Note: This is the twenty-first chapter of a small novel I wrote. If you would like to read it off-site, you may download a PDF. The PDF will be updated every week with the next chapter. This project is now also available on DBooks
Tides of Magic - Dragon Tears
Chapter 21 - Dragon Brothers
Ray went to the sphere, putting his hand on the smooth surface and suddenly the whole room changed as the sphere began to glow in a faint golden light. The plain walls were replaced by golden ornaments and red tapestries. An ornate golden chair had appeared and with it a slightly fat man with black hair. His red eyes looked around, soon locking onto Lia.
“I see you still like these exorbitant decorations, Richard.” Ray pulled the man’s attention to himself.
“And you are still the overly plain one. But I have waited for you”, the other one growled. “I am still waiting for Dikon to show up.” Then he turned his head to Lia again. “Wo is she?”
“An ally”, Ray answered stepping between her and Richard, thus hiding her form him. She felt a bit of relief, as she found his gaze upon her uncomfortable.
“So, a half dragon that is also a dragon priest. And if that wasn’t enough, she is female as well. At least I now have seen everything.” Richard growled and leaned to the other side of his chair. “Even if she helps us, we don’t stand a chance against the dragon clan, as long as Dikon doesn’t show up.” He stood up and started pacing the room. “I wouldn’t be surprised, if he had killed the dragon, before it had delivered its message.”
“So you are considering to give up, if we don’t hear from Dikon?”
“It could be the wiser decision for Eien. I don’t participate in wars that I cannot win.” He stepped forwards some more until he could see past Ray. “What is your opinion on this, girl?”
“I …” Lia cleared her throat, searching for an answer that was as neutral as possible. “I can’t judge if that Bradley would care better for your subjects than you do.”
“A very diplomatic answer.” Richard turned towards Ray again. “I didn’t answer my messenger out of the same concern.” He started pacing slowly in fron t of Ray again. “He defeated Phobos somehow in a single day and pulled the clan of black dragons over on his side. We don’t know how he did that, we don’t know anything about that individual.”
“I have to put one thing right here”, another voice said, a voice that somehow seemed familiar towards Lia. “He never defeated me. He took over, while I was and still am in another country.”
“Phobos … and Dikon. Now that is a surprise.” Richard looked at them while lifting an eyebrow.
A large man came towards Lia, grabbing her clothes. “Where is she? Where is Nina?” His anger flared for a moment then he let go of her as if realizing what he was doing. He scrambled backwards from her.
“Lia is with you?” Phobos came closer to her. “Can you tell me what happened in Magneis?” He came as close as the other one – Dikon before.
“I don’t know.” Uncomfortable she made a few steps back.
Ray caught her before she stumbled into him. “She lost her memory.”
Phonos sighed and looked to Ray. “I know that her father should be able to lift her blockade on these memories. Do you know where Aeris is at the moment?”
“What has my …” Lia almost felt his gaze on her back. “You don’t want to say …”
“So that old white geezer of a dragon got another half dragon? And then a daughter?” Richard seemed to be choking on his breath.
“Why do you know, who her …”
“That’s unimportant right now. Important is where he is?”
“I don’t know, he hasn’t been here in a long time …” Ray admitted uncomfortably. “Not in sixteen years.”
Phobos didn’t say a word, while staring at Ray. The moment of silence stretched uncomfortably long. Then he looked towards Lia. “I am sorry. I just had hope that you could give us some very much needed information.”
“So, other than that, what’s the plan now?” Richard began pacing once again.
“I thought of activating the dragon priests.” Ray held Lia still by her shoulders. “The dragons have declared war on humans and it is their duty to protect them.”
“Her! She can defeat all of them!” Dikon pointed towards Lia from a distance away, his finger shaking slightly.
“Me?” She suddenly felt a lump in her throat
“Why her?” Ray let go of her shoulders and went around her. “She is half dragon and dragon priest. Does that give her special powers of some sort?”
“Well, she managed to break Dikons sword”, Phobos answered. The others went silent. “You could call it a special power, but it seemed a bit out of control. And as you can see, it left Dikon in fear of her.”
“Why were those two fighting?” Richard stepped closer, looking at her as if she was a curious animal.
“Well, there were certain artifacts …” Phobos stopped, he went to Lia, ripped her upper body clothing apart. Lia screamed at the top of her lungs, hitting him squarely in the face before protecting herself with her hands. “It’s not there”, Phobos kept staring at her, his face going pale.
“What is not there? What are you doing?” Ray put himself between her and Phobos.
“The dragons tear, the dragons tear is gone!”
“Artifact? The dragons tear?” Richards’s voice had gotten a stern undertone.
“If Bradley got that dragons tear …” Phobos stumbled backwards next to Dikon, whose face had gotten paler still. “B… but why does he want us to hand Lia over then?”
“I don’t know … maybe she needs to hear the words herself?”
“We can’t let him have her.”
“What is this dragons tear?” Ray shouted next to her, making her ears ring and her head hurt. Or did her head hurt because of those dragon tears? Wait, was there more than one?
“One of five incredibly powerful artifacts. They might even be more powerful than the dragons.” Dikon fell to the ground. “Even if Bradley has only four of them … then we have no hope left.”
“And it would explain how he got to be chief of the black dragon clan.” Phobos sighed.
“That is all I needed to know”, Richard said, going back to his chair. “That concludes this meeting for me. In light of what I have learned now, I shall do what is best for my people.” He put his hand on the big black sphere, that was on his armrest, making the decorations and the chair vanish, leaving only Phobos, Dikon, Ray and herself in Rays grey room.
Ray clenched his teeth. “That … chicken …” Heturned towards the other two rulers. “Phobos, Dikon, I fear we are on our own.”
“Come towards Letoa then. I am sure that Richard will tell Bradley, that Lia is with you. He will attack there next. Coming here should buy us at least a bit of time.”
“Right. We’ll be coming.” Ray touched his black sphere, making those two vanish. “But before that you will need new clothing.” He started to leave the room. “And we need to find Riko. I won’t leave her here all alone.”
Lia nodded, feeling a bit like a tool for some higher powers, although she was supposed to have some sort of higher power herself. If only she knew how to transform into a dragon, if only she had her memories back …
Lia followed Ray through some more lengthy corridors of his castle. He finally stopped in front of a very plain looking door, starting to search his clothing until he produced a small iron key and opened the door.
“The clothes in here belonged to Ana, Rikos Mother. I am sure that you will find at least a dress or two that should fit you.” He turned without opening the room or looking into it. “I will look for Riko in the meantime.”
“But!” Lias protests were ignored. She felt nervous as she opened the door and went inside the room. There was a big picture over a much too large bed, showing Ray next to a young woman with white long hair, and golden eyes. She looked lovingly on a small white-haired baby in her arms.
What had happened to her? Was it really all right to take some of Anas clothing? But Lia couldn’t travel with ripped clothing either. She looked to the picture of the woman, hoping that she would give her an answer, allowing her to take some of her clothing. Lia had to admit that she was a beautiful young woman, making her jealous of her. She was smiling, probably towards the child in her arms, but Lia saw it as permission to take one dress as well.
She went over to the dresser on the other side of the room, searching for one of the more plain dresses and proceeded to change into them in front of Riko’s mother. She put her old clothing over one arm, bowed towards the picture in thanks and left the room, closing the door silently behind her.
Ray was nowhere to be seen. Was she supposed to wait here? She grew more and more uneasy the longer she waited. After a while she couldn’t wait any longer and started to search for Ray and Riko.
Unable to differentiate between the corridors of the castle she soon was lost. After stepping around some more she heard dampened voices. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, but she was sure that one of them was Ray. Was the other one of the guards? Lia tried to make out from where these voices originated, following the corridor to the next crossing.
“Where is Lia?” She heard the other voice ask. Who was that stranger and why was he searching for her? She couldn’t understand Rays answer, his voice a bit too low. “I’ll find her.” The strangers voice was loud enough for her to understand him, trailing a low echo behind.
Lia felt as everything in her cramped up. What was going on here? Was that Bradley? Had he found her and Ray wanted to protect her? She couldn’t stay here, she had to hide somewhere! She ran to the next best door and, opened it and vanished into the room. Still partly in control of her wits, she remembered to close the door as silently as possible.
She had arrived in some sort of Library. Surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of books in several dozen shelves, she felt a twinge of nostalgia. She went through the endless rows, finding a small corner with comfy chairs and a fireplace, giving her a feeling of being safe. A part of her would have just grabbed a book, settled into the corner and started reading, but she couldn’t find peace and quiet right then.
She kept going along the rows of shelf to find a place where she could hide, until she could escape with Ray and Riko.
“Pssst.” Lia turned, only to see Riko jumping on her, grabbing her and pulling her onto the ground. “You found me!” The girl started to laugh.
“Pssst”, Lia put her index finger to her mouth.
“Do you play hide and seek, too?”
“Then come with me, I’ll show you my hiding place.” Riko got up and climbed atop the bookshelf next to them. Right in the ceiling above them was an opening. She could see daylight falling into the room through there. The girl jumped up from the shelf, getting ahold of the edge and pulled herself up. After sitting down she smiled towards Lia. “Dad never finds me here.”
Lia looked towards the door then back to the bookshelf. She couldn’t climb up there like Riko did, her weight would probably make the shelf topple and fall over. So she went to one of the edges, climbing up there, finding the place where Riko was shortly after. She had found a small ledge before the windows up there.
Lia joined her on the narrow space, just barely being able to sit there. Out of sight and in a good hiding place helped her to relax somewhat.
“You are very similar to mama”, Riko whispered after a few moments of silence. “She wore a dress like that most of the time as well. She loved books very much, you know?” The girl smiled a sad smile. Lia had hoped to take something that was not noticed and not frequently worn by Riko’s mother. “She also was the one that showed me this hiding place, I got it from her.” The girl scooted a bit closer, her eyes full of tears. “Please, promise me not to vanish someday like she did!”
Lia hadn’t had any words for Riko. She was sorry for her loss, but at the same time unable to promise not to leave her. She didn’t know what the future held.
The door was opened suddenly. “Lia?” It was the voice of the stranger. “You don’t need to hide from me!”
She pressed her index finger once again to her lips, wanting Riko to stay silent. The girl nodded.
“Why are you hiding from your father?”
Her father? Was that truly her father? This … Aeris? She didn’t feel anything, her blocked memories not reacting at all. Was he really that dragon, the one that could help her regain her memories? Somehow she started to doubt that she wanted them back, they always hurt so much. What if there was a good reason for her forgetting all that? What if this all was only a trick from Bradley?
Riko pulled at her dress. “Is that really your father?” Although she had whispered the question, it sounded really loud to her ears.
“There you are!” The strangers face appeared next to them.
Lia cried out of fear, tried to increase the space between him and her.
“What has you so spooked?”
“Are you really her father?” Riko looked at the old man with white hair curiously.
“I don’t know you!” Lia tried to open one of the windows.
“I am not sure, little one. My daughter wouldn’t behave like that. Oh and your father is looking for you, young lady.”
“I’ll be with him shortly.” Riko hung down from the ledge with her hands, letting herself fall down on the shelf, jumping onto the floor from there, leaving her alone with the strange man.
“Now, Lia. I don’t know what has happened to you, and I am sorry for not having visited you in all these years. But we do not have time for these games. If you come not down to me, I will get up to you.”
Lia stopped. She just couldn’t open the window. She was trapped. “A… are you really my father?” She looked into his eyes.
“Yes, I am and I shall protect you from now on.” He came a bit closer, put his hands gently around her sides and lifted her down from the ledge. After jumping down from the shelf he put her back on the floor. Lia pondered running away there and then, but she stayed. “Ray told me that you have lost your memory. I can help you to regain them.”
“I don’t know if I want them anymore.”
“I understand and I won’t force you to take them back. It is a decision you have to make for yourself.” He still pulled her into his arms, pressing her gently to his chest.
Lia started to shiver. The more she thought about it the more she didn’t want to have them. Her intuition screamed at her not to take them. But … “They could be important. Help me to get them back, please”, she said as fast as possible before she could change her mind.
“Close your eyes”, he said to her, his voice soft and warm. She followed his order and then felt his lips on her forehead. He held her head in a warm embrace. Her head started to hurt as if it would burst at any moment, burning brightly and then … all those memories and pictures came back to her all that she had hidden deep within her mind.
Yukiko was flying on another dragon right behind Bradley. He and this Yamira seemed to be glued together somehow, the dragon staying as close to him as possible. He even went so far as making the dragons his primary tool to overtake Eien. Was it that he didn’t trust her anymore?
She didn’t even understand why she had resisted him that much before. So she couldn’t even be surprised in his lack of trust. If only Lia was next to her … Why had she gone rogue? Why had she betrayed Bradley? Yukiko couldn’t wrap her head around that.
Of course she had suggested that she wanted to speak with Lia, to convince her to come back into Bradleys service, but he had refused to let her search for her best friend. He wanted her to stay close, probably to witness him and Yamira being together as punishment.
The girl sighed as their target came into view. The castle seemed a bit larger than the one from Phobos, mostly colored in grey. A single man stood on one of the towers, waiting for the fall of the castle, the end of the nation.
After having declined Bradley’s generous offer, Richard should be waiting with an army, he should attack. Instead he sent a single man.
“I want to speak with your leader”, the man called. “Eien lays down its weapons. We surrender!”
Yukiko frowned. She couldn’t even direct her anger at him. She just seemed unlucky these last few days.
“I also offer information on the one you are searching for: Lia Lixana Dias!”
Bradley raised a hand, telling all dragons to stop.
Yukikos heart skipped a beat, only to beat faster just a moment later. That was a good sign!
“We land”, Bradley ordered. “I want to know what he has to say.”
The dragons started to lang, a few within the castle, almost everyone else outside, as dragons.
The man jumped from the tower towards Bradley, turning into a dragon. A trap? Yukiko created a wall of ice between her imperator and the attacker. She gathered energy to counterattack.
Bradley stopped her with a simple “no” inside her head, just before the perceived attacker turned back into a human, landing in front of Bradley, only to fall to his knees and looking down. He just had used the dragon wings to soften his fall, she realized. With his weight … no wonder.
“I am Richard, the current ruler of Eien. I am giving the rule over these lands to you.”
Bradley nodded, acknowledging his words. “You know where Lia Luxana Dias is?”
“Yes, my lord. She is with Ray Luxana, the ruler over Naverin in the south.”
Yukikos heart beat even faster. There was the trail she had been looking for. Maybe she could persuade Bradley to search for her and bring her back, now that they had this knowledge?
“That’s all, you can leave now.”
Richard hesitated and looked up to Bradley. “Sir? What about your promise that I may keep ruling this land in your stead?”
Yukiko felt the air around her growing colder. “You can count yourself lucky, if I let you live.” Bradley's voice was almost a whisper. “You declined my first offer and now that I am at your castle, your loyalty changes like a flag in the wind.” He stepped a bit closer to him, squatting down before him. “You know, I cannot trust you, Richard.”
“Yukiko? Would you be so kind to remove this trash from my eyes?”
She had to smile. This day was getting better and better by the minute. She closed in on Richard, who looked at her and Bradley, seemingly confused.
Yukiko was within her element. The tear gave her incredible power. She could even see how the temperature around her dropped, ice crystals appearing on the ground.
Richard got up and jumped backwards. The fat man turned into a dragon, tried to push her back with his fiery breath. All he accomplished was to envelop her in a black could. She fathomed herself mask and goggles, pushing on. It still took her several long moments until she could see something again. The half dragon was high in the sky, fleeing from her. She put her hand forwards, trying to slow down the dragon by rapidly dropping the temperature around him. It missed. He had managed to escape from her reach.
“Oh, you will let him escape?” Bradley laughed.
“No!” She turned to the dragon that had brought her here. With a few jumps she was on his back again. “Follow him!” The black dragon growled but followed her order nonetheless. He jumped into the air, flapping his wings, closing in on Richard, fast.
She tried to reach him again, her right hand outstretched she targeted the smaller dragon with her palm_…
Suddenly the mark on the back of her hand sparked, the intricate lines glowing in a low purple. Her hand, her breast and her head started to hurt. She cried out as the pain hit her hard.
“Is something wrong?” She heard the dragon ask.
Yukiko clenched her teeth. “Yes.” Her curse was still active. “Keep following him! I will get him.” Squinting she looked forwards again, trying to ignore her pain. It wouldn’t take long. Only a few more moments and he was in reach once again.
Finally she put all her rage and pain into her attack, the sudden drop in temperature turned the half dragon into a lump of ice immediately. Without beating his wings further he couldn’t stay airborne. In a wide arc he crashed into the ground, shattering into several smaller and bigger parts, ending his existence. She had carried out Bradleys mission.
Now she could do other things. “To the south”, she ordered her dragon.
“Shouldn’t we return …?”
“No!” Yukiko smiled as her headache started to fade. The distance between her and Bradley was great enough. She could use this time to find her friend and persuade her to come back. Or to end this problem once and for all.
Lia finally stopped hitting her father. It didn’t do anything anymore. She had her memories back and wanted to forget them right away. Tears were running down her cheek, while she kept sobbing. Aeris pressed her gently to his chest. He hadn’t said one word while she kept hitting him.
“Why?” She had asked him that question over and over again. Why hadn’t he helped her? Why hadn’t he been there for her? Why was he interfering with her life now?
“Your uncle and I … we had a major argument after your mother died.” He stroke soothingly over her head. “I_couldn’t stay with you as I had lost all my trust in humanity.”
Lia pulled herself closer to Aeris. Even if he hadn’t been there for her before, she needed his warmth and embrace right now.
“I am sorry, my child”, he ended his embrace and took a step back. “I should have stayed with you. How could this incompetent fool let it happen that you were misused as a dragon prison?”
“That … was an accident”, Lia whispered to the side. “Besides”, she looked at him, her anger flaring up once again. “You don’t have any right to call my fa… my uncle incompetent. He was there for me all these years!”
“An accident? How could this have been an accident?” Aeris stroked the stubbles of a beard on his chin.
“The dragons! You attacked us! One of you killed the designated guardian during the ritual!”
“Calm down, young lady.” Aeris raised his hands. “We have done nothing. The white dragons keep to themselves, even if they accept me mostly as their chieftain.” He sighed and let his arms fall down again. “So the black dragons attacked you?” He suddenly looked up and came closer again, his arms on her shoulders. “The dragon imprisoned within you … is that possibly … my brother?”
“W... who?” Lia couldn’t follow her father’s thoughts at all.
“My brother! Yargyuu! The true chieftain of the black dragons!”
“I … I don’t know …”
“How many dragons were sealed back then?” Aeris shook her by her shoulders.
“One … I think.”
“In…” Aeris let go of her, shaking his head. “You truly are my daughter.” He looked back at her, grinning from ear to ear, though there was some sadness in his eyes. “Now I know how this Bradley-guy could have taken control over my brothers clan.”
“Y… your brother is a black dragon? The black and white dragons are related to each other?” That was incredible news. No book of the dragon priests had that bit of knowledge in it.
“Yes”, Aeris nodded, “Yargyuu and I shared one egg.”
“What about all those other dragons? Who were your mother and father?”
“The other dragons are our children. They do carry a part of humanity in them, but it got rather small over the time. But we do not know who our parents are, we were alone ever since birth.”
“But … but … that means …”
“Yes”, Aeris nodded once again, a serious look in his eyes. “But there are more important things than my past or my family’s origin.” He went next to her and started leading her to the door. “We need a plan on how to deal with Bradley.”
Bradley … he had cost her her love. Now she could understand Yukiko’s past behavior fully. Still he somehow managed to be one step ahead of all of them.
They followed the corridors of the castle, her father leading her along. They found Ray quickly again, Riko stood next to him, while he kneeled before her.
“… and that’s why I want you to stay close to me after we leave the castle.” He had raised the index finger of one hand. The girl before him just smiled, nodding her head all out. As they came close she turned and ran towards Lia, hugging her.
“I am allowed to leave the castle, Mama!”
Lia stroked Rikos hair and kneeled down to her. “That’s wonderful, dear.”
“She has her memories back”, Aeris explained and kneeled next to them. “I need to tell you another secret, Riko. I am your grandfather.”
Riko stared at him, breathing a lot of air at once, so it could be heard. She hugged Lia even tighter, exclaiming: “I have suddenly a real large family!”
“Can I get a hug, too?” Aeris pointed with a finger to himself.
“No!” Riko shook her head violently.
Aeris stood up and sighed. “They always like the females more than me”, he murmured. “Well, we should talk about further plans on the way.”
Ray nodded in agreement.
“Can you fly yourself?” Aeris looked to Lia.
“No”, she shook her head, recalling that Felix had warned her to turn into a dragon.
“You should at least be able to use my brother’s form …”
“It’s … complicated. Trust me, it is better if I fly with one of you.”
“Will you fly with me?” Riko looked up, hope in her big round eyes.
“You are too young to take someone on your back”, Ray answered in Lias stead.
“Then … I will get on the same dragon as mama!”
Ray opened his mouth only to close it a moment later. He was speechless. No one raised an objection, so Lia had to put up with her self-proclaimed daughter. Somehow it reminded her of the days she had spent with Yukiko.
There had to be a way to help her friend and to remove this Problem called Bradley from this world!