#4 Co-Writing with NovelAI: Amuin and the Dragon Kingdoms

#4 Co-Writing with NovelAI: Amuin and the Dragon Kingdoms
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Amuin folds their wings on their back and stills their tail, trying to make themselves look smaller and less intimidating. They’re unused to anyone being frightened of them, and while some of their siblings boasted of the fear they inspired, Amuin found they did not like it at all. “I’m just passing by,” they said. “I have only just fledged, and am exploring and searching for where I will make my new home. My name is Amuin.” At the nervous looks of the woman and the surrounding warriors, they hesitate. “You are dragonkin, aren’t you?” They’d been so certain of the scent. The other fox people might have lied about that.

A man steps forward, his eyes narrowed as if he doesn’t trust them. He’s wearing a small cloak around him; Amuin notices now how similar it is to Elias’ robes, and they realize that the villages may have a lot in common, being only a short flight away from each other.

“My name is Quinton,” the man says.

That didn’t really answer Amuin’s question, and they shift uneasily. All of the bird people are still pointing their spears at Amuin and most of them still look frightened.

Amuin takes a half-step back. “Uh … nice to meet you, Quinton?” They try to sound cheerful, but their concern bleeds into their voice. “Would you rather I left?” they ask uncertainly. “I’d hoped to visit and learn more about you, but I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.”

Quinton shakes his head. “It is a good thing that you’ve come,” he says, sounding relieved. His eyes go round, and he looks over Amuin’s shoulder. “Wait.” He turns to the rest of the group. “Come look!”

Amuin watches in fascination as one of the warriors dashes off and returns with a young child wrapped up in blankets. This is followed by another warrior carrying a baby; each of the children is covered in downy fluff and narrow pin-feathers. Unlike their parents, they don’t seem frightened of Amuin, and reach out with small, scaly hands.

Amuin instantly feels more comfortable, distracted by the very small bundles being held up to them. “You are very small,” they say, leaning their muzzle down to sniff the nearest baby. “I was much larger when I hatched.”

The little dragonkin smiles at them.

“This is Fennel,” Quinton says proudly. “She’s our youngest and the smallest of us all. Will you give her your blessing?”

Amuin sniffs again. The child has a sweet scent. A happy scent. Maybe that means it is well-loved. “I’d be happy to bless her, but I don’t know how.”

Fennel giggles as the child is lowered to the ground. Amuin gently places their paw on the bundle. They feel a spark of heat in their gizzard, and then the warmth spreads through them and down into their claws.

Without being completely sure why, they say, “May your face always be turned to the sunlight.” They exhale gentle warmth with the words in a cloud of golden light which settles on the child. Fennel reaches up and wraps her fingers around one of Amuin’s toes as they do so.

The crowd begins to murmur, and Quinton laughs and claps his hands. “Thank you for the blessing, great one,” he says, bowing.

Their fear gone, the other dragonkin crowd in closer, pressing their children toward Amuin, begging for more blessings. Soon they are surrounded by excited dragonkin, demanding to have their babies blessed too, but Amuin feels overwhelmed by so many people and wants nothing more than to find a place to rest and sleep.

They step back hastily, knocking aside a few dragonkin as they do so. “Oh! Sorry. I, uh … I’ll come back to visit another time,” they say. They consider saying something more, but as the dragonkin make to press in again they turn and flee, leaping up into the sky. Flight is becoming easier, though they feel more tired than expected; they used up a lot of sunlight blessing Fennel, if that was really what they did. They decide to fly on and see what else the world has to offer, hoping to find somewhere to go where everyone isn’t obsessed with getting something from them. With first the fox people trying to steal their blood, and then the dragonkin begging blessings, they are feeling oddly used.

As they fly on, they avoid villages, trying to fly into more uninhabited parts. The land falls away and a vast ocean stretches before them. The salty smell of it excites Amuin, who has never seen the ocean before, but they know they cannot fly forever without recharging. They are about to turn back when they spy a small island surrounded by what looks like shards of white crystal. It might make a good place to land, and there’s thankfully not a village in sight.

Amuin alights just outside the forested fringes. After their meal, they lay out to dry and rest. In the distance they can hear waves crashing against rocks.

The sun is sinking behind the horizon, casting long shadows through the trees as Amuin watches for predators or other dragons. There are none in sight, but the thought that there could be one suddenly fills Amuin with unease. Maybe they should try to find a cave, or some sort of protection.

For a fully-grown dragon, there is little to fear in the world. But as a fledgling dragon there are still a great many creatures larger and more dangerous than Amuin that their parents warned them about. Especially as Amuin does not relish fighting.

They stand up and stretch, enjoying the feel of the sunlight on their feathers, and trot through the forest and deeper into the island. As they walk, they keep an eye on the sky, half expecting a dragon to swoop down and attack them. However, the islands seem largely deserted, save for a few birds flying overhead.

They come to a large beach lined with smooth black rock, and decide to explore further. The tide is receding rapidly, revealing small rocks and shells.

Feeling a little more relaxed now, and still enjoying the warmth of the sunlight, Amuin decides to explore the beach. There’s a particularly large hunk of rock that seems … almost shaped, as if by hand. When they sniff it, they can only scent rock and saltwater, but as they dig away the sand around it they soon discover it is not just a rock, but a statue, carved in the likeness of a phoenix, one of the First Beings from the legends. As Amuin uncovers the statue’s face, its eyes snap open.

“You can’t be here!” A voice booms out, shaking the sand and rocks.

Amuin instinctively take a step back. The statue isn’t moving, but it’s speaking. “Hello?” they call tentatively. They half-spread their wings, legs tensed and ready to spring should this statue-creature prove dangerous. But they can’t deny their curiousity. Their parents never told them about talking statues.

The statue’s voice is deep and resonant. “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to startle you.” Its eyes glow with some inner light, but its voice is kind.

Amuin relaxes and steps forward, feeling a little more comfortable. “Then why did you tell me to leave? And who are you? Were you always a statue? I’m Amuin, by the way.” The words tumble from them in their excitement.

“Ah, yes,” the statue says. The light of their eyes flickers, as if blinking. “My name is Hali. I am the caretaker of these islands.

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