It was probably too obvious that Emily had ticked me off, because Amelia was trying to catch up with me. She was keeping up somewhat, although she hasn’t had the proper breathing exercises (yes, this is required) yet, so she was running out of breath.
“What did she say?” She sounded concerned. I guess she would be, with our teacher-student relationship.
“Something very confidential. Something very dangerous.”
“Well, where are you going?”
“To punch something. Maybe a mountain on an uncharted island in the Pacific.”
“I thought you were going to teach me that fire technique you have?”
“Yes. I’m going to punch the mountain to teach you how to use it.”
And with that, we were heading to the transport bay. It was just a level deeper than the rest of the base, and it contained multiple means of transport, all technological and magical. The only way down was an elevator, with a glass case surrounding it. I press the button with T2, which stands for Transport level 2. It went down nearly 100 meters before we reached the first floor resided, where the conventional modes of transport lie. Cars, planes, boats, and submarines all found repair, modification, and refuge here. The next floor was unconventional transport, or rather, unconventional to those who don’t use magic. This floor contained portals and other warpways all over the world, and even ones that could take you to any place in the world.
This floor was truly a sight to see, with all the portals ranging from a deep blue to a vibrant red, and everything in between. Some even gradually changed colors. They all were all situated between two Marble pillars, with some decorations normally found at their target destination. The ones that went anywhere in the world were blank, but that honestly didn’t take away from their beauty in any way or form.
The one we were going for was surrounded by stunning light blue flowers, slowly converting to a deep violet in the middle, with gorgeous red stigma and stamen. It had six petals, and on all of them had a yellow splotch which was a rough shape of a bow. They were only found on the island we were heading to, and the island is only known by the Hunter Cooperation, and as such, were called Hunter’s Orchids. They had a beautiful aroma coming off of them, often stirring peace in most creatures. We often use them for deep meditation training, a slight form of crowd control for smaller creatures, and it helps battle-weary hunters relax in the med bay.
It also helps hot-heads (i.e. me) calm down in case of an inexplicable urge to punch mountains. I go there to calm down when I think about an incident, one I do not wish to share at the moment. “So, you’re really heated, huh?”, Amelia said. I guess she recognized the portal.
“Yes, I am. Hence why I said I wanted to punch a mountain. Well, I might punch the mountain. Depends on the batch of orchids.”
“Are you going to tell me what she said?”
“Nope. Too bad of a memory.”
“Well, why can’t you tell me now?”
When she said that, I had to stop. I was just in front of the portal when I did. I slowly turned to her and looked her over. I recognized her youth. Yet, she had experienced a tragedy as I had? She did have a hidden sadness in her eyes.
“I’ll tell you, but on the island.”
Satisfied with me breaking down, she marched on ahead through the portal. Sighing, I followed suit. When you go through a portal, there is a slight moment of intense tranquility. There is always a slight fuzzy feeling going through a portal that would calm anyone down. It does not last, however, and dissipates the moment someone exits the portal. A little unsatisfactory, if you ask me.
The island, other than the abundance of Hunter’s Orchids, was nothing special. Just your typical stuck-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean-with-a-volcano-on-top island. It was still a beautiful sight, however, and the temperature rarely goes above 26 degrees Celsius, and almost never below 21 degrees Celsius. It was a private, medical paradise.
To reduce the risk of humans destroying the island, and subsequently the orchids, the only man-made structure on the island is the portal and the portal’s structure. The rest of the island was practically untouched by the corporation.
“It sure is beautiful here,” Amelia said in wonder.
“Yeah, if you ignore all the ships and skeletons past the sandbar.” What? I did say that there wasn’t anything on the island except the portal and orchids. I didn’t say there was nothing near the island. Surrounding the island were several sandbars, and behind them, laid a massive graveyard for ships. They came from different eras, as well. Nordic boats, Pirate ships, and even giant shipping freight ships found a forced resting place here.
The sandbars weren’t even damaged by any wayward ships, however. The ships stopped right before the sandbars. But possibly the worst part of all of this, is that there were these horrible, black, and withered vines covering all of the ships. These were the reason the ships had crashed in the first place. The vines slithered around and through the hulls of the ships. Neither steel, stone, or wood stopped them finding-and killing- the crew on board.
These belonged to the small, black, and equally withered roses that populated one sandbar each. They prevented anything reaching the island, for no apparent reason. It is believed that their reach spanned a huge triangular region in the Bermuda area- the Bermuda Triangle, if you will. These roses are one of the sole reasons that you don’t hear too many ships successfully leave the fabled Triangle. I’ve even witnessed the roses in mid-attack. I was too late to save the crew, but I did see the vines ruthlessly rip through the ship with ease. Their jagged and rigid movements were enough to convince me to stay well away from the beach. With their reputation, they have been named Death’s Roses. A very fitting name, if you ask me.
One of the worse things about the whole ordeal, is that the vines seem to parade around the skeletons of the countless people they killed. Using the vines, the roses leave the skeletons constantly standing up, unmoving, and emotionless. They all faced the east, as if they were expecting some sort of release when the sun rises.
“Why do you have to ruin this, Eric? I’m talking about the island, and the orchids.”
“What? It’s my job to give you trouble. What kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t?”
She shrugged, saying, “I don’t know. Maybe a more tolerable one?” She giggled to herself about that little joke.
“I know I promised to tell you about the thing that made me upset, but I thought I’d tell you a story first. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Fine. But you tell me what Emily told you directly afterwards.”
“Okay, miss-I’m-too-impatient.” I prepared myself to start telling her the story I had been concocting. “Long ago, there were two people, a man and a woman. They were agents to this secret organization that kept balance in the world by destroying the monsters who threatened it. Not only were they agents of this organization, they were the best of all the other agents, and were tasked with hunting the most ruthless of all monsters: the dragons.
“These two were a team, and together, they wiped out nearly every dragon in existence. As they did so, they fell in love. The moment that they killed the last dragon they vowed to get married, and leave the organization behind. Then, the moment came, where they killed the last dragon on earth, and shortly after, fulfilled their promise. They had a wonderful life, with a kid shortly after their marriage.
“But little did they know, there was another dragon. The one who fathered all others, the one called Draco Dei. He was furious for what the couple did, and swore revenge for killing his sons and daughters. But he would wait, however, for when they were at their weakest, when they had nearly forgotten their previous life, for when they thought they were safe.
“Three years after the couple had their precious son, the dragon attacked. It is said his wings were bigger than any tree, and he beat them with such a swift and viscous fury they toppled trees, houses, and even mountains for miles. He found them, celebrating their child’s birth. He swooped down, destroying their house, and town, upon his landing. The couple and dragon fought with a primal belligerence that only parents protecting, or avenging, their children would know.
“After several hours of hard-fought battle, the dragon stood triumphant above the couple. As he turned to face the child and ruthlessly end his life, much like the couple had to his children, the man cried out ‘Wait!’ The dragon, amused that a human would use such tone towards him, turned back slowly. ‘I know me and my wife and I have ruthlessly killed your children, but how long have they had to learn to fight? They had centuries, or even millennia to learn, practice, and use their magic. Please, at least give my son thirty years to prepare. I promise you, if you let this happen, he will not only be prepared for your fight, but he will be more than you can handle.’
“Draco Dei scoffed, and in a low rumble that could have been mistaken for thunder, ‘You make a good argument, human. I will do as you ask. I will wait thirty years for your child to fight me. If I believe he can fight me on an even playing field before that thirty years, I will fight him then.’
“And with that, he truly ended the life of the man who had called to him, the man who, along with the woman beside him, slaughtered the rest of his kind. Little did he know, that the son was watching him attentively, and understood all that was going on. He saw the giant dragon make that promise to his father, and watched him take off. He knew he would fight Draco Dei again, and swore to train for that day.
“It is said that in one month, those thirty years will be up, and Draco Dei will hold his promise he did not directly make with that boy, and their fight will decide the fate of two species.”
Amelia, quiet at first, said “Eric, that’s an amazing story. Where did you get it from?”
I braced myself against my emotions and memories to say, “Amelia, I am that child.”
At first, there was a scoff of disbelief that came from her, but the longer I stayed silent, the more she started to believe me. For a moment that seemed like hours, she stared with the wide eyes of a blind person who could finally see after a life-changing surgery.
Shakily, she said,“Your parents were Jack and Camelia Jäger, right? The Dragon Op Hunters?”
I nodded my head in conformation. Hearing their names again hurt. If I failed fighting Draco, I will fail the trust my dad put into me. “They left something behind for me to learn, the only fighting chance I have against him. It’s the only other complex spell I know. It is the sole reason I specialize in simple spells. They actually came up with it after fighting dragons for so long.”
Amelia mumbled to herself, “So that’s why you’re so strong. You weren’t training to capture monsters, you were training to kill a God.”
“Yes. Now, I hope you can guess what Emily told me?”
Struggling to let the words out, she muttered “Draco Dei is back?”
“Again, yes. I don’t know where he is, or when he will come for me, but all I knows is that he will be coming for me soon.”
“Well, can I help?” She said, merely fractions from when I stopped.
Taken aback, I replied, “What? You can’t be serious.”
“Well, I am. Do you think I can’t do it because I’m a woman?”
“No its not, I-”
“Well I’ll tell you now, two of your bosses are women, half of the a-ranks are women,-”
“Amelia, that’s not what I-”
“And furthermore, the person to discover the Porta-Prison is a woman!”
“I CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE SOMEONE I CARE ABOUT AGAIN.” I snapped. My voice rippled the water around us, and pushed the flowers in the opposite direction. It blew back Amelia’s hair, showing surprise, and her sadness.
“What do you mean by that, Eric?”
I choked. I definitely did not mean to say what I did. I didn’t want to weird her out, but I also wanted to tell her something reasonable enough to the point to where she would hopefully understand. A single sentence would change her perception of me entirely, for better or worse.
“You’re my friend, Amelia.” I managed to spit out, “If my personal quest for vengeance were to put you to harm or worse, I would never forgive myself. Whatever Draco will do to me could never amount to the guilt I felt for getting you killed.”
She just silently nodded, taking in what I just said with an expression comparable to that of a statue. She turned away, and with a barely audible whisper, said, “I understand.”
With that, she went back to the portal, and more than likely to ask Emily to force me to take her. As she left, I felt the burning eyes of Draco Dei staring me down. He wasn’t near me, I knew that. He was probably somewhere in the stratosphere, and dragon senses was infinitely more powerful than that of a human. Anger boiling inside me, I yelled “You happy now, you overgrown lizard of a stalker? Meet me where no other human would dare go in one month. I’ll be waiting.”
And with that, I accepted our inevitable brawl. I don’t care if we destroyed a small field or half the continent, destroying him will be the greatest thing that will ever happen on the planet. I walked back to the portal, with now an unexplainable weight on my shoulders. As I went through the portal, I felt staring from a different source. Maybe my parents, maybe a corpse from the roses. All I knew is that it was a supportive stare, and whoever this watcher was supported me with their life. Then, I was back in the Second transport level, with armed guards waiting for me.