Chapter 45: The Despair Before Resolve

Throughout unconsciousness

Within Erik’s mind


 

 

Memories rushed by as if someone had sped up time by a hundred times.

From birth, till death.

Erikathyr watched his life pass by.

The death and destruction he saw as a youngling, the war-torn Faetera he grew up around. The cries of the Spirits that surrounded him, the cries of the lesser beings that took shelter in his Lair.

Pain, despair and dread made up his early life.

As he wished he could take action, wished he could step out and do something about the hell that was the outside. But his elders denied him even that.

It is too dangerous for you.” Some would say.

It is none of our concern.” Some would add.

Nature’s Spirit has not called upon us, we are therefore not needed.” All would speak, and believe those words.

All but him.

Yet, he trusted his elder’s words.

As he watched, as he grew.

They told him the war would end, and it did.

But only because the Fae ended it.” Erikathyr would argue, and none could deny him that fact.

But deny him the truth they still would.

The Fae follow their own rules, we have ours. Do not forget, you are Dragon.” They would say, to put him back in his place.

Making Erikathyr realise, that pride was a double-edged blade.

And even as peace filled the world, he could still hear the Spirits weep. Even as tranquillity engulfed Faetera’s surface, his kind could still hear its pain.

Then a voice filled his head.

A voice only now he remembered.

A voice, that only now he recognised.

Do you not see their hypocrisy?” Grim said to the young Erikathyr, as the drake watched humanity tear and destroy their surroundings.

Their words, mean nothing. They only wish to cage you, forcing you to hold back your power. These vermin that leech off your precious Nature, you know you could squash them with ease.” The God said, as its voice suddenly warped into something else’s.

You know, to whom this world should truly belong.” A demonic voice now spoke to him. “Why hold back? Why wait for the Spirits to ask for your aid, when you could take action before it needs to? Why wait for the damage to already have been done, when you could prevent it all?

Those words, as vile as they seemed to the drake.

He thought at the time, that they still rang true with every value he held dear.

Resolved, and tricked.

The young Erikathyr set off, leaving clan and blood behind.

The drake burned villages and towns, laid waste to cities and kingdoms. Nobody could stop him, the same rules that once bound him from taking action now bound the rest from doing so. And the lesser races stood little chance, their magic weak compared to his own, their armour and weapons like leaves and twigs compared to his body.

Their numbers?

All the easier for him to target and destroy.

Destroy.

The Destroyer they called him.

Tales of his rise marked the end of an age, and the beginning of a new one. The Destroyer’s Age, most called it, as Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Bestia fought simply to survive his onslaught.

But Guardian, and the Guardian’s Age, some others named it.

The Fae rejoicing at his actions upon the lesser beings, even some Dragons agreeing with his methods, albeit not lifting a single finger themselves.

They watched him,

Those who called him Destroyer, saw a conqueror, dead set on making the world his.

Those who called him Guardian, saw a hero, breaking off from the laws that bound his kind to set the world straight.

They watched, as Erikathyr brought the lesser races to their knees, the young drake looming over them as they lay cornered.

Terrified,

Trembling,

At the brink of despair.

Erikathyr remembered, as his Xilfir Dominion lay at its strongest.

As the Human, Elven, Dwarven and Bestia kingdoms lay at their weakest.

He could’ve destroyed them. He could’ve driven each race into extinction.

But, he did not. Or at least, he did not wish to.

It was year 732, of the 5th age. The Druvian Empire had fallen, the Zrosian tribes were scattered as the Xilfir hunted them down.

And unbeknownst to Erikathyr, the voice had returned. Yet this time it had a body, and the voice itself was different.

Etheria, the first Xilfir to be born and not created out of another Elf. She had climbed the Dominion’s ranks, seemingly a prideful warrior on the outside, but was instead a poisonous demon within. This Xilfir, this Demoness, reached Erikathyr’s ears.

And once there she whispered of greater achievements to be had.

She whispered of greater power to be gained.

And through her trickery, through her seduction. Hell itself broke into Erikathyr’s mind.

His memories from here on were foggy, fading in and out.

But what he saw, he did not recognise one bit.

The beast the lesser beings saw him as were the eyes of whom Erik was watching through now.

The hunger, the bloodlust that filled him. He felt it but did not recognise it as his own.

Alone he had returned to Druvia, leaving his Xilfir Dominion within Etheria’s clutches.

He felt maddened with rage, unable to control himself as Hell warped his mind and body. The remnants of Man, Elf and Dwarf he had left behind on purpose, hoping that the fear of his existence would force them to rebuild under his image.

Those remnants, were instead met with his now bestial self.

Whereas before he would leave the young alive, whereas he would take each injured and sick out of their misery. Now, he cared not for either. Death and destruction were his sustenance, as the voices in his head willed him forwards, sating for more.

What was once to be remembered throughout history, as Erikathyr, Conqueror, Destroyer of the foolish and Guardian of nature.

He would now be remembered otherwise.

As Erikathyr,

Monster,

Demon,

Destroyer of the weak.

His death playing out last, blurred and barely audible. Erik was only able to make out Alan casting his sacrificial death magic, destroying both of their bodies, and selling both of their souls.

Leaving him in utter darkness as his recollection ended.

Leaving him, drowning in both despair and rage.

Erik felt guilty for being so foolish, for listening to Hell’s whispers. And although he only just regained those memories, he still held himself responsible for everything.

For listening in the first place.

For disregarding his elder’s warnings.

For thinking so lowly of the other races, who although were nowhere as singularly powerful as his kind…It was fact that they were the ones to thrive in the end, and not Erik’s people.

And as he fell deeper into his own sorrow, a thought came to him.

That just maybe, that was why Nature never rose against the lesser races…

They might not be as powerful as Dragons, or as sustaining to the world’s life as the Fae.

But they were in the end, the most resourceful.

And if Erik had never lifted a finger, together they would have thrived still.

It would have been the Elves who kept the rest on the wiser path.

It would have been the Dwarves who progressed, through their creativity.

The Bestia who reminded the others of the nature around them, and how to care for it.

The Mer who would have kept the seas cleansed and the beasts of the deep tame.

And it would have been Humans, who would’ve led them all against Hell’s demons, through their resolve and capability to create bonds.

Each, was an integral part of the other’s lifeline.

Each, just as the Dragons and the Fae, just as the Spirit Beasts once were.

Each race was part of that Nature he should have been protecting.

Making Erik realise, just how foolish both him, the Fae, and his kind had been.

So, you’ve finally figured it out.” Asked a booming voice that filled the darkness. “Faetera does not wish to be protected by the lesser likes of you, nature only wishes for you to protect yourselves.

“Who…Who are you?” Erik weakly asked.

The voice was ever changing, its tone and pitch never the same for long.

I am neither who, nor what. I am everything, everyone. The Fox and his people call me the Avatar, but I am simply a creator. I make, I do not own nor control. But the Fox thinks I should hold your hand and show you the way. Yet, what would you ever learn from that? You have your own mind, your own heart and body. Make your own mistakes, your own choices. That is why I create, not to watch you suffer as most think, but to watch you exist.” The voice explained.

Erik closed his eyes, but it did nothing to change the darkness he saw. “I’ve lived, and died. I’ve existed for longer than I should have. I’ve made my choices, my mistakes. Now, I only wish for punishment for what I’ve done.”

And is this darkness you lay in, your punishment? Is solitude how you wish to redeem yourself, child?” the voice asked.

“Then how else…How else should I repay those I’ve failed?” Erik asked, his voice cracking as he held back his tears. “My very name spells failure, my every action a mistake, my very existence…”

Your own pride cuts you, you know this yet prideful is all you can be. Because prideful is what you are. Dragon, Drakon,” The voice spoke of Erik’s kind in thousands of languages, each one adding to the swelling warmth that suddenly filled him. “You took it upon yourself to do something. You took action, where others simply watched. But that strength, was in the end your weakness, your fall. You were tricked, used and then thrown aside. This broke you, I can see the scars and tears inside you.

Erik then felt pain like no other, a sinking agony that filled not his body, but his soul.

But out of everything you’ve done, out of all the destruction you’ve caused. Only you curse yourself now. Only you, hold yourself accountable.” The voice told him.

“Because I’m the only one still alive and capable to.” Erik argued.

Stubborn serpent…No, it is because only you see it that way. It was not you who stifled a young drake from taking action, it was not you who stuck to selfish beliefs from ages past.” The voice chided, “Every action has an equally destructive reaction. Who you are, is what your elders made you be. What you’ve done, is what they and the Devils pushed you into doing. Your consciousness is filled with the guilt of others. Your pride is a blade. A blade that you, in your own despair, use to cut yourself.

“But I did as told…I believed in their stubborn laws for so long.”

So did every other Dragon alive.

“But I fell for the Devil’s tricks…I raised kingdoms, murdered millions in my wake!”

You fought for what you believed in, beliefs that clashed with the selfishness of others. Did you not allow those who agreed to live? Did you not create the Xilfir? Did you not allow the young and innocent to escape? Did you not end the suffering of the sick?

“But I was weak…I couldn’t stop Hell from coming inside, I let it do as it wished with my body and mind…And so many more suffered because of my weakness! My own poeple suffered because of my weakness!”

That fault is mine and only mine. Do you think all I do is watch? Endlessly I hold my barriers, forever I’ve withstood against others who hunger for my energy. Since the beginning, since my first mistake, I’ve fought to protect the lives that are you, that are I. Would you blame yourself for the failures of your creator? Is that what you wish? Because that weight is not something you are capable of withstanding. So release yourself from it, fool.

Erik sighed, “You make it sound like I have done nothing wrong.”

You have done plenty wrong, Dragon. But not all of that wrong, is solely for you to bear. And if the rest wish not to carry their own weight, then why should you do it alone? Why should you carry theirs too?” The voice continued to bore holes into his words, words that before gave him purpose, words that now held him captive.

“Who will…If not me? Was I not the core of all the wrong? Was I not the weapon they used and misused?” Erik then asked, unable to let go of his guilt.

A wise Dwarf once said, do not blame the blade, but blame their creator. Who gave the blade its purpose.” The voice mused, “Erikathyr, what is your purpose? What is your goal? Do you even have any past what your elders have forced upon you? Past what Hell, has used you for.

The voice suddenly turned harsh, resonating within his mind with every word.

As the darkness around him suddenly gained light, and colour.

He was shown different occurrences around the world.

Makaela clashing with Risera, her blades flying off at the slippery demon.

Pyra fighting the Dark Fae, Umbra. Ascal toying with his enemies. Zentha destroying hers.

And further away…

Alan facing the winter Dragon of Blue, Findri, the once Hero trying to find the right words.

Sol standing before his people, seemingly speaking to a dreading crowd.

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Each of these, have their purpose. Each of these, have a goal they wish for. A dream they yearn for.” The voice said.

As Erik’s widening eyes paused on the last image.

An image of Thea, with Nerick and Shizuka by her side. The three of them facing a Black Dragon, entangled in its magic, they lay hopeless before it.

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What is your purpose, Erikathyr? What goal have you set for yourself? What dream, do you yearn for?” it asked.

Is it truly punishment?

Is it redemption?

Or, is it something else, that you seek?

“I don’t know…” Erik said, shaking his head as he continued to float in the black abyss, the images fading from sight.

All but one.

The one he was still gazing at.

Erik recognised the Black Dragon, since all Dragons of his time knew each other.

But the one chained green, he did not recognise at all. A young green drake that lay unconscious in the image’s background, bound by black chains as runic magic covered its body.

You’ve lived this long life, yet you’ve made nothing of it. You’ve lived for the purpose of others. You’ve existed solely for your elders, and later for your puppetmasters. It is time you live for yourself, it is time you make yourself known not as a Drake, not as the Destroyer or the Guardian. But as Erikathyr, The White Dragon.

Erik’s heart sank deeper at those words, as he looked away from the image. “I’m a drake, disowned and never to be forgiven by my kind. I do not deserve to be called a Dragon.”

Delirio is called a Dragon, Delirio has his wings. Yet he serves Hell. The truth is? Nobody cares, child. Nobody cares what you’ve done or will do. You’re a Dragon, and the only thing holding you from becoming one is your own pride and guilt.” The voice continued to reprimand him. “Do you not hear her voice? Or have you been deafened by it?” it then asked.

Erik’s eyes narrowed, as he returned to the sight. As the image closed in on Thea, while her lips moved.

Yet he could not hear her.

Listen child, not with your ears, but with your heart.” The voice said.

Erik did not understand what that meant…

He did not…Until, he saw her eyes.

Thea’s eyes were filled with despair, tears of sorrow pouring over her cheeks as her lips wordlessly moved.

Erik realised he did not need to hear her words, he only needed to see the pain in her eyes to know that she needed him. And that knowledge lit a fire within him. A flame that he did not recognise, a flame that he could not control or even tame.

Accepting your guilt, is the first step towards self-redemption. The second? Relying on the truth that there is hope.” The voice said, “Go, child. Find your purpose. Find hope.

As suddenly a very annoyed Kyllix appeared before him.

“So, this is where you’ve been huh?” The Spirit Beast asked, disdain clear in his voice as he glanced about the darkness. He sighed as he hovered closer to Erik, before suddenly slapping his right hand across Erik’s left cheek. The harsh sound echoing off into the abyss.

He said nothing, but as Erik met his cold gaze, his eyes told him everything he needed to know. “I apologise, I kept you all waiting.” he said, his tone truly apologetic.

“You bet you did, little bastard. Now get going, it won’t let me interfere any longer. So it’s all up to you now, and you better not die on me, on them.” Kyllix said snidely as a smirk grew on his face.

Erik’s hands clenched into fists, as his eyes glowed gold, flushing the colour into the darkness that surrounded them. “I won’t, for I seek atonement. And until I am redeemed, even as my bones break, even as my blood colours my skin. I will stand, I will run, I will fight. That, I promise.” He spoke in draconic, meeting the Spirit Beast’s cold eyes.

Kyllix’s smirk grew into an amused grin, as he forwarded his right hand to the drake. “Then wake from your slumber, and accept the burdens you’ve left behind. They are heavy, but not as the chains that you bind yourself with. Free yourself of them, and reshape your metal, maybe make a weapon and a shield out of it. Strike down those who stand in your way, and protect those who you hold dear. Heed the Avatar’s words too. This old coot can be frustrating to deal with, but the bastard’s rarely wrong.”

Erik took the God’s hand, clenching it before his vision suddenly swirled and blurred.

“Remember…You’re not the villain of this story Erik, close, but you’re not.” Kyllix said with finality, those being the last words he heard before Erik found himself standing before a barrier of water.

 


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A terrible headache plagued him, as nausea drained him too.

But he remained hovering over the ocean as the pain travelled down to his spine, feeling his bones trembling as he arched back. Feeling his flesh and muscles warp and contort. Agony running down his back as his skin stretched, slowly morphing to scales.

He could feel the change, he knew what was happening to him. Although, he did not feel like he deserved it, pride still swelled up within Erik’s heart.

He resisted the pain, both within his flesh and bones, and within his mind.

(“Was I a fool…to believe in you?”) A pained voice suddenly asked, a voice he recognised.

A voice, he rushed to. Be it water, earth, or magic. Erik broke through, flames and lightning surging about him as he rushed towards them.

(“Erik…”) Thea said softly.

(“Theaviss!”) He bellowed through their bond, feeling the earth crack beneath his landing as he had felt everything else break and shatter on his way down. “Have I ever disappointed you?” He asked, rising to meet Delirio’s surprised gaze with his own, rage and fury swirling within both his eyes and heart.

He then felt the scales on his back shudder as his bones ripped through them, after ripping aside his flesh, growing out into his longest limbs as flesh and muscle moved to gather around them.

You dare, damage a hair on my Chosen, and her companions. You, of the Black Clan, dare side with demons!?” Erik bellowed, lightning striking out with his every word as he roared in fury. “You dare, side yourself against your own kind. You dare, insult the very Nature that gave you life, with this abomination!?” He asked, glancing over at the unconscious Ivyieth in disgust.

The limbs on his back grew further, forming two beautiful wings of white and gold netting.

And with their appearance, he felt his senses suddenly expand.

He felt new strength rush through his body.

He felt his mana expand with new capacity.

As what was once locked away behind his body’s human limitations, was released in full force.

And what was…

His heightened feelings of anger, his fury.

His coldest feelings of hate, his guilt.

And his deepest feelings of attachment, his bonds.

Before they were his weakness, but now they empowered him, giving him new resolve.

Erik spread his wings, arching them back as golden light glistened behind each movement they made, trailing behind them like sparks of light.

He grinded his fangs, as he returned to facing Delirio.

What happened to you, Delirio, mate to Zyndreth?” Erik asked, as he beat his wings, suddenly rushing forward at Delirio.

Once upon a time…I looked up to the both of you!” He bellowed, charging the Black Dragon with all his might.

Delirio’s eyes narrowed at the mention of her name, raising both forelegs forward and meeting Erik’s charge with his claws. Their collision sending waves of draconic energy rampant along the air they stood in, darkness and light clashing within every centimetre of space that surrounding them.

Erik saw sadness within Delirio’s eyes, before being taken over by rage.

I’ve changed, as have you I see, young Erikathyr.

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