Rei adjusted the ceremonial garb of the Tribe Chief in her room at home. She hated wearing this bulky and frivolous clothing and hat but the Dragon Run was the most important event in a youth’s life in the Yuuei Tribe. Twelve of the children would be “coming of age” as they had all turned sixteen years old over the past four seasons, including her youngest son. She found her dragon scale necklace, the only type of “jewelry” she owned. The scales of the necklace belonged to the dragon from her own Dragon Run many moons ago.
“Rei! We’re going to be late, if you don’t hurry up! This is Izuku and Shouto’s big day, we both can’t be late,” said Inko, the tribe’s chief alchemist, entering the room. Midoriya Inko was Rei’s best friend and together they almost made up a whole adult.
Inko had green hair and eyes, with a smattering of freckles over her cheeks and nose and once again, she looked like she was going to cry. Inko was so cute.
“Oh, no, don’t lose it, Inko. You promised you weren’t going to cry,” said Rei, almost complaining. “And if you start crying, I’m gonna start crying thinking about Shouto growing up.”
“But Izuku’s getting so big and soon he’ll find his soulmate and won’t need me anymore,” said Inko, already working herself up into waterworks.
Rei went over and awkwardly, due to the heavy clothing, hugged her friend. “I know, I know, it’s hard. I wish we could keep them young forever. I still cry when I see Touya and Keigo hold hands, thinking about how my first baby is all grown up.” Oh, now, Rei was tearing up thinking about her four children and how amazing they were—Fuyumi and Natsuo had not found their soulmates yet, but Touya did and now, Shouto was going on the Dragon Run.
The two best friends since childhood hugged and cried over their babies growing up, when someone entered the room.
“Oh, for the love of Ziarre, are you two really crying again?”
Rei looked over to find Inko’s husband and soulmate Midoriya Hisashi (Rei’s other best friend), his wild black hair recognizable wherever. Poor Izuku may had gotten Inko’s hair color, but got Hisashi’s unmanageable mess. Hisashi looked both fond and annoyed at the same time, which was his normal way of dealing with the people he loved.
“Oh, sweetie, we’re allowed to cry,” said Inko, sniffling.
Hisashi sighed, shaking his head. “And Granny Chiyo and Old Man Torino can’t start the opening ceremony without the Tribe Chief and the Chief Alchemist. You’re already five minutes late.”
Rei and Inko jumped apart, as Hisashi pulled out two handkerchiefs, one for each of them. Rei wiped her face. “Oh, man, Granny Chiyo is gonna scold me.”
“The kids have been looking forward to meeting the dragons,” said Hisashi, in a light tone. He pulled them to the direction outside, and now they were walking together. “Especially Izu, that’s all he’s been talking about for five years. I feel bad for the dragon that he has to track down; he’ll ask them a billion questions. I fear we might not see him for months.”
Inko gasped, smacked Hisashi on the arm, “Don’t tease me like that, Hisashi! You are lucky you are so handsome!”
“Well, at least, Izu won’t get lost, like another kid I know who has no sense of direction,” said Hizashi, wryly, as the trio made their way to the town square, where Rei was sure that everyone was already waiting for them.
It was Rei’s turn to gasp. She smacked him on the other arm. “You’re a terrible, terrible jerk, Midoriya Hisashi! Shouto won’t get lost…I made sure that Touya, Fuyumi and Natsuo went over the trails of the mountains ten-fold. Even Keigo helped!”
Hisashi snorted and burst out laughing. “You both wound me with your tiny hands and your mean words.”
The trio finally reached the town square which was all set up dramatically for the opening ceremony of the Dragon Run. The Carpenters’ Guild built a temporary stage for the center of the town and the Seamstress and Artists’ Guilds made large banners for the occasion. The entire town was there, even those that were normally out of town due to fishing, the small patrol they had for safety reasons, or just regular travelers to other lands, who brought back a whole of bunch of things and information. Everyone came home for the occasion.
The twelve sixteen-years-olds participating this year were already up on stage, dressed for travel through the trails of the mountains that loomed over them on their island.
The town elders were waiting off to the side, looking surly.
Well, at least, she was only ten minutes late, this time, Rei thought to herself.
“Oh thanks for showing up, finally, you brats,” scolded Granny Chiyo. Shuzenji Chiyo was the Town Chief Witch and Chief Healer and a former Tribe Chief and the top-ranking Elder of the Tribe. Chiyo was short, wrinkly and she was almost constantly exasperated with everyone. Her partner and soulmate Gran Torino was just laughing at them.
Rei, Inko and Hisashi all got light hits on the knees from Granny Chiyo’s cane in retribution. Despite still being grown and high-ranking members of the Tribe, Rei and her two best friends were somehow always still in trouble.
“Ow! Granny Chiyo, don’t be so mean,” said Rei, wobbling a bit in the heavy ceremonial garb of her predecessors. “Did the Dragons give their signal yet?”
“Luckily not yet,” said Chiyo, with a hefty sigh. “Let’s get this done. These kids had to wait long enough.”
Rei knew that Chiyo was not referring to she and Inko being ten minutes late, no, it was the other reason. They normally held the Dragon Run on the Summer Solstice and over three days groups of four would go into the trails and track down the young dragon who also came of age to get the gift of shedding dragon scales. It was already nearing the Autumn Equinox. It was three months later than she would have liked, but they had a serious situation rumbling on their hands.
It was Rei’s own husband Enji who brought back the news from his travels.
There was a group hunting dragons, witches, Fae Kind, and daemons for some nefarious purposes. They called themselves the Human Liberation Front. The group were looking for Yuuei, Shiketsu, Ketsubutsu, Seiai, and Seijin--the five Guardian Tribes, the last safe havens for magic in the world.
Enji brought the news in spring; and then Rei had to spend months traveling to Avalon, the Holy Island of Five Guardian Deities to meet up with the other Tribe Chiefs to discuss safety matters. The meeting took two weeks, since there was a lot of arguing involved from the other chiefs. And since Rei was not there by the time the Summer Solstice rolled around, they couldn’t have the Dragon Run.
Rei was necessary for it as the Tribe Chief, as she was the only one that was able to speak to the Dragon Queen to set up everything. Dragons were traditional like that sometimes about certain things and the Yuuei respected their process. Rei was just thankful that Inko had managed to get a message to her dragon friend All Might to let the Dragon Queen know everything happening.
Rei grinned, despite the heavy thoughts and duties, “Yep, the kids waited long enough. Let’s get this thing started.”