And Society Comes Crashing Around Us

A duo of men wove their way through a crowded street, thick fabrics lapping at their ankles in deep shades of brilliant blues, flowing from where they were stitched along the sides, edged in glimmering gold, tainted with the rose light of the dying sun. The first stood tall, reaching over six feet, with a mouth that never seemed to stop moving, spewing an endless babble of nonsense and chatter that danced through the air, swirling around the men and women they passed, darting in and out of their ears so quickly it could not have made any sense. The second was smaller of stature, his eyes level with the shoulder of the other, and slightly less talkative, and his stream of sounds less steady. He was content, really, to let the other fill the space the empty noise makes with banter, light chatter to fill the loud void.

That is, until his eyes fell upon a man who brought rage bubbling from his gut, up through his throat, and into his mouth, where it slithered off his tongue as a hiss, words cutting through the air and burying themselves in the hearing of his towering companion, "Elf" His head inclined towards the object of his anger, a man dressed similarly to him, but in lush garnet and formal silver. This man sported a shock of whitish-blue hair that seemed to flow in no particular direction to his mid-waist, jagged and bed headed, but definitely not unkempt. As he moved slightly, another man came into view behind him, of extremely slight figure nearly swallowed by the folds of his robe, which pooled around his feet. Despite the puddle of heavy crimson that would trip up the average man, he moved with a surprising grace from stall to stall, seeming almost to dance as he chattered merrily with each merchant while he picked up the things he need, dropping liberal amounts of glimmering coins into their hands.

The taller of the blue men raised his voice from a pleasant conversational level to a bellowing roar, and within seconds the street had quieted noticeably, for this was not a little-known voice, "Look, Gregory!" this first comment he directed to his shorter companion, but the second carved through the air, cleaving the silence with the reverberating of his voice, one simple word that leaves the pensively floating silence to come crashing down onto the busy marketplace, "Freaks!" A false cheeriness clung to his voice, dripping away to reveal heavy disdain and a hint of malice.

The first of the red-robed figures, looking remarkably similar to the second, if a bit larger, spun around, a glare painted onto his face. His eyes seemed to hold an ethereal quality, a misty steel blue gaze that thrust its way through the crowd, finding its mark on the face of the one named Gregory. His anger was accompanied by the soft hue of his hair darkening, shifting to a red that seemed to change hues and tones with every slight movement he made. His mouth opened, spilling words in a deceitfully calm voice, a far cry from the trembling rage that enveloped his body, "I'm sorry, what did you say? I'm afraid I couldn't hear over the sound of your stupidity." His fingers curled into fists beneath the fabric that swallowed his arms, a ball of rage growing deep in the pit of his stomach.

He was met, once more, by a sickeningly sweet reply from the shorter man in blue "Sampson complimented you, you know. I would think you should be grateful. Oh well, I suppose some people these days are just too dull to see kindness when it's put right in their face."

Sampson, as he was called, flashed a wicked grin, shifting his weight to one hip and reaching down to undo the buckle on the simple brown belt that held his robe tight while he walked. A few people backed away, glimmers of fear, awe, and forced respect hiding in the back of their eyes. The man's lips moved in a mute incantation, forming words of a tongue so foreign to the human tongue, his vocal chords couldn't even create the noises. Slowly, his skin began to stretch, suddenly too small for his body, and tinting itself a putrid greencolour, his bones morphing and shifting beneath it, muscles growing to accommodate a new form. Flesh began to harden into plates nearly of steel, glistening a murky green the shade of river water when the banks are flooded, and forming around a distinctly reptilian form. Huge appendages sprouted from his back, peaked webs of translucent skin spread over a scale-covered skeleton. A long tail grew from his lower back, coiling dangerously around a group of frightened civilians, tipped in a glimmering golden razorblade shaped as a spade. His fingers morphed into sharpened golden claws that caught the sun and glimmered with a sickening reddishcolour. Previously unremarkable eyes grew to fit a large skull with an elongated muzzle filled to the brim with jagged and deadly inch long teeth, eyes now shining with a cruel light, a dancing shade of amber that hinted at malicious and murderous intent, hidden behind an icy sheath of sarcasm and cynical humour. Now standing nearly fifteen feet at the shoulder, he swung his head down, levelling it so those ever so expressive eyes bored straight into those of the now dwarfed man, teeth bared in a broken cross between a grin and a snarl.

The taller of the red-robed men caught the gaze with a painfully blank stare, eyes flat and emotionless, yet his lips twisted into the slightest smile, tweaked upwards at the edges where they called for the sky to come down and meet them. A handful of words slipped as fog through his lips, laced with venom, "The game, mydearest friend, is on." His hands slid from beneath the arms of his robe, a flicker of azure flame appearing as if from nowhere in his palm, standing in suspended existence for a moment before lashing out and flicking the great lizard on the nose.

Before the violence could escalate any further, one long, pure note sang out over the tense silence, splitting it with the bugling call of a trumpet. A crack sliced through the barrier of noiselessness, preceding the hollow ringing of metal-shod hooves slamming into cobblestone. A mad beating of wings from six oversized and magnificent eagles with the tails and hindquarters of elegant horses announced the arrival of an ornately carved carriage. Cthulhus carved onto the exterior of the red-tinted wood seemed to give it an air of authority, a chilling power engraved into the vehicle itself. One door swung open and a short, small-framed man stepped out. He stood, his chin tipped upwards, peering over his elegant nose to focus his gaze on the scene before him, now a dragon and a man holding fire staring directly back at him. His voice seemed to roll as it left his mouth, lightly salted with an accent that hinted at regal background, tainted with a stroke of disdain, "I trust you two gentlemenare the ones who are causing the terrible ruckus in the palace?"

The men now stood alone in the marketplace, their companions, the merchants, and those who had been perusing the stalls having disappeared, either at the first signs of violence, or upon the cold blast of the trumpet. Sampson was the first to speak, a note of respect colouring his voice, which came not from his mouth, but from his heart, echoing inside the minds of the fire-wielding man and the new arrival, Yes, sire. A minor dispute, I assure you. Balthasar and I were only playing around.

A quick nod from the red robed man wasn't enough confirmation from the short, regal man, whose eyes shone with distrust and disappointment, so the target of his gaze went on to speak, his words warbling with badly masked fear "Of course, Prince, er, your highness. I mean, we've no intention of uh, of repeating the incident."

"I should expect not!" the voice caused both offenders to flinch backwards, away from the source. "And to ensure it does not happen again, from this moment on a new law will be passed. There shall be no shape shifting to forms larger than eight feet at the shoulder, nor those that have any sort of biological weaponry inside the walls. Magic, from here on in, shall require a permit to be used within city limits. There are to be no exceptions. Punishment for breaking of these laws will be immediate execution. Is that understood, children?"

The two nodded, the light flickering out of Balthasar's palm, and Sampson's wings spreading as he took to the skies, making a hurried exit, Balthasar's robes flapping in the powerful downdraft from their purposeful movements. The prince clambered back into his carriage, crying out an incomprehensible word and urging his team of regal hippogryphs to leave. A lone man ventured onto the street, watching the retreating figures with eyes of an unnatural shade of violet, one that mixed with a gentle blue to create a pool of soft periwinkle, dotted with a deep black pupil, a simple tunic of the purest orchid pulled over his shoulders, masking his frame.

Silence fell once more, until slowly people began to reappear, first in pairs, and then in droves, once more filling the market with light, noise, and joy. The only indication anything had even happened those few moments ago the soft whispers of new laws passing from ear to ear, spreading like an uncontainable wildfire over the populace.

-oOo-

It was by chance, of course, that the man had been shown the paper, asked to read it, and received an invitation to the party. It wasn't be chance that he came, rather by persuasion on the part of his brother, to slip into the hordes of men who wore ornate masks and women hidden behind delicate fans. If it weren't for the nature of the party, the seemingly useless need to hide faces from the eyes of others, the man would have surely been found out already. His skin crawled with the nearness of so many who were not like him, a flower among a garden of weeds. He knew, everyone knew, that the expansive ballroom was filled to the brim with men and women who could, with the murmuring of a simple prayer, grow wings and sprout tails, flesh turning to scale and faces mutating to vicious jaws and venomous fangs. The room was full of dragons, distinguishable only by their figures, which seemed slightly broader and taller than the rest of the population. The man, however, was abnormally thin, delicately boned, barely reaching to the armpits of many of the dancing, swirling lizard-folk around him. Had he not hidden behind a mask of spun silver, dull gray-green eyes shaped as almonds would have marked him as elvenkind, a sworn enemy of those around him. Ordinarily the mere presence of the great, bellowing reptiles would have caused him to shiver, but he knew he was safe, hidden behind the guise of youth greater than that which he possessed.

Glancing around himself, his breath hitched as he saw that his brother, the twin who he had spent his life, had left his side, the iridescent colours of his clothing lost among the prism of colourful costumes. A warm hand brushed his own, and he turned, facing another man, or rather, another man's chest. Eyes masked by silver, he looked up at the offender, taking in what little he could, the broad shoulders, the impossibly soft looking hair settled in gentle waves of short flaxen blond that ended just beneath his ears.

An ornate mask of brass, carved with delicate strokes to resemble overlapping scales, obscured the upper half of his face, revealing only an effeminate chin and thin lips pressed into a serious line. The voice that slipped from behind the mask was cold and serious, condescending, even, "What's a kid like you doing here?"

The lie that slithered from between his teeth came naturally, a silver tongue to match the icy silver of the mask he wore, prepared ahead of time, no doubt, accompanied by a whisper of innocence to mix with his words, "I'm no child, merely short for my age."

"And what, pray tell, is your age?" The sudden formality reminded the man of how very peculiar these men were, who danced for fun as they spoke for politics, and he hesitated, before sliding around the subject with a vague stream of words.

"Young enough to be no one of importance, yet old enough to care. Now I ask of you a dance to accompany our words." He offered one hand, masked by a sheath of fabric, wisp thin and winter white, his lips remaining neutral as it was enveloped by the much larger hand which took it.

The men melded into the crowd, following in the footsteps of the party-goers around them and moving with impossible regality in quick dips and turns. The song came to a slow, and their movements grew closer, heat rushing to the cheeks of the men, now doubly glad for their masks. Fate, perhaps, had made the door stick that eve, leaving it open to the cool night's breath, allowing them to slide, unnoticed, into the open courtyard, devoid of human life save the masked duo.

A single crowd rolled across the moon, its crescent of light reduced to slight rays, and the dancers stopped, pausing in the mottled shadow of a towering oak that stood proud over an imposing statue, a dull gray dragon with wings spread wide and rearing upon its hind legs. Masks slid to the ground as the men looked, wordlessly, upon the faces of one another. An edge of alarm cut into the voice of the taller as the simple cocoa eyes set too thin and delicate to be those of a friend, glanced up at him, "You- you're not supposed to be here."

Guarded tone now dropped, the petit man nodded, eyes boring challengingly into those of the taller figure's, which held an impossible shade of thistle-like purple, his voice similarly dangerous, "Of course I am, it was the fault of the man of the house for sending a servant unable to read to send out invitations. I received one, though I intended not to come."

"Then why did you?"

"Would you not have done the same, if given the opportunity to see the habits of your enemies?" A toying smirk planted itself on the elf's face, teasing the clearly dumbfounded dragon into silence.

As the night wore on, the two began to talk, opening up slowly to speak of trivial issues, revealing, eventually themselves to be within a decade of one another's great ages, peaking at well over a half thousand, ancient by human standards, childish by their own. One night to learn the names, Julio Capulet, Romeo Montague.

Their friendship blossomed, faked meetings of chance in the marketplace and conversations held under the cover of shadow, yet remained in this state of false perfection for only a few days before it was noticed.

-oOo-

A bellowing roar rose above the muffled silence of a quiet household, echoing from the walls of the common room and out into the foyer, "You! You've been spending time with that elf boy, haven't you!" A handful of words to cause a near infinite number of wounds, each syllable a small knife to puncture another hole into the fragile emotions of the dragon, not a question, but an accusation. The effect was just enough, that final push to send an already unstable child tumbling into a state of rebellion.

A snarl rose from his chest, painting the air with a flourish of anger, and it only cut off as a few carefully selected words meant to deal sharp blows, to parry and return the harsh ones of his father, "Maybe I have, but what are you going to do about it?" A flicker of regret passed over his periwinkle eyes for just a moment, before dashing into hiding, replaced by a fiery defiance.

Another roar.

A name.

"JULIO!"

A slap.

And the boy was gone, out through the heavy wooden doors that caged the comforting heat of the hearth's fire, and into the icy embrace of the morning. His feet carried him across the grass of his family's lawn quickly, too quickly for the enraged father who tailed him, too quickly to stop and hear the sob and the apologies that ripped from the throat of a regretful man. Bare feet slammed into the damp sod, clumsy, leaving heavy prints and broken twigs in their wake.

It had to be fate that brought him to the edge of the ravine after what seemed like an eternity, where his face met the ground with the distinctive whisper of flesh tearing open. A thin stream of crimson liquid rolled from the wound, mixing with the film of dried tears streaked over his cheek. He lay there for a moment, dazed, lost, and feeling alone. When his eyes finally cracked open once more, they focused on a single shadow over the waters, one shaped too much like a rose to be natural. A shiver ran down his spine as the realization sunk in, memories racing back to a whispered warning by his mother, a gentle-spirited woman made bitter by years of marriage to a man who truly embodied the word dragon. You must never venture where the shadows form flowers, that is the land of the elves, and it is not safe for you there. He could remember inquiring why, receiving his answers. Our species have not gotten along for many millennia past, it is not something we can change.

The adolescent seemed to be happy to lay in the darkness, enveloped by shadows that clung to him like burrs, irritating, yet beautiful in their own way. Motionlessly, he sank deeper into an ebony state of mind, mentally scrabbling for purchase of a pathway of light cobblestone that crumbled to silt between his fingers. His eyes drifted shut, and he found himself wishing for nothing more than to be able to communicate with Romeo, the only friend he had ever been able to say he had, without the risk of harsh reprimands from his father, his mother, his peers. Already he could feel himself slipping away, readily falling into the oblivion of sleep.

Only for a moment.

Fleeting.

Silence.

A soft hand pressed onto his back, a whispery voice urging him to wake up. "Julio, Julio you've got to wake up. I was out for a walk and I saw your parents, they're looking for you." He paused in his speech, jostling Julio's shoulder, "I'm glad I found you, please wake up. They're upset."

The dragon didn't respond until he felt something sticky drip onto the back of his hand. As misty lavender eyes drifted open, focusing on a blade of grass in front of his nose, a sharp scent cut through the air, metallic and bitter. He rolled over, flipping onto his back before clumsily sitting up, allowing himself a moment to adjust to the dim light. What met his eyes drew a gasp unbidden from the boy.

Crimson dribbled down the side of his face from his temple, dripping off of his chin and sinking into the ground. One eye was swollen shut, bruised and scraped brutally, while his right arm seemed to be bent at an impossible angle. His delicate silken robe, dyed a soft pink, hung in tatters, soaked with blood and dyed a horrific garnet.

As shocked silence settled over the duo, a rapid beating of wings drew nearer and nearer, before an entire flock of giant winged reptiles of varying shades of green and gold settled behind Romeo, trapping the young boys between the sheer cliff of the ravine and their bodies, each reaching between twenty and forty feet from nose to tail tip.

A torrent of voices echoed around the insides of their minds, so many that it was an impossible task to try and pick one apart from the din, yet they all reflected the same tones; rage, anger, fury, and an urge for violence. When the first beast stepped forwards, grasping Romeo by the foot, Julio could only stare. As the second pressed a claw down onto his chest, he managed to stand. By the time he was able to form words, to scream for them to stop, there were already five, claws working to carve the young elf to pieces.

By the time he was nothing but a pile of torn flesh, mutilated bones, and glistening blood, Julio had already muttered the ancient incantation and taken the form of a glittering green dragon of dull, murky colour with brilliant and shimmering claws.

Before his father noticed, he was already skyward, almost at the clouds.

And before he could be stopped, his wings were folded, nose pointed to the ground, and he was falling.

Three words rippled through the unnaturally noiseless moor land, bouncing within the minds of all the creatures that could walk upon two legs if ever they so chose to take the form. Three words so powerful, they would haunt those assembled for centuries to follow.

Three words.

Three syllables.

"I loved him."

And then the heir to the Capulet manor was no more than a lifeless pile of bones at the bottom of the ravine, battered and broken by the boulders that littered the ground.

-oOo-

There was no happy ending to the tale, no silver lining to the cloud. Distressed by the death of their son, the Montagues rallied the other houses of Elvenkind to rise up against the Capulets, who, in turn called for the aid of other houses of Dragonkind.

The war that followed lasted nearly a thousand years, the trigger for the violence eventually lost in the deep rooted hatred between the two clans.

In the end, both species were reduced to a mere fraction of their original population and power, and eventually forced into hiding from the new dominant group to rule the realm.

So began the rule of man.

So Dragons, Elves, and all f their kin became legend.

So Society came crashing down around two boys with only the most innocent intentions.

End.

I- am so so sorry if you actually read all of that.

This was actually an English project.

Go figure.