Amaya had always been a light sleeper.
Although deaf, somehow Amaya’s body always seemed to know when something was going on around her while she slept. As a child, if Sarai snuck into her bedroom to pull a prank, Amaya would immediately bolt upright in bed, awake and alert, catching her sister in the act—this always frustrated Sarai, much to Amaya’s delight. During Amaya’s early military days, any movement or noise occurring in the barracks would swiftly bring her back to consciousness. After becoming a general, if someone stepped into her private quarters, Amaya would practically be out of bed and on her feet before the door finished opening.
Even now, while in a deep, post-battle slumber, she was still a light sleeper.
Adrenaline abruptly coursed through Amaya’s body. She vaulted to a crouched, defensive stance on her sleeping mat, one arm instinctively grabbing the shield resting next to her. She quickly scanned the cavern for whatever disturbance awoke her. Everything was still and gray, except for the cavern’s exit where a tall, shadowed figure with dark red plaits disappeared into the creeping morning sunlight.
Amaya frowned and stood. She reconnoitered the cavern more thoroughly, studying the many sleeping forms of humans and elves scattered throughout the area.
Memories of the previous day’s battle flooded her. Humans and Sunfire Elves fought together side-by-side in a desperate melee to defend the Dragon Prince and defeat a common foe, Lord Viren and his magically transfigured army. Thanks to defensible terrain, stubborn grit, timely reinforcements, and a mountain of luck, the human and elf coalition was victorious. Now former enemies slept peacefully next to one another in the lair of the recently revived Dragon Queen.
This was all preceded by a week that had seen Amaya captured by Sunfire Elves, taken to their royal capital, interrogated, and almost blinded. Her imprisonment came to a sudden end when Lord Viren arrived with his army and murdered the Sunfire Elf queen. Amaya escaped the city with the queen’s sister, Janai. They then flew to Storm Spire mountain to meet up with Amaya’s nephews.
After all that and the battle to save the Dragon Prince, Amaya’s understanding of Xadia and its inhabitants had burned to ashes in dragon’s fire. A new understanding was growing, but she wasn’t sure what to expect of it. At this point, Amaya was going with the flow, following the lead of her nephews.
Amaya finished scanning the area, finding no further activity.
She pictured the shadowed figure she’d seen leave. The figure’s silhouette and red plaits were familiar. Amaya looked to where Janai, the fierce military leader of the Sunfire Elves, had placed her sleeping mat. The mat laid vacant.
Amaya’s gaze returned to the cavern’s exit. She took a step off her mat, but then paused. She shook her head and sat back down. Janai would have asked for company if she wanted it. Amaya laid down and closed her eyes. If Janai desired to grieve alone, Amaya would respect that. She herself had grieved alone, after all.
Of course, that had not been by choice. Amaya didn’t have anyone to grieve with, not anyone who truly understood that grief, anyway.
She rolled onto her side.
But Janai does have someone who understands.
Amaya turned to her other side.
She doesn’t have to go through it alone.
Amaya flopped onto her back and opened her eyes, sighing. She sat up, put on her boots, and stood. Hopefully, this wouldn’t be a mistake and do more harm than good.
Amaya padded over to where her two adolescent nephews slept. Ezran—King Ezran—was sound asleep, curled around his turquoise-spotted, yellow glow toad, Bait. Peering down at Callum, her eldest nephew, Amaya frowned. When they all bedded down for the night, Callum had been the sole occupant of his sleeping map. Now, he shared the mat with Rayla, a Moonshadow Elf assassin, who had the teenage prince securely snuggled in her arms.
This was . . . surprising.
Apparently, in their travels since the Banther Lodge, the young elf had gone from bloodthirsty monster to something more . . . friendly. Studying Rayla’s serene face, Amaya suspected the young elf had never actually been a monster.
Amaya shook her head and refocused. She would speak with the two of them about this later.
Kneeling down, she silently rummaged through Callum’s leather satchel. She pulled out half a dozen loose sheets of parchment and a charcoal writing stick. She returned to her sleeping mat, grabbed her shield, and then tip-toed her way to the cavern’s exit.
After taking her first step outside, Amaya paused.
Why bring the shield?
The answer was obvious and more cynical than she liked—a single battle fighting alongside one another as allies doesn’t magically erase a military career spent skirmishing with elves. And she was marching off to speak with one of those elves, a woman who had on more than one occasion tried to kill Amaya.
Amaya smirked. To be fair, she had reciprocated that action a few times herself.
War can make for complicated relationships.
Amaya again shook her head. She inhaled the calm, crisp mountain air and walked to the edge of the semicircle platform that rested outside the cavern. During the night, the thick layer of clouds that perpetually surrounded the Storm Spire since Amaya arrived had wafted away, revealing the expansive, gleaming lands of Xadia below. Xadia’s vast array of colors seemed more vibrant and full of life than the human lands. Amaya admitted that the home of everything she had been raised to fear and hate—elves, dragons, magic—was rather beautiful. Sarai would have loved it here.
Turning, she began ascending the carved stone stairway that ringed the mountain. Her shield hung from her back, uncharacteristically heavy. Amaya spent the trek ripping the sheets of parchment into long strips. It had been many years since she needed to converse with someone in this fashion, but this was not a conversation she could bring an interpreter to.
She reached the top of the steps, walking under a pointed archway and stepping onto a circular platform, both pieces of stonework sun-faded, windswept, and ancient. The platform exuded a kind of spiritual quality. Amaya wasn’t sure what to make of it. Did the elves perform magical ceremonies or rituals up here? What about the dragons? So much of Xadia was still a mystery. That mystery was all at once uncomfortable and intriguing.
Opposite Amaya, across the platform, rose a dozen more stone steps. An object Amaya had become quite familiar with over the past few weeks sat leaning against a boulder at the base of these steps: Janai’s longsword, a sunforged blade sheathed in a maroon scabbard decorated with gold runes. When unsheathed, the glowing edge of the longsword burned hot enough to slice through stone, steel, and bone as if they were no more than freshly baked pastries. It was a formidable and dangerous weapon wielded by a warrior who was even more so.
Amaya walked up to the sword and considered it for a moment. She shrugged the shield from her back. It still held deep gashes from where Janai’s longsword had slashed into it. She rested the shield next to the weapon.
Amaya ascended the steps, leaving the sword and shield gleaming together in the sunlight.
The steps led to the true peak of the Storm Spire, another circular platform of carved stone decorated with swirling patterns of teal rock embedded in the surface. Janai sat cross-legged on the edge of the platform, facing the rising sun. Unlike the other times Amaya had seen the woman, Janai was no longer adorned in her golden armor and headdress. Instead, she wore a simple crimson tunic and white leggings. Her dark red plaited hair flowed past her light brown horns and hung down to the small of her back. In the sunlight, her skin glowed a rich brown.
Amaya took a deep breath. Hopefully, what she was about to do would help Janai instead of making the pain worse. She padded over to the other woman.
Janai started at Amaya’s approach, and she surreptitiously wiped her face before turning a glare on Amaya. With her lips visible to Amaya, Janai slowly enunciated, “I wish to be alone.”
Amaya kept her face passive. She knew from experience the last thing Janai wanted to see was anything resembling pity directed towards her. She sat next to the elf, dangling her legs over the edge of the mountain and resting the parchment strips in her lap. Using the charcoal stick, she wrote her response on one of the strips and held it out to Janai. A hint of curiosity snuck into Janai’s glare. She accepted the parchment and read the charcoal words ground into it.
“Then why are you here?” Janai asked, crushing the parchment.
Amaya took another strip and wrote her response. I thought some company might help.
Janai flared, her eyes shining yellow and her dark skin cracking in jagged lines that glowed like lava. She leaned close to Amaya. “It won’t,” she growled. “Now leave.”
Awash in the heat radiating off the other woman, Amaya held Janai’s intense gaze. Janai’s scowl deepened after it became clear Amaya had no intention of leaving.
Amaya took a calming breath in preparation. She wrote on another strip of parchment and calmly offered it to Janai. Glowering, Janai snatched the parchment.
I wish I had not been alone after my sister was killed.
Janai’s eyes widened, the fire in them snuffed out and the glowing lines in her skin vanishing. She opened her mouth, but Amaya gently placed her fingers over the woman’s lips. Janai’s deep brown eyes searched Amaya’s. Amaya broke the gaze, her shoulders drooping. She continued writing.
Years ago, I lost my older sister, Sarai. I was alone in my grief.
Ezran was still an infant. Callum was young, far too young to lose a mother, and he had Harrow.
Amaya paused, looking past the parchment to the lands below.
Sarai had been a sore subject between Harrow and herself for many years after Sarai’s death. Amaya spent those years silently blaming Harrow—and Viren—while Harrow spent those years avoiding Amaya as much as possible. Eventually, for the sake of Callum and Ezran, they reconciled. However, Sarai remained a topic of discussion they avoided with one another.
Amaya refocused on the parchment. Harrow—
—would not have been able to understand. Not really. Sarai was his wife, yes, but Sarai was my sister. Harrow had loved Sarai for a few years. I had loved Sarai my entire life.
From my earliest memories, Sarai had always been there, always the loving older sister, always watching out for me, always encouraging me, always willing to help me.
Amaya smirked. Janai’s eyebrow rose in question.
Always tolerating my hardheadedness and desire to rush headlong into everything.
Reading the strip of parchment, Janai smirked as well, nodding.
Amaya’s smile faded. Her hand trembled. She took a deep, steadying breath before continuing.
Then suddenly she was gone, taken from the world as punishment for someone else’s foolish mistakes.
I lost the person who was never not there. I lost the person I loved most. I lost my sister.
No one really understood what that felt like. Not even Harrow.
Amaya wiped her eyes and handed Janai the last parchment strip.
It was difficult, very difficult, to be alone afterward.
Janai nodded, resting the parchment strip in her lap. She stared at the sunrise, her eyes distant and misty. Amaya followed her gaze, and the two sat in companionable silence for a time. The sun’s embrace was warm, soothing, and safe.
Janai turned and stared at Amaya with soft, sad eyes. “Khessa was not the most loving sister at times,” Janai said. “It could be quite frustrating to get along with her. Her arrogance and privileged, never-wrong attitude made it difficult. But she did love me, deeply. She never gave me a reason to doubt that. She was always there, always willing to listen, even when she thought I was acting silly or immature or foolish. And now, with her gone, it feels like . . . I feel . . .”
Amaya rested a hand on Janai’s shoulder. With the other, she clenched the fabric of her own tunic, just over her heart, and then she twisted. She twisted over and over again, grimacing deeper and deeper with each turn of the fabric, with each constriction of her heart. Tears welled in her eyes. She reached over to Janai’s heart, clenched the fabric, and twisted over and over again. She held Janai’s gaze, and this time, Amaya let the tears fall unimpeded.
Janai placed a hand over Amaya’s and squeezed her eyes shut. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
“I want her back,” Janai choked.
Amaya nodded and tenderly rested her forehead against Janai’s.
They shared no more words. None were needed. Each understood the other’s loss, the pain, the void left in their heart.
As the sun rose fully into the sky, bathing all of Xadia in life’s glow, Amaya, warrior general of Katolis, and Janai, Golden Knight of Lux Aurea, wept together, grieving for the older sisters they had lost but also basking in the love they forever had for them.
This is a work of fan-fiction using characters from The Dragon Prince world, which is trademarked by Wonderstorm, Inc. I do not claim any ownership over the characters and world appearing in this story. The story told here is of my own invention, and it is not purported or believed to be part of Wonderstorm, Inc’s story canon. This story is for entertainment only and is not part of the official storyline. I have not and will not benefit financially from the creation and publication of this story. I am grateful to Wonderstorm, Inc and the entire creative team behind The Dragon Prince, for without their wonderful animated series, my story would not exist.
Thank you to all of my beta-readers who helped make this story what it is.
- Jason (best friend)
- FanFiction.Net Betas
- G. E. Gabriels