Author's note: This is not exactly a Breath of Fire story; it's a homage to the Breath of Fire series. Ryan is not any Ryu you're familiar with, Katherine is not Katt from BoF2, and so on. A few years ago I had an idea for a story about a guy with dragon powers, and the more I thought about it the more I realized it felt a lot like a Breath of Fire game, so now that I'm finally getting around to writing it, I'm intentionally drawing on some of the thematic elements of the series.

I hope you enjoy it! Comments and feedback are welcome. Constructive criticism is welcome. Pointless flaming is not.

Ryan was not a human, or at least he hoped he wasn't. The shamans said he was as twinsouled as any in the village, that his appearance was simply a fluke. Some children's totems didn't manifest at birth, waiting until some point during childhood, or sometimes even leaving them looking like a mundne human as late as a year or two after the onset of puberty. But even in those rare cases, children knew they would end up looking much as their parents did. But Ryan was an orphan, abandoned as an infant in the dead of night at the small village of Saroa. He was almost a full-grown man now, and he still had no fur, no tail, no scales or wings or horns, and no idea which of those he would end up growing! Or when it would finally happen, for that matter. Being an orphan was bad enough, but being some kind of late-blooming freak did nothing for his social standing. But the shamans assured him and the rest of the village that he was twinsouled, so he waited.

Looking like a human had some advantages, to be sure. Fur could be awfully inconvenient. Hard to keep clean and it had a nasty tendency to catch fire. Noren, the village smith, was ox-totem, and kept his fur very short, almost shaved clean, especially on his front side. It made him look very strange, but no one in the village was foolish enough to tease an ox-totem about his physical appearance. Especially not Noren, who being a smith, was large even for an ox!

Ryan was glad he only had his slightly unkempt shock of blue hair to worry about maintaining. He sometimes hoped, when his soul manifsted, that it would be a lizard-totem. Lizardmen weren't held in particularly high regard, but at least they didn't have to worry about fur. They got hard, protective scales all over, and a tail to help balance. They made superb warriors, though what good was a warrior in this time of peace? The Shell Oath had brought a truce to the terrible Dragonwar when Ryan was still a toddler, and since then the land had lived in peace.

He wondered at times if his parents had fought in the Dragonwar, battling the terrible Dragon Clan, the former protectors who had betrayed the land, driving humanity to the brink of extinction and leaving many villages and cities, human and twinsouled alike, as desolate ruins. That was the story he chose to believe, that his parents were brave warriors who had never returned because they died in battle against the rampaging dragons.

But today he had more important things to concern himself with than fantasies about his heritage. Today was the day of his future, not a time to focus on some past which maybe never even was. Today was the day that Karl the ranger, his Master, would begin to teach him to wield a sword.

Like his apprentice, Karl was something of an oddity in the village. A tall, lean wolf-totem well into his middle years, the ranger was a veteran of the Dragonwar who held to the old ways. When all around believed that the Shell Oath had brought peace, Karl remained vigilant and kept himself ready for the next war, remembering and frequently reminding any who would listen of how suddenly the Dragonwar had begun. Not many listened, of course-who had time to prepare for a war that never came when there were crops to plant, goods to trade, mates to court, and all the other activities of normal, peaceful life? But Ryan had sought him out, and the aging wolf hadn't turned him away or seen, as too many saw, the countenance of a feared Solitary in his too-human face.

The youth rolled out of bed, quickly changing out of his nightclothes into a light tunic and trousers. He walked outside, dunking his head in the rain-barrel and scrubbing his face in the reflection, then washing his hands as well. Mother insisted on cleanliness before breakfast, and he didn't want to be late to his meeting with Karl.

He got back inside just as his adoptive parents were finishing preparing breakfast. Mother and Father were rabbit-totem, but contrary to the stereotype they had no children of their own and they had taken the young foundling in and raised him with love. He helped Father set plates, forks and knives around the table as Mother set out the food, then they sat down together and ate. Ryan barely even noticed what the food was, he just finished it quickly, then gave Mother a hug before rushing out the door.