This is a Frerard alternate universe with tons of supernatural stuff and dragons. It might be entertaining if you don't mind that it's unfinshed and looking to stay that way.
This was just something I started writing about two months ago, and stopped writing about one month ago, so I was only writing it for a month, lol.
But I spent so much time creating the world and designing the characters: all that background stuff, that by the time I hadenough material, I'd already spat out what I'd had in my head and I didn't feel like writing the actual story.
This is a frerard alternate universe with tons of supernatural stuff and dragons. It might be entertaining if you don't mind that it's unfinshed and looking to stay that way.
Oh, and it's pretty long, so go pee or something before you read it.
My Chemical Romance Slash Fanfiction
Rated R; Frank Iero/Gerard Way; 3rd POV; Fantasy AU
Started on: Sunday January 19, 2008
Day 1: Another cold night fell over the city, starting with a slight breeze running through the valley at midday that caused worrisome mothers to close the nursery shutters, or fathers to bundle their children tighter on their quick walk to the shops. Even a simple ailment was not the greatest thing to acquire at the time, as the doctor himself was unwell, and therefore unable to do much more than send out the man living above him to have a look at them (The physician was not allowed—as specifically stated by the city laws—to prescribe a medication under his own name without being present to the patient. Furthermore, the man who lived above him, though he had the license, did not seem to want to be involved in the least bit; he refused to do more than passively observe the sick unless he was in the doctor’s workplace). However, the nights were often a drastic change in temperature opposed to the daytime, regardless of the time of year, thus being not much of a surprise to the citizens.
After hours passed, the grey, afternoon sky had calmed, the clouds drifting apart to a quiet, bruised sky, black and purple and blue, with the white, colorless moon slapped straight in the middle.
The majority of the people were asleep, trusting the guards to keep them safe within the city walls. The workday would begin for most in only a few hours, and they were making an effort to squeeze in the last minutes of sleep before day broke, and before they would be forced to wake and take up whatever profession they were responsible for taking up. The roads would be noisy and bright, driving even the late-wakers to get out of bed and join the hustle and bustle, whether they had a job or not.
The air was cool, breezing its way around the alleys and corners, seeping into the cracks of less resistant houses, and blowing in the few open windows to scare awake the small children who lay beyond them—the ones who would every so often cry out to their parents for the frightening interruptions. Even so, it was a hushed night—and for reasons beyond just the work hours. Tomorrow was the start of a week of celebration. For what /exactly/, not even half the citizens were aware. But, a war had just been ended, and they were to rejoice for the lives of however many survivors there were, of which they were not quite sure yet.
At nearly an hour before dawn, a parade of creamy brown horses—outsiders’ horses, since all the cities horses were either bright white or utterly black—trotted wearily down the main street and toward the side gates of the center field, lanterns and harnesses jingling against the damp wagons pulled by the animals. They plodded their slow way past the sentinel towers and dimly burning lamps, the riders soundless and the passengers peeking over the edges from under their cotton patchwork blankets, pale eyes staring out and blinking with each bump over a loose cobblestone.
The horses’ hooves brushed against each damp leaf of grass as they continued to the tower, all the carts past the gates and onto the field. Tall, cloaked men dismounted the saddles and unhitched the horses from their respective mechanisms and burdens, allowing them wander about in the middle of the thriving turf.
The passengers were unloaded from the wagons and kept in a group. Their feet, which were just about barefoot, were clammy from the dew and irrigational wetness that dampened even the footway. They were small people, not midgets, but not nearly as tall as the men guarding them were, and hardly visible in the dim light of the lamps lining each street, the shadow from the surrounding buildings concealing them. They had attracted enough attention nonetheless; there were a few villagers craning their heads from their windows to see what was taking place on the royal front lawn.
The crowd was led onto the main walkway and up to the Tower gateway, marching silently as if it were death row they were on, and not the path up to the magnificent house of the king and queen. The doors were opened and closed behind the wretched procession, creaking and groaning their rusty resistance into the silent night.
Meanwhile, the sun forced its first beam tumbling out from the highest mountain ridge, rolling out to wake up the citizens one sluggish inch at a time. The bakery fired up, smoke puffing from the clay oven chimney and a bird twittered and took off from its nest in hopes of a crumb or two from its welcoming supplier.
It was morning.
The newcomers were hurried to the Clinic when the sun was high in the sky; morning had started and villagers were stirring. More birds had filled the sky by then, all flooding toward the smokestacks and the people setting out their breakfasts on the tables and benches outside their huts, shops, and houses; it was a beautiful day to eat out in the cool air. The cottages were all golden and maroon in the light, the cracked rock and clay looking less worn and random than it usually did.
Workers buzzed their way around the entire town, trimming the vast field that the city was sitting upon, the paths and buildings on the outskirts taken over at the sides and corners by stray leaves and clumps of overzealous grass or weeds. The city was in the middle of a forest in a cleared out area, the foundation set out over the grass. The main section of the town—the part that took up more than half of the entire territory —was made up of building, mostly built from gold-colored brick and thatched roofs. They were cramped together, like the maze-like streets of Italy, but there was always enough room. The solid, stable houses, as you walked toward the front gate of the city, got farther and farther apart until they regressed into the half circle huts and small buildings, the paved streets, alleys, and walkways stemming off to grassy patches and rock paths.
The Spheres were polished and cleaned, as they were every week (On each corner of the Royal Tower was floating a single blue Orb that glowed in the night, bright enough so you could see it out the window from the edge of the city. They were power sources, but ones that were not being used). The main power source, the enormous Globe that had been residing at the top of the Tower to watch over the dwellings, was turned on so it shone out over the people, sparkling even in the daylight.
The ground was still damp from the dew, but pleasantly so, tickling feet and refreshing dry skin. Friendly…
Twenty pale faces—there had been five people to each of the three carts that brought them into the city—glanced around the village, watching the town stretch lazily and wake up. Locals stared back at them, just as intrigued by the strangers filing down the walkways of their settlement.
They were mountain dwellers; it was obvious from their fair skin, but more importantly their eyes. The bright green of their pupils alarmed their escorts. There had been rumors of the green-eyed people through the town, but it was so dark underground and the lights were so distorting that no one could tell even if they went down to check for themselves. They were the last group of survivors.
Everyone had heard of them by now; they were the tiny cluster that was left of the immense metropolis that used to reside under the mountains beyond the overpass. Villagers rarely crossed the bridge, but they had heard from travelers of the magnificent caverns and channels under the rock. There were more rivers and overlooks in the mountains than twice the number in the valley city.
It had been a beautiful place, active and bustling with activity. There had been views for miles in the chasms where alcoves glowed with the light of crystals and lamps stuck in the walls. The crystals themselves gave off a dull, peaceful light, and had grown to the size that large trees might in the world above ground, a stunning source of light only effective in the cave cities.
However, these twenty were the last left of the extensive colony. The barbarian camps that invaded during the weak point that war had exposed had decreased the huge empire to nothing.
Many of the outsiders had injuries, reminders of the war, some of which would remain on them as scars forever. They hobbled along after the guide feebly, carrying young children with broken and twisted ankles in their arms as they themselves nursed infected cuts and bruises over their bodies.
Walking under the crowded tents and bridges, they watched men and children string lights and orbs among the trees and buildings. Horses were led to the bigger patches of grass and smoke issued from every vent in every house; the women were cooking, creating the feast that would with any luck, last the whole week of the ceremony.
The grass was finally sheared and clean, glimmering in the sun and dancing rainbows onto spider webs. The tower in the center of it all was glowing, the gold brick surface proud and tall in the radiant gleam of the daylight.
The refugees tore their gazes away from the joyful city as they entered the Clinic. It was at the edge of the village, and a few paces beyond, the same shape and building material as the Royal abode. However, it was more run down and the inside was furnished with wooden-lined walls and storage. It was dusty and dreary, but neat, grim appearance notwithstanding, and much tidier than any of the other village huts. The survivors wept sorrowfully at the sudden realization that /their /city, their entire city, was ruined, sniffling into cloths and dabbing their faces with their sleeves as they waited for the doctor to come and take care of them.
After minutes of delay, a man entered the central room of the Infirmary from the stairs behind the counter. He stayed in the shadows for a moment, surveying the day’s patients. The word of the war-ridden colonists had reached him only minutes before from a guard who had tumbled off the top of a watchtower and come in for a head-check. He had had time to prepare since then, clearing up so they would have enough space and getting instructions from the man who actually owned the place.
It was time to work.
After approximately two hours, the man was done with the most awful injuries. He looked around the room once more, making sure he had not overlooked someone, then straightened up and wiped his hands on a rag. He tossed it onto the counter, clearing his throat. Stepping to the back room and pushing the lightweight curtain aside, he poked his head a few inches into the dim room. A woman was lying on one of the cots, taking stress off her broken leg and looking fondly at a baby bonnet she had produced from her dress pocket. Alongside her were two men, both with severe trauma to their heads. He had given them an injection and left them to rest, but he was almost sure they would not make it another day—not even if the official physician was well enough to tend to them, he supposed. The man was just the doctor’s housemate, and he never intended to pretend to be anything more. He pursed his lips tighter and closed the curtain, returning his gaze to the main room.
The boy sitting on a stool in the corner looked like a street rat, sitting inelegant in his ripped cotton rags. His skin was even grimier than most of the patients’ in the room, the soot and dirt visible even in the weak light from the only lamp in the room—which was all the way in the opposite corner, and even with the blacked out windows. Furthermore, his ears were pierced, something not a lot of people approved of in the mountain colonies, according to the rumors. His bruised foot soaked in a bucket of water and herbal oils, the cuts clotting, and scratches fading as the medicinal substances started the process. One arm was in a loosely wrapped, white bandage, a stain of red soaking through from the point where (presumably) his elbow was. His other foot swung restlessly as he watched the sad faces of his tribe around him crying over the black-and-blue flesh of their loved ones, and the lost possessions that they may well never own anything close to again.
The teenager seemed uninterested in anything, for the most part, refusing when handed a mug of cold water by the only other hand in the infirmary: the young apprentice, who was about the boy’s age, maybe younger, and absolutely useless. He ignored the novice and stared, squinting into the shadows at the temporary nurse, a bored look in his eyes as he watched the man shuffle around the room, stopping to pick up a pair of scissors and begin sewing up someone’s badly lacerated leg. The boy blew a stray strand of hair from out of his eyes and his eyes followed the motion in the dark, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, only glancing away when two sentries entered the Clinic, the bell on the door jingling as their forms squeezed in the doorway, which was tiny compared to their robust bodies.
The temporary stood up and wiped the blood on his hands off onto the white apron-like garment he had hung over his neck, ignoring the strings in the back with which to tie it from.
He listened to the guards speak and then nodded, motioning them into the room and lighting another lamp, standing next to it as the guards scanned the room. He was all too aware of the boy staring at him and stayed back in the shadows again, his back against the wall.
The guards checked each of the patients and picked two from the group, a man with a simple black eye, maybe thirty to forty years old, and another, a man with a twisted wrist, but otherwise quite healthy and strong.
The guards thanked the silent impermanent and left, taking the two survivors with them, neither of which was struggling. They were both fit and aged for training, becoming a working part of the well-oiled system of the city even sooner than the others would, if they did at all.
One by one, the survivors departed, limping and trembling their way back to the Tower after being treated; they would be staying in the many extra rooms until further arrangements were made. The apprentice left as well as he was not supposed to be in the building at all without the official Apothecary to supervise (it was in fact against the law). The severely injured were left in the back room on the cots.
The man was /finally /completely finished. He had done his part for the day. He washed his hands, stooping to pick up a bucket to fill with water; he was going to wash up the floors.
“You don’t talk much, do you?” the boy sitting on the front counter asked happily, frowning as the man tensed noticeably at the reminder of his stubborn company. He swung his legs, thumping them against the desk and shivering in the dark. The dark hadn’t been this chilling in /his /city; it had been a sort of warm, pleasant darkness. Like a blanket.
He tapped on the counter with his good hand mindlessly while the man continued to ignore him. After waiting a moment, the man lifted the half-full bucket from the sink, setting it on the floor. He got an old wooden mop out of the closet and dunked it in the metal pail. His movements were quick and rushed, but sufficient, cleaning the floor enough so the blood was cleaned up and leaving behind only a few trails of dust. It was a familiar action to him; he did it at least twice a day because of the frequency of injury in the town.
After sluicing over the entire room and some of the side rooms, he wrung out the mop and put it way, picking up the bucket and heading for the front of the shop, walking past the persistent movement that now gave the impression that it was nailed to the counter. He opened the door and stepped out into the light for a minute, splashing it into the flowerbed in front of the Clinic. The bar of light burst into the dark room, illuminating it more than the boy (the immovable counter irritation) would have thought the sliver would, judging by the grimace on his face. It was bright out, brilliantly so, and he had been in the unlit shop for two and a half hours, and thus his eyes were a bit sensitive. He smiled gleefully; he could finally see more than a shadow of the person in charge of the shop, whether he was temporary or not. He could see the man’s back where the sun beat down from above the building. His chin-length hair was dark, black almost, and dull even in the daylight, and his skin was white appearing. The boy was not sure it if was because of how the brightness hit him, or if he really was that pale.
The door closed as the man came back in, and the two were in darkness again.
“I’m Frank, by the way. Frank Anthony,” the boy said, watching the shadow slip to the other side of the room and put the bucket down.
The guy gave a small nod of acknowledgment and straightened up, stretching his arms. He went to check on the patients in the back. Once satisfied with the arrangement of the Hospital, he stopped in the middle of the room, glancing around a last time before letting out a breath. Done.
As soon as Frank had stepped off the wagon the night before, he had decided he liked the place, for the most part. His standards were not very high in general, but his fascination with the blue, floating orbs around the tower was what seemed to have been most important at the time. He had never seen anything like it; the crystals in the caves were immobile and dull—these orbs weren’t even attached by strings! Amazing, he thought.
What Frank did not like was the Health Centre. It was drab and old inside, and the wooden floor-boards creaked. There had never been anything but smooth rock in his homeland. It was absurd. Back under-ground, the sickbay had stone partitions separating each bed. Each had a vial-like cylinder of glass wedged in it where the rock was carved to fit it. The nurses poured water into the containers and a few shards of the light-gems and they would be like night-lights for the patients.
This place, however, this place was frightening. It was different from the rest of this new city, like it was from a completely different era. Or universe. Multiple points in the room gave Frank chills, including the fact that the lights were out. The lights were out, all except for one, and the windows had been covered over with black tape. There were jars on the shelves with things floating in them, and Frank was sure that they were not bugs. And there was that strange doctor! He didn’t look like a doctor. Not from what Frank could see in the dim lighting. He was tall and lean, and he didn’t even wear his clothing correctly. He looked sullen through the whole process and ignored it when patients talked to him. He had dismissed the idea of putting gloves on when he’d given people stitches and thrown them in a drawer after looking at them for moments. He didn’t even talk! He had not said a single word since Frank had entered the building that morning.
Furthermore, the boy working with the doctor had been excessively bothering Frank, the floor had gotten blood splattered in the cracks in less than ten minutes, and the bottle of alcohol on the counter had spilled over onto the clean rags in the barrel next to the cabinet. The room that had been clean and tidy had turned into a pigsty in all of ten minutes. It was all wrong! Frank could not believe it. He had gone through a terrible, bloody war against a bunch of trolls, and then he had had to put up with listening to a roomful of people crying and sniffling their eyes out in unpleasant therapeutic conditions. He was apathetic; he hadn’t even known half the people; all his friends were dead.
Frank had been starting into contemplation over the stuff that looked like mold in the corner, when the doors had opened unexpectedly and two huge men stepped in.
They had left with two men, only one of which Frank recognized.
So Frank had continued staring, trying to ignore the environment. He had stared at the medic’s obscure sil-houette for almost ten minutes straight until he had finally decided to open his mouth and speak to him: “What’re you running here, some kind of concentration camp?”
The man hadn’t answered. He hadn’t shown any signs that he had even heard Frank, instead kept working, placing bandages on more cuts until Frank had given in and hobbled to his feet, stepping toward him. “Hey, are you listening to me? Can I leave?”
The man had merely gestured vaguely to the door, shrugging and continuing to work. Frank didn’t leave, though; he chose to wander back toward the counter, pulling himself up onto the surface and pushing aside the tub of first aid to make room for himself, and then continued to ogle the man obnoxiously.
After he had finished mopping the floors, the man put away the stuff on the counter; he was finishing up. It was almost noon.
So Frank was presently alone in the dark with the man after all had left, listening to the whimpers from the unmistakably dying patients in the back room. He was fascinated by the man, and he did not quite care if he was being a pain. He was the war victim, not the freaky mysterious man posing as a medical physician./]
Washing his hands a second time and dousing the lamps, the man picked up his cloak from the rack and reopening the front door, letting himself out. He held it open for a moment and the boy—Frank, exited after him, scurrying under his arm and into the sunlight.
He looked less ragged in the daylight, and a little older than the man thought at first perception. He was no older then eighteen and his eyes were bright; full of childish mischief, he supposed. Ready to leap out and be a pain on purpose. More akin to a bothersome itch. Frank continued to follow the man when he started toward the city. The Clinic was at the edge of the town, past the smaller huts and building spans. It was remote and peaceful when there wasn’t a lot of business.
“Who are you, anyways? D’you work there?” Frank inquired. He looked up at the man curiously, limping on his unusable foot. He was staring more pointedly this time, attempting to see what the person who he’d been watching in the shadows for hours looked like in the light, but the man was a good five inches taller, and the light was still too bright, mixed with the shadow from his hood. Frank huffed and stopped trying, shoving his hands in his pockets and looking around.
The rock plaza beyond the city gates, the one they were currently walking through, was filled with people, weaving through the square and carrying jugs full of wine and barrels of bread from their huts. They were heading toward the main city, and then most to the Tower.
Horses were gathered there as well, Frank could see, as they got closer to the city center. Horses and another animals Frank could not quite make out yet from the distance.
Frank trailed dreamily after the man, hardly looking where he was going, but instead at the joyous sights around him. He was entranced by the town; it was even more spectacular than it had been at night. Everything looked peaceful and happy. It was so different from the caves, and for a moment, he did not even care how disgusting the infirmary was; it was better.
The city was almost flat; there were no substantially higher buildings jutting up from the rest—other than the castle, and they were all a calm golden and brown color, baking in the sun while the residents scuttled around among them like roaches, overflowing the squares and scampering like mice through the fields. The huts on the outskirts appeared tidy and simple, women and children visible in side cooking and preparing for the celebrations.
Frank sighed and sidled up to the man, following him closer. He seemed to be heading to the Tower like everyone else; they had crossed the vague boundary into the city streets where more people were rushing about cheerfully.
As Frank and the man neared the yards, Frank realized what the animals among the horses were. They were birds! They were emu-like birds, too; each had long pink necks and ruffled grey feathers—but they were huge! Frank gawped in amazement. The birds were taller than the men standing next to them were, and had leather saddles strapped to their backs, presumably to be ridden.
Frank didn’t know what else to expect from the city.
He skidded through the front gates of the Royal Tower and stopped at the bunch of logs dropped over the path where some horses and people were standing. He stared at the creatures for a moment in awe. He was snapped out of his trance when one of the people next to him placed his hand on Frank’s shoulder. Frank jumped.
“You one of those refugees from last night, eh?”
Frank turned around and looked up at the man addressing him. He was tall and strong. Not strong like the guards, but friendly looking and sturdy, like a farmer or someone who had worked all their life. His voice was thick with an accent mixed with a little of the dialect Frank had heard in the city so far. It was different, but warm, he decided. The man wore plain leather boots and brown, stained pants. A brown vest covered his blue long-sleeved shirt, and over that was strung a sac-like canteen and a strange holster strapped over his chest. It was actually more like a weird type of scarf when Frank looked more carefully.
Frank looked back up at the man’s bearded face, remembering that he had spoken to him. “O-oh. Yes sir.”
The man smiled and nodded, looking out and shielding his eyes with one hand. He motioned to the people compiling piled of food and other objects strange to Frank in the small grassy squares each separated by a cobbled path and the river running through two. “Makin’ ready for the week-long feast today,” he said. “Juss came from a trip to see it. The war was over, so it was safe to ride again.” He gestured to the horse beside him before continuing: “You coming out to the fields?”
Frank did not have a clue what he was talking about. “The fields?” he said dumbly.
The man nodded. “I’ll take you there, if you want. It’s where all this is going.” He pointed to the jugs and barrels. “All being gathered in front of the Tower before being taken to the fields.”
Frank let out a simple ‘oh’, and tapped the pile of logs they were standing next to, his emerald eyes staring curiously out at the hubbub taking place all over the colony.
“I’m Darren Ackerly, by the way. Trader’s son.” The man held out his hand and Frank shook it as they started walking.
“’m Frank…,” Frank replied. Darren nodded.
Frank glanced around and saw the man from the Clinic receiving orders from a group of guards a few paces in front of them on the path. As Darren and Frank drew nearer, Frank overheard a few broken bits of their sentences. “…all morning. They’re waiting for you. One has been missing since last week… Not sure if it’ll…”
The man just seemed to nod submissively. Just as Frank got feet away from passing him he turned from the guards and started on the same route that Darren was leading Frank in the direction of. They walked back past the Clinic and out the city gates. The forest spread out on either side, but Darren kept going the same way as the silent man had gone, off to the left and around the wall. Frank noticed the section of the city boundaries was missing so he could look through the gap in the wall to the back of what looked to be the Hospital. The river ran between it, and Frank glanced at the water. It was amazingly clear, and almost hurt his eyes with the sun reflecting from it. Darren kept going and Frank had to rush to catch every few moments. They were coming upon on a large field. It was past more plots of trees and one bridge over the river. Darren led Frank off to the side where people were gathered under a single gazebo and a small section of wooded fencing was erected. Three horses were wandering near it, and Darren touched the closest’s neck as they got to the small barrier. Darren looked out, as some of the others were doing, and Frank did the same. The field was empty other than the parts of unassembled tents laid out in the huge meadow. The “doctor” was talking to—or rather, being talked to by, some guards standing in a cluster near them.
“You got some blood on yer neck,” one said.
The other laughed. “You been killing off those mountain freaks?”
The man frowned, obviously disapproving, and wiped the blood off. After the guards stopped speaking to him, they handed him what looked to be armor. Frank kept watching, confused. The man looked smug. He threw most of the attire to the ground and turned around, pulling down the hood of his cloak and then shrugging off the entire thing, walking to place it on the fence Frank was standing at. He looked at Frank reproachfully for a moment, and since the sun was behind him, Frank could see his face properly. He had young features, strong jawed with the same sort of roughness or aggression Frank saw in the guards, but the man’s expression was smoother, silent and reserved as if they had taken one of the violent, brawny patrols from the watchtowers and sanded him out. Made him gentler. His skin was as pale as it looked. Maybe paler than Frank’s people. His ears seemed a little pointed, and he had angled, dark eyebrows to match his hair. His eyes were even more imposing, just as dark, and they seemed to stare right through Frank instead of at him.
The man blinked down at Frank for a fleeting second before turning back to the guards and shoving the helmet he’d been given carelessly on his head, slightly lopsided, and walking past them onto the field. The guards scoffed as he lightly shoved the armor he had left on the ground with one foot as he walked by it.
Darren sniffed next to Frank, and he turned his head. “’ve you heard’uh him yet?”
Frank shook his head, then added quickly: “—Sir. No, sir.”
Darren shook his head. “His name’s Gerard,” he paused, “and that’s basically all I know. All anyone knows.” He looked at Frank. “Call me Darren, Frank. You’re allowed here in the streets; I’m not sure where you’re living now. The castle, I presume.” Frank nodded.
“Just for the time being, I think. ‘Till they find us homes.”
“Ah.” Darren seemed to ponder this for a few moments, and Frank took the time to look back out at the field. Gerard was a good distance away from them, and walked for a few more moments before stopping in the middle of the meadow, just standing there and looking around.
Darren spoke again: “Gerard. Yeah, he just sort of appeared ‘round here.”
Darren paused again, and Frank looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“Literally. His mother—beautiful woman now, I recall—stumbled into the mountains holdin’ him in ‘er arms, and kicked the bucket as soon as they took ‘im from ‘er… That’s what they say, anyway. No one knows how old he is, but he couldn’t have been more than two when she brought ‘im there. Was raised by your folks until he was a boy, and the Command took ‘im,” Darren said. “He’s lived in the Hospital ever since.”
“The Command. The soldiers and authority in charge of hirin’ and maintainin’ the city. They took a few people from under them mountains,” he pointed to the ranges beyond the forests, “for their skills. The people welcomed it, though. Mountains are no place for the people they took. Like Gerard. I was only 13 at the time, but I remember seeing ‘im when they brought ‘im in. He could hear the plants talkin’ and all, one of those psychics, I reckon. Not that I even heard much of the happenings myself. Never believed it then, but it’s obvious somethin’s goin’ on. He never loses a competition, and I saw ‘im swimmin’ once. He stayed under for minutes… Amazing…”
Gerard was still motionless in the field, but when Frank looked up, he started moving again. He looked up once more in the sky and then whistled, loud and clear, a sweet, bell-like ring that kept on echoing off the mountain ranges and through the trees rustling at the edges of the meadow.
“You’re gonna love this,” Darren said.
Silent minutes passed and Gerard had sat down in the short grass, picking at the stems absently. He looked calm from what Frank could see from so far away, completely the opposite of the high-strung, bothered, nonconformist from the Clinic.
Frank was about to question, but suddenly a distant fluttering noise reached his ears, a sort of faint sound, similar to a heartbeat. It was a minor disturbance, hardly audible, but it grew louder as he listened, and louder until it was almost to the point of unbearable. The trees were rustling shrilly, swaying in the sudden wind that swept over the field. The grass made a continuous hissing noise, like a million crickets chirping at once.
Frank gasped as huge shadows drifted over the field and he looked up. Six forms were circling the sky above them, and one by one landed on the field, settling onto the meadow, led by the smallest: a brilliantly whitish-blue turquoise figure.
Frank stared in wonder. The shapes were unmistakable in the bright daylight; regal and elegant, their scales shining and spotless. The five largest were each almost four times Gerard’s size as he stood next to them, but the smallest was a little less than two times the size of a full grown man. Each of the former had brown and gold saddles strapped to their back and a helmet like piece of armor over their heads. They quietly settled down on the ground and appeared to nap in the sun. Gerard approached the little one and touched its neck fearlessly.
“Dragons!” Frank whispered incredulously, his fingers tightening over the segment of fencing. Excitement shivered up his body at the sight of the magnificent creatures.
Darren smiled and nodded. “He’s the only one who dun’t get hurt. ‘e doesn’t even have to wear the armor. ‘S as if they like him, or somethin’. Dragons don’t like /nobody./”
Darren turned to the horses to straighten the bows adorning their gear and Frank kept his gaze at the great beasts dozing in the field. Gerard was still tending to the white one, unbuckling its harness and scrubbing it down with a brush he had produced from his pocket. The dragon seemed to like it, stretching its neck as it was cleaned. Gerard put the brush away and redid the harness as the soldiers who had been mocking him earlier joined him in the field in their clunky armor, moving toward the other five dragons cautiously. Gerard’s dragon turned around and Frank noticed it was wearing a sort of pilot helmet. It had two goggle-like lenses sticking out at the top and the straps hung loosely down at the sides of its face, the cap pulled snugly over the back of its head.
“Twig, you lookin’ at?” Darren said after a moment.
Frank frowned, tugging at the bandage around his arm. “Twig?”
“Twig. Its name. The smallest of them all. Adorable… ‘S Gerard’s. Dunno much about it other than it won’t let anyone on it but Gerard. Won’t budge of somebody else tries.”
Gerard was petting the thing’s neck again, and Darren shook his head, returning his attention to the horses. “He’s a strange one… no doubt about it. Probably kills people in their sleep. You know, slaughters ‘em with ‘is butcher tools of evil. Fits the part, eh?”
Frank shrugged absent-mindedly, his eyes sparkling with intrigue as he watched the riders mount the ani-mals—the monsters, with caution, and then soar into the sky. Gerard left Twig’s side and the dragon followed him back as he trudged back toward the gazebo. He didn’t notice—or didn’t do anything about it until he got almost to the fence, and turned around to shoo Twig back. It did as it was told, or gestured to do, and Gerard returned to the shade of the one tent, throwing off the helmet and wiping his forehead as he sat down on a wood bench under the awning. His face was still grim, but he looked less harsh in the sunlight. He actually looked almost glowing, but Frank didn’t think it would be appropriate to comment, with what Darren said about the butcher tools.
Heads turned as a person walked toward them from around the wall from where they had come. A light-haired woman in tan robes stepped lightly toward the gazebo. A brown belt was wrapped around her waist, fastening the simple fabric. She had a kind, young face, laughter lines and dimples softening her already compassionate expression. Everyone who was present bowed, and Frank quickly did the same, awkwardly bending over.
It was the queen.
They straightened up and the woman walked straight over to Darren and Frank. “Are you boys coming out here tomorrow?”
“Yes, your highness,” Darren answered, clearing his throat and struggling to speak more properly. “Well, I am. I’m here to watch the horses.”
“And you?” the queen said, turning to Frank. “Ah, one of the last survivors, I assume?”
Frank nodded quickly.
“I see you have spotted the dragons. They will be here the whole week. How do you like it here? Is it anything compared to the mountains?”
“Yes, it’s beautiful. The… the sun.”
The queen laughed. “You haven’t had much of that in your life, have you? What is your name?”
“Frank Anthony, ma’am.”
“Tell me, Frank, how old are you?”
“I’m 17, ma’am. 18 in a month,” Frank answered. He kept eye contact with the queen, as he had been taught to do with everyone since he was a boy.
The queen smiled and bowed gently. “Well, Frank, it is an honor to have you and your colony residing with us.”
She turned and walked toward Gerard, whose indifference was apparent; he barely registered what she said as she spoke to him, but she didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact. After the queen had left, Gerard did as well, jumping over the river and trudging through the tree-filled gap back to the Clinic. Twig galloped eagerly after him moments later, its footfalls like small earthquakes through the ground beneath their feet.
Day 2: Frank woke up the next day in the castle room that he had not had the time to examine the day before, or even when he got back that night. They room was square, about twenty feet by twenty feet; it was huge. Three walls were stone, and the fourth was wood, the one that the door was built into. The drapes were gold, matching the bed sheets and gold-carved furniture. Red oriental rugs covered the slatted wood floor.
Frank left the room and gasped. He had been too tired the night before to do anything other than walk, so he had not seen the inside of the castle. Each of the doors on Frank’s level, the seventh of approximately twenty, opened to the same open hall that wrapped around the center drop. There were maybe ten rooms on each floor. He went to the banister and looked down, all the way to the first floor. People bustled around down there, and he could see some moving about on the floors between. He looked up and saw the crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling thirteen floors up, shining in the light from the top windows.
Frank stepped from the railing, walked halfway around the hall to the stone stairs, and made his way down them, his sandaled feet tapping against each concrete step.
The main floor was similar to the rooms, red ornate rugs and gold furniture, but the floor was completely rock and the walls had portraits of leaders and people unknown to Frank. He looked up and again looked at the dazzling chandelier, even higher above now, for a few moments.
He got to the front and exited, standing out on the gravel patch outside the door. He looked out at the lawns; they were empty. All the people coming out of the building were going down the paths and out of the yard. Frank started walking as well. He knew where he was going.
The sun was high, as it was for most of the day. It burned down on Frank’s skin and he wondered if his skin would get darker. Either that or burn.
The streets were busying again. Tonight the city would be in the fields: food, people, and celebration for the wellbeing of the city and few survivors. The last preparations were being made throughout the town.
The Clinic was open, and another man was outside on a ladder, just finishing stripping off the black tape from the windows that Frank had so despised.
He was a young-looking man, strong and in a way, almost fatherly. He had kind eyes when he glanced down at Frank, smiling warmly. His hair was short and dark brown, as many of the townsfolk had. His arms were flexing with the struggle of pulling the black material. He was a worker, Frank could tell, his joints moving carefully and efficiently.
He pulled off the last bit and tossed it into the bucket beside the ladder, then wiped the windows with a dry cloth.
The man stepped down from the ladder and wiped his dusty hands on his white apron. The same kind of apron Gerard had been wearing the day before.
“Hello!” he called. “Do you need something, son?” The man stopped in front of Frank. He was taller, by a little less than Darren had been.
“Not really,” Frank answered. “I’m just looking for something to do, sir.”
The man smiled again and opened the door to the building, motioning Frank inside. Frank could hardly be-lieve that this was the same room he’d been in the day before. It was bright even without the lamps lit at all, and clean, the shelves sorted and the freaky floating slime in jars put away. The floors were mopped and shiny under Frank’s feet, and the cots were made up.
“Frank Anthony is your name?” the man said, flipping through the clipboard on the desk. “You know, while you’re here, I’ll check that bandage. The papers yesterday said it wasn’t too bad an injury, yes?”
He sat Frank down on the counter, moving the clipboard and bringing out a box of bandages. The man un-wrapped Frank’s arm and cleaned the blood from it. “That’s not too bad. Not at all,” he muttered, drying the wound and rewrapping it with a lighter dressing, one that did not restrict movement as much. He taped it down and put the box back.
“Are you the doctor?” Frank asked.
“Yes. Daniel Owens.” he shook Frank’s hand. “I’ve been sick for the past weeks, so I haven’t been around much lately.”
“Oh. Who was that guy yesterday?”
“Gerard? He lives in the room above the shop,” Daniel said, pointing to the high ceiling above. “Very helpful, that guy, but he’s incredibly unpredictable. One day he’ll be one place, the next no one will know where he’s gone. He’s stubborn too.”
Frank turned around on the counter and looked at the shelves nearest to him. “What are these?” he asked, pointing to a bunch of herbs in a jar.
“Chamomile,” Daniel answered, hardly looking up, “for making tea. Good for restless patients.”
Frank hopped down and noticed the object on the stool in the corner. He looked closer. It was an oversized leather collar with the word ‘Twig’ etched in the metal tag.” He picked it up and felt the tattered edges, wondering why a creature as magnificent as a dragon would have a collar, much less be named as strange a name as Twig.
“Someone found that in the field yesterday. Must have fallen off the poor thing during that tussle last week.”
“What’s Twig?” Frank asked.
“Gerard’s dragon…it’s actually a kind of funny story-- how he got it, that is. He was playing around in the crops one day when he was still a child, 10, I think, and he found the starving creature eating rotten apples from the orchard. He knew it’d be hurt if the guards found it taking from the gardens, so he hauled the thing up in his arms and carried it back here,” Daniel said, chuckling. “I couldn’t get him to let it out into the forest no matter what I said, so he kept it in the back in a picketed area and wrote “Twig” on a piece of wood. He tied it to a cord around its neck, and there was his pet dragon. I never would’ve thought it would stay, but it took an instant liking to him, and would follow him around town when he went out. Scared people half to death, you know, because dragons can kill people if they’re let loose on the streets.” Daniel leaned against the counter and looked at Frank, scratching his head. “Not Twig, though. That thing is as sweet as anything. Like a dolphin.”
Frank frowned. “What’s a dolphin?”
Daniel laughed. “Never mind that. It’s an animal.” He paused and seemed to be remembering something. “I was young when I took him in. Well, so was he, but I don’t know what I was thinking. He’s a hassle, for sure. He was a tiny child, underfed it looked, and he never did eat much. He’s still too bony, in my opinion, but I’m not his father.”
Frank sat down on the stool, holding the collar in his lap. “How old was he when he came here? If you don’t mind me asking, I mean.”
“No, it’s okay. I love talking about him when he’s not around. It aggravates him to hell, it does. He won’t listen to me for days if he find out.” Daniel grinned. “He was about ten, I suppose, maybe younger. We never found out his age; his mother dropped him into the mountains and died; they couldn’t tell us more than that. I was 26 at the time. Stupid. I volunteered him to live in the spare room. He wouldn’t let them put him in the castle, he hated it. Wouldn’t step foot in there.”
“Does he talk to you?”
Daniel snorted, shaking his head. “Hasn’t uttered a word since he got here thirteen years ago.”
Frank stared disbelievingly. “You’re serious?”
“As a stone. They’ve tried and tried, but he won’t say nothin’. He hasn’t made a single noise except when he’s calling the dragons, and that’s hardly anything.”
Frank watched as Daniel took out a stopwatch from the pocket of his pants beneath his apron. Daniel sighed and glanced at the stairs. “Could you do me a favor, Franklin?” he said.
“I need you to go upstairs and wake that lump up, will you? Tell ‘im he’s late for his training.”
Daniel looked sympathetic. “Sorry, I don’t think it’s my place to tell.”
Frank hesitated, but complied. “Up here?” he asked, pointing to the stairs. Daniel looked up from his papers and nodded. Frank continued up the winding stairs until he got to a door. He pushed it open quietly and entered the room. It was bright, brighter than the main room of the Hospital.
The room was circular, only maybe four feet in all directions from the middle. The window was a small section of the curving wall. Frank could see the city from it. A small desk was built into the wall on one side of the room, and on the other were a worn mattress and a black trunk. The mattress took up more than half the entire room. There was only about a foot of walking space between the two sides. A sheepskin covered the hardwood floor, only large enough to hide the gap amid the bed and desk.
The form on the mattress stirred and Frank jumped. Gerard lay on his back, his head to the side and his arm hanging awkwardly off the bed, his fingers barely touching the floor. The sheets were crumpled, concealing most of the left side of his body, and below his waist. His upper body was bare from what Frank could see, half hidden by the twisted covers. As it had in the field, his skin had an angelic sort of radiance, soft and smooth in the daylight. His hair was over his face, covering his eyes and cheek. The only blemishes on his features were claw-like, ragged scars trailing from his collarbone to his waist, disappearing below the fabric. Frank noticed bluish, black lines at the curve of Gerard’s shoulder, but he couldn’t tell what they were from the angle.
He turned around cautiously. On Gerard’s desk were papers, covered in sketches and paintings of people, plants, and animals, and the everyday life of the city. The watercolors were open on the table beside them, still damp with water. On the chair next to the desk was a pile of lightweight armor and a sheaved dagger. The han-dle was carved from dark wood, little runes and symbols etched in the material.
Frank whirled back around when the sound of the floorboards creaking reached his ears.
Gerard was awake and glaring at Frank, sitting on the edge of the bed in his shorts. He stood from the bed, and took hold of Frank’s shoulder, steering him from the room and shoving him into the hall atop the stairs. He closed the door and a click echoed through the passage when he locked it. Frank stood back against the wall for a few minutes and the door reopened. It was dark; Gerard had closed the curtains. Gerard exited the room, fully clothed with a pack over his shoulder. The man kept pushing Frank down the stairs as he went, his heavy boots thudding against each step.
When they got to the first floor, Daniel was at the counter, still hunched over his reports. Gerard maneuvered Frank in front of the desk and stopped, staring hard at Daniel until he looked up. Gerard looked pointedly at Frank and then angrily back at Daniel, his mouth set in a firm line and his jaw clenched.
Daniel shrugged. “What? I sent him up; don’t blame him. You’ll be late for training.”
Gerard took a breath and pushed Frank slightly. He turned and threw open the front doors as he left. Daniel rolled his eyes and grinned at Frank. He motioned to the door. “He likes you, eh?”
Frank shrugged and left the shop as well, catching up with Gerard, who was obviously trying to lose him in the crowd, but Frank skipped along next to him.
“Where are you going?” Frank asked. Gerard did not even acknowledge Frank had spoken this time. “What are you training for?”
Frank frowned and kept up, dodging people and heading toward the city. They passed the buildings, and passed the castle until they got to the back alleys. Legs stuck from behind crates and barrels in the shadows.
Gerard walked the way the crowd was going, past the alleys and along the back wall of the Royal yard. They crossed a bridge, went through a gate, and then were out of the city walls again, behind the city but slightly in from the edge of the forest. Frank squinted in the sunlight and frowned.
“What’s that?” he said.
They came upon a clearing in the trees where the path disappeared and gave way to sand, like in the square just inside the front gates. The arena towered above them, and above the trees, and Frank wasn’t sure why he hadn’t noticed the structure from the other side of the city. It was white and crumbling, different from any of the other buildings Frank had seen so far. It had to at least half the size of the castle, big enough for as many people in the town as would bother to try to fit in it. They got closer and Frank scurried to catch up with Gerard, who was a few feet ahead, walking to the front gates of the arena. He hesitated as they passed the guards, who nodded, saluting Gerard slightly and then re-fixing their gaze to the air in front of them, but then kept walking briskly. An old Latin phrase: ‘Morituri Te Salutamus’ was pounded into a hanging sign above the gates. The letters were rubbed and worn in the bluing copper, but Frank read them clearly and his breath caught. Gerard looked down at him, as if pondering how in the world this bratty, little, hobo kid could read Latin, but only hindered for an instant, and then hurried in the door.
As soon as they were inside the lobby of the arena, Gerard stopped in front of a billboard and read something on it, then turned to stare at Frank for a moment, then shoved him away and ducked under a cord, disappearing into the long corridors beneath the seating of the coliseum.
Frank stared into the shadows, and then stepped gingerly under the rope as well, the sign hooked onto it reading ‘DO NOT ENTER’ in large black, thick letters. He looked around in the dim light and then turned a corner into a separate room of which the door was open. The walls were lined with racks and hooks, armor, spears, and weapons hung over them. The benches underneath the racks were worn. All but one each had a name card nailed softly into them. The one in the far corner was less worn, and a name was carved permanently into the wood, burned darkly in the light surface: Gerard.
Frank jumped at the noise of clapping, and then footsteps approaching. He hid behind the curtain strung over the opposite wall and peeked out as someone entered the room. A large man in heavy, clanking body armor trampled his way to the third bench from the door, ripping off the nameplate and tossing it in the trash crate next to the door as he left.
Minutes later there was another cheer, even louder, startling Frank. He darted out from behind the curtain and back into the main lobby, following the noise up a flight of stairs. The stairs opened up to the huge arena seats. People crowded them, and Frank was almost frightened for a second. He looked down, however, into the middle of the coliseum.
Gerard was standing in the middle, cleaning off what looked to the dagger that Frank had seen on the chair in Gerard’s room. The cloth was stained red.
Gerard walked back into the lobby from the arena, leaving behind the cloth and chest armor he’d unbuckled and thrown down. Frank ran back down the wooden steps and into the lobby where Gerard was ducking under the rope. Frank followed him into the seat-lined room and watched as Gerard sat down on the bench marked with his name.
--And that's all you get. Sorry. It was gonna have vampires and universe shifts and hot guy sex and jealousy and Gerard being a good horseback rider and all that shit, but haha, I'm evil and lazy and lost the idea. You can finish it if you want, though. That would be cool. I wish I could just put out ideas and have other people write them if it is as hard as it is for meto come up with ideas. Cause I have whole universes in my files that I could just give away if anyone wants a story prompt.
-g. (Oh, and just to be bitchy: NO ONE WISHED ME A HAPPY BIRTHDAY THIS YEAR. Well, except cutegirl12356... She's awesome for that!)