Myka’s life flashed before his eyes as he fell from the edge of the cliff. The other boys had taunted and pushed him to the edge before the ground crumbled, and he began his rapid descent to the bottom of the cliff. The twelve-year-old tawny-haired youth was tired of the abuse he had received at the hands of the other children on the farm. The boy’s mother and father were traveling traders and left Myka to be raised by his aunt and uncle whenever they were going to be absent for long periods of time. They always brought him some trinket every spring on their return to show him that they thought about the boy while they were gone. It wasn’t Myka’s uncle or aunt that made Myka’s life a pure nightmare. It was his own cousins and the other children that lived on his uncle’s farm. Carter Farm was located on the northern end of Greyson Valley, deep within the Kingdom of Erehwon. Greyson Valley was home to nearly twenty farmsteads, and seven villages that all relied on each other for survival. The self-sustaining ecosystem worked for the people of the valley, and even though outsiders were welcome, they were few and far between. Thus, Myka had never had the chance to meet another human like himself; one who fell in love with the character of a person and not their gender.
‘Why me?’ He asked no one as everything seemed to go into slow motion. ‘I never got to tell my mom and dad goodbye.’
For a brief moment, Myka saw a flash of gold high in the skies above, and a feeling of peace came over him.
‘I’ll be with Draconis, tonight.’ The boy thought grimly.
He remembered the last time his mom and dad had left on one of their journeys. His mother, the Lady Anna, had promised him that she would see him after the last snows melted within the mountain passes. The Traders had been invited by one of the Elven Ambassadors to spend the winter season deep within the forests of Elvandia. It was a rare occurrence in the early days of Draconia for humans to live with elves, and Lord Mykal and Lady Anna were indeed honored by the invitation that had come from the king himself. Throughout their careers, the man and wife had received numerous invitations, but the one they received from the Elves was one they would never refuse. The possibilities provided by this new opportunity were too great for Myka to protest their leaving him behind.
‘It’s not like I would have anyways,’ he thought as he saw the image of his parents pulling away in their wagon.
He had stayed until they had crested the horizon, hoping that his mother might turn and wave back one last time, but it didn’t happen, and the boy was left alone with his tears as he watched the sun set beneath the same horizon his mom and dad had disappeared behind. The torment from his cousins began the moment he returned back to the bedroom he was destined to spend the next three months sharing with the two older boys.
Fourteen-year-old Mytch Carter idolized his fifteen-year-old brother Myra, and together the two created a storm of mischief and trouble wherever they went together. The boys had the same brown hair and hazel eyes, and very few of the residents of Carter Farm could tell the two brothers apart unless they were standing side by side. Only then could one notice that Mytch had fewer freckles than Myra, and Myra was about two inches taller than the younger Carter brother. Either way, they were both arrogant monsters that had yet to be quelled.
‘Maybe, they’ll finally get what’s coming to them.’ Myka thought with some sort of delight as he continued to fall to his death. It still bothered the impending fall victim that everything seemed to be going in slow motion. Even the snow was swirling slowly about his lithe frame as the boy saw the edge of the cliff getting further and further away. ‘Is this the Will of Draconis? Is it the same for everyone as they approach Death? Is this how Draconis reviews our sins to see if we deserve a place at her table or not?’
The questions were answered by a faint golden pulse of light that he was barely able to see through the gray snow clouds.
‘Someone like me doesn’t deserve a place with Draconis,’ the boy thought miserably. ‘Death is all I deserve.’
He thought about the blonde-haired boy that he had fallen in love with. The boy with the icy-blue eyes that pulled him in from the moment they had first been introduced to each other. Nikolai was thirteen and had become Myka’s best friend almost immediately. It was the best his aunt and uncle could hope for when they saw how their own sons were treating the boy.
“Mykal is going to lose his shit when he finds out what those two boys have been doing, Hannah,” Myron told his wife one evening in the middle of winter after Myka had stormed in from the barn covered in manure from the pig-pen his cousins had pushed him into.
“Stop right there, Myka!” Hannah demanded before the boy took more than three steps. He had tears pouring from his eyes, and his aunt and uncle could tell that it was taking the boy everything to remain where he was. “I am going to skin those boys alive, Myron!”
“I’ll handle it,” the boy’s uncle said in a firm tone as he rose from his chair and grabbed his coat. “Make him a bed next to the fire once you get him cleaned up, Hannah. Anna will never forgive me if he gets sick.”
“What’s he going to do, Aunt Hannah?” Myka asked worriedly once his uncle had slipped out through the front door.
“He’s going to make sure your cousins stop tormenting you, Myka.” The brown-haired woman said. “Now, get out of those feces-covered clothes so you can have a bath.”
“Why are they treating you like this, anyway?” Hannah asked gently as she began heating water to fill the tub with.
Myka blushed deeply as he thought about the kiss he had shared with Nikolai. The same kiss that had been witnessed by his cousins when they came around the corner of the woodshed at the wrong moment. Nikolai had refused to talk to Myka since that fateful moment that had changed Myka’s status within his family. The boy couldn’t tell his aunt what his cousins had witnessed. He didn’t want the woman to throw him out in the middle of winter.
“Oh,” Hannah said with a small smile when she saw the look of pain on Myka’s face. She could see that he was deep in his own thoughts and he was struggling with them as he slowly stripped off his clothes. He broke out of his thoughts at the sound of her voice, but his aunt was already pouring a bucket of water into the tub. The boy stood in his small clothes, shivering as he watched his aunt finish filling the tub with water from the spigot on the wall. She lit the coals beneath the tub and motioned for Myka to lose his underwear and get into the tub. “I’ve seen it before, trust me. If it’s too hot, just let me know and I’ll pull out some of the coals. I only added two pails of hot water.”
“It feels nice, Aunt Hannah.” Myka said as he slipped into the water.
Hannah at a stool next to the tub and proceeded to work soap into the boy’s shiny brown hair. His hazel eyes shimmered in the light of the fire coming from the hearth.
“You can’t help who you love, Myka.” His Aunt Hannah said as the boy relaxed under her ministrations to his scalp. She giggled lightly. “Your uncle and I both already know, Myka. We both still love you.”
The boy sniffled as his aunt’s words slowly begun to sink in.
“What about Myra and Mytch?” Myka asked as several tears fell down his cheeks.
“Your uncle will handle those two half-wits!” Hannah said with an angry growl that made Myka look up in shock. “And I’ll have a few choice words with them when he’s done.”
‘Too bad,’ Myka thought as he continued to fall. ‘She never got to have that conversation.’
Myra and Mytch had jumped Myka the next morning and proceeded to drag their cousin up to the top of the cliff where they beat him until they were tired. Then, the two bullies proceeded to tie their cousin to a tree until they could return to finish their task later in the day. Their mother and father would never let the brothers live it down if they missed their chores. So, they decided they would go do all of their chores, pretending to act gloomy all day before they could slip away and return to the top of the cliff.
Myka spent the day tied to a tree as the snow continued to grow deeper around him and the twelve-year-old continued to grow weaker with every passing hour. He had almost looked upon the return of his cousin with relief until he saw the looks of hatred in their eyes. Myka silently said his goodbyes as he prayed to Draconis to take care of his mom and dad. He even prayed for the safety of Nikolai even though the boy that he had thought loved him had actually abandoned him in his time of need. After Mytch untied Myka, he pushed the boy towards the edge of the cliff until the snow started to give way beneath their feet.
“Turn around, fairy!” Mytch demanded angrily. “I want to see the look of terror in your eyes as you die.”
Myka turned around slowly, tears falling from his hazel eyes as he continued to pray for the safety of the people that he had loved in his life. He even prayed that his cousins would find the help that they needed in order to learn how to accept others that were different from them. Myka made a grunting sound as both of the boys punched him the chest and he fell backwards into the snowy abyss.
Myka could have sworn that he caught a glimpse of one of his cousins as he fell, but he didn’t care anymore.
‘Let them watch me die,’ he thought sadly. ‘I hope it haunts them forever.’
Suddenly, the snow seemed to surge upwards around Myka, and he felt a huge gust of wind that nearly lifted him back up into the sky. Then, Myka fell into something that was soft – but firm, and it closed around the boy, surrounding him in darkness. His heart raced in his chest as he screamed out in fear.
‘Relax, young one.’ The baritone voice rang within the boy’s mind like a bell. ‘I will save you!’
“What?” Myka asked in disbelief. “Who are you?”
Myka felt the padding around him shift, and the boy was thrown to his side before the room suddenly opened. The boy tumbled to the ground unceremoniously; coughing and struggling as he tried to push himself up onto his knees.
‘Did they hurt you?’ The voice asked angrily. Myka fell onto his side as the rush of anger flooded his own emotions. Suddenly, it was gone just as fast as it had appeared, but the strain was too much for the already injured youth. Myka was too exhausted to struggle when he felt something large wedge itself under his body and roll him onto his back. The boy gave out a groan of pain as he fought the urge to vomit. The snow continued to fall from the heavens above, but the boy’s vision was soon blocked by the head of an emerald green dragon. ‘I fear that I am still learning how to control the flow of my emotions over our bond. Though, I still would like to remove those two youths from existence for the pain they have caused you.’
“Who are you?” Myka asked the strange dragon as it continued to stare down at him. “Why did you save me? I’m just a nobody.”
‘I am Bylanth,’ the dragon said proudly. Then, the creature lowered its snout until it was pressed against Myka’s chest. ‘You’re not a nobody, Myka. You are my Rider.’
Myka stared in disbelief at Bylanth as he felt waves of love and adoration flood into his heart and soul. Myka reached up with a shaky hand and placed it on the dragon’s snout.
“It’s nice to meet you, Bylanth.” Myka said before his injuries proved to be too much and he finally succumbed to the rest his body needed. The boy barely heard the roar of anger that Bylanth released as he slipped into his dreams where he relived his harrowing experience over and over again. Every time he heard the same words at the end; ‘You are my Rider.’
‘I’m a Dragonrider!’ The boy thought happily as his dreams pulled him into a deeper sleep.