A long man stood in the throne room, two great red onyx pillars held the domed ceiling from where they were either side of the great symbol. The ceiling had been painted centuries ago when the great dragons still roamed the world, huge winged beasts capable of reducing a castle to ash in seconds.
Eyes the colour of a new moon night's shadows flicked over the details of the throne, delicate gold filigree made up the outer edging of the decoration. Rose stems and their thorns were entangled endlessly, each and every one ended with a rose, whether it was a bud or in full bloom. With most of them being the size of a large man's fist, the solid gold flowers would be worth a fortune, you would only need one to be set for a lifetime.
The thorny stems reached into the main part of the throne as well, the leaves grew in size until their layering reached the seat and the back sections. This allowed the throne to be surprisingly comfortable, shaped gold beneath a royal rear.
"Wouldn't do if it was a royal pain the arse" the man murmured to no one in particular, he sniggered at his own immature joke. The filigree also spread to the pillars beside it, the pattern was continued entwining in layered gold up to the ceiling where it spread as paint across the battle scene. Thorny vines wrapped their way around the great dragons, telling the story of their eventual downfall and finally their extinction.
The man looked down at the square obsidian tiles on the floor, each one was outlined with gold and set with a red onyx rose. The floor wasn't dark even with the volcanic glass used, with the massive windows high on the walls to his left as the man faced the throne, the tiles seemed to glow. The light from torches at night and sunlight in the day revealed the sparkles in the stone, each tile glittered like its own night sky. The walls were red onyx the same as the pillars, designed to be an example of the many who died during the wars, their blood was mean to be in those walls.
The blood, sweat and tears of hundreds of artists and stone masons should have been in this hall. But that was the thing with magic, things tended to get done much faster, they also managed to last much longer, the art didn't show any sign of its great age. The man eyed his reflection the the obsidian floor and raised an eyebrow, his hair was a mess again, it came just over his ears, he ran his fingers through the locks. His jawline and dimpled chin had a few days of scruff visible, his father would be quick to complain.
The man acted as if he hadn't heard the door's soft click behind him, the fey of old certainly knew how to make a lock, his brother didn't know how to enter silently however.
The man ignored the stranger's presence, continuing to act as if he didn't know anyone was there and walked up to the throne. He bent forward to examine the 'grown' gold filigree as he walked up the four steps on which the throne rose. It was only from the throne someone could see out of the windows clearly, he turned to look out at the city from where he stood. "Do you feel the throne suits you, Brother?" The man who had just entered now stood where his younger sibling had stood in the centre of the room. "You know I stand here only to vex you, Gregor, fear not, you are still their heir" locks of dark hair fell loose as the dark eyed prince turned to look at his older sibling. Gregory's eyes were a cold blue, their father's eyes, his hair was only a shade lighter than his younger sibling's. "Alistair" Gregor said his brother's name with something nearing contempt, "father will not be pleased with your appearance" Alistair stepped down and walked up to his brother, smile played on his lips. Younger or not Alistair was the same height as Gregor even though six years separated them.
"Our dear King will not have to bare for long, I don't intend to stay long" Alistair moved to pass his brother, "I only want to pick up a few things-" he was topped by the hand on his shoulder. "I need you to stay, just this night at least...I have something to ask of you."
There was something in his voice, Alistair turned and looked at his brother with his short cut hair and stiff stance, his expression was one he rarely saw, Gregor's face looked...pained? "What happened?" The younger sibling asked, intrigued more than worried, nearly nothing could faze his brother. "A woman" as these two words left Gregor's mouth, Alistair burst out with laughter, "you?!" He back off incase the heir to their kingdom chose to slap his insolent younger brother. "Gregor, you are the bane of the girls in the north quarter!" Alistair continued to laugh but Gregor only frowned deeper. He told the truth however, many a young woman had opened her legs to the heir of the kingdom, such was how nobility could be born and claim power.
Thankfully, Gregor hadn't fathered any bastards yet, Alistair simply kept to the pretty whores of the west quarter, most of them couldn't bare children anyway. "She isn't like that, I want you to meet her" Gregor spoke quietly, embarrassed, Alistair gaped at his brother. Gregor couldn't help a small smile at having stunned his brother, "where?" Alistair asked, "where grandfather died." The younger prince raised his eyebrows at this answer, but nodded and walked away, he made a point of not letting the door click as he left.
Alistair made his way through the back ways of castle, he didn't want to run into his father in the way too his room. Which made it unfortunate that the King was actually in his room. "Alistair" the ageing man said his name simply, he knew what to expect when he turned around, a young prince looking like a low born scout, all he was missing were his weapons. Alistair was caught half way in the door, surprise printed on his face, just a tiny bit of 'damn, should have known' in his eyes. "I won't be long-" "neither will I" the King said interrupting his son, his motion said otherwise as he took a seat before the fireplace. His sigh said it all, he had seen the bow, arrows and knives set on the bed, he knew what the prince planned. "You are going to be gone for some time" Alistair gave a noncommittal shrug in answer, but his father hadn't been asking.
"I was like you...a long time ago..." The young prince rolled his eyes, now he really knew what was coming, "I didn't want the throne- Alistair, sit down." The prince sat like a spanked child ordered...well...by their father. "I had two older brothers to be King before me, war took them and in payment I got the throne, now I have two sons, but the price was your mother." He talked as if he was decades older than his years, Alistair didn't want to listen, but he couldn't help looking at his father and taking in each word.
They all missed the Queen, hair the colour of midnight, that was all Alistair could remember of her. The King always stated how the paintings never captured her beauty, Alistair had never been able to see anything but a blank painting's eyes in each picture. As lovely as the paintings looked alone, they never did capture the warmth he remembered feeling when she would look at him. Gregor had had more time with her, the one thing Alistair was jealous of him for.
"Just be safe" the King had risen and moved for the door without Alistair noticing, the old man had made use of the prince being deep in thought. Alistair glanced at his father as he left and gave a nod, a silent promise.
As soon as it was beginning to grow dark the prince rose, he grabbed his and packed a small bag, slung of one shoulder he didn't forget his knives, bow and arrows.
The castle grounds were alive at night as much as they were in the day, similar to the throne room the garden had been created by the fey. For the kingdom now outlawing magic they certainly had done an amazing job all those centuries ago. The night was cold, the grass had a layer of early night frost covering it, the leaves of the trees were already silver and now they glowed in the moonlight.
The city was quiet as he passed through, his hooded cloak caused him to need to reveal his face to pass through the gate, but otherwise nothing hindered his journey. Alistair could see the fire his brother had made as he crossed the fields from the city to the forest, the cold night had even driven the caravans to shelter. Other than the guards at the gates, Alistair saw no one else. As he neared the edge ok the forest, Gregor stepped out, this was where their grandfather had died, so close to home, bleeding out from a bandit's well aimed arrow. "She isn't here, further on" the heir said cryptically and lead the way, the small fire had just been a marker then, why was he being so secretive?
They walked on in silence for some time before they reached a clearing, the trees had only recently been removed. Alistair noted how there were bits of bone scattered around, one large one he saw looked half buried and too large to move easily. "A dragon is buried here" he looked at his brother, eyes wide with awe, Gregor smiled and threw his brother an apple. "A big one" the older prince added as Alistair took a bite of the apple and crouched down beside the bone, it looked like it could be a thigh bone. "So where is she?" He asked in an off hand way, but he really was curious to know what woman could enchant his otherwise seemingly dead heart. He chewed and swallowed the apple, it was slightly bitter, but he wasn't about to complain, apples were his favourite, instead he put his things down and continued to examine the large bone.
"Eva?" Gregor called, Alistair stood and ran his fingers through his hair, he hid the apple behind his back as the young woman stepped out from the tree line. White blonde hair caught his attention immediately, he wasn't usually one for blonde but she was rather good looking. The woman stepped forward and up to Gregor, she looked at Alistair, unsure of him, the younger prince bowed and tried to relax as he took the last bite of his apple and threw it behind him. Alistair couldn't help but realise his stomach was beginning to cramp, he glanced at the ground as his knees started to feel weak.
He had felt this before, when he had had too much to drink, "Gregor..." He was about to say he didn't feel well when a gasp made him look up, his eyes alighted to a scene he had not expected.
The heir's sword, seven and a half feet of steel was stabbed through the young woman's stomach and up through her chest till it exited her back. Her head sagged forward as Alistair fell backwards, "what you are feeling is poison, brother" Gregor explained as he threw the woman's body down. He walked up to his called smiling and grabbed his hair, bragging him to the centre of the clearing. "You know of the war we face, yet you still galavant off into the distance and father says nothing of it" Gregor snarled, "G...Gregor..." Alistair managed to wheeze.
"Be silent" the heir hissed, "you have nothing to say, you never did have anything useful to say" he stood over his brother's still body. The only signs of life were his still moving eyes, along with his chest quickly rising and falling with his gasping breaths. "This won't take long" Gregor muttered more to himself that Alistair who felt like he was dying.
The sound that came on the wind was like many voices speaking at once, it took Alistair a few moments to realised the sound was in fact only Gregor. He was saying a spell and the dead of this ground were speaking with him, the younger prince struggled to move, to get away but the poison held him fast. Alistair lay on the forest ground and looked up into the sky, his father's words rang through his mind along side Gregor's spell, stay safe...
For a while the whispering stopped, "you may or may not believe me, but I don't have magic, Alistair, hence why I needed her" Gregor motioned to the dead girl. "She was a witch, sent here to kill me, funny, no? Instead she chose to side with me, I promised my reign would allow magic to return" Gregor snorted at how he had lied to the now dead woman. Alistair's finger twitched without the older prince seeing.
"I needed someone with magical blood for this spell, she really just turned up at a perfect time" Gregor stabbed a dagger from his belt into the corpse and opened her chest, it didn't take him long to remove the heart. The heir knelt down next to his sibling and looked at his still staring eyes, "I'm going to turn you into a weapon of war, I'm going to tell father you're dead, I'm going to rule the kingdom with you at my side." Gregor placed the fresh heart aside as he held the bloody knife in his right hand and opened Alistair's shirt. "Don't feel flattered, Brother, I need to be sure this enters your heart." Nothing the older prince was saying made sense to Alistair, though likely this was due to his mind fading in and out on consciousness as his body still tried to wake.
Clarity returned a moment later, it came with the pain as the knife rose and plunged down into Alistair's exposed chest. Pain bloomed like the roses on their father's throne, but fire spread through his veins, burning through the poison as it reached every extremity, Alistair screamed. This was not the scream of someone who had been stabbed, he didn't have the shocked silence first, this fire burned into his soul and he could feel every inch of his body light up in agony.
The knife began to glow as Gregor started another spell, Alistair didn't even notice the metal melt and seep over his skin, the blade inside of him was pushed out like blood pouring from the wound. The younger prince's back arched as something crawled out of his chest, fiery claws and burning skin, it tore at the edges of the wound. The tiny creature raised its head to the sky and let out a scream of its own, this was not one of sound however, Alistair's cries were joined in the air by a gout of flame. The gout held in the air and formed a spinning sphere, the creature became ash and disintegrated with the fire. Knew what to do next, he took a moment to look down at Alistair, the agony had lessened, the spell waiting to continue. The younger prince looked at his brother with pleading eyes, but in answer Gregor threw the heart into the fiery orb.
The sacrifice was accepted and the sphere returned to complete the spell, a waterfall of fire fell towards Alistair. Movement allowed the prince tried to escape the flames, even weakened as he was he was fast enough to roll onto his front, but not enough to crawl away. The fire fell onto his back, sending him into another fit of scream as the fire sought to make a other opening into its host. His clothes lit of fire as the curse burned through, his body was set ablaze till Gregor couldn't see him inside. The heir backed off from the heat, his left arm rose to shield his face, what he saw looked more like a fire taking form than a flesh and blood body being forced into it. Burning wings spread from a once human back, the body grew as it changed, screams were silenced, useless as they were in the situation. Though perhaps they weren't, the fire could very well have simply been too loud to allow Gregor to hear his brother's cries.
It was several minutes before the fires began to die down, as they receded it wasn't burnt human flesh beneath, instead it was jet black scales. The leg revealed first showed how much bigger this new form was to the prince's original body, as the flames receded further, Gregor's grin widened. Once the last flame winked out, the great dragon's head slumped down onto the ground, wings sagging unceremoniously as his four legs gave out from beneath him. Gregor laughed, he walked up to the dragon that had been his brother hand patted the scaled hide, "I did it..." He whispered grinning, finally he raised his arms to the air and yelled "I did it!" He sounded like a child given a new toy.
Gregor didn't expect the dragon to wake so soon, with a roar and a fit of panic to get off of the ground, the dragon broke several trees. It took a while for the beast to calm, Gregor stood his ground as he did, "Alistair" he called his brother's name, it took a moment for the dragon to react. Red eyes looked at him from dark scales, still learning to focus, Gregor thought for a moment the dragon might have been frowning. "You will follow my orders, I am the one who summoned you here!" Something flickered behind those eyes, a memory and with it a growl rose from the dragon's chest. He wasn't supposed to remember anything...Gregor's grin faded as he realised what would happen.
Alistair snapped at his brother then turned on unsure feet in an alien body and fled on foot, he didn't know how to fly, so the wings were a useless weight. They caught branches and whole trees as he passed, but he kept moving, he could hear the soldiers coming, they had heard the screams and seen the fire. He could smell their weapons and armour, he remembered what his brother said, he had heard the roar from his own throat. He knew he was the weapon his brother wanted and he could feel the tug to obey his orders at the back of his mind.
The younger prince fled as his brother met the soldiers and told them of the dragon the witch had summoned, the beast had killed his younger sibling. He didn't dare take the soldiers to fight a great dragon, not without an army and five solders were not counted as such. Gregor returned to the castle and told the King the same, no one questions him, no one knew, Alistair continued to flee in a body that was not his own.
A month later found Alistair feasting, his dark scales glittered in the light, the two cattle he had, one of which was soon to be finished, would sate him for now. He had learned to fly soon after being driven off a cliff by soldiers, he had leaped out over the sea and spread his wings, instinct had kept him in the air and allowed him to escape. Now he was at the border lands, far from home and comfort, far from anything remotely familiar. He had taken a short time to final look over himself, he had hard jet black scales over most of his body, his underbelly and throat were a dark grey. His red eyes bothered him the most, people looked on him even less kindly due to his eyes, a demon they called him even when they didn't know his brother's lies. Brother...they weren't brothers not any more...
There was no failing to recognise him for what he now was, an ancient creature of magic, though he had seen nothing of any gifts he was meant to have. Except fiery breath, the fact the cattle beside him were cooked to the bone showed how hot his own flames had already become.
Alistair looked up from his meal, the shadows his his large form, only the faint glow of his eyes had a chance of giving him away. A group of towns people passed, they were walking, but their bodies were tense, the dragon could smell fear, from what he could make out of their murmurs they were hunting something.