the Dragongirl is born
“Do not go to her,” the Ophelia whispers to you, her hands of algae and slime brushing your shoulder. You stare ahead at the path that winds down, down, down into the deep hills and do not waver in your decision. “Do not go to the Dragon, my love.” But you are solid and stone and her words of water do not affect you. The air is cold and the light is dying darkness as the Ophelia twists about you and clasps her shining blue cloak around your shoulders. She weaves ice and snow into your hair and kisses your lips until your cheeks are red and your breath as cold as the air. And there she leaves you, fading to mist while you stare into the mouth of the cave and breathe as though drowning.
You step into the hill and go down, down, down past the light paths and glittering chasms. Past dripping water and the most precious of gems, past cold earth and molten fire. There is no door. There is no entrance. You step and you are with her – the dragon turns her great head towards you and exhales smoke at you, but you breathe and the cold air of your lungs cuts the smoke. The dragon turns her great body towards you, but you are unafraid. Slowly, slowly, like time that is timeless, she moves forward and embraces you. Her claws touch first, and then her soft belly and her tail and neck and head rest about your trembling form and her wings envelop you in heat. The ice in you melts and you tremble. There is nothing but the head and the scales, and her great mouth opens to drip boiling spit onto your face.
She will eat you, she will eat you; the world above is so much safer, but you, foolish traveler, chose the path of the hills.
Her breath is hot fire and she closes her mouth about you and swallows you whole. You are food, you are consumed, you are a part of another creature. You flow within her and feed her and go lower and lower into her body. Within her you melt.
Unflinching, you resist. The cloak of the Ophelia burns cold against you and you engulf yourself in the memory of her and the dragon about you roars in pain. You cling closer to the cloak, and the dragon shrieks and thrashes about. Within the cloak you freeze. The dragon gives one last cry and falls; no movement or life remains.
You unfold yourself from the cloak and tear and peel at flesh as it decays around you, but you are so deep it takes days and weeks and months and years of digging. The flesh of the dragon is indistinguishable from your flesh even as you tear from her and fall into the cave under the hills beside her. Bloodied, reeking, and stained – you lift yourself to unsteady feet and walk to the lake the dragon so fiercely defended. You strip of the worn cloak and dive into the water, letting it wash away what it can. But you cannot be returned to how you were.
When you return to the surface the dragon is only bones. The cloak is battered but you don it again and step to the bones, water falling from you in small rivers. You clasp the skull of the dragon and lift, and you wear it about your head as a symbol and a sign, and you feel the heat and the scales move against you again. It is heavy and fits properly about your head, held aloft by power your own and dissimilar. The path to the world above lasts but a moment as you travel upward, and soon the twilight hits your eyes and blinds you.
The Ophelia stands where you left her, and you kneel at her feet before rising without permission. She stares at your skull and your eyes and your bare form and looks away. You raise your hands and stand proud before her, but she does not look. She fades to mist. You adjust your skull and dart forward, the hulking power of the dragon trimmed down and swift in your feet and hands. You abandon your lover and take to the forests where her mists will not touch you and where you can be free.