by Max Barry

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by The Kingdom of Noyistain. . 7 reads.

The Song of the Dragons

The old stories tell that when the first person on the first morning in the land now called Noyistain woke, he yawned, stretched, and said to the first thing he saw, ¨Well, no stains here,¨ because of his unfortunate past. His name was Caelumis and the first thing he happened to see was a rock. Standing beside the rock, though, was a woman, named Terria, whom he would learn to get along with very well.
So throughout the generations, that sentence was taught to children and those children´s children and those children´s children, and so on, until, quite by accident, everyone referred to the land around them as Noyistain.
Noyistain was covered in jungle. There were cliffs at the coast as far as the eye could see, unless you were in Patriagellis, where the cliffs dipped into the harbor enclosed by the city.
In the southern jungles of Noyistain, lived to Wysteinens, Noyistainians who were traitors, thieves, and vagabonds, but they have little to do with Noyistain now. (Except for the fact that they once waged a Great War on pretty much every Noyistainian)
Aldire did not hate anything else in the land but the king, King Zandfli, his brother, who ruled Noyistain. As the fifth oldest, he never had a right for the throne. Aldire eventually rallied a large amount of Noyistainians onto his side. Just two days before he was going to steal the throne, King Zandfli discovered his brother´s plan.
After Aldire was banished from Noyistain, he traveled into the southern Noyistain. (The same place where the Wysteinens lived, and where Noyistainians would never venture) Years later, he worked himself into a power of position in the Wysteinen land, soon crowning himself King of Southern Noyistain.
But that did not stop him for wanting his brother´s throne. King Aldire marched his army into Northern Noyistain and took control.
After King Zandfli and all his lords -pretty much everybody with a claim to the throne- was thought to have been executed, the Noyistainians eventually learned to survive under the control of the invaders. Other then that, everything was fine in Noyistain, as long as everyone was in their homes after midnight, as long as everyone obeyed the new king´s orders, and as long as they never complained when their fellow Noyistainians were occasionally taken into the walls of the castle, never to be seen again. Other then the constant threat of death and torture, everything in Noyistain was fine.

Just between the jungle and the cliffs overlooking the sea, rested the small village of Rysenton, where lived one of the Noyistainish clans, the Clan of Greenbreeze. (In Noyistain, there are over twenty clans that each have a role in Noyistain. The clan members act like families to one another.) The Noyistainians who lived there cared for each other. They were happy with their farming lives. But except for the times when they sat late into the night, telling stories around the fire that Terni would build outside, or the times when they sang in the fields while they collected the harvest, or the times when the oldest Noyistainian in the clan, the grandfather, Pofliki, sat on the steps of his small stone cottage, gazing up at the stars an speaking of the Legend of the Jewels as if he were really there, even though every Noyistainian knew he was not (Or was he...), and except for the love and happiness that glowed from that village like a flame in the night, the Greenbreezes were miserable. Yes, quite miserable indeed, in that land where walked the Wysteinens.
But there, in that village was hope that could drive the invaders out. In that village were four Noyistanians, who were not from the Clan of Greenbreeze, but were the last members of the small royal clan, the Clan of Stonegale.

¨Basilisk!¨bellowed Pofliki into the quiet village of Rysenton, whacking a stick against the nearest tree. The old Noyistainian looked like a captain on a ship´s mast. ¨Basilisk! Quick! Everybody in the trees!¨
Nearby, a throwing knife thudded into a wooden board. Cornerdo squinted to see if he had hit the target, completely ignoring the clan´s grandfather.
¨Basi -oy! Fine throw, lad!-lisk!¨ Yelled Pofliki as the fifty Noyistanians of the Clan of Greenbreeze hurried up the trees.
Regelfi pulled his brother´s arm, ¨Cornerdo!¨
Cornerdo reluctantly dropped his knives and climbed up the trees behind Regelfi. Their sisters, Esthero and Abbigi, were already in the trees, watching their brothers below. Cornerdo heaved himself up on the highest branch just as the last of the Noyistainians were in the canopy. Only then, did Pofliki climb after them.
¨Listen lad,¨ He turned to Regelfi, ¨You need to be quicker in protecting your siblings. If your brother,¨ Pofliki glanced over at Cornerdo, ¨Is to stubborn to drop what he´s doing, its your job to find a way to persuade him. If that basilisk found you all, it would only be a matter of time before its slobbery teeth bite down into your tender flesh-¨
¨Pofliki, really?¨ Interrupted Niaia, a friend to Regelfi´s mother who sat only a branch above.
¨-And ripping it from your bones,¨ continued Pofliki.
Regelfi nodded, ¨Yes, sir.¨
Pofliki turned to Cornerdo, ¨That was a fine throw.¨
Cornerdo smiled.
¨But if your brother tells you to do something in the middle of a dangerous situation, you better do it.¨ Pofliki said. At this Cornerdo frowned and glanced down from the tree, ¨If this boy here tells you to run straight off the cliffs and into the sea, you do it.¨
Then, turning to Esthero, who was trying to keep Abbigi from sliding between the leaves and down to the forest floor below, Pofliki asked, ¨You alright, lasses?¨
Esthero nodded as she grasped the giggling Abbigi. But before Pofliki could say anything else, the basilisk slithered through the trees.
It was pale green, longer then most. Its scaly underside moved silently through fallen leaves. It had a red feathery spine like all basilisks, and its eyes were dark amber. Of course, none of the quiet Noyistainians above knew that. No one dared look into its eyes, in fear they would fall dead in the spot. But the basilisk did not seem to notice them in the trees.
The Noyistainians were used to this. They were used to sitting in the trees as trees were one of the only ways for Noyistainians to stay safe. Most of the time, it was Limbs, the ferocious cat-like creature almost as big as a horse and that blended into its surroundings thanks to its leafy coat, that came into the villages, mostly to steal livestock, while other times, it was the basilisks.
The basilisk slithered between the stone cottages, looking this way and that with its eyes. Finally, after what seemed like hours, it moved away into the jungle opposite from where the Noyistainians hid. After a few moments, the Noyistainians cautiously climbed down the trees and into their village, to continue their normal lives.

It was late in the day, and Esthero watched Cornerdo sweating up on the roof of their cottage, hammering a few wooden tiles that had been blown off during the storm only a week before. Holding the nails between his teeth, he hammered down with a shaking hand. He never liked heights, but Pofliki had sent him to do that job to face his fear.
Suddenly, Terni, one of the clan members, ran down the sandy street and into the center of the village, shouting, ¨They are here! The dragons are here!¨
Esthero looked up sharply, Abbigi already ran out of the cottage with Regelfi behind her, and it seemed that Cornerdo had heard Terni, too. Dropping the hammer, he half slid, half tumbled, down the roof and landed hard at the front of the cottage.
Obviously, the other Noyistainians heard. They were already running to the cliffs.
A soft, sweet note echoed off the cliffs and over the trees. A second note answered it, soon filling the air with beautiful music.
¨Hurry! They are here!¨ yelled Cornerdo as he jumped up and raced ahead of his brother and two sisters, leaving his throwing knives inside the cottage. arriving at the cliffs before them.
¨Wait!¨ called Regelfi, but Cornerdo ignored him. Sighing angrily, Regelfi grabbed Abbigi´s hand and ran after him. How was he to keep an eye out for his siblings if one of them never listened to him.
Esthero followed Regelfi toward the cliffs, her blue eyes to the sea. It wasn´t every day that the sea dragons would do their dances upon the surface of the water close enough for the Noyistainians to watch.
When Regelfi, Abbigi, and Esthero were finally standing beside Cornerdo, Abbigi was first to spot them.
Her breathe was caught in her throat and she pointed to a large serpent leaping out of the water.
It had red scales that shimmered in the sunlight like living fire. Its fins looked like wings and as it leaped around on the surface of the water, it almost looked like it could fly. But instead, when it leapt, it stayed there for a moment, before crashing back down into the waves. More dragons lunged out of the water, forming intricate patterns in the sea.
Cornerdo leaned forward, clutching the outcropping of the cliffs.
How could this be? thought Regelfi When only a few minutes before he nearly wet himself up on the roof?
The cliffs were so tall that if one fell over, and if they stopped screaming, they would have time for a final breezy nap before they plunged into their watery grave.
Regelfi noticed Esthero´s lips move to the sound of the dragons´, as if she was trying to remember the words to a song. Regelfi had never heard something more beautiful when the song escaped Esthero´s mouth. He was so enthralled in the song, that after a few moments, he would have noticed that it was all he heard.
The dragon´s had stopped their dancing.
They were gazing up at the cliffs where the Noyistainians stood and Esthero sang. Even though they were leagues away, Regelfi knew they were listening.
Esthero seemed unaware of the quiet commotion she was causing. She was looking at a point in the horizon, far past the dragons. The wind carried her voice over the rolling waves and it sounded like it came from the air itself. The Noyistainians stared at her as she sang,

The world is whispering,
the world is telling a tale.
When the sea foam froths in the wild waters,
or the phoenix flies in the gale.

Listen to the wind,
to the hush of heather down,
to the voice of the brook at the stony bend,
and the bells of Noyistain.

And yet! And yet!
When the tide runs low,
as the tide will always do,
and the heavy sky where bellows blow,
is bright at last and blue.

After the song was finished, Esthero came to herself again.
Everything was quiet. Even the birds in the trees behind them.
The sea dragons arched their serpent-like necks, and spreading their fins, they bellowed a sad reply to Esthero´s song.
Then, they were gone. They disappeared in the sea as quickly as they had come.
Regelfi, Abbigi, and Cornerdo stared at Esthero. In all the times they had seen the dragon´s, nothing like that had ever happened.
A hushed silence was soon followed with a loud chattering group of Noyistainians as they headed back to the village. When all had gone, Cornerdo´s eyes looked down and he jumped back, away from the cliff, clutching the grass as if the world would tip over and try to shake him off the edge.
Esthero laughed, her head full of music.
¨What was that?¨ Regelfi asked.
Esthero shrugged, ¨I don´t know. I think it was a song I heard long ago.¨ She suddenly looked confused, ¨That´s odd.¨
¨What?¨ asked the seven year old Abbigi.
¨I do not remember it any more.¨
Regelfi stammered, not knowing what to say, ¨ was really pretty.¨
Esthero smiled, ¨Thank you.¨
Before Regelfi could say anything else, a loud voice yelled in the jungle behind him. The four of them turned as a boy, around Esthero´s age, eleven years, ran out of the trees. He skidded to a stop and looked at them with his brown eyes. His hair was red and a bow was in his hand. A quiver of arrows was slung around his shoulder.
He looked like a member of the Clan of Fireleaf, the clan of warriors. It was the biggest clan in Noyistain since those Noyistainians mostly made up the army, or was once an army.
¨Who are you?¨ asked Regelfi.
The boy, only a few feet away, answered, ¨I am Flitconis. I was looking for my older brother. He was somewhere in this area, but I can not find him anywhere. Have you seen him?¨
¨What is his name?¨ Regelfi asked
¨Jerhino,¨ Flitconis said, glancing around, expecting Jerhino to appear nearby.
¨No,¨ Regelfi answered.
Fliconis sighed, but before he could say anything, shadowed figures stepped out of the trees behind him.
Turning, Flitconis whispered, ¨Uh oh.¨
There were seven of them, and with their swords drawn they stepped forward toward the Noyistainians.
They were Wysteinens.
The Wysteinens circled the five as Flitconis slowly grabbed an arrow. But before he could use his bow, a tall Wysteinen grasped his neck. Flitconis coughed, gasping for breathe.
Just as the Wysteinen did so, Abbigi turned to the nearest Wysteinen and kicked him in the shin. Regelfi tackled the shortest Wysteinen as Cornerdo punched the one that held Flitconis.
Surprised by the sudden attack from the thirteen year old, the Wysteinen let Flitconis go and turned around to grab Cornerdo. But the Noyistainian was to fast. Ducking between his legs, Cornerdo quickly picked up the arrow that Flitconis dropped when the Wysteinen held him and stabbed his opponent´s back.
Surprised, the Wysteinen fell onto grass.
Cornerdo did not have time to realize his victory before another Wysteinen attacked him.
While all this was happening, Esthero was dodging swinging swords and ducking clutched fists that were aimed for someone else. Flitconis had regained his breathe and was fighting with his knife beside Regelfi.
Esthero dove out of the chaos just as more three Wysteinens ran from the trees. With barely any skill in battle, and only one with a weapon, there was no way the five Noyistainians would survive.
Suddenly, a yowl from the jungle interrupted the fighting. Everyone froze, even the Wysteinens.
The blood that came from the Wysteinen Cornerdo had stabbed, had drawn the Limbs.
Yellow eyes glared at the people from the trees. A large, growling Limb stepped out and, hissing, leaped at a Wysteinen as more Limbs leapt out from the jungle.
Abbigi jumped back as the large Limb tackled a Wysteinen. Having no other choice, the Noyistainians ran toward their village, only hoping that there were no Limbs chasing them.
After they arrived into their village, Regelfi finally had time to think.
What had happened back there near the cliffs never happened before. Young Noyistainians, especially children, could not be able to kill ten Wysteinens in only twenty minutes. By time a patrol passed the gory sight, they would be on their way to Rysenton.

Two days later, Esthero was watching Abbigi chase the crows out of the fields. Flitconis was already back with his clan and with his brother, who he had found on his way back, and Cornerdo had, finally, finished the roof.
But what none of the four Noyistainians knew, was that fifteen years later, on that very day, Esthero would be seated upon the throne of Noyistain, after a war that had lasted five years, and that had driven the invaders out...

The Kingdom of Noyistain