SS Cyro’s Middling Adventure: Chapter 003 Black Swamps

Cyro’s Middling Adventure is a children’s story written for Cyro. 

The little white dragon Cyro has his goal of becoming a Middling dragon.  It’s a title dragons can earn between 100 and 500 years old.  He’s only 110, but when his little sister gets her Middling title on her birthday, he gained the fire necessary to earn for it.  You will meet several strange characters along the way and learn how even though he’s a dragon, he’s still a child who needs his parent’s help.
Fantasy; Adventure
[About Cat Hartliebe] [About Cyro Hartliebe] [WIP: Cyro’s Middling Adventure]

Crossing the border has me aware of what’s here.  The warmth is higher.  Alex would prefer being next to me then.  The trees are dark in color.  The bark looks jagged and the leaves are more needles than anything.  Pine, Erin said once.  Black Swamps have a lot of pine trees and is nearly completely covered with a thin level of water.  Not that I can see the ground from this high.

“Why are you drifting down?”  Alex spurs me as I sink.

I had no awareness of going down.  Now I’m too close trees.  I watch as several needles freeze and shatter falling to the ground.  My aura is bad for every environment.  I try to go higher, but it’s not me pulling me down.  Alex flies off keeping to one spot as I’m pulled into the tree line.  Before I can get far I’m accosted with his fire.  It burns the surrounding area, but nothing catches.  Between it being wet and frozen, fire is unlikely to catch.  It stop my descent.  So it was a thing, an invisible net. “Thanks, Alex.”

“Get above the tree line.”  Alex flies around looking.

Then I spot them.  Naga.  Serpent human hybrids.  From the chest down it’s all snake.  A thick black snake.  With the arms and head of a human.  Although it’s not skin, but the same inky black scales covering the rest of them.  No hair, although for humans that’s called normal.  In their hands are spears and tridents.  Not all, one doesn’t carry anything and yet looks to carry something.  An invisible net?

I force my way back above the tree line wanting to not cause too much damage.  But it doesn’t work.  I’m dragged back down putting everything to freeze as I go.  Alex follows me trying for fire again, but it’s not working.  Why am I caught?  What did I do?

“Stop!”  Young black dragon breathes at the invisible capture device.

Whatever it was, I lose sight for a while.  When I come back, I’m on the ground and recalling blacks breathe death.  She is before me denying the naga their trophy.  Why is it I was marked for capture anyway?  Shouldn’t they see a dragon and run scared?  I try to stand, but note solid ice below me.  And I cracked it during my fall.  Alex hovers close by worry obvious.  They didn’t try to capture Alex.  Ugh, I hurt.

“Back off.  I’ll handle him.”  The young black dragon switches to be a naga just to review me better.  The circling makes me dizzy.  “Are you okay?”

“Cyro’s ice aura isn’t active.  Is he dying?”  Alex is such an idiot.  Killing dragons is impossible…. right?

“No.  He’s repairing.”  The naga dragon picks me up shifting in size to carry me better.  “Sorry.  Mom and Dad said he’s marked dangerous, so he must be captured for the dungeons.”

“Dangerous?”  Alex whispers looking at me.  “He’s a lamb, I swear.”

The naga laughs.  “A lamb…  I have never met a dragon who’s a lamb.  Dragons are meant to be dangerous.  He’s not in control of his danger.  Let’s get him into an area where he cannot hurt anything.”  I can only watch Alex keep close shivering because of me.  I wish I could offer him something.  I press my ice to him wanting it to reach him and protect him.  I want to prove to him I’m okay.

“Cyro?”  Alex reaches out touching me.  “His aura isn’t active… But…”

“He needs sleep.  He’ll be fine after a good nap.  My breathe is death.”  The naga dragon comments rushing us forward.  I don’t notice where until we reach it.  Her home is a gigantic castle that looks like it came out of a vampire movie.  Erin called it gothic.  I called it pretty.

“You’re safe.  You just need to be safe in an area like the dungeons.”  The naga dragon brings us to an out of the way area where I won’t freeze anything.  Once I’m put down on the makeshift bed, I’m blocked in the room by metal bars.  I have been captured by a dragon.  Escaping sounds stupid.  Alex is just outside the bars too.  “Alright.  I’m going to talk to Mom and Dad.  Make sure there’s nothing special about this.”  The naga slithers off.  My eyes close letting my body repair as it needs to.

Alex stares me down.  “She almost killed you.”

Blacks breathe death.  It’s a statement I send his way and hear his calming exhale.  He heard me, that’s good.  The dragon was female?

“Yeah.  You missed some of the introductions, then.  Her name is Maleficent.”  Alex reaches out for the bars and manages to get his hand through them.  “Are you okay?”

Just need a nap.  I yawn snuggling in the bed.

“Okay.  I’ll wait out here.”  Alex sits down at the bars watching the world instead of me.

When I manage to break free of my sleep, I notice Alex hasn’t moved.  But he does have a plate of food he’s munching on.  I can hear his crunch.  I look about and spot a plate a super crispy slices of something.  I reach out and try one.  The noise has my brother spin around.

“Cyro!”  Alex shakes the bars.  “Are you okay?  You’ve been asleep for a while now.”

I swallow the weird taste.  I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s not my favorite.  “What are we eating?”

“Naga crisps.  It is Maleficent’s favorite snack.”  Alex holds up the thin and crisp chip like thing.  “She said when you wake up, she’ll make something better.”

“She’ll cook?”

Alex looks down the hall thinking it.  “Probably her parents.  She’s only three hundred years old, give or take.”  He shrugs.  She told him her age and he didn’t care to remember it.  It’s rare a dragon states their age.  “She’s a Middling already.  Told me how she did her test on a naga.”

I flex and think of my aura.  I cannot use a living thing until my aura is under control.  That’s why we’re traveling to White Plateau.  “Maybe you should stay here with her.  You can learn to be a proper Middling from a Middling.”  I yawn.

“Are you annoyed I made a new friend?”

“No.”  I look at him and he huffs turning around to face away from me.  “All I do is freeze things.  How can I become a Middling like this?  You’d be better off figuring out the title away from me.”

“I’m not leaving you.  We’re brothers.  Forever.  You’ll never lose me.”  Alex huffs annoyed by my words.

I sink back to the bed ignoring the crisps.  I’m tired.  I’m hungry.  “I just freeze things, though.”

“I like it.  Freeze me.  I want it.  You’ll get enough control soon.  That’s why we’re headed to White Plateau.  Prince William will help you get better.  He understands the aura and is open to teaching.  That’s what Mom said.”

I sigh.  My own father wants nothing to do with me.  And I responded by not being born until after he left.  I turn away trying not to be hurt by the knowledge.  Prince William will help.  Make sure the exchange in place, though.  Favors are dangerous.

“Cyro?”  Alex looks in at me again.  I catch his eyes and exhale.  I have Alex’s support.  He doesn’t wish to leave me just because I’m an unwanted white.  “Maleficent will be here soon.”

“With what type of food?”

“I think she said goblin steak.”  Alex licks his lips.  “Something about one of the goblins disobeying orders?”  Alex shrugs.  Goblin steak is tasty.

I sit up stretching out my arms, wings, and legs.  I can feel the weakness in them.  I stretch my aura out and touch Alex, then pull it back to the meter around me.  I can do this much.  If I fly above the trees I won’t freeze the swamps.  That was the plan.

“Lunch!”  Maleficent returns as a naga slithering down the hall with a tray.  “Goblin steaks well done.”  She winces.  That wasn’t on purpose then.  “I still struggle with my fire breathe.  I knew I should have just had Dad do it.”  She sighs stopping before Alex to offer a plate to him.  Then she enters the space I’m in to hand off a plate to me before sitting down in my dungeon cell to eat.  “Are either of you good at cooking?”

“I freeze everything.”  I state eating.  My annoyance has caused my plate to get a sheen of frost across it.  Well that’s a thing.  Now my steak will be ice cold.  I don’t mind ice cold steak.  I can’t mind frozen meals.  “Can’t cook until I get my aura in control.”

“Most of my meals are burnt.  I can do some pretty good dicing though.”  Alex holds up his claws moving into the cell with us.  “I think my parents were surprised I didn’t burn the entire cake for my birthday.”

“Dad made it for us.  And Erin turned on the candles.  You froze the top.  But that’s okay.  Cake tastes good warm or cold.”  I nod.

“Mother said I have plenty of time to get used to my breathes before I’m expected to control them completely.  Cooking is a good skill to help practice that.”  Maleficent exhales probably calmed by our inabilities.  She’s a Middling, but only a few hundred years older.  She’s not able to be Elder yet.  She’ll reach that point before us though.  Or it’s likely she will.  “I don’t know how often I’ve killed a horde piece just from talking to them.”

“Horde pieces need to keep distance.”  I huff.  “It’s like they don’t understand.  Dragons are dangerous.  More so when we’re young because we don’t have control.”

“I take it you’ve killed too.”  Maleficent looks to me.  I turn away.  How many shifters died from just getting close to me?  “Alex?”  She moves on to my brother.

“Nope.  At least not on accident.  Our parents don’t keep any horde pieces that are living.  Grandma does.  I’m on my best behavior there.”  He nods proud of himself.

“Not on accident means…?”

“When I was visiting Blue Ocean, my uncle forced me to go swimming.  I boiled his lake on purpose.”

“Boiled his lake…”  Maleficent stares at Alex for a long moment then shrugs.  “Some Elders can be mean.”  That I can agree with.  “Mom or Dad will be by shortly to decide how to handle you.  You need Elder guard when moving through the different areas.”  She frowns at me.  I’ll take a guess and say she also needs a guard. Or did.

I put the plate down.  I’m not hungry anymore.  “I’m going into White to get a grip on my aura.  Even if it means owing a favor to Prince William.  I know he’d help me gain control.”  I bite my lip looking to Alex.  My brother refuses eye contact.  “I cannot just keep killing everything within a meter of me.  And I know if I lose control it’s not just a meter anymore.”

“He frosts an entire room easily.  Even a great room.”  Alex whispers seemingly done.  He grips the plate tightly though.  “Our sister has a garden she keeps.  Cyro isn’t allowed to visit.  She even worries when he passes by the door.  Although he hasn’t done that recently.”

“Not in like twenty years.  I have walls and doors blocking my aura.  It requires me to specifically push past the blockades.”  I nod proud of that.  Mother was too.  It felt like hundred year celebration meant so much more.  Yet not much has changed.  I haven’t progressed in my magic, my aura, or really anything.  Everything I keep I break or lose.  “I’m no closer to Middling title, though.”

Maleficent looks between us and hops up.  “You’ll get it.  It’s meant to be easy.  Just to prove you can care for something else.  I would think a living thing would suit better than non living.  Since living things make noises to indicate they need help.”

“Or maybe something we can wear all the time.  Like a necklace!”  Alex jumps a little.

“Didn’t Grandma get you a necklace a few years ago?  Where is it?”  For my birthday she got us matching necklaces.  All three of us lost our necklaces within a few weeks of getting it.  Grandma wasn’t very happy.

“But…”  Alex frowns playing with his plate.  “I’m older now.”

I shake my head turning to the black dragon.  She’s standing in the cell’s doorway.  I have to stay here.  I get that.  Alex doesn’t.  “We were just going on a flight above the zone.  White Plateau isn’t far.  If they want to guard us so we don’t accidentally get below tree line, that’s fine.  My issues are only within a meter of me.”

Maleficent nods focusing on Alex.  “Can you get the plates?  We should leave his cage.  If we stay too long, we’ll be trapped too.”

Alex jumps up collecting the plates and leaving before the Middling.  “Sorry, Cyro.”  Alex waves to me before sitting down watching me inside my cell.

“Sorry for earlier.  You’ll be free soon.  Just rest until then.”  Maleficent grins, waves, and leaves us.

I sigh lying on the bed.  I put my hands behind my head and stare at the ceiling.  I couldn’t reach it without flying.  I’m marked dangerous, so I’m under watch.  I have to be.  I wasn’t trying to hurt anything.  I only hurt things because they tried to capture me.

“I hope we aren’t sent back home.  Mom can take us to White.”  Alex comments outside of the jail cell.

“You can just go to White.  I can teleport to you.”  I state looking to Alex.  “Not that our skills linking by mind have pushed to that distance yet.”

“But if you teleport to White, I can fly there no questions.”  Alex nods.  It’s a possibility.  “I’m not dangerous.”

“Not especially so anyway.”  I sigh.  “All living things are in danger being close to me.”

“Maleficent didn’t complain.”

“Probably thought it was punishment for hitting me with death.”  I roll on to my side not looking at my brother.  “I hate causing all living things to deep freeze.  Besides dragons, nothing living can get within a meter of me.”

“Sorry.”  Alex has no answers.  Why would he?

Even though I’m older, I have no answers.  I need a proper white dragon to learn from.  And my father has offered nothing.  “Prince William will have answers.”

Prince William will have answers.  Keep going.  I’m watching.  You’re safe.  Mother tells me.  Having her there calms me.  I roll over to see Alex.  He looks to have heard her words as well.

“Mother watches.”  Alex states.

I nod getting up.  “So she can watch as we fly out of the Swamps reach.  I don’t want to hurt anything.”

“I know.”  Alex sighs standing.

Maleficent slithers back to us with an older naga following.  “They’re over here, Dad.”  She looks back to the other naga.  We all watch as the adult naga slithers to stand before me.

He sizes me up.  I stand taller not that it will help.  “Cyro Hartliebe.”

“That’s me.”  I nod.

“You freeze everything within a meter of you.”

I shrink.  “I do.”

“You cannot stay in Black Swamps with such a disability.”  He sighs crossing his arms and turning to his daughter.  “You need to fly them out of here, Male.”

“Yes, Dad.  I will.”  Maleficent nods rapidly.  The Elder nods to each of us before slithering out of the area.  “Hear that?  I get to fly you out of the territory.”  She opens the door to my cell and let me free.  “Alright, get your wings ready.  I can show you how to get out of the castle.”

“Thanks, Maleficent.”  I nod to her getting airborne.  Soon the three of us are flying through the castle and up into the sky.  Once we get above the tree line we start our way beyond the Black Swamps.

Maleficent stops before the border taking up our hands.  “Thanks for visiting.  It’s rare to have other kids around.  We should hang out more next time.”

I look over to the White Plateau.  It’s not as shimmery as Mom’s home.  “Sounds like something we can do another time.  I want to learn control of my aura.  I can’t here.”

Alex nods.  “Erin would love to join the fun.  If you happen to see our sister, say hi for us.”

“What color is she?”  Maleficent looks between us.

“Gold.”  We say in unison.  It has Maleficent hiss pulling back.

Alex frowns.  “She’s not a normal gold.  She likes us.”

“Dad’s mom liked you.”

“She liked Erin more.  You could tell.  And none of Dad’s family visited us in Silver Tundra.”  Alex huffs out annoyed.  “I’d rather go swimming than see them again.”  I suck in a breath.  My brother hates swimming.

“If I spot your sister, I’ll say hi.”  Maleficent nods flying back some.  “See you.”  She waves before disappearing into the tree line.

“She was nice.”  Alex grins looking to me.  I just nod.  I didn’t mind her.  “Let’s get back to the cold, though.”

“Yeah.  White Plateau here we come.”  I cross the border finally happy to be in a place I could call home.

[About Cat Hartliebe] [About Cyro Hartliebe] [WIP: Cyro’s Middling Adventure]

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