Legend of the Hollow Earth Dragons
Long before there was a distinction between man and beast, all lived together in the belly of the earth, united in harmony. It mattered not who had the sharpest claws nor the most gnashing teeth, for the utopia they had found was unhindered by war or famine, each creature caring for the other in a vast village of compassion.
Magic had a home there, spawned by fairies and valkyries who cast their impish pleasures over the ogres and giants, the wizards and sorceresses, even the bloodthirsty vampires and lycans, who learned to curb their sanguine lust. Even the most dangerous beings recognized the entrancing beauty of their lives and inherently wished to protect it, but against what, they could not say.
Somewhere, in the depth of every form—no matter their shape, no matter their proclivities—a knowledge that danger lurked beyond the sanctuary of their underground lair hung above them like a pendulum ax, ready to decapitate their fragile existence without warning.
The bewitching Eden they knew as home was untouched for thousands of years, a legend among the rising population that grew over their heads, but their world was nothing like the one below.
Above the hollows, an evil was birthing, one even the humans could not see.
It started innocuously, a slow drip that spread like poison, infecting the innocent with its stain, the rot suctioning the good from the unsuspecting souls until the world on the outside was corrupted by the devastation the undergrounders had managed to escape for eons.
While the realm closest to the sun burned fraught with perils and anguish, greed and destruction, the insular society retreated further into itself, hearing their cries of torment but unable to help without endangering themselves. Inevitably, the toxin scorched the earth, and whiffs of the sin beyond wafted into the pure lungs of the untouched, who began to feel the unrest among them.
Almost overnight, the magical touches of the fairies transformed into something more sinister, and where there was once only play, a subculture of darkness fell.
The blood-lusting immortals suddenly craved the flesh they had learned to forsake, and the wizards cast spells to ward them away, knowing that they could no longer be trusted. Slowly, the immortals ventured out of the caves to feed their desire for flesh, opening a sealed door which should never have been touched.
Into the world they went, dazzled by the glow of the sun, an object they had never known. Their conditioning, however, kept them lurking in the night shadows, and both the vampires and the lycans developed an unhealthy obsession with overtaking the other. Only one species could return to the hollows, and neither would stop until their nemesis was eliminated for good.
When the war began between them, it waged for a thousand years, the fighting weakening the senses they had honed so well in the caverns of Eden.
And so, like the mortals before them, they failed to realize that there was a danger far greater than the one they had brought to the surface, puppeteering their moves with golden eyes and an ability far greater than anything either realm had ever seen.
They were dragon princes, five in total and hellbent on reigning all, unaware of what lay below. Cursed by a prophet in the time of the Pharaohs, they had wandered the earth: insatiable, longing, yearning, but never knowing what it was they craved so desperately.
The immortals from the underworld learned of the new enemy too late; they fled back for the portal to the caverns, but it was far too late. The dragons had been watching, biding their time as the vampires and lycans fought, waiting for a chance to retreat into the caves in the core of the world.
The dragons crashed through to the world below the surface, breathing fire and killing all who disobeyed them. They were there to reign, and no one could stop them from claiming the society of sorcery and magic.
Granted free monarchy, the creatures grew tenebrous, morose, and evil under the dragons’ rule. There was no more lightness or play—only melancholy and gloom.
For another thousand years, the heaviness weighed upon the inhabitants of Eden, until one day, the last of the fairies came to the high court to tell the dragons something they had never known.
“You have been roaming the high world, searching for something to sate your unquenchable thirst,” Lucia breathed, her wings flittering nervously as she surely anticipated being turned to ash.
But she had the princes’ attention, and she boldly continued.
“You have come here, hoping to find answers,” she said, her words rushing from her sparkling crimson lips, bright eyes dancing from one stoic face to the next. She paused, waiting for affirmation.
“Go on.” The voice belonged to no one in particular, yet it seemed to come from all angles at once. Lucia sighed quickly.
“Your desire is not within the power of your hands. The appetence will not subside as you claim more land or fortune. It will not dissipate with blood on your fangs, nor with beasts cowering in fear.”
She inhaled deeply. “No. You each hold the end of your incessant agony in the depth of your hearts.”
A low, dangerous rumble filled the high court, but she remained in place.
“You best elaborate.”
Lucia closed her eyes and nodded, knowing her next words would be among her last.
“You must find love.”
The rumble grew louder, and Lucia suddenly realized that the princes were laughing, a sonorous, terrifying noise that filled her with fear.
“Yes, my lords. Love will—”
She did not have an opportunity to finish her sentence; a bolt of flames shot out toward her, engulfing her in a lick of fire.
The dragons looked among themselves, unspeaking, unmoving. The consensus was clear, even without a word uttered between them.
It was not that the princes did not believe the pixie who had come to ease them of their everlasting pain. The prophet had told them something very similar upon placing the hex upon their heads, creating ungodly creatures who possessed no restraint or control, animals who were plagued with tireless suffering.
No, it was not a question of disbelief.
The brothers simply could not foresee a world where anyone could love a beast.
And for another five hundred years, the dragons stayed in the ruined haven of the underworld, plotting their next move.
The legend of Hollow Earth grew to be nothing more than a fairy tale, folklore to be easily dismissed and never again spoken of, but the princes knew better.
It was their kingdom, a deep, dark hell no woman could ever love.