This was the original cover art, done by my good friends over on goobermation.tumblr.com
Want a peek at the characters? Here they are in a drabble I wrote just for you!
“Are all dragons bad?” The question spilled from her mouth before she could stop herself. Curled up on her sleeping mat long after the ashes of the campfire had dimmed, Irilith couldn’t help but ask.
Sejaxis groaned, then rolled over to face her. He lay on his own mat, the pair hidden under the carefully pulled and tied branches Sejaxis was using to block out the morning sun. They were tired and sated, having hunted through half the night to get to this place of comfort. Yet as the sun started to rise higher in the sky, and Irilith attempted to think herself to sleep, she couldn’t seem to find the rest she so needed.
Her brother blinked slowly, his hair a similar shade as her own. They shared their fair looks, both blonde, but his eyes were darker than her green. They also shared their food, their thoughts, their most unpopular opinions. For as long as Irilith could remember, Sejaxis was her one true confidant. She could not have gotten as close to her own twin if she wanted to. Irilith was glad to have her brother, who had shown her how to hunt and care for herself when no one else would or even could.
“Why?” he asked, voice soft, fangs poking out over his bottom lips as he sucked some of the red off the thin skin. When he released his bottom lip again, he clarified, “Thinking of great-grandpa again?”
“Mm-hm.” Through all her eight years of living, the only thing their mother had ever ranted and raved about was their ancestor the White Dragon. He was an evil man, dethroned by his people for his relentless cruelty to those who challenged his ways. Though Irilith knew he wasn’t all dragon, but a blemished sorcerer who could not cast magic, she wondered often. Was he the model all dragons had to follow? Did they all have to be cruel? “I know there are dragons,” she murmured quietly, watching her brother blink slowly trying to focus on her. “I just wonder if they’re all bad like him.”
Sejaxis yawned, closing his eyes. “Of course not,” he answered in a hushed tone. Then he added, “But they want you to think they’re mean.”
“Why?” she asked. Sejaxis’s eyes opened so slowly, he was so exhausted. “M’sorry,” Irilith pouted. She knew it was a bad time to be asking him so many questions.
“It’s fine.” He stifled a second yawn. “I’ll tell you a secret,” he suggested. “And once I tell you, you have to swear you won’t tell anyone else.”
“Yeah?” Irilith’s eyes opened wider. Her heart beat just a little faster, excitement waking her up more as she focused on listening to Sejaxis.
Who also looked more awake as he whispered, as though someone might hear them, “Dragons can talk, and they’re smarter than us too.”
“What?” Irilith was bewildered. An animal who could speak? “How?”
“Legend has it that for every sorcerer, there is a dragon. Sorcerers are just human dragons with dragon powers.”
“Dragons can use magic?!”
“Shhh,” Sejaxis shushed. Irilith was jittering on her mat, scooting closer to hear more. Though she didn’t fully understand magic and how it worked, that seemed beyond comprehension. “The Ancients didn’t want something so big and strong with the ability to fight them with wit and sorcery, so the sorcery was stolen from them and given to a new race of humans. This left the dragons only with strength and ferocity.”
“But you said they were—”
“They are very smart, but they don’t want you to know. Anyone who does know will likely be eaten.”
“Because if people know that they are not just plain monsters, then they will be hunted.”
Irilith’s brow furrowed as she eyed her older brother. Though he was only three to four years older than her, she trusted his word over anyone else’s. That didn’t say much, she hadn’t met that many people. Though this sounded off to her. “People already hunt them, don’t they?”
Sejaxis shook his head, his eyes closing again as he answered tiredly, “People kill them if they see them. They don’t go after them.”
“Because they think they’re dumb?” she asked. He nodded slowly. “And if they’re not dumb, they’d actually look for them?” Again, he nodded. “Why?”
“Because they’d be different from other monsters.”
“Different?” Irilith reiterated. Sejaxis nodded. Irilith thought quietly to herself. Her full belly was starting to weigh her to the mat, but her mind was still racing. She remembered something that made her squint even more, and her heart sank. “Are people going to hunt us?”
Sejaxis’s eyes opened again slowly as he murmured, “Why?”
“Because we’re different.”
There was a quiet pause. A breeze picked up and rustled their hand tied roof of branches and leave. Sejaxis sighed as he gathered his thoughts, then shared, “No one is hunting us, Irilith.”
“But what if they do?” They were half-breeds. Her mother had thrown that term at all three of her children so often that Irilith was unable to forget the slur. They weren’t just Inimicas, sorcerers with limited powers, descended from an evil king. Their absent father had also been a vampire, with gray skin and black hair, eyes lined with red. Though the only thing Irilith and her siblings had inherited from their father was thirst, strength, and speed, that was enough to set them apart from humans and sorcerers. That was enough to label them different and worth hunting. The thought of being hunted as she and Sejaxis hunt for blood frightened her to her core.
Sejaxis patted his mat twice, his hand meeting the thick fabric softly. Irilith crawled from her mat, pulling it along with her as she moved to lay beside him. With her brother spooned protectively against her back, he wrapped his arms around her. They lay nestled together as they always had when one of them had nightmares.
“I won’t let anyone hunt us,” her brother whispered. “We’re gonna live, and we’re gonna to be happy. Woods, trails, or city, we’re gonna be safe. Alright?”
“Promise?” Irilith’s eyes were closing at last.
“Promise.” She always drifted off when she snuggled close to her big brother. He had a way of making her feel safe. So when he murmured, “I won’t let anyone hurt you,” she believed him.
With all of her heart.