THE CALAMITY, BOOK 1
SHADOW OF THE OVERLORD
It isn’t every day a dragon gets to kill their own mother. You should savor it. Don’t rush it. You’ll want to remember this moment.
Dam! Sindor snapped back across the telepathic link.
Of course. My apologies.
Even more than his using the human words, she hated being connected to the human in this way. Why did he have to be inside her head, exactly?
In spite of him, however, she smiled. She’d been looking forward to this day for a long time and she did, in fact, intend to savor the moment.
She reached within herself to the glowing purple gem of power, the seat of the arcane, The Apex of The Soul. She pulled forth a few strands of arcane power and wrapped her paws in silence. There was no sense in waking her dam prematurely. Or ever, she added with a silent laugh.
In utter silence, she passed her clutch-mate’s chamber. It was mete that he sleep through the Grand Plan. He din’t have the stomach for such work.
Quillliarran, you weakling, she thought with a sneer.
She prayed that, Tiamat willing, she could beat that tender heart out of him one day. It would do him no favors. They did not live in a gentle world, nor did they serve a gentle master. Brutality was what was needed to survive here.
A dozen wingspans deeper into the cave, she entered her dam’s cavern. This deep there was no natural light, but such was not an impediment to her vision. She was a dragon, not some weakling torthugra like her dam. They had to have torches or other sources to light their way in the darkness.
Never before had the troubled to question, but she did so now. How was it that she was a true dragon with only one dragon parent? Did the torthugra blood somehow not weaken the draconic?
Sire had assured her, and all his other broods, for that matter, that they were, in fact, pureblood dragons. But how was that possible?
She made a mental note to ask and filed it away for later use.
Stepping forward once more, she entered her dam’s small chamber. With another small stream of power, she covered the entrance in a field of silence, then turned back to the sleeping form of her dam.
Her long, slender tongue slipped from her mouth to lick her lips. She was determined to enjoy this for as long as possible.
She crept to the back of the chamber and stood over the slender serpentine form with its soft scales and feathered wings. So unlike her own wings. Thin, membranous, yet powerful. How had a creature of such majesty and power come from the body of one so fraught with weakness?
At almost double her dam’s length, she was still not a large dragon. Far from it. Her sire utterly dwarfed her. He had spinal spikes larger than she was.
Sindor shook her head. She would grow. Given enough time, she would grow into a suitable match for her sire. One day.
Snaking her head down to the base of her dam’s trail, she opened her jaws, slimy saliva dripping from them.
“Do you hate me so much?” whispered a breathless voice.
Sindor froze. How had she misjudged so completely?
With a silent snarl, she raised her head. She hated her full name. It sounded so… feminine. While Sindor, on the other hand, sounded powerful, destructive, and strong.
“I do not hate you, dam. I pity you.”
“For the weakness of your flesh. The powerlessness of your soul.”
Her dam gave a slow nod. “I see. So this is… for my own benefit?”
Sindor laughed. “Hardly. It is commanded. No more, no less.”
“You were commanded to chew up my body from the bottom up? You were commanded to make my death the most painful, drawn out death you can imagine?”
How in the name of the Overlord was she so calm? She obviously knew what was about to happen. How could she face it without the slightest tremor in her voice?
Sindor sighed. “No, not that part. That is of my own choosing. But your death, and those of all your kind, comes now. Tonight. All across the isle.
The torthugra’s wings bunched upward then fell again. It was a s close to a shrug as the legless creatures were capable of. “I expected no less.”
Sindor narrowed her eyes. “You expected this? Then why stay? Why remian here and allow yourself to be made a victim? Why not flee to the mainland?
“To be slaughtered by dragoons? No thank you. Besides, it was worth it to watch my children grow. Even if Quilliarran has not yet achieved his wings yet, it was still apleasure to watch you grow into the beauty you have become.”
Sindor growled. “Of all the nonsensical prattle—”
“Enough, daughter. You have come here to do a thing. Get on with it.”
With a snarl, Sindor bit into the center of her dam’s body, cleanly severing muscles, sinew, and bone.
To Sindor’s astonishment, the serpent made not a sound. Not of protest and not of pain. Nothing. She did not shrink away, nor did she so much as twitch.
Perhaps I have misjudged her.
She pushed the thought away. Whether her dam was as weak as she thought was irrelevant. The Overlord had commanded the deaths of all the torthugra, so she would comply. No one who wished to live disobeyed the immense wyrm.
She set to devouring her dam one bit at a time while the sill-living upper half of the body endured, spurting blood from the severed mid-section of her belly.
From his mind’s eye, the Overlord watched with immense satisfaction as his children destroyed their dams, one and all. Not all did so with the malice or gusto of Sindorriaunna, but that was part of why she was one of his favorites. If she maintained her focus and learned to rein in her brutality, she would rise hi and fast.
He smiled to himself. His plans had been a long time in the making, he still recalled with not a little discomfort his years in the void and the hundreds of failures he had before learning to harness his energies in the proper manner to produce true dragon children from the bodies of the small serpents.
No matter, he thought. What is done is done. It is time to look to the future.
He watched the hatchlings destroy the last of the torthugra with a smile.
“At last, we wash away the last of the old order so we can build the new one, eh… what are you calling yourself these days?”
The Overlord snorted. “Not very inventive, is it?”
The human bowed. “I never was overly creative, Divinity.”
The Overlord snorted again, a jet of orange flame erupting from one nostril. This human was far less amusing than he thought he was, but at least he didn’t quail before the Overlord’s gaze. Such confidence was worth its weight in diamonds. It was so exhausting having his every subject tremble in terror before him.
“He isn’t ready yet, surely it will be another century, but how would you feel about bonding with your Quillliarran when the time comes?”
The human rubbed his jaw. “The whelp? The one with the oh-so-destructive sister?”
The Overlord snorted. He disliked the old words for them. He nodded his great head.
“I would be honored, Divinity. But why lavish your attentions on him?”
The Overlord shrugged. “I find I have an affinity for the runts and the powerless.”