Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The United Kingdom (01/22/09)
TITLE: Banquets to bones
By Josiah Kane
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Uriek Kraal had been spawned by a larger creature ten centuries ago; one that had overrun a small island a few miles to the west of its own land; and foolishly expected to keep control of its offspring. Instead Uriek swept over the isle, engulfing the territory of smaller snakes that writhed in resistance. Like a shining knight in silver armour, it devoured the blood-red dragon that inhabited the west of the isle, and crushed the nest of serpents in the highland fortress to the north. Strengthened by such large feeds, the Uriek Kraal felt ready to strike at its father, Nurmondis, and for centuries the duo battled, always on the parent's soil.
So things remained, as Uriek Kraal grew larger, stronger, and more restless; cells were born and died; and unfruitful bickering continued between the dragon and its neighbours. It learned to fly, to fight, to feed upon its enemies. Suddenly word came that more land had been discovered, and Uriek flew south, then west, then east, seizing feeding grounds, raising children in each of the lands it visited. Booming balls of flame and wearing impenetrable armour scales, it decimated the ranks of its competitors, who bowed their heads and bent their backs in servitude to the dazzling white dragon.
Its reign of ravage continued, as it plundered the lands that it visited, hoarding treasure in its home island. As Uriek returned to enjoy its wealth, its youngsters continually gave it food and treasure. Uriek feasted on banquets and lived in luxury. Where mind and muscle had strengthened in the previous century, it now grew fat and lazy. Children were nested evenly around the planet, so widely that at every moment one could see the dawn and another the golden aura as the sun disappeared over the hills. They strained to ensure life was a pleasure for their parent, while they in turn lived off the labour of those they had dominated.
Suddenly the Uriek Seikraal, a whelp from the west disowned his father, and launched his own expeditions of conquest. A few battles ensued, not unlike Uriek Kraal's war of rebellion a generation before. The comfort of life did not fall significantly for centuries longer, until the dragon and its neighbours were attacked—by Alaramao, a relentless, roaring raider who struck simultaneous strikes against the entire planet. A bulbous beast, Uriek Krall would have been overrun by the onslaught, like his father Nurmandis and all others, unable to defeat the foe who crouched and traded infernos with his foes. All the Uriek children swept in to its aid, and they managed to subdue the ragged aggressor. In their folly, they let Alaramao live.
Within a few measly decades, the same dragon rose like a phoenix from his charred land. He struck with unmatchable speed and ferocity, and again he subdued almost all land except that of Uriek Kraal and his children. Soaring over each other's territory, Uriek and Alaramao launched firebomb after firebomb, pounding mountain homes to dust and turning dust itself to ashes. Again this oppressive creature was overcome, but in this war all the dragons had been wounded.
Wanting no part in further warring, the remaining nestlings rebelled and declared themselves autonomous. They would no longer shower gifts upon their father. And their father could no longer procure such riches for himself. Blankets of fat obstructed serious work—its cells had lost their lean efficiency over 200 years of luxury and now demanded far more than the suddenly restricted supply.
The dragon pawned its stashes of riches to maintain a life of ease, but recently these too have been drying up. It is making too little; consuming too much. Even now the geriatric creature, Uriek Kraal, is feasting on bones.
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