New Home

Flynn Geary

Once the sacred home of the dragons, this land became the inspiration for many of the fables told in the Western world. It is said that the God of Earth possessed a madman and used his awesome power to raise mountains across the edge of the entire island to hold the human armies at bay. Alas, this feat of magic destroyed many of the dragon’s nests, smashing their eggs and killing their young. Enraged, the dragons swarmed the God, and rained down enough fire on him to burn the whole world and evaporate all the seas and oceans.

By the time the human armies had discovered a passage through the mountain barricade, they found carnage unlike anything seen since the time Fae walked the earth: melted, black rock with dozens of dragon corpses littering the ground, crushed by huge chunks of earth or squeezed by gargantuan vines like a grape between the fingers. At the centre of the island was the corpse of Dragon King Grastell, who dwarfed his kin many times over, on a peculiarly pristine chunk of land with a burning tree and grass laid out before.

The few surviving dragons hovered above the desolate terrain, keening at the sight of their fallen king. Then, it is said that from a layer of ash, the Dragon Prince Geistell rose, roaring in dismay upon seeing his dead father. He dug a colossal hole underneath the newly formed mountains from which he never emerged. As the years passed, humans began to settle on the island. Rather than stay and risk conflict, the few surviving dragons left their sacred home, never to return. In recognition of the Dragon King and the prince’s valiant sacrifice against the God of Earth’s threat, the island was named Grastell, while the first settlement was called Geistell.

Chiko noticed a few Grastellian children standing around an older man who sat on a stool, and approached them out of curiosity. When the old man saw Chiko, he smiled, introduced himself as a storyteller, and asked Chiko if he would like to hear about Grastell’s history. Chiko listened in wonder. Compared to the legends and history of his homeland, it seemed as if Grastell’s past of dragons and Gods was conjured by that of a particularly imaginative storyteller.

They had finally arrived in Grastell after two months of sailing. After so much time with little to do but eat, sleep, and assist on the ships where they could, almost everyone from the convoy who had chosen to leave the archipelago now stood on the docks of Drest, Grastell’s only port town. They eyed the strange wares the Grastellian peddlers were selling and the unfamiliar foods with their strange aromas.

During their time on the ships, members of the convoy took lessons on speaking the Grastellian tongue, with the children given intensive instruction. While Chiko wasn’t yet fluent in the language, he understood what the storyteller was saying. When it was over, he thanked the man and returned to his parents.

When Chiko told his family the story of Grastell’s origins, they seemed just as interested as he was, even though they clung to each other as he told them. Dragons and Fae were widely considered ill omens across the archipelago and were rarely spoken of. As Inquisitor Ristal arrived with a line of caravans for the convoy to pack their supplies onto, Chiko’s family began to feel unsettled upon seeing the locals’ anxious expressions towards their steward. But for now, they were more interested in finding a place to set up camp and rest. After so long on the ship, they were keen to sleep on dry land before the week-long trek to their new home.


It wasn’t long into the journey that problems started to arise. Grastell was a lot colder than the archipelago and they were unused to the bland, almost tasteless food they ate in this strange land. People fell sick by the second night, despite being far better supplied than they had been when travelling across their homeland. Some of Ristal’s men began to call them homesteaders, which threatened the start of many a fight until the Inquisitor explained meaning of the term.

On the third day, Jun, Chiko’s grandfather collapsed, and Chiko rushed to find a healer. ‘There’s nothing I can do,’ they said apologetically. ‘Not without magic.’

‘Out of the question.’ Inquisitor Ristal appeared from a crowd gathering around Jun. ‘We have already told you. Magic is banned in Grastell, and as you are now citizens of Grastell, we must recognise any use of magic as treason.’

The convoy’s morale soured the more people became sick. The healers could only do so much with their limited resources. Chiko stayed next to his grandfather, watching in misery as he stopped eating, and then when he coughed up blood. Jun was well-respected throughout the convoy, and many came to offer his family gifts and sympathies. But the most surprising visit came from Ristal himself, who walked next to the caravan the dying man lay in, eyeing him sombrely.

Ristal wrote on a sheet of paper as he moved. Once he was done, he sealed it in an envelope, then handed it to one of his men, whispering something in his ear that nobody else could hear before sending him off. Ristal noticed Chiko staring at him. Chiko glared back before looking away.

On their sixth night travelling, Chiko’s grandfather died in his sleep. Chiko could not help but see the morbid irony in it. Jun had helped arrange the transportation of their people to Grastell, only to die a few miles away from their new home. The whole convoy felt the loss, along with that of half a dozen others who had succumbed to illness on the trek. The misery continued when they finally saw where they were expected to live.

A bleak valley with soil that only seemed suitable for shrubs and weeds unfurled before them. Further on, a narrow, but steep path led to the foot of yet another mountain. It was from there that Chiko could see the foundations of buildings still under construction. Looking at the site from up high, Chiko couldn’t help but think of the burnt-out village they had discovered months earlier.

Discovering the harshness of the land was nothing compared to the bleak realisation that they would not be living there alone. Haggard Grastellians were already hard at work setting up their homes and shops, and they welcomed the members of the convoy with little other than suspicious glares and fearful glances.

The Grastellians and new homesteaders immediately began to segregate themselves into different parts of the budding village over the coming days. It quickly became clear why the convoy was brought to live there. While the Grastellians had capable farmers and carpenters among them, they seemed to have no experienced hunters, fighters, or smiths. The homesteaders were also disheartened to discover that the crop seeds they had brought from the archipelago wouldn’t take to the foreign soil without magic, meaning they would have to continue to eat the Grastellian food which unsettled so many of their stomachs. This revelation did nothing to improve the convoy’s morale, and so neither side seemed willing to cooperate. And while there was no threat of violence, there was no kindness either.


After three weeks of unease, Chiko awoke to cries coming from the slope that led into the village. He raced to his parents. ‘Are we under attack again?’ His arms shook with anticipation.

‘I don’t know,’ his father said, ‘but we should arm ourselves in case we… ’ An excited clamour and a few cheers broke out from the same direction the cries came from. Cautious, Chiko and his parents approached the source of the noise and came across a peculiar sight.

At the edge of the village, three hunters were carrying the body of a small, but sturdy, looking goat towards the town square. They were surrounded by Grastellian villagers who cheered heartily, eyeing the goat with awe.

Chiko imagined that the hunters looked just as confused as he did by the events and asked them what had happened in their home tongue. One of the hunters explained that they had left the village early in the morning to search for food and had discovered herds of elusive goats who seemed to float across the air next to the mountains. One of the hunters mistook them for demons and fired an arrow, shooting one and causing the others to scream and bleat. The herd then ran up the side of the mountain where they disappeared out of sight. Unsure what to do, the party of three decided to bring the goat back and warn the others of the potential danger.

When the hunter finished telling his story, Chiko turned to his parents and saw the Grastellians in the crowd eying him expectantly. One of them yelled, impatient, ‘Well? Translate!’

Slowly, Chiko translated the story as best as he could, struggling with the unfamiliar words of the Grastellian tongue. The words sounding utterly different to their counterparts in his native language. After several minutes of fumbling words and pronunciation, Chiko adequately summarised the events.

The Grastellians burst into unanimous laughter. The homesteaders angrily demanded what was so humorous about the situation and eventually, one of the Grastellians explained that the goats were not demons, but local wildlife that had evolved to climb mountains in the fascinating way the hunters had seen. These goats were common in Grastell due to its vast mountains, but impossibly hard to hunt because they were both excellent climbers and incredibly skittish.

While the goats were explained to the homesteaders, Chiko noticed a warmness in conversation between the two groups that had not been there previously. Some were even laughing at jokes Chiko wasn’t sure both groups completely understood.

While Chiko’s parents spoke to a pair of farmers in the broken tongue, he saw two Grastellian children approaching him. One was a boy who looked about his age but was already half a head taller. The other was a girl who didn’t seem too much younger but was far shorter than both Chiko and the boy. Both had the same blonde hair and pointed chins, so Chiko assumed that they were brother and sister.

‘That was a good story, friend,’ the boy said, ‘though I’m guessing you meant to say that the hunter shot the goat, not sat on it.’

The girl giggled.

Chiko shrugged, a light smile on his face. ‘Your language is hard, and I am still learning.’

The boy nodded. ‘Well, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it soon.’ Then he stretched his arm out. ‘I’m William, and this is my sister Mirrah.’ He gestured to the girl next to him, who was shyly playing with her hair.

Recognising the gesture as a symbol of greeting that was taught to him on the ship, Chiko stretched out his hand and gripped William’s forearm. ‘Chiko.’

William smiled. ‘Well, Chiko, it seems like our folks are busy talking, so how about we show you around the village?’

Chiko hesitated for a moment, but when he looked at his parents and saw them completely preoccupied, talking with the same farmers as before, he turned back to William and nodded. ‘Where do we start?’

William led them towards the edge of the village, the land growing steeper as they approached the mountains.

‘What do you think, quite a view, huh?’

He wasn’t wrong. They had walked far enough to see behind one of the mountains blocking passage to the clearing and had a clear view of the land ahead for miles. Chiko thought he could even see other villages off in the distance.

He wasn’t sure how long he stared at the landscape, so different from his homeland, yet similar at the same time, but it was long enough for the sun to disappear behind the mountain at the rear of the village.

‘We should probably head back,’ William said. As Chiko turned to join them, Mirrah stumbled, her hand slipping out of William’s as her momentum sent her towards the cliff. In two strides, Chiko leapt to the cliff’s edge and grabbed her hand, but he could only reach her fingers and his grip was loose.

‘Help me with her!’ Chiko yelled to William. The brother stared at where Mirrah had been standing a moment earlier, dazed. But Chiko’s shouts eventually reached him. William leapt to action, and knelt next to Chiko, arm out towards his sister. He clasped her left arm just as Chiko lost his grip on her right. Mirrah swerved with the shift of weight, thrashing in panic.

For a horrible moment, it seemed as if they would both plummet over the cliff. Then, a pair of wiry arms wrapped around William’s waist and yanked him back, pulling both siblings away from the cliff to safety.

Chiko spun around to see William and Mirrah lying on the ground, both shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. Standing over them was Inquisitor Ristal.

Chiko fell to his knees, choking and heaving as his mind processed what had just happened. Everything around him appeared to slow down and blur together while his breathing quickened. Then, just as it seemed like his chest was about to burst, he felt hands clasp over his, and as he squeezed them, his breath began to return to normal.

He looked up to see concern all over Ristal’s face. ‘Are you alright, Chiko?’

A wave of exhaustion rolled over Chiko’s body, and all he could do was nod his head.

Ristal’s eyes hardened. ‘Then you can help me escort these two home and explain to your parents what in hel’s name you children were doing up here.’

Chiko had never heard his parents yell like they did that night after he and Ristal had explained what happened at the cliffs. His ears were ringing by the time they had exhausted themselves, hoarsely sending him back to his bedroll, where they told him not to move for the rest of the day.

Chiko was glad to comply, and barely two minutes passed before he fell asleep.

He awoke early the following morning to more sounds of cheering outside and wondered if the hunters had killed another goat.

Warily, he left the house, and saw both Grastellians and the homesteaders walking down the path towards the clearing where the farms were. He followed. At the bottom of the path, Chiko saw his parents and caught up to them.

‘Mother, Father, what’s happening?’

His mother turned to face him, a gleeful look on her face. ‘Oh, Chiko, it’s wonderful, just look.’

He followed her gaze. To his amazement, one of the convoy’s mages slowly moved his hand over the rough mountain dirt, only for lush, fertile soil to appear in its place. The homesteaders cheered, while the Grastellians stared in amazement at the sight.

Chiko felt his father’s hand on his shoulder. ‘Inquisitor Ristal just received a letter stating that we have been granted special permission to use our magic to tend our crops and heal our sick after he informed the Inquisition what happened to us on the way here.’

Chiko’s mouth gaped as he remembered the letter he had seen Ristal writing while they were travelling to the village.

‘He did that for us?’ Chiko asked. A wave of guilt washed over him for his resentment of Ristal after what had happened with his grandfather.

His mother nodded. ‘He said that we had been brought here because Grastell needs more people and farmers to survive, and if their people don’t adapt to being independent, that this country is doomed.’

Tears rolled down Chiko’s cheeks as he watched his people celebrate with their new neighbours over their new freedom. On the other side of the farms, William and Mirrah stood with their parents. William turned towards Chiko, smile wide, and waved to him.

Chiko waved back. Perhaps Grastell wasn’t such a bleak place to live after all.

Author: Flynn is a 4th year Creative Writing student with a penchant for fantasy, mystery, horror, and the supernatural. Growing up, Flynn loved reading stories with worlds that he could get lost in for hours, and he hopes that one day he will write stories that others can also get lost in. 

Artist: Harrison Coates is an emerging writer studying at QUT. His work investigates the varied and complex lives of those around him, and their place in an increasingly strange world. Living in Brisbane as a 3rd year fine arts student, he finds inspiration for the absurd situations explored by his fiction easily.

Accessibility Reader: Jamie Stevens

Editors: Rory Hawkins and Suzy Darlington