hours after we left and we stopped for groceries along the way. We spent most of the day relaxing, especially since we hadn’t completely recovered from the fight the day prior. That evening, I changed the bandages on my leg and made dinner. Vixia and I were both sitting at the table, getting ready to eat when there was a knock at the door.

“I’ll go get it,” I volunteered, setting my fork down on my plate. “You stay and eat.” Vixia nodded quietly and shoveled some rice into her mouth. I turned and headed for our front door, which was just down the hall. When I opened it, I saw a man waiting on our doorstep in a blue and white uniform, holding a letter in his hands.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Is this the residence of Ketsuna and Vixia Wynstar?”

“Yes, this is. Who are you?”

“I am a messenger sent by her majesty, Queen Evelyn, to bring you this message.” He held out the envelope to me, which I took hesitantly. “Everything you need to know is inside of that. I will be taking my leave now.” He bowed, turned around, and left as quickly as he came. I looked at the envelope in my hand, raising an eyebrow at it as I closed the door.

“Who was that?” Vixia asked as I reentered the kitchen.

“Apparently it’s from the queen.” Vixia’s eyes widened and for a second I thought that she was going to choke on her food.

“Wait, are we in trouble?”

“I think she would have sent someone to arrest us if we were, not a letter.”

“Good point. What does it say?”

I opened the letter and began to read it to Vixia. She got up and came over to see it for herself as I read.

Dear Ketsuna and Vixia Wynstar,

I have heard much about you from my soldiers, guards, peers, and the numerous citizens of Zaledrid. On behalf of everyone, thank you. The people of this land have come to respect your combat skills and what you stand for after your recent victories against the dragons that have been plaguing our fair land. I have even found myself taking an interest as well. As of this time, I have one simple request.
I would like to meet you both at my palace tomorrow morning. We will discuss more then. I look forward to making your acquaintance.

With warm regards,
Queen Evelyn

“Huh, well her sentiment is much different from the dragon-slayers from her guild,” I pointed out.

“That’s what I was thinking.” I looked over at Vixia, who was now leaning over my shoulder. “What should we do?”

“Well, if the queen summons you, you show up.” Vixia sighed.

“I’ll wash the dishes since you cooked and then I’ll pray to Zelora for our protection tomorrow. Go get some rest, I’ll be in bed soon.” I left the letter on the table and did as Vixia instructed. Even when I was laying in bed, waiting for her, my mind began to wander.

What could the queen possibly want with us?