The planet Cyaia’s eastern hemisphere, the yellow star Sol shone upon floating islands as mist blanketed along streaming water from the peak. The islands were cone-like, flat top, and pointed bottom and some shaped like a diamond. Every island was blue and green with life; flora and fauna which were not like the Earth’s.
Igniswing was the largest and the highest floating island, having a mountain which looked like a dragon’s head. The island was a home to a winged blood-red redragons, bloody red as their nature, vicious and savage.
They had a tradition of hunting every year, for they would hunt everything everywhere; neighbouring villages, tribes, herds of smaller creatures. Even feeble ones could never escape from their blood-stained claws. The hunting served as a tradition to offer tributes to their God, Igniswing. Their God will bestow the male with strength and the female with fertility. Redragon with the largest hunt would be honoured and promoted into higher social order. A redragon who was honoured would be well received and they would glorify their ancestors and descendants.
As the Sol stood above the island’s mountain, Mount Igniswing. At the mountain foot, there was a muscular redragon stood mightily before his fellow tribesmen. He was the tribe’s great chief, Rouge Tyran. Standing on two foot, he had a huge pair of red wings at his back and his fingers had claws. Thorns grew above his eyes as his eyebrows and pointed backwards. Thorns could be seen at top of his shoulder, elbows, and feet below. The bulky figure and thorns made Rouge Tyran as the strongest redragon and the tribe’s leader. Other male redragons were muscular, but fewer thorns. Female redragons were slender, only some females were muscular and without any thorn. Only male redragon grew thorn.
Rouge Tyran raised his muscular chest. “Today we pay our respect to God Igniswing for we will participate in the blood hunting festival!” Rouge Tyran’s gold-coloured eyes looked at every redragon, “Held every ten years, everyone here must at least make a hunt! With every hunt, we can make an offering to God Igniswing! With that, you can have honour and glorify your bloodline! But do remember, we must return before dusk, before the Sol sets! Now, let’s get ’em!”
Roar of thousands redragon was heard as they flapped their wings causing strong gale blasted trees below.
In surge of adrenaline, the redragons flew upwards.
Rouge Tyran quickly detected a redragon whom wasn’t in adrenaline and flying. His fierce eyes landed on the redragon who was looking into a crystal-clear lake. Rouge Tyran growled. “Argh, it’s Chi. When will she ever learn?”
Maybe a sarcastic remark will motivate her. Rouge Tyran thought and faced Chi. “Ah, Chi. A redragon that never learn to fly.”
Elders of the redragons who were there gave Chi a sardonic laugh.
The remark and the laugh fall on Chi’s deaf ears. She was bewitched by herself in a reflection on a calm blue lake. A slender redragon and eyes like of the phoenix. Wing-shaped ears twitched and jaw opened, revealed a set of carnivorous teeth. She examined the redragon and vice versa. The redragon on the reflection flapped her red wings whenever she flapped hers. She swung her tail and the redragon ditto. Out of curiosity, she asked the redragon. “Who in this redragon body? Why? How does it feel just to be an observer rather than an actor?”
Rouge Tyran grew irritated. “Chi, what are you doing here? Go to the hunting!”
Chi was snapped out from her reflection on the lake. She glanced behind her shoulder, meeting Rouge Tyran which was furious. “Great chief, don’t feel like hunting. It’s cruel and pointless.”
“What?” Rouge Tyran said, “How rude and disrespectful! It’s an honour to hunt for our God! And so, you! Must follow our tradition without any question!” Rouge Tyran exhaled fire from his nasal as he demanded.
“Will not do the hunting. It’s not nature.” Chi shook her head.
“Idiot!” Rouge Tyran said, “This is your nature! Your nature is with your body! Redragon! Your nature is fierce. So, you must follow the tradition to do the hunting.”
“Anyway, don’t like hunting. It does not come from physical form. Physical form is fiery and savagery.”
“You are very helpless. You can’t even adapt to your bodily nature. It’s your very nature. Look at yourself! You are a redragon. We all breathe fire! I simply can’t understand why you act according to your nature!”
As Rouge Tyran spoke, some redragons gave Chi a contemptuous look, shook their head and flew away.
“Great chief, feel nature is not of a redragon. Feel the nature of something gentle and graceful.”
“Enough! Go hunt now and back at dusk to celebrate the hunting!” Rouge Tyran spread wide his wings. “If you don’t bring back any hunting, it’s you! Who will be sacrificed!” Rouge Tyran flapped his wings and launched to a town few miles from the mountain.
Chi widened her eyes, her jaw dropped. She couldn’t imagine what fate would be hers if she failed to deliver the hunting. But, the hunting was contrary to her nature.
Chi’s mama, Garnet, ran her scaly hand on Chi’s hand, her caring eyes met Chi. “Dear, it’s a great honour to hunt for the God. Before this, you were disqualified because of your age. Now, your age is ripe and you are now allowed to hunt. Dear, do make your first hunt a happy one. Alright?”
“Yes. Mama. Will try to hunt.” Chi’s blood red reptilian wings spread. She flapped her wings, flew without any purpose, any destination. “Don’t feel like hunting. What’s the purpose of doing something don’t like. It’s pointless” Another thought came in. “The chief said if no hunt, will be sacrificed. But, don’t want to be sacrificed.”
Chi glanced below upon a flock of quagga on the grass plain. The quagga was equine-like, brown and had white stripes from its head to its shoulder. She landed before the animal. The quagga was shocked and galloped away from Chi. Chi pursued the quagga until it stopped before a cliff and could no long escape. The quagga groaned in fear. Tears welled in the quagga’s eyes.
The tears soothed Chi’s heart. Chi couldn’t kill the quagga anymore. A feeling of compassion radiated within her. Reluctantly, Chi flapped away from the quagga. “Maybe should find a creature which cannot cry.”
Chi glanced everywhere to find another hunting but she scanned a village on fire, smoke rising. Something terrible had happened! Chi’s wings brought her closer to the smoke risen village. As Chi flew closer, she heard tormented cry and shriek came from the village.
It was a goatmen village which was under attack. A green dragon fighting a redragon to protect the goatmen from the redragon. The wingless green dragon stood on his hind legs and he was muscular. Jumped from a village roof, he launched his leg of rooster talon to the flying redragon. The redragon effortlessly evaded his kick. The redragon missed the punch coming from the green dragon. He got hit and howled. The green dragon landed on the ground, his scaly arm picked several rocks and threw it to the redragon, the redragon evaded but he was hit by the last rock thrown. The redragon got angrier and he spewed flame. The green dragon was startled as flame bursting towards him, his breath stopped and his body was paralysed.
Chi rocketed towards the redragon, pushing him away with her bare hands. The flame barely hit the green dragon.
Provoked, the redragon threw his wrathful view to Chi.
Chi didn’t glance at the redragon. Instead, she glanced below, relieved to see the green dragon and some goatmen managed to escape.
Fire burst out from the redragon. He flew towards Chi and punched her face.
Chi shrieked as the momentum from the punch threw her. Unable to bear the pain, she blacked out.
The green dragon saw Chi was falling onto a village root and was to crash into the hut. He dashed to break Chi’s fall, but she was grabbed by the redragon. The redragon then carried Chi and flew away without any hunt. The redragon’s grimace was furious because Chi had wrecked his hunting and he flew back to the tribe carrying Chi as his hunt.
The green dragon eyeing the redragon carried a fainted redragon, flew into the direction of fiery island, Igniswing. He switched his view to the goatmen. The goatmen face displayed a traumatic encounter and experience, goat kids cried tears of horror.
Chi’s vision gained sharpness and clearness. She saw herself in the middle of a ceremony. Something warm tied her hands, body and legs to a warm pillar behind. She raised her hands and saw glowing red metallic rope of Ignium tied her and binded her to an ignium pillar. Ignium, the only metal that glowed even in its solid form. This metal could be mined within Mount Igniswing. The metal itself was the God Igniswing’s very blood. Pile of woods beneath her, glittering furious eyes all on her.
Wrathful Rouge Tyran gazed upon Chi. “This redragon Chi, disgrace our tribe! She showed disrespect and even heresy to our tradition which was founded by God Igniswing! She even attacked her own tribe member! This has disgraced her bloodline. Even God is displeased with the disgraceful redragon!” Rouge Tyran pointed to Chi, his eyes collected support from fellow tribes.
Chi switched towards Rouge Tyran. “The generations just blindly followed the tradition. The tradition of blood spilling is merciless and out of conscience. It must be abolished! And tradition set by God Igniswing should not be followed blindly.”
A redragon approached Rouge Tyran, he brought his jaw close to Rouge Tyran’s winged and spiked ear, whispering something. It was the redragon who knocked out Chi in the goatmen village. Rouge Tyran nodded. Then, the redragon walked towards Chi. “As following the tradition, you are now belonging to me, since I knocked you out earlier. So, I have every of my rights on you!”
Chi threw her furious look at the redragon. “Do not belongs to anyone and you have no rights!”
The redragon grew angry. “This is the tradition! You stubborn moron! Why you can’t get a break from heresy? Just accept it, and you can survive!”
Chi spoke back. “Will not be owned just to escape death.”
The redragon was filled with despair, fail to persuade Chi from giving up. Moving backward from Chi, he turned to Rouge Tyran, “She’s yours.”
Chi’s eyes swept across every redragon. Every redragon was outraged at what monstrous deed she had done. “Oh, no! What are they going to do? Are they going to sacrifice me? Or is this a ceremony for expelling weak and disgraceful tribe member.” Chi could do nothing, she could only hope that the ceremony is to expel her. Could only have sat there helplessly, watching her tribal brethren shouting in rage together. Her eyes were watery, heart trembling, mind blank, unable to expect what would come next.
Rouge Tyran said, “Tradition is the law! Every creature on Cyaia have their tradition! The tradition for us, the redragons have been set by Igniswing.”
Chi remained silent.
Rouge Tyran’s anger rose to the boiling point when he heard what fearless and rebellious Chi had spoken. The words horrified every redragon that were present at the ceremony. “This is blasphemy! You beast, how dare you say such heresy?” Rouge Tyran shouted, “You are beyond redemption! I am sorry. The only way to cleanse your soul is death! Only that you can be forgiven.”
Chi gasped. She would soon meet her fate. Her life shall end here. “Who set the merciless punishment to cleanse one’s soul?” Her mama was appalled too. She couldn’t believe that her own Chi will be killed here. Chi looked at every redragon, everyone looked at her in disdained eyes. To them, whoever who breaks the tradition must be punished to death, so that the soul may find redemption.
Garnet’s face wet with tears, her hand wrapped Chi. “My dear, why you so idiot?” Garnet said, “Why not just pretend to accept the tradition?”
“Couldn’t just pretend to accept it out of heart”, Chi said, “Mama, papa died because of the tradition. Mama, remember?”
Tears sprang from Garnet’s eyes. “Chi, mama couldn’t lose my world anymore.”
“Mama, very sorry.” Chi said, “Never feel that am part of the tribe. Maybe not belong to this tribe.” Chi’s heart now bleeding with tears.
“Chi belongs to mama!” Garnet’s arms curled around Chi. Chi’s tears flowed down her chin.
Rouge Tyran glowered upon Garnet. “Garnet! Abandon her! She is tainted with sin!” Rouge Tyran strong and muscular arm effortlessly pulled Garnet from Chi. Tears flowed down Garnet’s jaw like a river, seeing herself being separated from Chi.
Garnet’s teary eyes on Rouge Tyran, she darted to Rouge Tyran and held his hand, wiggling the leader’s hand. “Great Chief, please lighten the punishment. Any punishment but death.”
Cold hearted, Rouge Tyran echoed sharp words. “Proceed with the punishment!” Everything was like a dreamy illusion to them.
As redragons carried torches to light the wood pile, Garnet flashed to Chi, pushed the redragons away. Every redragon was startled. She broke the ignium chain, freeing Chi. “Dear Chi, fly away from here, now!”
Looking at Garnet, Chi was startled at her mama had done. Then, Chi came out with words from her mouth. “Can’t just left mama here.”
“Chi, fly now!”
Rouge Tyran and redragons hurried towards them. Garnet fought some redragons and managed to repel some. “Chi, hurry! Mama will fly after you.” Hesitately, Chi spread her wings and jumped off. Garnet flew too. The redragons spread their wings and flew too. Some redragons were fast and they were about to overtake Chi soon.
Seeing a redragon passing, Garnet grabbed and pulled the redragon, slowing it down. Another redragon grabbed Garnet’s tail from behind, throwing her on the ground. As some redragons were reaching for Chi, few swoosh of large metal bolts pierced through the sky, impaled the redragons. The redragons howled painfully and they fall to the ground.
The loud howl halted Chi and she turned to look at the fallen redragons. Surprised, Chi turned her head to every direction to scan for the source. “Who’s that?” Chi turned her head, looking behind at her mama. Her eyes were covered with tears as she could only saw Garnet’s blurry image surrounded by many barbaric redragons. “Mama!” She was ready to fly back to her but the bolts continued shooting. Chi decided to fly away to safety and think a way to save her mama.
From a distant, the green dragon saw Chi flew as he saw her through his telescope. He turned himself to his fellow brethren. “Thank you, brothers. She was saved from Igniswing tribe. I owe you all a favour.”
“It’s an honour, Jade. Besides that, you and she have saved us earlier. We are in your debt. That’s why we choose to save her.” His brothers were of the goatmen from the village.
Switching his view towards Chi’s direction, Jade wondered either to let her fly alone or to help her in case of another trouble.