Varnish is an odd-looking SandWing, to say the least.
His top half looks the same as any other SandWing, aside from his overall scrawniness. His scales are a dull beige color, his underscales a lighter shade. His crest is a pale rosy-gray color, and his snout is splashed with a few dark freckles. His black eyes are dullened with sadness.
You'd think there was nothing different about him.
To be frank, Varnish hatched as an ordinary SandWing. Nothing special whatsoever.
But if you look a little farther down, that's when you get confused about whether he's part of the rest of the tribe or not.
His lower half is permanently stained a rich mahogany color, as though he were dipped halfway into a bucket of brown paint. He is quite ashamed of this feature, so he stays inside all the time (except for select nighttimes where there is little light).
Varnish used to be your optimistic, happy-go-lucky, normal dragon. He enjoyed being around others, despite the fact that he was extremely insecure about himself.
But after a while, his condition slowly declined, and he fell into depression. Now, after years of blood and regret, he's nothing more than a sad husk of his former self. He wishes to die, but he doesn't want to betray his daughter, Waxwing, or leave her without parents.
Varnish is shy, and uncomfortable for some dragons to be around. He rarely ventures from his house, out of fear that he'll be noticed and brought out from behind all the hustle and bustle of the world.
As a dragonet, Varnish was liked, known, and sought out. He had many friends, and was one of the most popular dragonets at school. Dragons were attracted to his good-naturedness and popularity. They wanted to be friends with him.
He could have been considered a "bad dragonet". He liked to make trouble, and could always get away with it.
One day, when he was around five years of age, he and several of his friends ventured near the local tanner's workshop, where the local SandWings kept all sorts of dyes, some poisonous, some corrosive, some deadly, even.
One of his friends dared Varnish to go inside the shop, which was publicly prohibited. What was more, he went on to dare him to balance on the rim of one of the dye pots.
Varnish was concerned, but wanting to back down and act cowardly, he accepted the dare. He sauntered into the shop.
The smell of all of the dyes in one place was intoxicating; Varnish's head swam and he felt dizzy. Making sure each of his allies was watching, he clambered on top of the pot full of one of the most dangerous dyes: a highly acidic type, meant to dissolve tough fat on the hides of camels.
He balanced for five, six, seven seconds. As soon as he was about to climb down, he became especially dizzy and fell into the pot.
There was a collective shriek from each of the dragonets as Varnish splashed in, but the loudest and shrillest came from Varnish himself as his scales burned away. Droplets of the inky dye bore through his wings and stained his body.
The tanner, upon hearing the commotion, rushed into the workshop. With a swift, bold movement, Varnish was hoisted out of the pot and immediately brought to the hospital.
Several weeks and numerous failed scale graftings later, Varnish was told that he'd never look the same again. His entire bottom half was stained dark brown. It would be impossible for him to be properly camouflaged against the desert sand. The dye had soaked him to the bone.
If you cut his flesh, all you'd see is brown, all the way through. Even his blood was now a reddish-brown. Each grafting operation was a failure—every time a new patch of scales was precisely woven onto his skin, the dye in his flesh would soak the tissue through, causing it to become the exact same shade as the rest of his lower half.
His wing membranes had also gotten large holes burned through them, and had scarred over.
He finally accepted his fate as a SandWing freak.
He was no longer popular, or liked, or sought out. Instead, he was feared and unloved. Not even his parents, ashamed of his appearance and stupid decision to agree to the dare, accepted him into the family anymore.
He fell into a shallow depression. He moved into an old house that nobody ever visited, not that the number of visitors would change even after he settled there.
This went on for years and years, until he was 11 years old. He hardly ever went out into the sun, so his scales had become brittle and dull.
One day, Varnish finally decided to leave the house, into the rest of the world.
Everybody had forgotten about him. Nobody knew his name anymore. He was met with more stares than he ever had been before.
No dragon spared him a smile, or even a friendly wave of the wing—except for one very lovely dragoness who happened to be out on a stroll that day.
Her name was Hammada. She had the qualities of a queen, Varnish thought: compassionate, beautiful, considerate, intelligent, friendly. It was quite a coincidence that she was Thorn's sister.
After getting to know each other (and going on several dates), Varnish and Hammada decided to join in marriage, years before Thorn became the queen of the SandWings.
When Thorn became queen, Hammada as the queen's sister, Varnish suddenly became royalty. This was one of the few highlights of his life; he'd finally get some respect.
They had a beautiful female dragonet, whom they named Waxwing, and several years later, a male named Arid. Both were very precious to the couple.
And thus ended Varnish's happiness, possibly forever.
One night, when both of their dragonets were asleep, Varnish and Hammada were discussing having one more dragonet. Varnish was all for it, but Hammada didn't want to.
Varnish hadn't argued much in his life. He'd had simple disagreements, but nothing this big. Hammada was becoming more and more offended by the minute, telling Varnish over and over how he was pressuring her into a big decision. Varnish became frustrated, anger boiling up inside him.
And suddenly he snapped. Nearly twenty years of pain and suffering and anger all released in an explosion.
His mind went blank, and he remembered nothing except for Hammada's terrified expression when he brought his lightning-quick tail to her skull.
And then she was dead.
It was silent. Her body on the ground, bleeding. Her wings were shredded, she was nearly decapitated, and there were bloody slashes all down her body, and to this day, Varnish still doesn't know exactly what happened.
Nor does he know his dragonets witnessed the whole thing.
Everything just happened so fast.
His son, Arid, had fled as soon as that happened. Waxwing hurried to her bedroom, silently but violently shaking and sobbing.
Wheen Queen Thorn discovered her sister's murder, she became furious and exiled Varnish and Waxwing from the Kingdom of Sand, never to be allowed back in.
To be continued...
Hammada - Wife (deceased)
Waxwing - Daughter
Arid - Son
Queen Thorn - Sister-in-Law