The first dragon set foot on Kaitstud many many summers ago. So many that it is uncountable. It was the time of myths, and the land was given into their keeping, along with the golden tree. In exchange for their vow to defend the tree, they were given the ability to shift into human form. Human attendants were brought through the portals to serve them, to aid them in their task. For if the golden tree fell then a time of darkness would fall on the land. There would be no recovery as they would be loose from the world tree and no longer able to call on its spirit.
And so the dragons formed themselves into rulers. A matriarchal line, as a side effect of their new ability to shift meant the male dragons were infertile. Each dragon queen chose a human to bond with her and further the line. Those chosen partners were known as Lordlings, taking a respected place in the human hierarchy. Though they had little further contact with the dragons, not even seeing their children except at a distance.
Each clutch of eggs brought forth one daughter and the rest formed her brother-guards. Their loyalty was beyond question, bound to her soon after birth through the flames of binding dragongrass. They were her constant companions and last line of defence.
Over generations a pattern emerged. Those that would suffer hardship and troubles in their reign, those who were destined to change the world, those whose name would live long after they’d returned to sky were blessed with two, or very rarely with three, brother-guards. Those who ruled over times of quiet and plenty had only one. It became a sign of stability for the queen to lay only two eggs.
So it was until Queen Soovi took the throne. With only one brother-guard, it was assumed her rule would be one of growth and comfort. And to start with it was. She ruled long enough to feel the desire to hatch eggs twice. While her eldest daughter, Loviise, had two brother-guards, her younger daughter, Varvaara, was blessed with only one. Soovi took that as a sign that Varvaara would live a quiet life, protected from the human world beyond their mountains, while Loviise would rule. But that wasn’t quite how it worked out.
Instead, Soovi’s brother-guard Keert turned against them. He became crazy and attacked indiscriminately. Soovi was forced to confide the secret behind their flames to the humans. Together they forced him away from the mountains, where the dragongrass grows. Without his ability to flame they managed to subdue him. But once the secret of overthrowing a dragon was shared there was no way to stop it spreading.
Soon Soovi and both of Loviise’s brother-guards were dead. Loviise, Vavaara and Mikkli, her brother-guard, hid away within their valley in the mountains. While Varvaara felt safe within the stone walls of their cave palace, it pressed on the other two. They yearned to fly free across the land, but dared not.
After a handful of summers, it was Loviise’s turn to venture beyond the mountains and find a Lordling. She hoped to choose a strong man, who would help them return to their place as rulers of the land. And the man she choose was certainly strong and interested in the dragons. At his request, she laid her eggs in a more accessible cavern on the side of the mountains. Unfortunately, her trust in him was misplaced. Instead of supporting her, he arrived soon after their eggs hatched, with a group of guards. Mikkli was there to support Loviise, and the two of them fought hard to protect the two new dragonlets. They were unsuccessful and all four were killed. The humans celebrated as they thought those were the last dragons on Kaitstud. From the chaos of the land in the absence of the dragons, the four shifter clans rose and split the land between them.
Varvaara lived quietly, forgotten by everyone, a ghost in her mountain hideaway. Only a dire need tempted her to break her isolation. That maternal drive to hatch a clutch of eggs of her own. Making her way out of the mountains, she found herself in a small village called Littledenn. There she met Rupert, and he made her feel things she’d never anticipated. It was with a broken heart she had to leave him and return to her mountain valley. But she daren’t not hatch eggs anywhere near the humans. She might cherish her time with him as long as she’d live, but she’d not risk her eggs with him.
Yet, her eggs didn’t hatch as she’d expected. Four eggs told her that this daughter would be special. And the three brother-guards hatched as beautiful blue dragonlets. But that fourth egg did not contain the girl dragonlet she’d sacrificed her safety to bring into the world. No, it contained a human baby girl. With no experience of human babies, three hungry dragonlets to care for as well, and a home in a cave, Varvaara felt unable to provide for the daughter she’d longed for.
That despair took her back to Rupert and an even bigger risk. Handing over the baby to the one other person who might be interested in her survival, Varvaara shared the secret of her identity and survival. But she had chosen better than her sister did. Rupert agreed to keep the secret and raise their daughter in the knowledge of her parentage. Which is why Birgith grew up with their father among the Bear Clan, while her three brothers spent their childhood in the valley in the mountains with their mother.
Clarissa has always lived more in the world of daydream and fiction than in reality. In her writing she explores purpose and belonging across worlds. Having never found her own portal to fairyland, she is resigned to writing about fantastical worlds instead.
She now lives in the Netherlands with her family, where she writes as much as they will let her. When not reading or writing, she drinks too much tea and has a burgeoning obsession with Bundt cakes.
Clarissa is the author of the “Dragons of Kaitstud” and “Lost Princess of Starlight” YA fantasy series, and the “Expat Life” series of non-fiction guides for families moving, and living, abroad.
She is an admin for the 365 Writing Challenge, an international writing support group that supports writers to build the habit of writing. And she is one of the co-hosts of the Reading Queens podcast, which discusses mainly young adult fantasy books and their major tropes.
Dracos: Fantasy Dragon Tales
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