The bard had gone that day and Silmavalien lay in her bed, shifting uneasily. A squeak pierced the night. She tensed.
Then there was silence, and Silmavalien could hear the beating of her own heart and the rhythm of her breath. For some reason, possibly due to her own tenseness, she found it extremely irritating. For a long time she waited, lying on her elbow, consciously controlling her breathing.
The shrill squeak pierced the night again, this time higher and clearer than before. It rang in Silmavalien’s ears and she found it intensely irritating and a little painful besides. It made her want to squirm. It resembled the screech of unoiled steel scraping past unoiled steel. It continued on until it passed from her hearing.
Silmavalien’s heart beat frantically. She was excited but not afraid and she felt weak, weak as she had never felt before, and yet, for some reason, she felt as if she had always been this weak. Totally confused she sank back into the straw mattress and sought sleep.
Overpowering desire startled her back into alertness. Something she had secretly desired all her life was so close. It was as if an essential part of her that was yet indescribably more and other than herself was about to touch her, or else was within her reach. A new weakness, that was yet present from her first, least articulate memories, held her back, stood in her way. Held by such desire, yet in the midst of such weakness, she felt helpless and desperate. Just beyond her lay all the meaning of her life, all her heart’s desire, and yet she had no strength to reach it, to stretch out her hand and touch it.
Her voice soft and strained, Silmavalien sang:
All I desire is with you to be
Yet I am without any power
To reach out, I to you, you to me
Desperate and helpless, call out to the Higher
All then perfected, outside and the Inner
Silmavalien sat up in her bed, rocking restlessly. She felt like all her life her heart had been a still, quiet valley in which dwelt a few silent forms of life endlessly seeking something wider and more. Now, all that was gone in a chaotic whirlstorm of confusion and emotion. Would it shatter the walls enclosing, and sheltering, the little valley of her heart? Would it shatter the valley itself? When it was gone, would enemies pour through the broken walls and lay waste all that she was or desired? Or would it let in the Higher, to totally transform and fill her?
Wrestling with her emotions and fears, a soft thump on the floor behind her startled Silmavalien. She twisted around and first beheld the white light of the silver moon streaming through her window and flooding her room with pale and colorless yet strangely beautiful soft and white luminescence. At first all in her room seemed to be just as she had left it.
Then, Silmavalien saw that her shiny white oval had fallen to the floor. Then she saw it, just a few feet away from her, shinning softly in the moonlight and riddled with a webbed network of thin, inky black lines.
Cold, icy fear surged through Silmavalien. Even her heart seemed to stop beating. She did not think. She did not move. She did not hope or guess. She waited, yet with neither patience nor impatience. Fear annihilated all else.
Then, the shiny white oval split, revealing its true nature.
A few feet away from Silmavalien, on the clay floor, sprawled what could only be a dragon. A long, thick, clumsy tail uncurled itself on her floor. A thin neck, but nonetheless short against both the body and the head, supported a large, awkward shaped, rough and squarish-triangular head. Large, bulging eyes glowed a dim minty color and whirled slowly. A spiny ridge ran down from the forehead to the nose, where wide nostrils flared revealing molten depths which seemed almost to glow with dark red slumbering flame.
The dragon splayed four stumpy legs out around its body and looked too thick and clumsy to properly walk on them. The claws were a pale color, faintly transparent. Rather too small, much-crinkled, crudely shaped wings were splayed around the contrastingly lithe body. Everywhere the skin shone white in the pale moonlight.
Though Silmavalien thought that the dragon was despicably ugly and even repugnant to look at, she felt a certain strange thrill of excitement as its birth. She felt strangely affectionate and drawn to it as, overpowered by its hunger, it twisted around and began to eat its egg-shell. She felt its hunger and helplessness in herself. Despite its ugliness, the dragon fascinated her.
When the dragon had finished its egg-shell it twisted back around and creeled mournfully. The plea touched Silmavalien’s heart. She recognized it! She knew it, from the very bottom. All fear and reluctance suddenly gone she reached out and touched the dragon.
The instant her fingers touched the dragon’s skin icy fire coursed through that contact into Silmavalien’s blood, bringing with it both burning, excruciating pain and a strong sense of pleasure, which, mingling into each other, made the whole sensation even more unbearable. The dragon screamed a piercing screech which hurt her ears.
Silmavalien tried to draw back from the contact, but found herself unable. She had touched a dragon hatchling and already their hearts and souls were uniting, becoming one. Their minds were linked. Neither of them could do anything to that anymore than Silmavalien could revoke the fact that she had, of her own conscious will, touched. Her heart was already melting and breaking so that it could truly bond to the dragon’s. Perhaps that is why dragons are born so ugly; an attraction to something based in anyway whatsoever upon beauty cannot serve as a foundation for such a bond.
Slowly the pain melted away. Silmavalien lay beside the dragon, conscious of his name though she could not remember learning it. Minth. Unbearable ecstasy of joy, excitement, and wonder flooded her being. She drew Minth into the mattress with her and kissed his ugly head. Joy and love surged through her.
Silmavalien’s eyes fell on the dragon and she loved him. The beat of her heart harmonized with his. The rhythm of her breath merged with that of his. Their whole bodies vibrated with the same force and energy as they stared into one another’s very different eyes, the one having dark brown irises and black pupils, the other a dim, pale minty glow. They were so different and yet they were so close and the differences served not to separate them but to draw them closer together. It was wonderful, impossible, totally new.
Silmavalien smiled and drew Minth close to her breast. She kissed him on the nose and stroked the smooth skin on his neck and shoulder. The unbearable, inexplicable, unbelievably wonderful had happened to her. She was freed and bound. She had been born with Minth, but she still felt quite confused. Perhaps, indeed, it was now that Silmavalien felt more confused than ever. A dragon. The dragon. Minth himself was with her. She loved him. She wanted him. She wanted to be with him. She wanted things she knew she had never wanted before, but what it was she wanted she did not know. She had been instantaneously thrust into the wide new world of the undiscovered and the unexperienced and of another being’s emotions, experiences, and personality.
One thing Silmavalien did know. She and Minth were indissolubly bound together. Bound by love, bound by joy, and bound by desire. Their very lives, too, were joined. She felt his breath and his heart beat in her even as her heart beat in him. Without putting into words or knowing how she understood that they were already bound by a bond stronger than fear or death.
Acceptance, love, gladness, and quiet marvel filled her heart. This was the foundation on which all truly wholesome bonds are set. The fear, the terror, and the panic of just a few moments before seemed to have no place at all in the whole world and all the worlds. Indeed, it was very nearly forgotten in the love and goodness of their bond.
In time Silmavalien sank into a soft doze, not really all that akin to sleep, as she lay about Minth. Desires and images such as she had never known before and can hardly be described flooded her dream-consciousness. New emotion and new being flooded her mind. Here I will do my best to translate the song that she heard in that dream, the song that told of and was told in the language of this new world which was opening upon Silmavalien. Others may be able to do better; here is my best:
Swift and fiery, wind immortal,
Running beyond all mortal sight,
Now made one, undying in unity eternal
Beyond the everlasting fire and light.
Before the worlds were born
This was and is a world of its own;
Only those to love forsworn
Know this world to which no eagle has flown.
Now see and behold, lo!
This world more deep than eyes may see.
Come and find what no mind may know
Where all may dwell and as one be.
The streams here are pure and clear.
The winds are born with a flame living.
Never can one come to the end of me here.
There is fulfillment and yet no end to the seeking.
Come and find all your desire
To be made one ever closer.
Soar on winds of fire,
Fly beyond all you ever were.
This is where your heart can learn to fly;
These are the lands of true flight
Where there is no end or limit of beauty and sky
And you can race flame, soar on light.
This where you may run
As fleet as deer;
This where you will soar to the sun
Find there is no fear.
Swim through the rivers,
Ride upon the crest of the waves of the sea.
The winds here are stronger
Than all you can ever be.
Yet there is no harm;
Even pain will be life in love.
Find only peaceful charm,
Join the joy of all winged life above.
Do what you cannot do.
Race the wind swifter than you.
Find her in your heart, too
In strangest ways all your desires come true.
So the song went on, telling of and told by that world where everything is stronger than oneself and yet nothing is impossible, the world of fiery winds and tides and rivers and healing and the joy of love incarnate. Silmavalien did not understand the half of what she heard, but she knew that she and Minth were together in a way that more real and intimate that she had ever imagined. She knew her life was changed forever. She no longer was, and yet she was just beginning to be.
“I love you, Minth.”
Excerpted from DragonBirth, Copyright © 2014 by Raina Nightingale