You’ve all heard the tales
Of the creatures in ocean’s deep
Of mermaid song and broken tides
Of treasure maps and pirates’ keep
But what of harpies and siren song
Of mighty winged beasts
Of sights of below and yonder
Of ferocious dragons come to feast?
The ocean has been contained and sailed
So many countless times
Yet nothing could ever truly tame
The creature that is the skies
Seas are all well and good
But I know where the true adventure lies
Who would settle for the crashing waves
When you have the howling winds in flight?
For the sky does not reflect the ocean
Because the ocean reflects the sky
The chilly autumn air was punctuated by the cascade of falling leaves. She looked out the window and let out a breath. As she twisted the handle and pushed open the door, the tired hinges creaked. She fluffed out her collar against the whistling breeze.
She carefully held the handrail as she stepped down the rickety steps. Flopping down in the chair that sat there, she waited; she waited for the fate laid out for her. Sure enough, not moments later, the streets began to bustle and children galloped up to her with glee. “Auntie, Auntie!” They called out to her, smiles plastered along their young faces.
“Aye, aye, settle ‘own, settle ‘own, I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” she said, waving her hand for them to sit down. In an instant, the crowd huddled on the dirt of the road with nervous anticipation. Her eyes scanned their faces that could not hide their excitement and grinned in return. “What didya wanna ‘ear today?”
“We wanna hear how the ocean was made!” They shouted in enthusiastic chorus.
“Again? Every week you come ‘ere and ask the same thing!” She let out a displeased, exasperated sigh, but the smile she tried to hide let the children know she was not seriously opposed; her statement was simply in jest.
Long before the times of today, there was only two realms; all that existed in the Material Plane were the land and sky. The land was vast and desolate; in comparison, the sky was teeming with life and beauty. Clouds rolled along while winged beasts danced among them.
At the time lived a mighty dragon. Her name has been lost to history, but she was known as a kind and benevolent ruler of this young, childish world. Her younger brother, on the other hand, was naive and immature. He did not take his duties seriously, instead preferring to play. He would cause earthquakes and morph the empty landscape.
As the many years passed, the sky dragon was always beloved and her subjects adored her. Her brother lived in rowdy solitude, becoming increasingly lonely. He went to visit his sister one day to keep her company, for he felt he had no duty to the creatures of his own realm.
When he entered her temple, it was a sight to behold. The sky dragon had her subjects playing and frolicking around her like children with their mother. She greeted her younger brother in the elegant way she was. He quickly left, bitter and jealous. His sister had respect and power and subjects that loved her while he was alone and looked down upon.
His envy bubbled and bubbled until it boiled over. He visited his sister’s realm and took some of the birds as his own. He took their ability to fly and made them live within his lands. He hoped that they would love him as they loved his sister, but instead he was greeted with disdain. It was not his subjects that were the problem but he himself.
When his sister discovered this, she was filled with anguish. She sobbed for the subjects she had lost and in her pain and fury, the skies cried for the first time. For years water drenched the land and submerged much of it. Many creatures were attracted to these new bodies of water and that was how the oceans came to be.
Whales and fish and jellyfish, they all migrated there. Along with them, a new dragon was born to rule this new land. She became the youngest of the siblings.
In the end, much of the earth dragon’s land had been taken by the sea and he remained bitter but heartbroken for his older sister. The ocean dragon was able to calm her older sister and the rainy tears ceased.
The youngest sister hated to see her older siblings in such pain, so she gave each of them something special. For her sister, she gathered pearls and gemstones from the ocean floor to decorate her extravagant temple. For her brother, she gifted life to his lands; they quickly became overgrown by many varieties of plants, which attracted creatures from the sea and sky. She had calmed both of them for the time, and she visits them often when they are in need of a shoulder to lean on.
It is said that when it rains, the sky dragon remembers the agony she felt on behalf of the birds she so loved. When the land quakes, the earth dragon remembers the pain he caused and is angry at himself. And when the waters stir, the ocean dragon has left to comfort her siblings.
When she finally opened her eyes from her dramatic telling of the tale, she saw the children wide-eyed and gaping. She ran her fingers through her silvering hair and chuckled. “You all still love that story no matter ‘ow many times I tell it to ya.”
They cheered and were a small mass of joyous laughter. The children played and chattered, some pretending to be the great dragons of sky, earth, and ocean. The woman fixed the laces on her boots as a few more minutes passed.
She paused, acutely aware that they had suddenly gotten quiet. She squinted and looked up to observe the cause, noticing they were now huddled in a circle, whispering conspicuously and sending wayward glances her way. “What are you rascals up to now?”
They broke their formation and approached her chair once again. One of the older girls cleared her throat dramatically and said, “We would like to-” she stopped and glanced around- “hear a story, a real story, not a made up story.”
“Hah, ‘a real story?’ But all o’ my stories are real,” she scoffed.
The girl puffed out her cheeks and said, “We wanna hear a real story! You had to have gone on cool adventures!”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because… you look cool! You have all these stories to tell us! You have a cool eyepatch and cool scars!”
With a cackle she replied, “You simply are too keen. You’re right, I do gotta whole lot o’ stories. I’ve made it a point to collect o’er the years.” She pondered thoughtfully for a second or two. “A real story, ey? I think I may ‘ave just the thing for little rascals like all o’ ya.”
She leaned forward and clasped her hands together. A sly smile crept across her aging face as she spoke. “You’ve all ‘eard o’ pirates, I’m sure, but ‘ave you heard of sky pirates?” They settled down, eyes gleaming with intense interest. The children whispered to one another, many shaking their heads.
The woman breathed out a smug chuckle. “Thought so.” She adjusted her leather coat, fixing the collar and tail. She pulled out a tie and as quick as a whip, her hair was up in a ponytail. She tapped her eyepatch and with a final ominous cackle exclaimed, “Lemme tell you about a legendary crew who sailed the skies, going on a quest that would come to be known for years to come.”
She leaned in once more for the dramatic set up of this infamous tale.
“Lemme tell you about the Dawnriders…”