Charlotte Ren


"Charlie, Charlie, Charlie!"

Charlotte hid in the deep recesses of the school library. She wanted to do well in school-particularly because of who her father is, but her friends didn't understand. This was the end result.

At fifteen, most young women obsessed over boys and hair and makeup; Charlotte Ren felt the same way about algorithms, biology, and physics. The Rens were an upper-middle-class Asian blended family. Her mum was Filipino, and her Dad was french, so Charlotte was already fluent in three languages. Now that her Mum had remarried an American, the Executive Director of the local university, Charlotte traveled between both houses, so it wasn't easy to get extra study. But she was determined. Her biological father, Griffith Ren was the lead scientist for Greenway, Low, and Fitzgerald; he graduated from university two years before his peers and went straight into the firm while it was still in its fledgling stages. Charlotte intended to graduate three years before her peers, which was why she hid in the library.

Charlotte ducked as her friend looked in through the window, but thankfully the lighting wasn't the greatest, and her eyes skipped past the small figure hunched over her books. At the sound of the denim twins leaving, she breathed a sigh of relief and straightened up. Matilda and Demelza were cool and all, but sometimes the loudness got a little much, and Charlotte had to hide.

One day though, it would all be worth it.


Ragnar felt as though every muscle in his body was going to explode. His giant gold scales heaved with sweat, and his tough membranous wings were so hot it felt like his veins were on fire, but he wouldn't give in. Flying just ahead was the Queen and her guard. Today was the day that Ragnar would take his warrior's test.

Up ahead, the vast mountains of Desdayos gave way to Neptune's ocean, and out in the middle of nowhere, Ragnar would come face to face with his demons in three separate tests. The elders called it 'seachad, an lathair, re teachd or past, present, future.' 

'Good luck, my son.'

Ragnar looked up to find that his mother and her guard had disappeared. All he could see in every direction was the ocean, and with nervousness in his heart, the young warrior circled slowly, trying to look everywhere; the attack came from the one place Ragnar hadn't thought of.

His mind exploded with visions of his past. His mother holding him, fleeing the war, going to school, his crushes, anything that had ever overwhelmed him or caused pain raced through Ragnar's mind. That's when the first blow came. The Queen's sentries bombarded Ragnar with blow after blow whilst the memories all but blinded him with their intensity. Banking sharply to the left, he managed to elude Tobias but barreled straight into Menke, who was ready to deflect him. Sharp claws scraped along Ragnar's underbelly, drawing blood as he forced the memories into the locked box in his mind and dove straight towards the youngest guard, grabbing the water dragon in his mighty claws.  'Well done, my son, you have passed seachad. Never let the memories of your past blind you to your present.' 

The guard herded Ragnar in formation as they flew west towards the Cridhe Islands. No one spoke to him or looked at him, and Ragnar was aware that next to the black armor that marked them as Queen's guard, his own golden scales stood out like dogs balls. As a much younger whelp, he used to roll in tar to change the bright color, but it never worked. For an hour, they flew, and it was dusk when they finally landed on the ground. Ragnar transformed to his human skin, he'd already been told that the next test was to be done like this, and he watched as the guard took to the skies-leaving him there for the night.

He looked around at the vegetation with a sigh, deciding to make a lean-to for the night. There was a smell of rain in the air, and he'd rather not be caught naked in it, so shelter was a priority.

Ragnar heard the sound of whimpering in the early hours of the morning. The rain was still drizzling, but the downpour that had made a mockery of his shelter had eased off enough for him to hear the wildlife amongst the trees. When the pitiful sound reached Ragnar's ears once again, he shrugged off the banana leaves he was sheltering under and went to find whatever creature was in pain.

He found her down a deep ravine. The little girl looked at him with strange green eyes as he made a rope to reach her.

"It's okay, I'm going to get you out of here," He said as he climbed down to the ledge she was stranded on. Then the scent hit him. Wolf shifter. Instinctively he reached for his dragon, but the little girl cowered away. She didn't lunge at him or bare her teeth as Ragnar expected. Instead, she burst into tears. He didn't know what to do. 

For a century, he watched as wolf shifters and dragons fought over land, the battles were violent, and his friends were killed, causing Ragnar to hate the vile creatures, but his mother wouldn't weigh in either way. Instead, a look of sadness shadowed her face, and she would quietly leave the room.

"Please, sir, just lift me out of here. I won't bother you." Her quiet voice stirred something inside him, and Ragnar made a choice.

"What's your name?" He asked, startling her with his question. She smiled shyly and whispered, "I'm Antoinette."

Ragnar shook his head, muttered to himself, and looked down at the jagged rocks below.

"Righto, I'm going to call you Toni; Antoinette is too old fashioned a name for a young lady such as yourself. So how about we get out of here?" With a little effort, Ragnar and his little wolf pup scaled back up the ravine. Antoinette immediately shifted into her beast, lunging at his face before he had a chance to defend himself. The feel of a rough tongue on his cheek was the last thing Ragnar expected. In wonder, he realized that she was just thanking him for helping her. With one last bark, she raced off into the trees, no doubt heading for home.

'You make me proud, Ragnar. A true warrior shows compassion for the people who need their help-regardless of who or what they are. You have passed an lathair.

The morning bought with it a calm and sunny day. The Queen arrived with her guards, waking Ragnar as he slept under his banana leaf. At her silent command, the guards made themselves scarce.

"Ragnar," She began, "The final test is the hardest. If you fail, it could mean your life. The rules are clear that no member of the assessment team is allowed to intervene, so you need to be careful." Lisbeth's eyes filled with tears as she hugged him, and then, looking straight into his  eyes, the queen revealed, "To pass re teach you must find your father and bring him home."

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