As a child, Elmiznael was terribly jealous of her elders. Of course, they walk here on their riding reptiles, their noses up. But, despite burning envy, like all the children of the Elmiznael clan, she listened with all her ears to the stories of the scouts who returned from the distant caves. About skirmishes with dark dwarfs and mushrooms, about unseen monsters lurking at the deepest levels, and even about the Upper World, which seemed completely unbelievable.
As a teenage girl from a noble house, Elmiznael entered the school of magicians. Then it was the first time when she felt that strange ringing somewhere in the depths of the skull. The ringing was like a slight tickling, it made her want to scratch and scratch the skin under her hair, but it did not help. Later, the elf noticed that as she went deeper into the caves far from the capital, the ringing intensified or weakened. One day it disappeared. By a strange coincidence, in the evening of the same day, the rangers who returned from another sortie talked about how a winged monster was found and killed in one of the distant caves.
Already on the border of adulthood, Elmiznael was assigned as a battle mage to a detachment of the same rangers, whose stories she heard in childhood. It was then that an event happened that turned her whole future life upside down. It was supposed to be a regular reconnaissance sortie. Find new habitable caverns, expand the clan’s territory, perhaps discover something that will allow the now disgraced matriarch to curry favor with Queen Orryzectra. But, suddenly, the watch faced the superior forces of the dark dwarfs. The cheeky bastards, who appropriated the gifts of the Dark Unknowns, snapped back with strange magic, stood to the death, but did not want to retreat from the unremarkable shallow cavern. It was then that Elmiznael came in handy to the patrol with her magical talent. Although, this did not save the elves from terrible losses.
When the battle was over, the magician found herself the only survivor. Stepping over the corpses of her fallen comrades and enemies, she walked to the far corner of the cave so fiercely defended by the dwarves, and saw it. Egg. The egg was similar to the one from which the riding lizards hatched, only in an unusual color. And the ringing, ringing in the back of the head appeared again. Deciding that it was ringing in her head after a hard fight, Elmiznael took the egg and carried it to her place. She reported to the commander that day only about the skirmish with the dwarves, but not about the sudden trophy.
A few months later something hatched from the egg. The creature was not at all like a lizard, more like a bat with two pairs of leathery wings. The bat grew, and soon it became very difficult to hide it from other elves. Then Elmiznael took the pet to the farthest cave known to her and began to train it there. In the presence of the winged creature, the ringing in the back of her head grew into something deeper, more conscious, as if the thoughts of the girl and the pet were connected.
Over the years, Elmiznael has grown into a strong, dexterous woman – the real pride of her clan. And the creature – in a huge four-winged wyvern. The elf remembered the day when she finally decided to reveal her pet to the world. She especially remembers the faces of fellow elves when a monstrous winged shadow swept under the arches of the largest cave. Elmiznael herself assembled armor and harness for her favorite, ordering all the parts from different blacksmiths, and what came out in the end frightened even her. Two pairs of wings, two tails with sharp spikes at the ends, four horn-like growths on the head, shiny steel that securely covers the soft underbelly of the wyvern and the joints of its paws.
– Open, order of Her Majesty Queen Orryzectra! – Elmiznael woke up from screams and a loud knock on the door. And from the unbearable ringing in her head.
– Go to the … Dark Unknowns. – The elf, confident in the strength of her door and her own rightness, turned over to the other side.
– Elmiznael, open it, it’s important! – The voice belonged to the matriarch of the house, and the rebel could no longer ignore it.
Upon the door stood a considerable detachment of guards and personally the matriarch. But, worst of all, another group of guards were dragging the stubborn wyvern on ropes. The animal resisted, the elves got angry and stabbed him with their pikes. Each injection echoed in Elmiznael’s head with a deafening ringing. The foreman of the guard stepped forward, took a scroll with the royal seal from his belt and read:
– In the name of the Dungeon lord, mistress of the lower and upper worlds, Queen Orryzectra, an illegal mount has been ordered to be confiscated. The owner of the animal is accused of provocation and disobedience. Refusal to comply with the order entails the execution of the animal and its owner on the spot.
Elmiznael had no choice but to obey. Her own death did not frighten her, but the death of a wyvern… For two days, the ringing in the back of the elf’s head did not subside and seemed to carry with it the smell of pain and blood. And on the third day they came for her and unexpectedly gently asked to come to an audience with the queen.
– So, you are the rider of this winged abomination?
Instead of answering, Elmiznael only lifted her chin proudly.
– Well, I see that you are perfect for each other. Do you know how many of my guards have been crippled by your monster? It’s better for you not to know. In a good way, you both should be executed, and that’s the end of it. But I’m not just rubbing this throne for so many years… – at this moment the queen grimaced subtly –… and I understand that such power, although not completely obedient, may come in handy in the coming war with the upper world. Therefore, I order you, impertinent child, to enter my service. You can continue to fly on your monster, but you will fight for me and only for me. From the moment you take the oath, the power of the matriarch of your house no longer extends to you. I, in turn, will show unheard of generosity and take your cousin to me as a lady-in-waiting. Now get up. The commander of the guard will accept your oath and lead you to the animal.
Rising higher and higher under the arches of the caves, Elmiznael perfectly understood what was behind the generous royal offer. There were rumors in the city that in recent days the ranks of the palace guard had thinned greatly, and the wyvern’s armor was full of scratches and bloodstains. She also understood that her cousin’s fate now was to be a hostage to the ruler. But none of that mattered. The ringing in the back of the head turned into vibration, spreading warmth through the body, and the leathery wings of the wyvern raised two such different creatures closer and closer to the light of the Upper World.
At the same time, something hissed softly in the secret royal treasury, and the newly appointed royal lady-in-waiting felt a slight tingle under her hair.