It all started when a star fell from the night sky.

A bright white twinkle dashed across the inky blue sky, and one could almost see the sparkling dust it left in its path. A moment later, a scream tore through the village and the child was born. A beautiful babe with a delicate mop of red hair on its head, and eyes a radiant green that would leave jewellers envious. For decades, the village had prayed and sacrificed everything they had, in hopes of such a blessing.

It grew into a feisty toddler by the name of Emery. By the age of five, his first initiation began. The scale-like surface of his arms was burned, to make it regrow stronger and thicker. Emery refused to cry, and he was already being praised for his bravery. Every year, another scaly surface to purge, another festival of the Dragon.

Dark times were on the horizon, however. By the time Emery was a teenager, a handful of babes were born, each of them covered in more scales than he could have ever hoped to have. Blessed by the Dragon Lords, the elders proclaimed. The boy was casted aside and the following years, he was burned last, with embers that barely carried the fiery desire of his ancestors. Still he would not weep, and by the time he reached adulthood, Emery only had half of his body covered in scales. They shimmered a deep red like his hair, but his face remained that of a man and the fire in his throat would not leave. The elders deemed him a failure, and in the village he was no longer welcomed.

Now, decades have passed, and Emery has travelled across the land. Half dragon, half human. He observed the festival once a year all the same and continues to push his own flesh and blood further still. On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Emery stumbled into a dark cave in the middle of a mountain and fell to his knees. For the first time in his life, the man wept and yelled at the Dragon Lords, cursing them for his unfortunate life. A half-life, he called it, for he was neither a dragon nor a man, just the worse of both.

“Emery…” The sepulchral voice made his skin crawl and pulled him out of his self-wallowing.

“Who is there?” The man pushed himself back up and staggered further into the cave, squinting at the swallowing darkness.

“Emery… Why do you reject our gift?” The voice was louder and shook the rocks on the ground.

“Gift? This is a curse, not a gift!”As though to prove his statement, Emery contracted the muscles of his throat and blew out a small string of smoke. The fire prickled the back of his mouth but refused to come out.

“We will show you, Emery.”

Before he could respond, a strong gust of warm air pushed him out of the cave. Strung out on the edge of the mountain, the wind relentlessly pushed him until he was thrown off. Emery’s scream tore the silence of the night and he fell. Fell, fell, fell until he sensed his entire body being consumed by a raging fire. He opened his eyes and all he could see were the searing flames surrounding him.

“Fly to your village, Emery. They need you.”

The voice seemed to be coming from inside his head, sending bolts of pain through his gut. He wanted to reply, to tell the voice he had been cast out of his village.

“From ashes legends rise, Emery. You are one of us now. You are a Dragon Lord. Save them.”

If he could have laughed, he probably would have. But the pain from his gut passed to his shoulders and before he could process the changes, large wings sprouted from his back and carried him smoothly over the trees. His vision was still white from pain but the voices in his head pressed him on.

“I am a Dragon.” Emery’s voice came out as a crackle and feeling the fire in his throat again, he blew it out as hard as he could. With a victorious smile, Emery the Dragon Lord flew to his home village and vanquished the evil spirits that had laid claim on it. With the blessing of his people, he ruled the land for his entire lifetime, and for generations they wrote about his deep red scales and emerald-like eyes.