It was never meant to survive, is the thing. It was the runt of its litter, and we don’t keep runts. They’re not worth trying to keep alive, because if they manage to miraculously survive the first few weeks of their siblings battling for supremacy of the brood, they never grow very large and tend to be timid. Which means they’re not worth hunting.
But I’d felt sorry for the little thing, and had impulsively rescued it from getting eaten by its brother almost immediately after hatching. It had snuggled in my arms, only hissing a little, barely any acid dripping from its maw onto my thick leather gloves and vambraces. I’d been bringing it to the forge to let it warm itself in its depths when the soldiers came.
It’s the only reason I survive. The only reason we survive. When I hear the screams and shrieks of my family and our Questing Beasts alike, I grab my little beastie and flee out the back door of the forge to hide in the refuse dump.
Nobody spots me, nobody comes looking for me after they search the forge, but I’m able to hear everything.
There’s no one left by the time it’s safe for us to re-emerge. Just blood and bone, scale and fur, acid and broken bits of armour. My home is ablaze with smokeless mage fire, the only thing that can contain and kill our Beasts, besides iron.
I look down at the last legacy of my family, who looks up at me and rests her talons gently against the hollow of my throat with a soft little trill. Like she grieves with me. Like she grieves for me.
And in that moment, I swear to care for her. Swear to do everything I can to make sure she grows strong and clever and wicked. I will make the queen rue the day she tried to circumvent fate.
I name my little monster Ruin.
I'm hoping to write and share a prompt every other week this year! By 'hoping', I mean I'm aiming for it, but anticipate that this will be a slowly fulfilled goal.
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