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This chapter will be written solely in Eol's point of view.
==8 years ago==
When you work in the mines, you learn that your age or handicaps don't matter, if you can work, you can work, no amount of crying or pleading will change that. But that doesn't mean I didn't try. One day, when we had some free time, I asked him.
"Dad, why do I have to work in the mines?" His face turned sad.
"Eol, we need every single hand that can help to mine these gems in order to survive."
"But don't we already have a lot of gems, I saw LOTS of gems in Ensin's room? Why doesn't HE mine?"
"Those gems are for the dragon. We don't mine just for us, we mine for the dragon protecting us, at least, that's what I'm told. If we don't gather enough, the dragon will leave and we'll be defenseless to the other clans," He worked hard, gathering more spare gems for us to eat. But he was getting older, and not getting enough sleep.
I resolved myself to working in the mines, becoming stronger, I pulled in extra hours of labor alongside my dad. I made it my goal that one day, I'd be strong enough to protect my clan, having no need for a dragon, then we wouldn't have to work so hard in the mines, and dad could get a good night's sleep.
Working in the mines puts a terrible strain on your health. The air quality is so poor you spend most of your time coughing due to the dust in the air. The caverns are hand dug, meaning there's not much room between the floor and the ceiling. Sometimes the builders forget to add enough supports and the caverns collapse, trapping and even killing others. One day, I was put on the building team, the wet mud made it hard to put up the supports, I thought about it and realized we were next to a lake, I signaled the team to stop building and redirect or route, otherwise the cavern would flood. Thankfully, they listened and moved the tunnel route away from the lake. No one thanked me though, and later everyone forgot about it. I felt that what I did was pointless. When I told my dad afterward he said,
"It wasn't pointless, you saved a dozen lives today. I'm proud of you. Even though we do things deserving of gratitude, they often will get overlooked. But the point is to do those things to help, not to seek restitution or reward, that kind of thinking will lead to dangerous actions," I felt better, he always knew what to say in times like these.
One day, I found an old book, I opened it up, to me they were nothing but a bunch of scrawling in paper. I asked my dad what they were.
"They're letters, forming together to make words, written in a language that no one reads anymore. I only know bits and pieces. Would you like me to read some of them?" I nodded, excited that we had another thing to do together. He read, and I listened, pretty much drinking the words and the stories like water. With each night of reading story after story, I got better and better at reading, until I learned words even my dad had trouble reading. I looked forward to every night when he came home so that we could read together.
One month though, he didn't come home. He was put on a long term building project, and wouldn't be coming home 'til it was finished. I held the book in my hands, sitting on my bedroll. I opened it up to read the rest of the book. I became so immersed in the story that I read through the rest in one night. I read, re-read, re-re-read it. I asked others where I could find more books, most shrugged, then I found leads.
"Try surface world, heard the books are there," Most diamond dogs didn't talk much, so the most they said were in broken speech. there were some however that spoke fluently, who i liked talking with while I worked.
One night I decided to finally go to the surface and dug a passage to the outside. From what I read, the surface world was up. So, I dug a little each night until finally, after about a week, I reached the surface.
It was truly beautiful, for the first time, I saw the sky, the moon, the grass and the trees, Everything just as it was described in the book. I leisurely ran in the open air, feeling the cool night air in my fur, and the soft grass below each pad, I rolled around in fallen leaves and branches and stared at the moon. For the first time in my life, I experienced the magic of the world beyond the mines.
Then I remembered my purpose for the journey. So I walked for a bit, looking under rocks and in trees for a book, until i came across a town. It turns out, our warren was near a town called Gridfeather. I went there in the search of books, and then came across a bookstore. I went through the door, the bell ringing to herald my entrance, and I stood there, mouth gaping wide open. I looked at the massive expanse of books in awe, and now I could read them. Every night I would slip away from the warren and go to Gridfeather, and borrowed a random book of my choosing, and gingerly turned each page, absorbing the contents of each book like a rag does to water. I loved every story, romance, adventure, comedies, and even sad tales, those were ones about misunderstood griffin's and diamond dogs. I cried, laughed, and trembled in suspense as I read each letter. After about a month my dad came home to the ground covered in books, I looked up, and ran to hug him. He hugged back and his attention went back to the books.
"Where did you get all these?"
"From the surface," His expression changed to one of immediate worry, but then he looked back at me and smiled.
"So what have you been reading without me?" My eyes widened and I broke out into an expression of excitement. So in one night I described every single book I've read. He seemed amazed that I memorized everything.
"I'm glad to see you've been finding a way to cope with me being gone," I started to cry.
"I missed you dad..."
"I missed you too..." I felt like that one moment made life a little more bearable.
That would be the last moment for a while. Ensin required more, even younger diamond dogs to go into service, and everyone to work overtime. All the while Ensin stayed in his room doing who knows what. i saw dad less and less, but I still treasured every second he was there.
One day my vision started to become blurry, I could only see things up close. I told dad, he started to look away, and I heard crying.
"What's wrong dad?" He looked at me with tears streaming down his face. He wiped them away and knelt down in front of me. I was scared, but he made me feel safer.
"Eol... some diamond dogs are born with a... defect... your eyesight is slowly going bad due to it. In a few months, you won't be able to see things clearly. Don't tell anyone this... if anyone finds out..." He paused... "... really bad things are going to happen... keep this a secret from everyone... even your best friends," I was shocked to hear the news, and ashamed. Being told you have a defect was like being told that you did something wrong, even though you didn't know it. But he always showed that he loved me.
The next few months my vision got worse and worse, it was starting to become apparent by the increasing difficulty of jobs I used to do perfectly. I wondered why this was happening to me, why I had this... curse. Then finally I decided to do something. I went to the Gridfeather Bookstore again and scoured the shelves for medical books and books with remedies. I brought them home and Poured over them every single night, while I was still seeing, I would read to find a cure.
Then I found it... an alchemic reagent to restore lost sense. For the next 4 days, I spent memorizing the recipe, collecting the ingredients, then finally trial and error to make the potion. Unless I got the potion exactly right, the potion would, without a doubt, burn my eyes out. The difference was hard to distinguish with blurred vision: the potion would work only if the result was see through, if it was opaque or translucent, then I got it wrong. After 12 attempts I finally got a see through potion, now to see if it would work. The instruction said to apply 2 drops directly to the afflicted eye. I thought a while figuring out how to do that, then thought to dip my digit into the potion and have the liquid drop off from my claw.
The moment of truth, I washed my paws and dried off each claw, then dipped my digit into the potion, it was cool and slick on my claw. I propped open my eyelid and dropped it into my left eye. I snarled and winced at the pain, but continued to raise the claw above my eye, the second drop hitting my eye with a multiplied sting. I then closed my left eye immediately and lowered my head. A few seconds later an intense pain washed over the entire left half of my face. I flailed around the room, struggling to keep the left eye closed, I knocked over books and slammed into the wall, hoping another pain would dull the first. I fell on the ground, writhing in pain when my dad came in and saw me, he picked me up and restrained me in a calm yet strong embrace. A minute later I stopped. I had my left paw over my eye, the other one discharging a stream of tears. He looked at me wondering what was going on. His face was a blur in my right eye.
"What's wrong Eol? Are you alright." I slowly took my paw away from my face, then slowly opened my eye. i jerked back in surprise, my vision in my left eye had completely changed. I did the one thing anyone would do in this situation: scream and freak out. I broke away from my father's embrace and crawled away on the floor. Then when my back was against the wall I calmed down, breathing heavily. I closed my right eye to see the real effects. I saw my dad's shape as a white outline with color in constantly spinning swirls, the area around him was black, with the exception of the objects in my room, seen with the same appearance of white and color swirls.
He started to step forward reaching out to me, his footsteps making ripples and distortions in the black space around him. I curled up in a ball and closed my eyes.
'What was going on?!' I reread the instructions in my mind.
'This potion will restore lost senses.' I get a crazy notion in my head. I was seeing scent through color, and sound through ripples. It made absolutely no sense. I slowly cried myself to sleep, dad stroking his paw through my fur gently, reassuring me that everything was okay.
I woke up the next morning, slowly opening my eyes, my fears realized. I saw everything, Sight, sound, and smell. Each sound moved across the walls and floor, bouncing off of anything and everything, the slightest vibration made the tiniest ripple. I laid there, thinking of what this could mean, now that I was stuck with a left eye seeing everything except perfect sight, and a right eye that could see real sight, but in a blur. I then thought I would have to get use to it. I looked at dad with both eyes. I focused on him and saw my blurred vision align with my new vision. I thought things might get better.
One day they did, but not for long. I soon found out I could locate gems easier due to the distortion in the ripples from inside the rock, working with dad to harvest surpluses of gems. Life was good, we had enough to eat, more time together, and most of all, we were happy. I asked dad not to tell anyone about my eye, and he agreed. Until he died, he told not a single soul about my eye, or even that I had bad vision to begin with.
I still hadn't gotten used to it yet, sometimes I had to close my left eye in order to have a steady visual on an object, then reopening it again for confirmation that it was the thing I was looking for. My left eye however couldn't distinguish among other diamond dogs because we all smell almost the same, therefore had almost the exact same scent colors, so I had to go on sound to distinguish between them, except for my dad, he had an almost completely different scent, I wondered why. I was still able to perform everything I did, and even harvested more gems than anyone.
Two years later that all changed. My father was called to some unknown business to attend to on the surface. I decided to follow him through my secret passage. No one noticed me gone, perfect. I followed closely behind the group, noticing that everyone had their hands bound, along with my father. I was worried. So I followed the group all the way out onto a plateau, with Ensin at the fore. It was then that I first saw the dragon who protected us, a purple dragon, tall, terrifying, with a cold, sinister gaze. Ensin started to speak,
"Oh great Hane, I beseech from you clemency, this month we have not been able to harvest enough gems. So I humbly ask you accept our sacrifice to you, along with the gems we do have," What was Ensin talking about, he had plenty of gems stored in his room, I knew this because I peeked one day and saw the entire room filled with gems. The diamond dogs not bound brought not even a tenth of the gems I saw in Ensin's room.
My mind started racing, in fear and anxiety. What was this sacrifice they were talking about? Then I glanced back at my father, bound with a sad look on his face...
I watched in horror as Ensin brought my father forward, then pushing him to the ground. The dragon licked his lips, then stabbed its claws into him. I became wide-eyed with horror, watching from the shadows, not able to do anything. The dragon wrapped its tongue around him, sliding him off its claws and snapped at his body, the blood flowing from the dragon's maw. I was paralyzed with fear. My dad, dead... eaten by the dragon whose role was to protect our clan, not devour it. My body started moving on its own. I ran the other direction, as fast as I could for as long as I could, just to run away from the reality I just witnessed. After running what seemed like hours, I collapsed in a field, crying all through the night baying at the stars to find some inkling of relief. I found none. I stopped and replayed the entire memory in my head, instant by instant. After that I realized...
It was all Ensin's fault. He lied about everything, He lied to everyone, He lied just to horde the gems we work for for himself... and he used my father to compensate his actions...
'Kill him...' I heard a voice in my head...
'Rip him to shreds, fillet his flesh, tear him limb from limb...' I clenched my fist... the voice in my head was ME!
'... you have to... you owe it to dad...' I thought about it for days. I had to stop Ensin, for dad, for all those bound on that plateau, those who went missing but were never noticed, those who will keep on dying because no one would stop Ensin. I thought about it long and hard and you know what? ...
... it was right...