[Chapter Thirty Six]
Exiron couldn’t describe how tired he was; exhaustion was the greatest understatement of the century. The ache in his wings, the heavy ache that burned and rippled through him was like nothing he experienced before, for a human, it’d be equivalent to running for a week without stopping not even for sleep. A few times he had the greatest temptation to freely fall into the sea and sleep peacefully and he currently felt it urge him to simply tuck in his wings.
The night was growing longer and longer. Silence engulfed him and all he heard was the rhythmic pattern of his heavy flapping wings, it was almost numbing and serene, enough to make him want to simply tuck in his wings. Perhaps, just perhaps he could lay on the ice for a little while, just enough to stop his eyes from sagging down every second.
He yawned and stretched out his legs, but he kept his front right leg tucked against his chest. The imbecile of a dragon came to mind and he all but snapped his jaws at the imaginary image of the red female dragon in front of him. He remembered what she growled under her breath when they were fighting. Tharion, his real name.
Exiron had forgotten it after he was exiled. Another dragon tradition, one he was afraid of. When a dragon was exiled, they forget their name and was replaced by a different one, Exquil, Exdre, Exidain. Exiron was his. Somehow, the name Tharion seemed like a ghost, a strange word that didn’t seem to click. Tharion. . . still, nothing sparked a memory in his mind. He wasn’t supposed to hear his real name, otherwise, the real name would slowly but surely make a dragon forget everything. Many have heard their name and within a decade they’d claw out their skull, trying to remember, trying to hold onto whatever memories they could and Exiron was afraid of the tradition.
The dragon shuddered. He didn’t want the same fate, but eventually, he will forget everything, and it would never be lifted unless the dragon king thought it would benefit his selfish ways. He didn’t even want the name, Tharion. Exiron suited him, the name of an exiled, the name of a murderer. But the dragon couldn’t fight how longing and settling it was to hear his true name again despite how empty and cold it was, much like the wind pushing against his side.
Why must he feel like the weight of the dragon kingdom was on his shoulders? It was bad enough that he crossed into the world of the dragons and it seemed to be falling on top of him, crushing the dragon with the mighty weight, the inferior castle especially, his old home. As grand and honourable as it might seem, it was nothing but the vivid memories of his exile and betrayal.
“Exiron? Are you okay?” a soft voice reached his perking ears, the sweet voice of his Dragella.
Perhaps, she could be the answer to all his problems. Perhaps, she could scare away the demons that tormented him, especially the one rattling against his mental abyss. Even though she was human, already she eased the struggled Rykal and he fought against the demon. Just the thought of the demon brought it shouting and roaring in rage, the sounds echoing up from the deep crack. Rykal’s figure was staring down at the demon, a red glow emitting from the abyss and Rykal fought the urge to jump into the abyss and fight against the demon.
“Exiron?” Olivia called again.
Why must the two be tormented by a curse the demon brought them? They would much rather be withering into fragile bones than let a demon keep them alive whenever they tried to die. The life of an exiled dragon with a cursed demon inside him, how pathetic.
Little feet surmounted up to his neck and stood atop his head, an arm wrapping around his horn. He tilted his head up slightly and caught a whiff of the air, jasmine. “Hey,” she said softly. “Are you okay?”
Exiron sucked in a harsh breath of cold air and breathed it out. ”Not physically nor mentally,”
Olivia hummed in agreement. “I know what you mean,”
Exiron frowned at her, remembering her thoughts, We will be together forever, Olivia. Do you hear me?! I will turn you into a demon! I will make you my dear little demon sister!
Her demon brother. He understood why she didn’t want to say anything and he thought it would be better not to tell her about him reading her thoughts. It was a pure accident, he only reads her thoughts to remind himself how real she was and sometimes to keep him awake. Telling the little Dragella would be Rykal’s burden to carry.
Rykal pushed against Exiron’s mind and snarled at him, Am I nothing more than a pawn to you?
Exiron mentally shoved him back and forced him into the abyss, Go take your wrath on the demon, infant,
Rykal roared in absolute rage, the demon roared at him with equal rage and they began fighting once again, blue clashing with red violently.
"Why are you not asleep like the elf and snake?” Exiron asked, mentally blocking the two raging creatures.
Olivia sighed. “I don’t think I can trust my imagination right now,”
Exiron turned his head back slightly. ”Are your thoughts troubling?
“Something like that,” Olivia answered. She sat down and Exiron fully faced ahead.
He couldn’t fight the yawn that stretched open his jaws, cold air rushing inside. His wings gave a shaky warning as he lost his balance. Exiron groaned and shook his head, shaking the tiredness from his tired eyes. The cold air had dried his mouth and he didn’t have much of his saliva to moisten the desert-like feeling. He dropped his head down, eyes stinging and only easing when he closed them. A large source of water was below them, all he had to do was fly down, burn a hole in the ice and drink just a few gulps of the salty water.
“Exiron!” Olivia cried. “Wake up! Exiron, please, wake up!”
Exiron groaned and pried his eyes open, realizing they were nose-diving toward the iced sea. Although, he didn’t stop himself and hurriedly flew down to the sea, already feeling a burning sensation rise in his throat and burst from his jaws. A blue fire glowed brightly, melting through the ice as the dragon landed. His claws clicked against the ice and he leaned down, submerging his mouth into the icy water. He began lapping at the water hungrily and pushed past the salty taste.
The dragon rumbled in satisfaction, lifting his head and gasping for air. It chilled his opened jaws while water dripped down his neck and chest. Exiron closed his eyes, tilting his head to the sky and breathed in heavily, wings draped beside him. They rippled with throbbing heat and when he tried to lift them they wouldn’t move; too heavy and defeated.
“You can’t fly up again, can you?” Olivia stated correctly in which Exiron shook his head.
“I can walk,” he assured before he remembered about his injured leg. He really was defeated.
“Exiron. . .” Olivia said in a stern voice and by the demons, he couldn’t deny the shiver rushing up his spine. “You need to rest. I’ll wake you up if something happens,”
Her offer was much too tempting that it was near impossible to refuse. But he couldn’t. As much as the raging battle of staying awake continued, he knew the sirens would notice a hole in the ice and find them again, he could already hear their angel voices echoing from the water; it was too dangerous.
Exiron shook his head, refusing the precious offer with all his strength. Though he knew he had to get in the air again, walking wasn’t an option for him despite how beneficial it was. With a shaky exhale, Exiron tested his wounded leg. It seemed stable but Exiron didn’t want to put all his weight on it. A shriek echoed from the hole, booming down Exiron’s ears and he turned away from it. The dragon began walking — forcing down strained whimpers — and sped up.
Olivia gasped and held onto his horn while Exiron picked up his pace into a run. He panted evenly and gently spread his wings. His ears perked back and as he suspected, a screech silenced the air. He didn’t need to turn back to see a siren staring at him from the hole, his only regret was making it large enough for the slimy thing to slither out.
His wings caught the air and he began flapping them. They trembled with heavy exhaustion and Exiron growled bitterly, forcing them to flap. His wings throbbed with a burning ache and he couldn’t get enough air underneath his failing wings.
The elf woke up and he screamed. “Why are we on the ground! Fly up! Why are you running?!”
Exiron’s jaws clenched painfully and thrust his wings high above them. His anger for the elf singed and scorched deep within and he didn’t notice how brightly his blue aura was glowing. His wings flapped, he heaved in shallow gasps and he kept his eyes snapped open. His injured leg stung with each step and Exrion’s body quivered with angry growls. He beat his wings harshly and ignored the painstaking throbs, allowing his feet to lift from the ground.
Air caught beneath him whilst sirens sang out to him, it was almost alluring if it wasn’t for Olivia tightly clenching around his horn. He kept his mind solely on her as he climbed higher and higher into the air. Raegel shouted at him, a pathetic attempt at scolding him and Olivia quickly shut him up with the reason for it.
Exiron didn’t realize he was still running and swallowed the lump in his throat, letting his legs tuck normally underneath him. Olivia shouted out something but Exiron didn’t hear it as his eyes drooped again. He fought so hard to keep them open but with the temptation breaking through his barrier, Exiron couldn’t fight it any longer. His wings shook violently, but he couldn’t feel them. They dropped and both Olivia and Raegel screamed. Exiron groaned tiredly and pried his eyes open once more, and Olivia shouted again.
“Land! Exiron, there’s land over there!”
Exiron tiredly glanced around and his eyes snapped open. A large mountain stood high in the distance, reaching beyond the clouds. He flew straight ahead, though the imbalance of his wings made his body bop up and down and steered to the right. The thought of landing, the thought of closing his eyes, the thought of sleeping, all the urges, all the fantasies raced through his mind. Everything he desired in the moment of desperation he whined out for. They inched closer and closer but Exiron couldn’t fight the urges anymore. He couldn’t escape the darkness calling to him and luring him to a deep heavy slumber.
The air seemed to thrash and scream as Olivia screamed. No matter how loud and terrified she screamed for Exiron to wake up the dragon didn’t respond. The mountain drew closer and closer and before Olivia knew it Exiron’s injured leg smashed into it. Unimaginable pain coursed violently up his leg and his head snapped up, claws digging into the crumbling rocks. A thunderous roar escaped his wide set of jaws, though to Rykal it was a inhumane wail as he to felt the pain trembling through them both.
"CURSE THE DEMONS, LET ME SLEEP!”
He flapped his wings, suddenly lifting into the air to avoid the second mountain, snarling and gnarring at the land ahead. Olivia gasped as sobs closed her throat, icy air flushed her cheeks while the land was below them. Exiron dropped his head again and Olivia fell forward. She kept her arms tightly around his horn and found her footing on one of his smaller ones. She saw his closed eyes as Salvesta suddenly wrapped tightly around her waist. Raegel screamed and bellowed at the dragon and Olivia only stared ahead as the forest trees stood right beneath them.
The Exiron grew smaller. His horns shrunk inside his head, his snout pushed back into his face whilst his body shrunk down. Olivia grabbed his left leg that turned into an arm and she was suddenly facing a tired Rykal. The saddle pulled him down as Raegel scrambled up to his shoulders.
“Wake up, you stupid lizard!” he growled, violently shaking Rykal’s shoulders.
Olivia glared at him and saw the band around Rykal’s torso. Quickly she unlatched it and Raegel screamed at her. Before he could stop her, he, along with the saddle, went flying down and all the girl heard was his elven curses. The girl gulped and latched her hands around his neck and wrapped her legs around his waist.
“Thank the demons,” Rykal mumbled above a whisper.
Olivia gasped. “Rykal!”
His tired darkened eyes told all and Olivia frowned at him. She glanced over her shoulder as they came into a clearing, trees lining around a snowy field with sloping hills. They came dreadfully close until Rykal suddenly moved his arms around her back and spread his wings out. They were pulled to an abrupt stop when Rykal’s wings caught air. He dropped his face into Olivia’s shoulder, mumbling something under his breath and he glided them down.
Olivia’s feet touched the ground and she quickly fell backward from the speed, knocking her head harshly against the ground. They tumbled into the ground and Olivia saw darkness creeping into her vision. Her head throbbed painfully and she didn’t fight the closing of her eyes, going still next to Rykal as his wing draped under her.
Raegel groaned, a throbbing pain thickening in his skull, cursing in his native tongue. He thought bitterly at the human girl and slowly unstrapped the band tightening against his slim stomach. He fell to the ground, a rock pressing into his thigh and the elf staggered to his feet. He was dizzy, dizzy enough that the forest was spinning. An evil laugh bounced through his pointed ears and Raegel snapped his head around.
Through the peeking trees, a woman dressed in all black emerged, her orange hair bounced with soft curls and her green eyes gleamed with vile hatred. Men followed behind her and circled around Raegel. Raegel frowned and stepped back, but he was already surrounded.
“Is there a problem?” Raegel asked, gulping at the tallest man staring at him with cold brown eyes.
“That was some fall you and your group took,” the woman inquired, walking around the tensed elf.
“I guess?” he muttered in question, wondering why she looked so familiar.
The woman stopped in front of Raegel and smiled, it was anything but sweet and Raegel saw right through it. The woman took off her hood and Raegel widened his eyes. Her scar, the scar that was a clean thick line from her left brow to her cheek. He recognized them.
“You guys are the Fantasy Hunters,” he breathed, his blood running cold with terror.
The woman’s smile widened. “So glad we’re known, right boys?”
There were snickers and grunts around the men and Raegel felt his stomach jump into his throat. He tried swallowing but all it did was make him want to hurl. “What do you want?”
The woman turned her back to him and slowly stepped away with each word. “We have some business with your fellow group. . .” she turned around. “You don’t mind, do you?”
By then, the man with cold brown eyes revealed a crossbow and loaded it. His glare was full of anger and Raegel forced down the cold pork wanting to spew out of him. He quickly shook his head and glanced one too many times at the crossbow.
“Good,” the woman tossed him a vial.
Raegel stumbled forward and caught it. It was a small glass vial with a black lid attached to a black chain. He frowned at the green liquid sticking to the sides and glanced up at the woman. “What is this?”
The woman shrugged her shoulders. “Just a little spell for your group, specifically the dragon shifter. Give him the potion and it’ll make him go to sleep just for a wee while,”
“What’s in it for me?” Raegel asked, pulling the black chain over his head. The vial laid over his chest and the elf quickly tucked it underneath his layers of clothing.
The woman tossed him a sack. Raegel caught it as a precious jiggle was heard. Raegel opened the little sack and saw golden coins shining up at him. His eyes widened and he quickly stuffed the sack in his trousers pocket.
“Do we have a deal then?” the woman asked as Raegel looked at her in bewilderment.
Raegel let out a strained groan as he dropped the saddle onto the ground. The dragon shifter looked rough with all the scrapes and cuts on him, not to mention his fried arm, not that Raegel cared. He spotted Olly sleeping on the lizard’s wing and rolled his eyes at her. There was no denying how annoying she was and how he hated her for bringing him into the mess he was in.
He dropped to the ground, the cold vial and jingle of coins, however, made him rethink it. He was rich, without or without their worths and he could easily take off with it for good measure. But he was too tired and instead took out a green woolen blanket. He wrapped himself up in it and leaned against the saddle. He closed his eyes but couldn’t sleep, not with the tug his heart felt as he glanced at the girl, frowning at a memory.
Raegel noticed a shadow leaning against the tree, playing with a blade in one hand. The elf frowned. “Who’s that? A new recruit?”
Although he hated it, the crack in his voice made the woman grin at him with an evil twinkle of her eyes. “Him?”
The shadow lifted their head and Raegel swallowed down his fear as glowing red eyes locked with his pale blue ones. The shadow chuckled and the very sound sounded sinister, raw with pure evil. “Oh no, little elf. I’m no recruit. This fine woman is just helping me on my quest,”
The elf couldn’t bite his tongue fast enough as his nosiness got the better of him. “What quest?”
The shadow flicked the blade up and caught it. It stayed still in their hand and the sloppy muscles in Raegel’s body stiffened. The shadow pushed off the tree and stepped into the moonlight that glared down at them. Raegel’s eyes widened at the black horns twisting from the sides of the shadow’s head and the little black scales etching into their cheek. It was a demon.
Strangely, he looked familiar with his dark brown hair. The demon stopped next to the woman and he grinned at the elf, baring his sharp fangs. “My quest has nothing to do with you, little elf,” he threw the blade into the air once more and it went high above them. Raegel frowned at the demon and his malevolent grin broadened. “Its time I reunited with my dear little sister,”
The blade dropped, leaving an eerie crunch in the snow.
~ To Be Continued ~