Thea opened her eyes, finding herself flying through a sea of lights. An endless ocean of bright misty light, from green to gold, blue to white. The light rushed past her, as she was pulled with. A speed she could not determine as she felt neither air rush past nor saw any terrain to tell.
But she did notice that her speed was slowing down, until she finally came to a stop. Thea floated through the endless ocean, waving her arms about herself, she felt nothing but empty air. Her legs having no ground to rest upon, she found she could still spin about.
“Where…am I?” Thea asked, glancing about in awe.
“You are nowhere, child. This place is nothing more than a figment of your own imagination.” Spoke a familiar but strange deep voice, it echoed about her. She turned around, looking for the speaker, until her gaze fell upon it.
Turning around Thea met the beast’s glowing golden eyes. Pure white, spiky scales. A long reptilian tail ending in a golden tip. Four thick golden horns growing out of its head. The drake, a young wingless dragon, stared at her with interest. Coiled up albeit having no ground to stand on, it lay looking at her. It was the largest creature she had ever set her eyes upon, so massive that she must have seemed puny before it.
“You do not recognise me?” The drake asked, as their eyes met.
She stared into the being’s deep gold, immediately realising who it was. “Erik?” she asked.
“Yes, it is better if you call me by that name. I fear my true name would only cause us both problems.” Erik chuckled, revealing three rows of bright golden fangs. He rose, his white scales sparkling with blue and golden energy as he moved.
“Erik-athyr…” Thea spoke the name, energy flowing out alongside the powerful word. “The destroyer.” She said, her eyes widening in sudden fear. As she realised who this being she stood before actually was, “You…I-I sold my soul to a devil…”
A resonating rumble filled her ears, as the drake laughed. “Devil? I suppose I must seem as such to your kind. With titles as ‘The Destroyer’ given to me by you, I must be comparable to demons then.” He spoke with sour sarcasm in his tone, “No, human. I am neither devil nor god. I am as mortal as you, I simply live much longer and am of a higher quality of mind and soul.”
Thea shook her head in disbelief, “No you-The destroyer was felled by the seven legends during the fifth age!” she exclaimed.
“Oh, legends are they now? That snivelling brat and his frustrating companions? Or would a harem be more appropriate a word for the six whores that chased after his every step?” Erik hissed in annoyance, causing Thea to pale in terror.
“And yes, defeat me they did. Surprisingly. Yet death itself seemed against that fact, brought me back to life as a ‘punishment’ for my…mistakes. Although I hardly understand where and what mistakes I’ve made, so far you humanoids have been nothing but the same as you’ve always been.” He grumbled, “Alas, mistakes I did make else I would not be here. And I seek to tend to the wounds I’ve torn open.” He then admitted with a sigh.
Erik gazed down at her once more, “And you, my champion. Will aid me in this task.”
“Me? Champion?” Thea repeated, not understanding.
“You have not sold your soul to me, silly fool.” Erik explained, “No, what you have done is sworn fealty to my name, in return for some of my original power. It is a bond of trust, something we dragonkin can form with any other being. Even goblins, if one somehow proves useful enough.”
“A bond? What…do you gain from this bond?” Thea asked, still dubious of his words.
Erik’s eyes narrowed, as he approached her. “Insight and Loyalty. I wish to learn from your kind, learn what my elders think I still need to understand. So I will watch, I will observe your kind. And you will be my guide.”
“So…you’re not out for destroying the world again?” Thea asked awkwardly.
Erik tried to smile, but only ended up as a show of his fearsome fangs once more. “In the first place, I wasn’t out to destroy the world. Only remove the pests that plagued it. Has history truly villainized me this much?”
The fear in her eyes changed to confusion, “You’re…not the spawn of a Devil?” she then tentatively asked. A mistake she immediately regretted deeply, as Erik’s entire body sparked with blue electricity.
The drake roared, “A DEVIL’S SPAWN!?” draining all colour from Thea’s face. “I am the pure offspring of two White Dragons! Son to Yvyd…” Erik’s anger faltered, his voice trailing off as he spoke the name.
He sighed, “No, I am but a simple drake.” He glanced about briefly before turning back to her. “You have a few days before you return to consciousness. Tell me champion, tell me this tale your people have constructed of me. I will correct the falsities.” Erik asked, as he coiled back up. Resting his large head over his dangerous looking front feet.
Thea stared at him briefly, unable to imagine this majestic creature as the demonic beast that brought seven races to their knees an age ago. She began to tell the tale from her memory, “Where there was once seven great races above and below this ground we call Faetera, my people the humans, alongside six others. The elves who care for nature as they care for their very children-”
“Elves care not for nature, they bend it to their will, creating abominations of what they call perfection.” Erik grumbled, “Continue.” He then told her.
“Ah-T-The dwarves then…” Thea stuttered as she did, “The greatest crafters among the seven races, their techniques of blacksmithing and engineering rivalled only by their own mining-”
Again Erik cut her off, “Hmph, mining that destroyed entire ecosystems.” he snorted in annoyance. “True though, their metal craft was an annoyance even for my teeth.” He admitted, waving for her to go on.
“The orcs, ferocious warriors whose barbaric practices ostracized them from the rest. The mer, creatures of the sea and song. The half-beasts, or Bestia as they referred to themselves. Tribesmen of old, caring for all kinds of creatures. Then last but not least, the Fae. Secretive beings of raw magic, the eldest among the seven races-”
“And the least mature of all, oh how those pests bug us dragons as we slumber!” Erik exclaimed in frustration, scratching his snout from the wretched memory of his first encounter with a Fae.
“A-Anyway, history says that these seven races had little to do with one another. All but the trade between human and dwarf or the skirmishes between elf and orc. All was well, conflict was minimal, until the destroyer came.” Thea continued to tell, Erik’s interest growing as his entrance arrived. “During the fifth age, a D-Devil’s bastard child, offspring of an enslaved dragon. Erikathyr, the destroyer came-”
“Heresy.” Erik suddenly hissed, saying no more on the subject.
Thea coughed, clearing her throat. “The drake started with small human villages, ravaging dozens across the land. Very little survived its wake, the tales of a massive wyvern running rampant reaching the king’s ear. The kingdom sent out a platoon of soldiers to hunt down the beast but…”
“Oh, what an amusing snack that was.” Erik chuckled.
Thea simply continued, growing used to his commenting. “None of them returned, for weeks thereafter, nothing was heard of the wyvern either. The kingdom believing that the soldiers managed to slay or scare off the beast.”
“Dwarven armour…hard to digest.” Erik admitted sourly.
“But the creature returned, reappearing in elven lands and far more fiercer than before. Now revealed to be a white drake, the monster burned and thrashed through the elven kingdom with ease. Their blades unable to pierce its hide, their arrows neither and their magic ineffective against its own. Millions were massacred within a few weeks. The elven race brought down to its last few, retreated into human lands, forced to beg for sanctuary.” Thea stopped, waiting for him to correct something about that passage.
But Erik said nothing, as there was nothing to correct. Only raising a scaly brow at her pause, to which she continued on. “T-The drake, now known as Erikathyr as it so l-loved to announce over and over.”
“I did not!” Erik objected.
“T-That’s what you object to!?” Thea exclaimed, “You almost eradicated an entire race!”
Erik tried to respond, but his voice fell short, unable to quickly retort. Causing the moment to turn awkward. “Continue…” He then grumbled, glancing away in annoyance.
Thea just stared at him in disbelief, “Why? Why did you do it?” she asked.
Erik sighed, “Are we actually going there?” seeing that she wasn’t pulling back even as he glared at her, he sighed once more. “My kind are taught one thing the moment we are born. Only nature provides. In its chaotic and inexplicable ways, it always provides. One must only understand how, and make use of what they’re given. You can take away much from nature but one must always give back as much as was taken. For nature is a powerful but fragile existence.”
His eyes dimmed whilst he glanced away, the light slowly fading as he spoke. “As I grew I sought much knowledge from my elders. And you must understand that, we dragons live very long lives. We also believe strictly that more knowledge is gained if one understands it, out of their own speculation and findings. We do after all, have all the time in the world to find out so.”
Briefly he glanced back at her, the golden light completely gone from his eyes, revealing the deep reptilian blues. They bore in her, “I watched your kind from afar, I watched the dwarves from afar. I even watched the elves from afar. From you I saw the poisoning of nature, from the dwarves I saw the destruction of it and from the elves I saw them as they enslaved it to their whims.”
His tone was saddened, and although his draconic snout had no expression, Thea could tell just from his eyes how much this bothered him. “It pained me to see, the vile things the middle races did to their surroundings. Seemingly giving nothing in return. I saw you as parasites, holding nature hostage. Abusing it, poisoning it, killing it.”
Erik looked away as she met his eyes, growling, he continued to speak. ”I asked my elders, but they only told me to look deeper. To find the truth, I had to find it on my own. Yet no matter how closely I looked, all I saw was a hunger for more within you. No respect, no understanding. It infuriated me. An anger I failed to notice, until it was too late.”
Erik closed his eyes, remembering the day and time. “It was my first time watching a human community build a new village for themselves, trying to expand their territory towards the dwarves for better trade. I watched as they tore entire forests apart, killed animals by the thousands. Wrecking the land just to make hearth and home.”
He then took a long, drawn-out breath from his nostrils.
“I lost my temper. Enraged, I laid waste to the entire populace of that growing encampment. Hearing their terrified screams, strangely pleased me. Listening to their pain and agony, cleared my frustrations. I was making them pay the toll, for all that they destroyed I was making them pay with their lives.” Erik explained solemnly, “As the only one of my generation of whites, this first encounter was ignored by my elders. They told me off, asked me whether this was the right path.”
“Then, why did you continue? You could’ve stopped there…” Thea asked.
“Because.” Erik responded ferociously, “For the first time none of them made any sense. Their words ineffective at explaining the destruction your people caused, their calm and incompassion for what you did…It only served to infuriate me further.”
Opening his eyes, revealed a brightness far fiercer than before. “So I continued, I brought righteous judgement upon the pest that drained nature. I burned human village after village, before turning my sights upon the wretched elves who tried to use nature against me. Their actions doubled my rage, forcing me to senselessly damage nature to protect myself.”
Erik’s body began to spark with blue energy, growling in anger as he revealed his fangs. “I walked into their territories like a god of destruction. Burned their enslaved treekin, freeing the poor spirits that rested within. I incinerated their homes, made of enslaved wood and vine, enthralled flowers and grass. That wasn’t nature, only but a vile imitation created through incantation.”
He clenched his claws, grinding the sharp tips of each with one another. “Before I knew it, I was singularly marching back towards human land. An entire kingdom laid to waste behind me. That’s when they…”
“When the seven heroes came?” Thea guessed, seeing the drake only nod she continued the tale from her own knowledge. “Seven heroes, one from each race. Gathered with the sole purpose of stopping the destroyer from burning more lives away. Gathered by the Blue Dragon Findri.”
Erik’s eyes opened wide, he did not know this. “I see…then it all makes sense now. The power they held which ended in my defeat. Even…Even my kind’s…” He stared at Thea, “What happened after?” he asked anxiously.
“I…I don’t know the full story. I’m sorry, I did not pay much attention during history…” Thea apologised, “All I know is that the dragons fought each other for some reason, causing even more destruction to each race’s territories. When the fighting began to die down a few years later, the remainder of each of the seven races in the name of the legendary heroes, came together to form the alliance. They…hunted down the injured dragons, slaying them through massively outnumbering them. Through their corpses, weapons were made…arming new warriors we called Slayers.”
“And these Slayers…armed with Draconic gear and magic, backed by seven kingdoms…” Erik chuckled weakly.
“They slew the rest, during the great draconic extinction movement.” Thea finished.
“So…they’re truly all gone?” Erik asked, pained acceptance clear in his tone. Thea could only nod in response, “And it’s all my fault.” he bitterly spoke, uncoiling and rising to his feet. Briefly he stood, staring into the passing light, an empty gaze.
Thea could see the suffering within his eyes, the guilt eating away at him from within. A feeling she knew all too much about due to these past months. “Although it has been a millennium… I’m sorry for your loss, but we all make mistakes. Even dragons apparently. I too have made severe mistakes, costing me the lives of my order.”
Erik turned to look at her, “I want to berate you for comparing the lives of a human to that of a dragon but…” he sighed. “What gives me the right to speak? I, fooled by my own ignorance and rage, I who paved the path to my kind’s extinction? I have no right to speak of a dragon’s value.” He snorted in cold amusement, “Mother is right. I failed not only my kind but myself. I do not deserve my blood. I am no dragon’s child. I’m naught but destruction.”
“That’s not true.” Thea solemnly spoke, “Your anger was brought by your love for nature was it not? It is true, what we humans do to our surroundings is nothing but the destruction of it. Neither do I know, what your elders think we give in return, that is something you will have figure out…” her voice rising as she clenched her fists.
“But I know this for sure, Erikathyr, you are a dragon. Only a dragon could feel so self-righteous that he’d burn entire kingdoms in the name of natural balance. You are also not evil, you aren’t simply destruction. What you did for Beckton…for us.“ Her voice cracked, ”E-Even if your goals were different, it is the outcome that speaks the loudest. You saved us all. Us mere humans, risking your own neck, even lending me your power. No matter your cause, you did good in the name of good. Is that not enough?”
She took a deep breath, “Is fighting in the name of good not enough?…” she asked again. Her expression faltering, her clenched fists unravelling.
“In the name of good? Huh…and what is this ‘Good’ you speak of then?” Erik asked, shaking his head, unable to comprehend. “Foolish dreams of a young race? Ignorant beliefs to explain your own shortcomings?” Erik offered in cold amusement.
“Good is…What is right, it is to accept our empathy and act upon it. To do what we can, because we believe it is the right thing to do.” Thea explained, her tone resolute, her expression warm. “There is no shame in doing what you believe is the correct path. As long as it does not hurt others, as long as you do not blind yourself and injure your own body and soul.”
“Yet you injure nature, yet you injure yourselves through squabbling over land and currency.” Erik countered with a fierce gaze. “Your kind is full of inconsistencies.”
“We are not perfect, we never claimed to be.” Thea agreed with a calm smile, “But you cannot blame the mistakes of one, on an entire race…Even if that one is many, there is still many whose actions differ…” she met his gaze, speaking these next words with a dejected tone, “Should we blame your actions on the entirety of your race? Because we did so too, and see where that took us.”
Erik could find no fault in her reasoning, no response to turn her argument around. He simply stared back at her, speechless. “Hmm.” He hummed in thought, “If I did not have eyes I’d say you’re too wise to be human. How ancient are you?” he asked sarcastically.
To which Thea took offence, “A-A-Ancient?! I-I’m only 26!” she exclaimed in protest, her cheeks turning beet red due to having shouted. Fallen to a dense drake’s sarcasm nonetheless.
Erik raised a brow at her frustration, not having meant any of it as an insult but actually as praise. His confused gaze seemed to only frustrate Thea further though, “D-Don’t you have a-anything better to do!?” she then exclaimed in a stutter, glancing away while reddening further.
“Hm, entering your dreams is not exhausting at all. But I guess you should be waking any time now. We are approaching the capital after all.” He mused while glancing about.
“Wait we are? But the capital is three weeks away!” Thea exclaimed in disbelief.
Erik did not respond, as his entire body began to shine. Thea noticed that hers too had begun to glow brightly, glancing down at herself as the light filled her vision, blinding her momentarily.
Then there was sudden darkness.
Thea opened her eyes, “Thea!” her sister’s voice the first thing she heard and the first thing she saw. Waking to finding herself laying inside a wagon, a bed set inside for her to rest on while thin sheets covered her body.
Thea groaned as her head drummed with pain, waking to a headache. “K-Kayle?” she asked her sister who lay kneeling before her, who in response suddenly leaped into her chest, tears flowing down her eyes.
“Y-You’re awake!” Kayle exclaimed happily, stuffing her face into her elder sister’s chest.
“I am! I am!” Thea exclaimed, trying to pull her clingy little sister off her. Taking her a few tries before managing to, she glanced around finding nobody else inside the carriage with them. “Where is E-…Where are Nerick, Simon and Erik?” she asked, “Also why have we stopped?”
“You won’t believe it!” Kayle exclaimed as she rose away from her, seemingly annoyed.
(“I think I’d believe anything right about now…”) Thea thought, “What?”
“A bloody beast tried to attack the horses a few minutes ago! Nerick and Simon tried to slay it but the mage…” Kayle trailed off, her eyes wide in disbelief of what she knew. Thea asked no more, rising from her bed she rushed to the curtains. “Huh-N-Sis! You’re-”
Thea gave Kayle no time to speak, she pulled her aside and jumped out of the carriage’s back. Finding herself staring at a strange scene.
Simon and Erik were faced with a rather small Wyvern, as the creature hissed at them while coiled up around Nerick’s waist. “What the…” Was all Thea could say, gaining all three men’s attention. Whose eyes widened in surprise as they saw her.
Kayle pushed aside the carriage’s curtains then, “Sis you’re…in your underwear.”