The Rise of The Dragon Queen- Chapter 7

Vixia and I rushed out of our room just in time to see the whole guildhall begin to panic. The lights that hung from the ceiling were swaying as the walls trembled. Some of the guild members were hiding under tables, others were rushing for the exit. Yelling and screaming filled the air. Vixia and I dashed for the stairs and I slid down the banister, trying to get to the ground floor as quickly as possible. As soon as I made it there, I realized that the dragon wasn’t inside the building.

The rumbling intensified as dirt and dust fell down from the ceiling in small trails. It seemed to follow a specific line, ending directly over my head.

“It’s on the roof,” I said to Vixia as she ran over to me.

“So, we have to go outside.”

I looked toward the front doors but found that it was crowded. Nesryn was standing in front of them, blocking the exit.

“If you run out there now, you’ll get yourselves killed!” she screamed at the crowd. “Grab your weapons before you do anything stupid!”

Vixia and I had already grabbed our weapons on the way out, but I knew that there was no way that we were getting through that door. I then noticed that Vixia was looking at one of the large windows nearby.

“Are you thinking what I am?”

“Mhmm,” Vixia responded, grabbing her staff and holding it out in front of her.

Oh, great Goddess, we are in a dire strait

I fear we have no time left to wait

Please help me disperse this glass

So that through it, we may pass

The glass of the window shattered as if on command, catching the attention of a few people, including Nesryn.

“Wait, you two—”

We didn’t wait to listen to what she had to say. I jumped out of the window and Vixia followed quickly behind me. Once we were outside, I realized that there wasn’t a flame in sight.

“Must be fireless,” I concluded. “Vixia, is there any way for you to get me on top of the roof?”

She was staring at the top of the building. From the ground, we could only see the dragon’s wings.

“I have an idea, but it’s too risky.”

“Well, we don’t have time to think of a better one. It’ll cave the roof in if we don’t handle this now.”

“I know, I know!” Vixia snapped at me. “Just give me a second! I don’t want to put you up there because it’s curved. One wrong step and you’ll fall off.”

“And you can’t incinerate it like the last one because—”

“Everyone inside will burn up with it,” Vixia finished, gripping her staff. Puff, who was still on her shoulder, nuzzled her.

“Maybe if we had something to catch us,” a voice from behind us suggested, “it wouldn’t be so risky.” We looked back to see Darius approaching us, having also jumped through the window. There was a large battle axe strapped to his back this time.

“Darius, what are you doing out here?” I asked.

“What, you think I was going to leave all of this to you two? I am a member of the Ironscale Hunters, after all.”

“Right, but now we need to focus,” Vixia interrupted. “How can we set up something to make this safe?”

That was when Puff jumped off of her shoulder. He scampered across the grass, heading toward the building.

“Puff, where are you going?”

He stopped and looked back at us. For a moment, I could have sworn that he had smiled. He flexed his muscles in a weird way and his whole body began to grow. The three of us stared in awe as he expanded to about the size of a carriage. He then flapped his wings and began to lift off the ground a little.

So he can change his size at will? I didn’t know dragons could do that!

“Well, there’s our catcher,” Darius said. “Vixia, send us up.”

It only took a few minutes for us to begin our plan. Vixia used a spell to float both of us up to the top of the building and Puff flew around behind us in case we fell. Vixia came up herself using the same spell and we stood together on one of the stone support beams. I clutched my shirt as I got an intense pain in my chest when I stared at the dragon.

As I had noticed before, it was fireless. Its body was covered in dark blue scales and its eyes were pitch-black like the others before Puff. Its wings were outstretched to maintain its balance on the top of the dome with its claws digging into it for extra support. It waved its tail menacingly as it turned toward us, almost as if it were giving us some sort of warning. It let out an ear-piercing cry and our plan was set into action.

My pulse thudded against my temples as I rushed forward with my sword ready and Darius did the same with his axe. We made sure to attack from either side of the dome in hopes that it couldn’t block both of us and maintain its balance at the same time. Vixia covered the front-and-center area and slammed the bottom of her staff down into the material that made up the dome. She shouted a quick incantation and a trail of ice shards rushed ahead of her, jutting upward from the roof. The ice hit the dragon first, stabbing at its underbelly and chest as Darius and I went in for its legs.


I jabbed my blade into the dragon’s foot, which caused it to scream as Darius hacked at its shin. It kicked him off of the side of the building in one swift motion. Puff caught him just as quickly and returned him to where Vixia was standing as I removed my blade from the monster’s foot. I slashed at its leg and realized that ice was working its way upward from the roof, capturing the dragon’s feet and tail. Vixia had now frozen it to the dome.

I ducked down as it flapped its wings furiously and screamed.

“Now’s our chance!” Vixia and Darius both rushed toward the dragon, weapons ready. Puff flew overhead, his throat puffing outward as wisps of flames emerged from his mouth. He let them go as soon as Vixia finished her ice incantation again.

I jumped back just in time for both attacks to hit the dragon. It screamed out in pain and I made brief eye contact with Darius. There was a look of determination on his face and sweat was running down from his brow.

He must be thinking the same thing as me. We nodded to each other and turned our attention back to the aftermath of the devastating attack that Vixia and Puff had landed. Smoke—or was it steam?—clouded the area and made it hard to see anything other than the tips of the flames and cinders floating through the air. After the flames ceased, the dragon became more visible. At this point, it was writhing in pain, but it was also free from the hold that the first ice attack had on it. Darius and I both rushed in, screaming in both fear and anger.

Darius chopped its neck while I stabbed into its belly. The dragon’s cries finally stopped as its head dropped, detached from the rest of its body. It rolled off the edge of the roof, plummeting to the ground near the guildhall’s front door as its former body slumped and collapsed . . . right on top of me.

“Ketsuna!” I could barely hear Vixia’s muffled voice as I tried my best to scooch out from under tremendous weight over me. I could barely move at all and my chest and lungs began to ache. I reached out my arm as far as I could. I couldn’t see anything from under the dragon’s body, but I felt someone grab onto my wrist. Then another set of hands did the same, just a little further up my arm, and then they pulled. I was slowly dragged out from under the monster’s corpse and coughed as soon as I was able to breathe in again. Darius and Vixia let go of my arm and Puff let go of the back of Dariu’s shirt. They all dropped down on the roof to sit, breathing heavily. Vixia reached out to touch my face.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“I think so,” I managed to say between heavy breaths. Vixia pulled her hand away as I rolled onto my back. That was when we both noticed that her entire palm was covered in dragon blood. Her face wrinkled in disgust.

“Ew.” She wiped her hand on her shirt and we both laughed.

Puff helped us down from the top of the building and shrunk back down to his usual size before anyone had a chance to see him. The front doors burst open and most of the guild rushed out, finding us standing there. They all froze, dumbfounded. I noticed that Nesryn, who was at the front of the crowd, was staring at me in horror.

“Are you okay?’ she asked.

“Oh, yeah,” I replied with a smile. “This blood isn’t mine.” I looked over to see where the dragon’s head had landed on the ground. Everyone watched as I walked over to it and picked it up, then wandered back over to Darius and Vixia. “It’s his,” I said, holding the head up. The crowd began to cheer and most of them headed back inside as Nesryn stepped closer to us.

“You three managed to slay it yourselves?”

“Four,” Darius insisted. “You forgot Puff.”

Puff, who was now on Vixia’s shoulder, beamed. The guild master looked at him and nodded.

“Right . . .”

“Um, Nesryn, I have a request,” Vixia spoke up.

“What is it?”

“Well, as you can see, Ketsuna and I are highly capable of handling ourselves.”

“Yes, her majesty the queen made that very clear.”

“Basically,” I interrupted, “what Vixia is trying to say is, can we please be put on something other than chore duty? Can we take on actual quests inside of being stuck at the guildhall? It’s a waste of our skills.”

“I wasn’t going to go that far,” Vixia mumbled under her breath. Nesryn seemed to consider my words for a moment, crossing her arms and holding the end of her chin as she thought.

“Fine, I will allow it. Let me speak to Queen Evelyn and see what can be done.”

“Really?” She nodded.

“But parties in this guild travel in groups of three. I’m sorry, but Puff doesn’t count. You’ll need another member to come along with you.”

Vixia and I both turned to look at Darius.

“Wait, what?” Darius wondered aloud.

“Darius, come with us!” Vixia cheered, hugging his arm. “We can go on so many adventures and it’ll give you a chance to get away from the kitchen.” Darius shifted his weight away from her, but she kept her hold on his arm. He scratched the back of his head with his free hand.

“I guess you’re right. I do kinda miss getting out there like I used to . . .”

“Then it’s decided,” Nesryn said at last. “You three are your own party and you’ll begin with your regular quests tomorrow. Now I have to go through the members and assign chore duty to someone else.” She turned and went to go back inside, but once she made it to the door she stopped for a moment and looked at us from over her shoulder. “Don’t let me down.”

Vixia and I nodded and she left.

That night, Vixia and I began getting our stuff together to leave the guildhall. We had already made a plan to meet up with Darius in the morning since we would be assigned to a quest together. I had most of my stuff packed already and Vixia was collecting the last pieces of her mini altar when she asked a question.

“Should we stop by the house before we leave? There’s a couple of things that I forgot there that might be handy.”

“Sure.” There was a knock at the door. “I’ll get that.”

“Okay.” I headed for the door and opened it. At first, I didn’t see anyone, but as soon as I stepped out into the hall, I saw Sparrow waiting for me. I sighed and closed the door behind me.

“What do you want?”

“I am not going to lose to you.”


“I am not going to lose to you,” he repeated. “You may have the others fooled, but you’re not invincible. There’s something odd about you, and I swear that I will figure it out. And then I’ll make you regret ever coming around this guild.”

“Do you seriously still think that I actually wanted to join this guild? I came here for my own reasons and none of it has to do with you.” I turned to head back into my room. I opened the door as he began to speak again.

“I swear that I’ll beat you! Wait, I’m not done—” I slammed the door in his face.

The Rise of The Dragon Queen- Chapter 6

Later that night, the rest of the girls at the orphanage and I clambered into the bunk beds that filled the large room that we all shared. I climbed on top of my bunk, which was at the back of the room by the windows, and was about to get under the covers when Ms. Emery walked into the room. We all stopped what we were doing and stared, everyone noticing that the new girl was following her. They headed all the way to the end of the room and stopped at my bunk bed.

“Ketsuna, this is Vixia,” Ms. Emery explained. “She’ll be taking the bottom bunk of your bed for the time being.”

“Okay,” I replied quietly.

“Why don’t you come down and say hello?” I hesitated for a moment, but then I climbed back down and held out my hand to the girl. This was the first time that I noticed her yellow eyes. “Hi, my name is Ketsuna.”

She took my hand and shook it. “I’m Vixia,” she chimed. “Glad to meet—”

“Good,” Ms. Emery interjected. “Ketsuna, be on your best behavior. Everyone, it’s time for lights-out! I don’t want to hear so much as a peep from any of you.”

“Yes ma’am!”

Vixia crawled into the covers of the lower bunk as I climbed back up onto the top one. Ms. Emery left the room, flicking the light off on the way out and closing the door behind her. I peered over the edge of the railing as soon as she was gone, and Vixia must have had the same idea as me because I was met with the sight of her glowing eyes.

“I thought she said that this place was at max capacity.”

“She did but that doesn’t make it true. She just doesn’t want any more kids here.” Vixia nodded in understanding and smiled.

“Sorry if my eyes are creepy,” she whispered. “They make it to where I can see really well in the dark.”

I beamed back at her.

“That’s so cool.”

That was the exact moment where our friendship began.

About a month passed and so did the pouring rain and winter weather that kept us confined to the inside of the orphanage. When nicer weather came, we were allowed to play outside in the courtyard. Some of the kids would garden with the other caretakers or run around playing tag, but not Vixia and me. On that day, we were sitting under a tree at the far end of the courtyard, taking in the spring sunlight as we skimmed through my dragon book.

“Isn’t that the book that Ms. Emery took away?” she asked. I nodded, flipping to the next page.

“Yeah, she usually does that. I sneak it back when she’s not looking, though.” I continued to flip through the pages as Vixia looked down at her lap, silent. After a moment, she spoke again.

“Did you have a family?” she asked. I stopped skimming and stared at one of my favorite illustrations in the whole book, which depicted an enormous red dragon.

“Did you?”

“Yeah. They left me in the forest.”

“I’ve never had a family.”

“Really? Then, have you been here your whole life?”


“Then what happened before—”

“Look at this!” I interrupted, holding up my book. “Isn’t this picture cool?” I showed her the picture I was staring at, the one with the red dragon. However, my moment of excitement was short-lived.

“Ketsuna, what do you have there?” Ms. Emery shouted. I jumped, startled, and we both looked up to see her storming toward us.

“Crap!” I got up to run but Ms. Emery had already made it to us. She snatched the book out of my hands again and she was practically fuming.

“This again? You’re such a bad influence! Both of you, inside, now!”

Vixia and I looked down at the ground for the walk back to the house, but when Ms. Emery wasn’t looking, Vixia grabbed my hand and held it.

I laid in bed that night, staring at the ceiling above me as I contemplated everything. I wondered about why I was still there at the orphanage, when I would be adopted, if I would ever be adopted. But most of all, I wondered what it would be like to leave.

I wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore. I could explore and do my own thing. No one could stop me.

I sat up and looked out the window. The moon was high in the sky, its light shining on the trees. The shadows of their leaves and branches were cast on the window’s glass and stretched across the floor. Everything else was dyed in an iridescent blue. I was admiring the color when I made up my mind. I climbed out of bed and began to get dressed as quietly as I possibly could. I had picked up my boots when Vixia sat up and looked at me, her eyes glowing against the shadows of the room.

“What are you doing?” she whispered.


“Where are you going?”

She tilted her head while she continued to stare at me. I shrugged and began to head for the door, careful not to wake up any of the others.

“Wait.” I stopped and turned around to look at Vixia. She had her arm and hand outstretched toward me, but she hadn’t gotten out of bed. “Let me get dressed. Take me with you.”

“Are you sure?” I asked. She nodded.

“Okay.” I walked back over to her and she got dressed as quickly as she could. “Don’t put on your shoes,” I instructed. “They’ll be too loud inside the house.” She nodded again and picked them up, carrying them like I did with mine. We left the room and headed for the kitchen. I grabbed a sack that was sitting in the corner of the room and started to fill it with food.

“Wait, isn’t that stealing?”

“What else are we supposed to eat? Twigs?” Vixia shrugged and I continued to fill the bag. We then headed into the common room, where Ms. Emery put my book. I handed Vixia the sack and went to grab a chair. I carried it over to the bookcase and climbed on top of it.

“Please be careful.” I didn’t say anything back. I stood almost on the tips of my toes to peer over the top of the book case. I could barely spot the spine of my book against the darkness of the room but I could tell that Ms. Emery had made an effort to push it back further than usual. I stretched a little further and the chair shifted under me.

“Ketsuna, look out!” Vixia rushed over and grabbed the chair just before it could tip over. She steadied it while I regained my footing. I looked at her from over my shoulder.

“Hold it still. I’ve almost got it.” She nodded and did as I told her. I reached again and just barely touched the book’s cover with my fingertips. I managed to drag it close enough to grab and held it to my chest. I got off the chair and added the book to the sack that Vixia left on the floor.

“Should we put the chair back?”

“No,” I replied. “Let’s just go.”


We headed for the front door and I carefully turned the knob. There was no sound until we opened it. The hinges let out a high-pitched creak as I slowly pulled the door open. Vixia and I both listened for a moment to see if anyone had woken up, but after a moment of silence, we crept outside. I closed the door behind us as quietly as I could. Now we were walking across the courtyard, heading toward the forest.

“Are you sure you wanna come?” I asked. “As soon as we cross the gate, there’s no turning back.”

Vixia stared at me for a moment, her hair shining in the moonlight. She nodded firmly as she took my hand and squeezed it tightly. We finished walking across the courtyard and exited through the front gate. Then, we slipped off into the forest, veiled by the darkness of the night.

. . . Ketsuna. Hey, Ketsuna.

I could feel someone shaking me and I opened my eyes, the world around me coming into focus. I was still in my room at the guildhall, laying on my back in bed. Vixia was looking down at me with Puff perched on her shoulder as I groggily rubbed my eyes. I sat up and yawned.

“Did I fall asleep?”

“I think so.”

“What time is it?”

“About 6 o’clock. Most of the guild is back now and Darius and I just finished making dinner.”

“All right. Let’s go eat.”

I stood up from bed and we were about to walk out into the hallway when I heard a low rumbling sound. Then everything began to shake. My chest tightened.

“It’s a dragon!”

The Rise of The Dragon Queen- Chapter 5

“Three, two, one, go!”

I immediately spun around and rushed for Sparrow just as he began to turn to face me. I clenched my teeth as I went to slash at him, but he managed to jump out of the way in the nick of time. He barely managed to maintain his balance after that. When he had stable footing again, he swiped at me and my heart skipped a beat. I blocked it with my own weapon and his blade glanced off of mine before I took a step back. He went to launch another attack, this time jabbing at my chest, but I turned sideways and easily avoided it.

“Don’t get sloppy,” I warned. “You aren’t even paying attention to what you’re doing.”

I jumped back to gain some distance and then dashed forward again, gripping my hilt as tightly as I could with my right hand. I let out a roar as I rushed him and swiped at his side. I landed the hit, which caught him off guard. When he tried to get back at me, I planted my foot in his stomach and shoved him backward. He let go of his sword and hit the ground with a loud thud. I stood over him, the tip of my blade pointed at his face as I kept the sole of my boot pressed against the center of his chest.

“Ketsuna is the winner!” Nesryn declared, and Vixia and Darius began to cheer. The others clapped, but I could tell that a majority of the guild was still against me. I returned my blade to the sheath that rested on my back and stepped back to remove my foot from Sparrow’s chest. He glared at me as he coughed and propped himself up on his elbows. I bent over and held out my hand in an offering to help him up, but his glare just intensified and he began to get up by himself. I straightened out again and turned just in time for Vixia to collide with me.

She immediately pulled me into a hug. Puff, who was hiding in Vixia’s hair, trilled with excitement.

“You did great, Ketsuna!”

“Thanks.” But I looked away from her when I heard some of Sparrow’s party talking.

“I can’t believe you got your ass kicked by an elf,” one of them said with a laugh.

“Yeah, and so quickly too!” the other added.

“Shut up!” Sparrow snapped. He looked over his shoulder to glare at me and I shrugged. I looked back toward Vixia again, seeing that Darius had also wandered over to us.

“Why don’t you go get some rest?” he offered. “Vixia and I can handle making dinner and we’ll get you when it’s done.”

“Okay, I guess I will.” I stepped closer to Vixia and hugged her again. I smiled and looked at the tiny dragon, who was still hiding in her hair. “Puff, you wanna come with me?” I whispered.

The tiny dragon scrambled from Vixia’s shoulder to mine and I laughed as he crawled into my shirt. I let Vixia go after he was out of sight.

“All right, I’ll see you guys later then.” I went to head inside and I could feel Sparrow’s eyes on me the whole time.

When I went upstairs, the first thing that I did was grab one of the books that I had brought with me. The next thing that I did was flop onto the bed, right after Puff had chosen his own spot on Vixia’s pillow. While I did have an easy time beating Sparrow, I was still a little tired, especially because it had been the first time I was in combat for nearly a week. I was beginning to read my book when Vixia came in. She crept into the room and closed the door quietly behind her. I looked over to see her smiling at me.

“Hey, you did great out there.”

“Thanks, but it wasn’t much,” I replied. “Hopefully he won’t be giving us as much trouble anymore.”

Vixia walked up and leaned over me to kiss me. After she pulled away, she stared at me for a moment.

“We’ll get through this, okay?” I took a deep breath in and let out a sigh.


“I’m going to chat with Zelora real quick. Is that all right?”

“You do whatever you need to. Tell her I said hi.” Vixia’s smile widened, showing her sharp canine teeth in a way that was surprisingly comforting. She walked over to her altar in the corner of the room and sat down on the floor, the lower part of her legs folded underneath her. I watched her for a moment as she closed her eyes, relaxed her shoulders, and bowed her head. I closed my book and set it aside. I began to remember the day that I first met Vixia.

When I saw Vixia for the first time, I lived in an orphanage at the edge of Zaledrid. I was in the common room, sitting by the fireplace with a book, when there was a knock at the door. Ms. Emery, the lady that ran the orphanage, went to answer it as the rest of the children and I watched in awe. We never got visitors, so a knock on the door usually meant that either someone was getting a new home or there was another child moving in.

The door creaked open and the sound of pouring rain filled the room. On the front steps were what appeared to be two royal guards. Between them was a small girl who had her gaze downcast while she gripped the hem of her dress. She had long, silver hair and this was before she had grown into her oversized ears and tail. She was wearing a cloak, but the rest of her clothes were not meant for the harsh weather outside.

“I’m sorry, but we do not have enough room,” Ms. Emery began. “We’ve been at max capacity for a while now and we’re really trying to focus on giving loving homes to the children that are already here.”

One of the guards opened their mouth to speak, but they were interrupted by Vixia.

“Is there anywhere else that I can go?” she asked. Silence followed as her words hung in the air. No one could give her an answer, and she knew it. “I promise I won’t be a problem,” she whimpered, lifting her head to look up at Ms. Emery. Tears were welling up in her eyes and a brief thought crossed my mind.

Why would anyone be so desperate to stay here?

That was when Ms. Emery took her hand and gently led her into the room. I recall thinking that Ms. Emery was never that gentle with me.

“Thank you,” she said to the guards. They nodded and she closed the door. When she turned around, she noticed all of our eyes on her and Vixia. She looked back down at the young girl.

“What is your name?”


“Vixia, go in there for a minute,” Ms. Emery instructed, pointing toward the kitchen. The silver-haired girl did as she was told and Ms. Emery looked back at the rest of us. Her dark hair was up in a messy bun and time had carved wrinkles into her face. They were even more apparent when she scowled at us.

“It’s chore time. Get up and clean somethin’!”

“Yes ma’am,” we all shouted in a panic, stumbling to our feet. I had closed my book and was trying to tuck it away under the nearest bookshelf when Ms. Emery spotted it.

“Ketsuna!” I jumped and my heart dropped into my stomach. I turned around to look at her.

“Yes, Ms. Emery?”

“What are you hiding there?”

I felt my hands begin to tremble as she stomped over to me. She snatched the book away from me and, as soon as she looked at the cover, I knew I was in trouble.

“Dragons? Again?” There was an exasperated tone in her voice. She glared at me. “You know these things are monsters, right? They kill people.” She walked across the room and put the book up on a high shelf, one that I couldn’t reach without standing on a chair. “Get to cleaning,” she demanded. When she walked away, my eyes passed by the doorway to the kitchen. Vixia was standing there, watching me.

I looked away from her and went to go find a broom.

The Rise of The Dragon Queen-Chapter 4

The next morning came and Vixia and I were shunned once again. We made our way over to our table and sat down with our breakfast, like usual. The tiny dragon was perched on my shoulder, hidden by my long hair. He quickly scrambled down my arm to sit on the tabletop instead. He stared at our food, unblinking.

“Do you think that maybe the little guy is hungry?” Vixia asked.

“Probably.” I was about to tear off a scrap of meat to give to him when Darius walked up to us.

“Here, I brought this for the tiny one.” It was almost as if he had read our minds. He put a small dish of meat down in front of the little dragon as he took his seat. The tiny creature immediately began to gobble down his breakfast, acting as though he was starving.

“How did you know that we had him?” I asked. Darius chuckled as he took his seat across from me.

“I saw his scales poking through your hair. Hide him better next time.”

“Oh, right.” I looked back at the tiny dragon. “I wonder if he came in last night because he could smell the food.” I watched him scarf down a scrap of meat and lick around his mouth with his long tongue. Darius nodded as he took a bite of his own breakfast.

“Probably.” We continued eating, but we didn’t have enough time to finish before Nesryn showed up, giving everyone their duties for the day.

Vixia and I listened carefully, and while our expectations were low, hearing “chore duty” after our names was not what we were hoping for. The rest of the guild got up and left to get ready for their quests, just like the day before, while Darius, Vixia, the little dragon, and I continued eating at our table. After she was done giving everyone their assignments, Nesryn walked up to us.

“You two are on chore duty again today, but I have a special request.”

“What is it?” Vixia asked.

The guild master pointed at the tiny dragon.

“Find out how he got in and seal it up. That’s all. If you need anything, I’ll be in my study.” And with that, she left. We finished our breakfasts and got to work.

I helped Darius with cleaning dishes and tending to the kitchen while Vixia looked everywhere for any sort of crevice that the tiny dragon could have squeezed through. I was taking a break when she finally left the kitchen, letting out a defeated sigh.

“How did you get in here, little guy?” she asked, crossing her arms and looking in my direction. The little dragon, who was sitting in front of me on the table, turned to look at her but did nothing else.

“When he first showed up last night, it looked like he may have gotten in through the window,” Darius began, stepping out of the kitchen behind Vixia, “but I closed it as soon as I was done cooking. There’s no way that he got in from over there.”

Vixia groaned and the tiny dragon tilted his head at her. Darius turned and walked back into the kitchen, letting out a sigh. My eyes wandered back to the dragon and an idea popped up in my mind.

“Maybe we should give him a name,” I suggested.

“Hmm . . .” Vixia rested her chin against her knuckles, leaning against the doorway. The tiny dragon blinked. “I have no clue. Do you have any ideas?”

I shook my head.

“Hey, Vixia, could you help me real—” Darius’ voice was interrupted by the loud clang of a metal pot hitting the floor. The dragon in front of me jumped and his throat puffed up. He stretched out his wings in what I assumed was an attempt to make himself look bigger. Vixia rushed into the kitchen to help Darius and the tiny creature slowly calmed down, huffing a little and transitioning back to what he looked like before he was startled.

“Puff,” I said quietly.

“What?” Vixia wondered aloud, poking her head out of the doorway.

“His name should be Puff.” My wife shrugged at my suggestion and returned to the kitchen. The tiny dragon, Puff, scuttled across the table and leaped off the edge. He quickly headed into the kitchen after her.

“Wait, where are you going?” I asked as I got up and followed.

When I entered the kitchen, Vixia and Darius were pulling out ingredients for that night’s dinner. Puff had already made it halfway across the room and quickly slipped out of my sight.

“Puff?” Vixia and Darius both watched me as I walked toward where I last saw the small creature. He was nowhere to be found since he had headed toward a dead-end.

“Did you lose him?” Vixia asked.

“I guess so.”

“Puff!” she called.

We heard a quiet chirp and I spotted him pulling himself out of a small crack in between the stones in the wall. He scampered over to Vixia and stared at her, blinking a few times.

“That’s how you got in!”

Darius chuckled from behind us as he pulled a full bag out of the trash can. “I’ll go ahead and seal that up for you guys,” he offered. “Ketsuna, can you take this out, please? The dumpster is outside at the western side of the building.”

“Yeah, I can do that.” I walked over and took the bag from him and left the kitchen.

I walked outside, trash bag in hand, and started heading toward the dumpster. The sky was a bright blue color since it was past noon on a clear day. I was almost to the dumpster when I heard a familiar voice. I stopped and crept around the side of the guildhall. When I peered around the corner, I saw Sparrow and his party mates standing around, chatting and laughing.

What the hell are they doing here? It’s not even lunch yet.

“Hey!” All three of them jumped as I headed over to them, eyes narrowed. “What are you doing? Aren’t you supposed to be helping keep watch for more dragons right now?”

“We’re just taking a break,” Sparrow groaned. “Besides, aren’t you supposed to be inside playing maid or something?”

I dropped the trash bag in my hand and started storming closer.

“Look, I’ve been doing the best that I can with the job that I’ve been given, but that’s something that you could hardly say. You guys are lazy at best and negligent at worst.”

“Who are you calling lazy?” Sparrow snarled, staring me down.

“That’s enough!” Sparrow and his buddies were suddenly looking past me and I turned around to see Nesryn walking over to us, her eyebrows furrowed. “Sparrow, what are you guys doing here? You’re supposed to be halfway across the city right now.”

“Um . . .” Sparrow struggled for an answer, but couldn’t find one. He looked over to his friends, who just shrugged. I could tell he was panicking. “I wanted to challenge Ketsuna to a duel!” I raised an eyebrow at him.

Oh boy, you just screwed yourself over.

“A duel? Like practice sparring?” Sparrow nodded and Nesryn continued with, “Why didn’t you bring it up ahead of time?”

“I didn’t know how to submit the information to you,” Sparrow lied, glancing over at me. I kept my eyebrow raised while I stared at him. He took note and looked back at Nesryn.

“You know, I should reprimand you for this,” Nesryn growled. Sparrow appeared to cower for a moment. “But I’ll allow it,” the guild master finished. “A duel would be fun to watch and it would be great practice for you to spar against one of our best dragon-slayers anyway.” She then turned to me. “Ketsuna, would you be up for it?”

“Sure,” I answered with a smile.

I went and got my armor and weapon and the other remaining guild members came outside to watch, including Vixia and Darius. We relocated to a sparring area behind the guildhall, which was just a large patch of dirt with some white markings on the ground, and suited up in our gear. His armor appeared to be blunkier than mine and he was wielding a two-handed sword with a broader blade than mine.

I have the advantage here.

Nesryn stood before the crowd as Sparrow and I stood on opposite sides of the battlefield, facing away from each other. I wasn’t really listening to her until she began to list the rules.

“No brutal injuries, no attacking private areas of the body, no lethal force. When I say go, both opponents will turn around and the duel will begin immediately. May both opponents have the best of luck.”

This is way different from a dragon fight, I thought to myself as the guild master began counting down.

But I knew that I wouldn’t lose.

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?