It was early morning, a normally tranquil time but the sound of galloping horses, and stern and loud male voices drew Ravina closer to the window. She removed the curtain and opened the window wider to have a better view of the outside world. Soldiers were gathering inside the gate, squabbling over a new prisoner.
"They caught another dragon." Her handmaiden explained as she made the bed.
Ravina's attention remained fixed on the window. It had been a while since the latest prisoner was brought to the castle. The few dragons left had learned to stay hidden. How did this one get caught?
The soldiers had difficulties retaining him, despite the shackles around his wrists and ankles. Five of them had to help each other to bring him down on his knees and then push him further down on his stomach.
Up from the tower where Ravina watched, she could see his large back, covered with crusted blood from being whipped. A soldier grabbed him by the hair and forced his head down, pressing one cheek to the hard ground.
Ravina caught a glimpse of the prisoner's face, just enough to know he was enraged. His jaw was clenched hard and his nostrils flared. She couldn't see his eyes clearly. They were covered by dark strands of hair.
"They say he is a Katharos. His Majesty will be happy that they caught one." Her handmaiden Ester continued to explain.
A Katharos? A dragon of royal blood. And now here he was as a prisoner. That must hurt his pride. Dragons were prideful creatures. All of them fought when they were brought here, unwilling to succumb to their enemies. Those wounds from a lash on his back were all because of defiance and he had more than anyone she had seen before. They covered his entire back, not leaving any skin untouched.
The soldiers pinned him down by kneeling on his injured back. Ravina could tell they were enjoying his misery. She, too, had been enjoying the agony of these beasts. She had seen them all dragged to the castle, flogged, and then either slain or imprisoned. But the joy only lasted for a short period. Their suffering didn't soothe her pain and anger. She only grew more resentful with the years.
The captive went still for a moment. If Ravina had learned anything from her years of observation, it was that these creatures never surrendered so easily. So, what went wrong with him?
Suddenly the wind blew his hair away from his face and she saw his eyes. Those burning eyes didn't belong to a man who was tired or close to giving up. He was unmoving only to gather his strength and then with a feral roar of wrath, he rolled over. The soldiers fell from his back and he was quick to surge to his feet, his muscles taut, quivering with fury as he sought to be free, but the chains restrained him. Before he could get far, a whip fell on his chest, tearing his skin open.
Ravina winced and then shivered when an animalistic growl erupted from his throat. Something crawled under his skin as he savagely pulled at the chains held by the soldiers to restrain him. He was trying to unleash his beast.
Ravina knew he wouldn't be able to turn no matter how much he tried. Those shackles around his ankles and wrists were specially made to inject sedatives into his body if any force was used to break them.
Her uncle, now the king had together with her father, the previous king developed weapons to fight the beasts that had ruled the earth and the skies. The beasts that had enslaved her people. Her father had brought an end to their rule and he paid with his life. The knowledge that his death hadn't been in vain didn't ease her pain.
She focused on the prisoner again. Yanking the chains he threw the soldiers across the field on the opposite side. Some of them collided in the middle. Ravina could see the veins popping out in his arms. The strength in his shoulders and chest. These men were savages. Too strong for humans but didn't have the same intellect as them. They used their strength rather than their mind. That was how her father and his men were able to defeat them.
Ravina noticed how the prisoner tried to break the chains but never the shackles as if he knew what would happen if he did. He sprinted toward the gate and again he didn't reach far before he was stopped. This time he was shot with an immortalizer. It was a small crossbow, shooting injections with sedatives to make the beast calm down or fall asleep. Ravina knew it would take a while for the effect to kick in but they shot him with several ones and soon he fell to the ground, convulsing before he went still.
Ravina had seen this happen quite a few times now. The sedatives shouldn't cause such convulsion. It was as if he was shot with something else. She couldn't understand why all this was happening. Her father used to kill the beasts as soon as he caught them without endangering anyone. Why was her uncle bringing them here and going through all of this to keep some of them in cages?
As much as she hated these monsters, she couldn't stop questioning her uncle's ways of doing things. She didn't feel safe having dragons locked below where she slept. She had seen the brutality and slaughter they had caused with her own eyes.
With a sigh, she turned away from the window. Watching didn't satisfy her anymore. She wanted to eradicate them. She wanted them all dead but these savage beasts were difficult to destroy. Even now after many shots of sedatives, she heard a loud growl.
How was this possible?
She returned to the window to take a look. The beast was up on his feet again. He got hold of a soldier, crushing his waist with one arm snaked around it. Ravina watched horrified as he tossed the dead body of the soldier aside, his eyes now searching for his next victim. Commands began flying around.
The loud shot of a pistol made her cover her ears. The bullet shot into his shoulder, causing him to groan and stumble back but it wasn't enough to stop him. Another shot was fired.
They would kill this one, she thought. He was too wild to be contained. After the second shot, everything fell silent except for her heartbeat. She had gotten affected by this situation that got out of control. She had even shut her eyes and now slowly she peeked to see what had happened.
The beast was on his knees. They had shot him in the leg and blood seeped from both wounds. Yet he showed no sign of pain. His bronzed skin was damp and glistening with sweat, and his brown eyes reminding her of coffee beans glared at the soldiers with animosity.
"Be still, Monster!" Several soldiers held him at gunpoint while the others went to get hold of the chains again. More soldiers joined. They were almost twenty men now, heavily armed just to fight one man. Except he wasn't a man even if every part of him screamed male.
The wind blew again and for some reason that made him sense her presence. He looked up, giving her a clear view of his face. Her heart stopped as she met his gaze. He held her with a simple look while the soldiers put more shackles on him and forced him up to his feet. He let them do as they pleased, his eyes still fixed on her. Ravina swallowed. Why was he looking at her like that?