“I’ve changed, as have you I see, young Erikathyr.” Delirio said, as a burst of darkness suddenly exploded between them, sending Erik flying back. He plummeted, crashing back down onto the ground, tumbling over several times before spreading his wings wide and regaining balance.
Erik slid to a stop as he kneeled, glancing back at Thea and the rest, as the chains around them came apart. “Nerick! Grab everyone and run! The Liar’s magic is disabled while I’m here, I can keep him busy while you do!” He told them, immediately turning back to face Delirio before flapping his wings
Erik soared, lightning and flame swirling around his body as he flew up towards the Black Dragon.
(“How are they?”) He asked himself, as his magic clashed with the darkness ahead.
(“What eyes, is she looking at me with?”) Erik thought, too ashamed to look back and meet Thea’s gaze.
A gaze that he felt on himself, as he filled the sky with the light that kept the darkness at bay…
Erik flew all around Delirio, like a firefly encircling a bat. His lightning clashing with the encroaching dark, his flames ripping it aside, revealing the Dragon within.
They clashed, two monsters in their own right. Claw for claw, tail for tail. As wings supported them in the sky, as their elements fought to give the other the edge. But even as Erik matched Delirio’s darkness with his own lightning and flames, his claws and tail were not.
To the Dragon, Erik seemed like nothing more than an insect.
As he flew around it, evading their massive claws as they swiped at him.
Evading the looming tail as it swatted at him.
Keeping his distance from the beast’s maw, as it searched for him, keen on devouring him whole.
Not a moment was left in between their clashes, not a single pause for him to chant or think. Their bodies moved through pure instinct, evading, defending, attacking…It was all just natural instinct to the two Dragons.
There was no rhyme or reason to their attacks either, this was no calculated duel between two knights.
No, far from it.
This was a battle between two beasts. Both the ultimate predator, and as the beasts that they were, no matter how captivating they could be. As they clashed, as the two Dragons battled, chaos reigned supreme all around them.
The chaos of their movements, the chaos of their clashing elements. The chaos, that was the sound they made. Dragons they were, but none of their noble charm was notable as they fought.
A battle that shook the very air they breathed, each clash making it shudder and in turn making everything else quake. Immense power surging through the air in waves of mana, taking the shape of either darkness, flames or lightning.
Sometimes even raw mana itself, blasting out from their colliding attacks and dispersing into the terrain. Shattering it, collapsing the many islands that floated about the undersea lair.
And as they clashed and clashed.
Each suddenly found a pause in between, pushing one another away.
Giving either a moment to meet the other’s gaze.
As Delirio opened his maw wide.
And Erik raised his arms forth.
“Terror of the night, defying the moon’s light.”
“The roar that defies thunder, the breath that mocks lightning.”
Each Dragon chanted in their kind’s tongue, every sentence taking no more than two words to speak.
“Darkness that I breathe, Darkness that I am!”
“Flames that I breathe, Lightning that I am!”
As a black mass of energy formed out of Delirio’s maw, shaping a sphere of darkness in between his jaws.
As lightning and flame formed at Erik’s fingertips, the electricity merging with the fire and creating a golden blaze.
“I bellow, I order, I roar. And with my roar, darkness I breathe!”
“I demand, I command and I roar. And with my roar, lightning I breathe and flame I speak!”
Delirio’s jaws enclosed around the darkness, shutting his mouth around the energy.
Erik did the same, squashing the golden blaze in between his palms.
“Draconic School; Drako; Delirio!”
“Draconic School; Drako; Erikathyr!”
Both bellowed, both roared in chant.
As Delirio opened his maw wide, sending forth a ray of the darkest black, followed by a low pitch humming sound that reverberated through the sky.
But Erik waited, he waited as the darkness rushed towards him. He batted his wings, moving aside and evading the Draconic breath. Then he opened his hands, releasing the golden flame and sending it forth…
The golden flame surged ahead, and further off. Missing the target that was no longer there.
“You forget, who taught you how to fight.” Delirio said, suddenly appearing over Erik, his massive tail rushing down upon the small humanoid all too fast to evade.
Erik was swatted aside like an insect, sent plummeting down like before, but this time into a different island. Not that it mattered, each of the spheres had lost the barriers which kept them up. Each island was shattering, each one undistinguishable from the rest. Falling apart and slowly plummeting lower, towards an unavoidable crash alongside those below.
“I have not, I remember, I remember it all.” Erik said, as he stood back up among clouds of dust. “I remember Elder Tenia teaching me about mana. I remember Elder Zeekiathron teaching me about our history. I remember Elder Kalrunyth teaching me about nature…I remember…Elder Zyndreth, teaching me how to fight.” He said, as blood trickling down his face. “Then I remember you…I remember you teaching me not just how to fight like a proud Dragon but how to fight like a strong one.”
He gazed up, meeting Delirio’s empty eyes.
“Do you?” Erik asked, “Do you remember any of it!?”
“How could I forget? Mostly her…she was my world! But the world, took her from me. The world, took them all. The Avatar, took everything from us both!” Delirio growled in response, his wing beat slowing to a stop as he landed opposite of Erik. The entire island quaking beneath his weight. “We are similar you and I, haunted by our past…Lost, from our ways. They will never take back either of us. They will never accept our weakness back into their ranks…”
Again, a sadness filled Delirio’s gaze, before fury took it over. “So why expect to be? Why try for redemption when revenge is so much sweeter, so much easier.”
But his words only infuriated Erik further.
“No, you have forgotten. If you truly remembered her, then you’d remember who you were back then, who you are no longer. The world took nothing from you, Delirio. You stood there and did nothing, as everything you had crumbled to dust before you.”
And in turn, Erik’s words did nothing but add fuel to Delirio’s rage.
“You dare…Nothing? Then what have you done, young fool? Too weak to suppress the Devil that spoke to you. Too blind, to see Hell’s strings. I do as I please to this very day, I serve because I wish to. You though, are nothing more than a puppet. A tool that has gone rusted and unkept. Useless, and in the way.” Delirio said, snarling whilst looming over him.
Erik smiled, a cold and distant smile. “True, I was too weak. I was too blind. But a puppet I am not. No longer.”
Delirio chuckled, “A puppet to your mother you still are, little one. As long as you wish for redemption, as long as you fight to regain your pride. A puppet, you still are.”
Erik’s smile faded, as his gaze fell, his eyes growing dark. Erik sighed, as he now spoke in common, “Then what am I, if I leave all that behind? What am I, when I no longer wish for redemption? At first, I thought I really was just a failure. A mistake that needed to be punished…But now?”
Whereas he smiled before, Erik now grimaced. His eyes wide as he raised his gaze to meet Delirio’s once more. “Tell me teacher, what is a Dragon without his pride? What am I, if I abandon my people entirely? Am I a failure? No, there is no mistake in freedom. Because that is what I proclaim myself as now.”
Lightning suddenly surged around him, sparking with tendrils of screeching electricity
“I’m tired, tired of their expectations. Numb to their disappointment. No longer, no longer will I carry that weight. I release myself from that pressure. I walk away from her words, that once pierced me like a blade.”
Flames raged about him, blazes and bouts growing out of his body and whipping around haphazardly.
“I shall make my own choices now, and like you, I have purpose. But while your purpose lies in petty revenge. My purpose…Yes…My purpose is much simpler. My purpose…”
Erik was engulfed in his own magic, willing both lightning and flame to dance for him. “Is to remain free. To do as I wish, how and when I wish…My purpose…Is to finally live.” He clenched his hands into fists, as the lightning and fire merged, forming a golden blaze that whirled all around him.
“I am Dragon.” Erik spoke in draconic.
“But I wish to be more.” He then said in common. “So I shall live, for as long as I can. Freely, I shall live. And you…” He said, as veins of white pulsating light suddenly formed all over his skin and scaled body.
His eyes glowed a fierce gold, as his irises focused like a reptile’s, setting upon Delirio.
His wings trembled as they opened wide.
His claws expanded as he stretched his fingers.
And as his tail swung, it morphed, gaining a bladed end that whistled as it cut through the air.
All the while his golden flames that swirled about suddenly changed, converging around his tail’s end, around his hands and setting his wings afire.
“You’re in my way.” Erik hissed, and out of his forehead suddenly burst out a pair of golden horns. Like antlers, the draconic horns branched out twice while growing over his head, aching back over it. Each horn ending in three spikes, and each end going from gold to white in colour. The golden blaze forming around his horn-tips too.
Too much, the magic flowing within his body was condensing too much. Causing the air around him to become so thick and pressured, that the ground beneath him shook and shattered.
Delirio growled as he took a step back, watching Erik’s change with unease. (“So this…This is what He was looking for…”) He thought, watching as Erik’s body bordered between Human and Dragon. He sensed it too, the perfect balance that Erik’s mana had found. So thick and condensed within his, in comparison, tiny body. Yet, it didn’t leak, it didn’t damage its container either.
Instead it smoothly flowed out, bending to Erik’s draconic will. As the air around him vibrated with power, as the ground beneath him unravelled because of it.
Delirio could not let this go further, knowing that Erik having finally awakened to his wings, gave him further control. Control he did not have before.
Delirio knew, that with every passing second, Erik was growing accustomed to his power. While, he was already used to his humanoid form.
(“This is dangerous…”) Delirio thought, meeting Erik’s gaze, cold albeit aflame.
“What is it, Delirio?” Erik then asked, snapping him out of his thoughts. “Are you fearing for your life?” Erik snarled, taking a step forward as the floor beneath him caved in from the pressure, lowering a few feet.
Delirio met his challenging tone, retaking his step and moving forward. “You should be the one afraid, hatchling.” The Black Dragon growled, its voice making Erik’s vision tremble. “Let us see, whose purpose is stronger then. I’ll show you, exactly which of us Dragons is the apex, foolish youngling.” Delirio said, as every scale over his body suddenly began to tremble.
Sound, an ear-piercing screech reverberated out of every centimetre off Delirio’s body. Dazing Erik, as through blurring eyes he watched the Black Dragon’s form suddenly fade out of existence.
Immediately Erik took to the sky, flapping his blazing wings to get as far away from the ground as possible. Eyes wide and ears listening, he stretched his senses to their limit.
Looking, searching for Delirio.
But he knew, none of that would work. Nothing, no living creature in existence could detect a Black Dragon if it didn’t want you to. Erik knew, this power was not invisibility, not the bending of light and shadow.
This was the bending of a prey’s very senses. A sound so penetrating, yet so silent. It affected everything Erik saw, heard or even smelled.
And the best of its benders, could also affect everything their target felt…
It was clear to him, that he had been put at a disadvantage.
Or at least, that was what Erik let Delirio think.
As he turned around, evading the shimmering claw that appeared behind him, before it faded out once again.
“H-How!?” Delirio asked in surprise, as Erik had dodged his attack with perfection.
Erik smiled, coldly he smiled. “I’m glad, Delirio. I’m glad that you see me as a dangerous enough foe to use your clan’s deadliest art.” He said, as he closed his eyes. “But did you know?” He then asked, before suddenly starting to chant.
“The roar that defies thunder, the breath that mocks lightning. Flames that I breathe, Lightning that I am. I demand, I command and I roar. And with my roar, lightning I breathe and flame I speak.” Erik chanted, suddenly evading the breath of darkness that burst out of thin air.
“Know what?! How? How are you detecting me!?” The Black Dragon demanded, confusion clear in his tone.
Erik’s smile grew into a cold smirk, as the golden flame within his hands grew in size and brightness. “Did you know? That sight, smell, hearing and touch…Are not the only senses able to be heightened?” He asked, as his thin reptilian tongue briefly slithered out, so fast that it was barely visible.
As he evaded once again, a shimmering tail engulfed in darkness swinging over his head while Erik bent back. He wrapped his wings around himself, allowing himself to fall whilst turning to face the sky, watching as the barely visible tail slashed above.
“Draconic School; Drako; Erikathyr!” He finalized his chant, opening his wings wide and sending forth a blast of golden flames from his outstretched palms.
Delirio turned mid-air to meet Erik’s blaze with his own, opening his jaws wide, breathing out smoky black darkness.
And the two magiks clashed.
Yet, the darkness was no match.
Unconcentrated unlike the golden flame, it dispersed on collision. Unlike the golden flame, which burst into the Black Dragon, opening up like a flower and engulfing him whole.
Delirio bellowed in pain, as the flames rushed about his scaly body. The unbearable heat, burning away at his scales, revealing the flesh beneath and burning that too. Whilst electricity rushed through his body, numbing his muscles and attacking his insides.
The Black Dragon plummeted, as his wings burned, as his body melted…
Before suddenly, dissipating from sight. Causing Erik’s expression to pale, as he had realised…the illusion he was fed.
Just as the Black Dragon, the real one, rose behind him. Wings open, claws at the ready…And jaws wide. “Indeed, I knew.” Delirio hissed, breathing out darkness upon him, engulfing Erik in black.
Darkness filled his world, as the poisonous magic entered him. Like flames it burned his skin, entering through his wounds and corrupting his flesh. While the blast itself pushed into his back.
Like a meteor, Erik fell down, darkness trailing in his path.
He fell, but the fall itself was too far down. The islands were almost all already destroyed, so falling is all that remained, and for a long while.
As he struggled against the poison, as it entered his lungs, filled his veins…
Erik felt it permeate every part of him, filling his mind with mist, blurring his sight and numbing his skin to the burning pain. Erik’s world twisted and turned before him as he fell, even as he had turned to face him, Delirio’s form blurred. Nothing more than a smudged silhouette in his view.
A cruel fate, Erik thought.
He was unable to see his killer eye to eye, unable to perceive anything before death. Not the sound of his own screams, not the fear that should’ve filled him.
Not even the air whistling by, as he continued to fall.
(“But I’ve already died…Twice…Maybe, this is just what I deserve.) He coldly thought, as the black smudge in his view grew larger and larger.
(“So much…for my big mouth. Everything I’ve said…This is their worth? Is this the worth of my words?”) Erik thought, then pondering whether he wore a smile or not, although he could no longer feel his own face.
The darkness was all he saw now, and Erik waited.
He waited for death.
Did I not make myself clear?
Words, words appeared in his view. Warping his vision into white characters which he read.
Will you let this be the end? Will you remain blind? Fight the poison, Erik, and open your damn eyes. See, what you need to see. Don’t die…
Don’t die on them.
The words said, reminding Erik just how selfish he was being.
Reminding him, that he was no longer just fighting for himself.
Right then, he felt it, the shape of a hand burning against his cheek. Like a God of fire had slapped him across. It woke him from his daze.
And he took charge of that heat.
Erik took control of the flames, willing them across his body.
He willed the fire through his veins, through his blood and flesh. He burned it away, to the last drop Erik burned the poison out of his system. And finally, his vision began to clear.
A blue and a green smudge grew out of the black’s centre.
Slowly, the two patches of colour took shape, clearing out for him to see.
Slowly, until they became clear enough for him to make out.
Thea and Nerick fell before him, Nerick holding a massive shield of green scales ahead of them. Thea holding her palms over Nerick’s shoulders, transferring her blue aura into him, then flowing it into the shield.
The both of them were keeping the darkness beyond at bay.
Nerick struggling against it, clenching the shield that was Ivara.
And Thea looking back upon Erik’s falling form, eyes wide as she shouted. Her words warped, he couldn’t understand her yet.
Don’t die on them.
The letters appeared once again, but faded from sight right after.
And as Erik met Thea’s eyes, he felt all his shame and despair drain away. For within her gaze, he saw her hope, and her pain.
Within them, Erik saw her trust, and her worry.
Within them…Erik saw a flame.
“Erik!” As her words suddenly reached him, calling his name.
And Lightning, and flame exploded out from Erik’s body, as he willed them to engulf him. Pain, Erik felt a stinging agony rush through him, as his body still lay riddled in patches of corroded flesh. His tail and wings too, damaged and tattered.
“This…This is far from over!” Erik bellowed, resisting through the pain that came in waves, with every move he made.
As he flapped his broken wings, slowing his fall until he crashed into Thea and Nerick who fell over him. He grabbed onto them, as they both looked back at him in surprised.
“I’m sorry,” He said, gazing at Thea’s tears as he spoke. “I’m sorry I left you alone.” He told them.
“Stupid…I thought you were dead!” Thea exclaimed, grinning widely at his words, her tears continuing to flow but were now fuelled by something else.
“We will be if nothing more is done!” Nerick pointed out, returning to focus on the shapeshifted Ivara and breaking their intertwined gazes.
“Right,” Erik said, taking a deep but pained breath as he held onto them. Closing his eyes, he focused. Through the pain, through the nausea. Erik tried to see through each, and reconnect with his mana.
“I am torn, I am broken. Ripped and damaged. Fix my bones, tend to my flesh. Unlike the needle, and thread. Fire that does not destroy, flame that does not burn. Stitch my skin, burn my wounds and heal my scars. Fire School; Custom Cast; Healing Flame!” Erik chanted, flowing his mana out, bending it to his will.
Flames enveloped them all, warm but not burning. Unlike a ravenous blaze, the flames were hot yet relaxing. They washed over them, taking all their pain, all their weariness and wounds with.
As Erik’s revealed flesh burned, reconstructing itself as it did. His skin, fading back in as the flames converged on where it was missing. His tail’s scales, regrowing into place.
His wings, reforming anew.
Erik opened his yes, relieved of the pain and nausea, he gazed ahead. “Thank you,” he said, smiling all the while. “You’ve done enough, now take cover. It’s my turn to protect you.” He said, suddenly rushing around them and grabbing hold of the shield.
Erik flapped his wings as he noticed a pause in the breath of darkness, swinging the shield, Nerick and Thea around before suddenly letting go. Sending them flying aside and sliding off the rubble, as everyone landed.
Erik landed hard, feeling the shock flow up his legs and then spine.
But not as roughly as Delirio, as the massive Dragon crashed down before him. Sending clouds of smoke and volleys of debris into his surroundings, as darkness oozed out of his body. “So, you survived my poison. This is…new. Everything about you, is so new…So fascinating.” The Black Dragon growled, “Once I kill you, I’ll make sure to research your corpse thoroughly. But before that…”
Delirio’s gaze moved upon Thea and Nerick in the distance, as they stood up from the rubble, freezing while under his eyes’ scrutiny.
But his gaze was regained by Erik, as he growled too. “Don’t you dare look away from me.” Erik said, as the flames about him dissipated. “Don’t you dare, think of even laying a claw on them.” As the golden shine within his eyes, dimmed down to his natural blue.
“This fight, is between you and me. And I don’t care how much younger I might be, I don’t care how much stronger you are. I’m not dying, not today.” Erik hissed, raising his gaze to meet Delirio’s narrowing eyes.
“Do you even hear yourself speak? You sound less like a proud Dragon and more like a blind Human.” Delirio said with a chuckle, stomping his right claws forward and causing the rubble beneath them to shudder.
Erik, chuckled too, causing Delirio some unease.
“Do I? Well, I guess that’s just what I am. Neither, and both. Because this is who I am.” Erik said, as he straightened himself.
Facing the Black Dragon, now not as their equal.
But as something different, something new.
“Because this is me, the me I choose to be.”