Before the sleeping dragon, she sang alone. Her voice was sore, and her body was throbbing, but the song remained hauntingly beautiful. Her footsteps sounded in tune with her song as she danced, perspiration trickling down her neck. The golden strands that made up her hair followed as she twirled, getting into her face every so often.
Her eyelashes trembled. Every word, every sound she had to get just right, cautiously so that the dragon remained in its half conscious state. Carefully, so that it wouldn't get tired of her voice. After a decade, she had somewhat figured out what stirred the dragon from its fabricated sleep. The dragon was never truly asleep after all.
She tried to go on, but it hurt to continue. She was near her limits. It was painful, but she forcefully took in fresh air and prepared to continue. She darted her wide, ocean blue eyes to the dragon's sleeping form, swallowing saliva to relief a bit of her discomfort. Her lips were dry and her throat was hurting, but before the dragon fully lost its consciousness, she couldn't stop. It did no good if she stopped here.
Then suddenly, she felt a foreign presence. More accurately, it was a familiar presence, but something was off. Almost habitually, her hands reached up to her pendant for protection. Amidst the uneasiness she felt, she took comfort in the only thing she could cherish with what little she owned. A gift from her birth parents, or so she was told.
Something was there, she felt. Someone. It was a nostalgic feeling, but it felt nothing like the first time this same presence appeared. The pure oppressive despair made her stop singing, and thousands of questions and emotions immediately rushed to her mind. It was too intense a negative feeling. Was this really Len's presence? She couldn't think of anything else, even as she opened her mouth to sing.
Why did it make her feel lonelier? Why did it fill her with despair? Why? Why? Why? What was it that caused this?
Her light. He was her light, but it was dimming.
That time, his presence took the form of a voice. His voice. It sounded unsure and certain at once, as if it-
"My name is Len... Can you hear me, Rin...?"
-as if it hadn't been sure of the authenticity of whatever he saw, but was certain that it existed. That it existed without him being insane.
That was what he sounded like to her.
They were connected, she felt. She could feel the link between their souls, just like how she could feel the life within her draining away whenever she sang. The pool of light in her that never dimmed, shining brighter even as it was reduced to mere sparks.
Faintly, almost inaudible, a voice began to sing for her. In the silent cave, every sound should have been amplified, but in this very cave, she heard it, faintly, as if it would disappear with the mere sound of a needle dropping. Her heart clenched at the sorrowful singing voice. A kind voice that was filled with sorrow and conviction. A voice only kind to her, she thought.
For the first time, she doubted. For what purpose did she sing? For what purpose did she exist?
Knowing nothing of the outside world, what could her fate have been if she wasn't the diva? What if no one had to sing? What if she didn't have to die?
Her fingers reached for the little light that shone through the crevices in the cavern, but they didn't meet. The small light that seemed barely there, barely within her reach, was not meant for her, she thought.
She wasn't suicidal, she didn't desire death. She wanted to live too. She wanted to experience many other things, to know other people, to make friends, to live like a normal girl. She was only told of what the outside world was like, but she yearned for it.
She would forever be grateful to the priestess, if only for those cold, emotionless words offered to her in the world where she sang alone. For letting her know there was something beyond this darkness, this world of hers, she was thankful.
That was why she would sing. If it was her fate, she would willingly sing. To protect the world she only knew of, by resigning herself to singing in this shrine, praying to the deity of draconic faith. She wanted this, so she couldn't regret it.
She didn't want to be a burden. She refused to be selfish. Knowing nothing other than the song, what else could she do?
From the innermost ends of her heart, she prayed for everyone's sake. It felt natural to give her life in exchange for the world's balance, to give herself up for everyone's smiles, despite the future she could have had.
This burden shouldn't be taken by anyone else. She was the only one that should bear this fate.
That was why...
The priestess hissed at her, narrowing her eyes behind the mask. The dragon was stirring from its half-conscious state, so the girl couldn't afford to be left alone anymore. Trusting her estimations or letting her have the freedom to time her own songs would only happen after the dragon goes unconscious this time. They could not risk to awake the dragon.
"Keep on singing!"
And so the girl sang her prayers, that beautiful voice echoing in the dark cave. Pushing aside doubts, she sang, finding hope in her voice. She sang a song of hope, a song of her prayers.
She sang to the dragon, while the cavern sang back, echoing so that her voices overlapped. She sang, so that the wind could carry her wishes somewhere else, where it could be heard, where it would be answered.
This voice, this body, this song... She offered them up to the world.
With lyrics that were ingrained into her, she conveyed the words she left unsaid, intertwining her life force with the melody. It resonated with the darker element she was born with, infusing the song with the two elements it needed to coax the dragon to sleep without waking.
All humans die in the end, she reassured herself. A concept like death was not scary to her, with her growing up with that awareness. It was just that she couldn't bear to let go of the slightest possibility of meeting Len. Death to her, was the means to her end.
However, for the people's happiness, even if she had to suffer for them, even if she had to die without anyone knowing her pain, she would sing alone.
Endlessly, until she could no longer...