#1

The gods hate us
because we killed them
Boots echoed off the marble floor, soon becoming muffled once it shifted from the smooth stone to the rough rocky path that lead to the dungeons and arena. "I am so pleased that you are seeing him, he is... a handful though. But I am sure since you are an accomplished hunter he will not be much of a bother for you." The trainer was smiling, truly pleased with the dragon he was bringing her to. A rare wyvern she had yet to see, captured during her fathers claim of the throne. The first of many dragons, leading her to a shadowed door the trainer pulled out his ring of keys and unlocked the heavy rusted gate. The shriek of the metal as its being pulled open made her cringe, this door needs to be replaced. Beckoning to her enthusiastically she swallowed and stepped in first, the stench of dried blood and decaying flesh hit her. Coughing she held her hand to her nose, eyes watering as the smells reached her the longer she stood there. The gate shutting had her looking over her shoulder, the trainer stepping past. Sighing she lowered her hand a fraction and followed the man, stopping before the pitch black of the steps to grab a torch and light it. The harsh glow of the fire had her blinking sharply, following down the steps it felt like she was entering the lair of the dead.

The putrid smell of death and blood grew as they went lower, she began to wonder if this was a good idea. A low roar filled the stairs, the sound was pitiful and full of pain. Frowning she didn't see the twisted grin on the trainers face, brows twitching closer over her eyes she swallowed and almost smiled in relief when they reached the last step. Pushing open the wooden door the trainer entered a stone passageway, one that was lit brightly and making it easier to see. Victoria heard of this passage, it leads to the arena. Where senior hunters were trained even more on capturing dragons, and on rare occasions where promising young hunters were taught to wrangle their first dragon. Something she was supposed to have done before she was tasked on her first hunt, yet here she was. Doing it in reverse, the dragon she was to go up against was a unique wyvern. A beast she had only heard as being strange, and very angry. 

It wasn't far until the reached the arena, an underground cave that had a single opening high in the ceiling. Showing light on what lay below, just before she reached the railing a shriek so loud that it made her ears and skull ring. Clapping her hands over her ears she gaped, the sound so shrill it pierced through her hands. The muffled crack of a whip wove to her ears, lowering her hands she walked swiftly to the railing. Her jaw-dropping at what she saw, a trainer was shouting and brandishing his whip. Snapping the heavy coil of leather, the flayed end reached out and struck the leg ripping open flesh to reveal the bloodied muscle underneath. Elicitating another scream from the dragon, the wyvern was truly unique. 

"How old is he?" Another scream cut through, eyes widening as she saw the young bull uncoil and launch forward. His head was sleek and smooth, reminding her of the eastern dragons. His nose a mix of dragon and fruit bath, aligned with his long muzzle. Boney plates of black adorned the top of the muzzle, flowing back to merge with a large set of horns. His horns spread wide and long, resembling a bull cow with their width. Four slender and tall ears were flattened against the young bulls maned neck, a large mass of fur that protected his neck to his shoulders. Large membraned wings were tucked against his side, small spines ran the length of his back and tail. His appendage was longer than him, thick ropes of muscle could be seen flexing under his hips as he spun around. The dragons back legs were powerful, ending in feet that closely resembled paws of a dog with the flexible toes of birds. His tail swung around, the appendage whistling as he came around to smash into the ground. Sending blood-soaked sand and the trainer into the air, a tail fan spread. Rising up on his legs the bull roared, wings spreading wide. 

Lowering he lifted his wings, the heavy thump of them beating the air as he tried to lift off. Hope shockingly rose in her chest, making her heart race. Rising with the steady beat of wings the young bull lifted higher, his head staring eagerly up at the arena's roof. This gave her a good view of the bull, he was a black male with tan points on his legs, underbelly, jaw, and tip of his tail. White freckled spots adorned his mane and the fur on the rest of his body, his mane being the only thickly furred area while the rest of his hide resembled the silk of velvet. The fronts of his legs were scaled with overlapping plates with sharp points, each paw ended in five toes with the left only having three, the last two were obviously cut off. He was even missing his dewclaws, evident by the scarring she could see on his right hind leg. A bull ring was pierced through his nose, a silver chain ran from the ring to a collar around his neck. Two chains, one on each side, ran down to his ankles and single chains from there swept down to the ground. 

"He's not even a full two Falla. Knock him down." Her head turned to the trainer, he had come up behind her to watch the dragon. Looking back she heard the groan of the trains becoming taught as the bull reached the end of his freedom, the heavy thumping of his wings the only sound before the clink of a ballista turning before a large bolt flew and buried into the bull's side. A broken cry rose from the bull, making her heart clench. The bolt had been dipped in sleeping powder, something that would take a while for dragons to fall under. But because this bull was so malnourished it was fast, she could only watch as the young bull fell. His weakened body hitting the earth with a deafening crash, the sound of bones breaking was clear. Not thinking she heaved herself over the rail, jumping over as the trainer shouted at her. Landing in the arena she stumbled from the fall, swaying to her feet she ran over to the bull. From where she was he seemed so large, but as she got closer she realized just how small he was. 

Bright red blood trickled from these wounds, giving her a good view of both the old and new ones. Not even two years old and this bull was more scarred than most soldiers she has seen, dropping to her knees she reached out to touch his muzzle when a hand clamped on her wrist. Looking up she found herself meeting the gaze of the trainer with the whip, his glare making he blood boil. Forcing her to her feet she was given a good view of his face, scars covered the left side of his head. Blinding himself in his left eye, his right-wing was at an odd angle obviously broken from the fall. Another bolt laced with sleep powder would be needed to set the wing, his wings were frayed from constant training and abuse. Even his horns were notched and full of nicks, blood also flowed freely from his nose. Making her worry even more about him, her eyes trailed over the bull as trainers ran out with a cloth and other supplies. A senior hunter came over with a ballista bolt and sleep powder, she was led away before she could see the hunter powder the bolt and slide it between plates after pulling out the other one.

CREDITS Table by Avis