You're not your family
She was exhausted. She had been running for what felt like hours now. The mossy ground caved in with every indent of her sharp claws while her tears, born from fear, hatred, guilt, and shame, fed the path she tread upon. The young dragoness looked behind herself to see the city she fled from. Its golden walls rose higher and higher into the sky, hiding all but the most ornate and intricate towers carved by claw and tool.
She could fly, but then she would be spotted far quicker than her current path along the ground. Sticky thin weeds sporting very thin and long leaves tried to grab onto the dragoness' scales, but she was too strong and heavy for them. They would easily lose their hold, but the most stubborn of the plants were torn from their roots.
The dragoness stifled a tear. "Oh no, they're already looking for me!" she panicked.
Armored dragons took to the skies from the protective walls. They were particularly easy to spot thanks to the sun reflecting off their absurdly shiny armor. She only recently became strong enough to fly, so maybe now was the best opportunity she could hope for in taking off and escaping them.
"I'm...I'm still smaller and I'm not wearing any armor..." She winced in pain. "I-I could outfly them."
Her eyes were brought to the forbidden forest surrounding the city. Its twisted trees were armed with thorns and living vines that attacked anything. Green leaves tipped in gradual purple made up the colorful canopy surrounding the city, giving the inhabitants a natural wonder in the process, but no one dared go in. The dragoness winced in pain again, looking down at her three-fingered fore feet. The red scales she had were slowly being turned to the blackish hue the dark energy seeping between the cracks of her scales possessed.
"I don't have a choice!" she squealed.
She took one more look behind, seeing the tremendous city that engulfed her sight and the horizons and hurried through the thorny tree trunks. The thorns tore at her scales, tearing them off and scratching her beneath. It was too late to turn back now anyways. There was too much shame in what she was and what she did to go back. The dragoness' nose was filled with an odor very alien to her. At best, she could say it was a mixture of fresh clay and chocolate.
The dragoness stopped a moment and surveyed her surroundings. Her heaving chest and deep breaths prevented her from hearing the sounds around her, but the inhabitants of the forest had no trouble hearing the dragoness. The invader of their home looked around, nervous. Sh was perhaps lucky that she had yet to be attacked, or were the monsters just biding their time?
She clenched her teeth, trying to resist the pain of the darkness swelling within her. It wriggled beneath her flesh like a parasitic worm. It didn't belong, and the dragoness didn't want it.
"Leave me alone!" she cried out.
She tripped over a spiral-shaped plant protruding from the ground and slid across a pile of dead leaves and moss. The dragons above shouted, having apparently heard the dragoness.
"I think Sylice is down there. I heard a voice!" one of the dragons alerted.
Repeating 'no' to herself multiple times under her breath, the dragoness hurried away, being careful to avoid the dead tree stumps, rocks, and other protrusions on the forest floor. It was hard enough to walk around her own home when it was dark, but a forest? At least there were various beams of light let through the canopy above. The trees kept tight together and still tried to 'attack' Sylice when she passed, but they didn't have the essence of a 'natural' barrier like at the entrance.
An explosion threw the young dragoness away onto her rear. Terrified, she looked behind her to see a large patch of the forest on fire, and two armored dragons landed atop them.
"She must be around her," the sky-blue dragon said. He looked about frantically while his partner readjusted her armor.
"Just watch for the creatures here," the magenta dragoness warned. She bared her teeth and looked at the tree branches. "This forest is forbidden for a reason."
Despite her trembling body wracked with fear, Sylice attempted to sneak away, but the crunch of dead leaves on the floor and dried branches betrayed her.
"Sylice?" the sky-blue dragon called out.
The other dragoness started sniffing the air. Her eyes shot open. "Watch ou--"
She was smacked away by a dragon-sized, very muscular arm. The blue dragon barely had time to turn that he was tackled by a massive, four-armed beast sporting several long, segmented spikes as hair. The orange hair all over its body stood on end when it confronted the two dragons invading its territory.
"A kampatijn," Sylice whispered to herself. She looked down at her feet, seeing the dark energy fluctuating like ink in water. "Is this my fault? Did I summon it?"
The guards were actively whipping, biting, clawing, and burning the two-legged beast, gradually weathering it down.It refused to give up so easily, however, and grabbed the dragon with two hands and threw him against several trees. For a creature to have the size of a dragon was terrifying to Sylice. She barely reached the top of the smaller door frames used by the bipeds in the city.
"I best take advantage of this opportunity," she thought to herself.
The sounds of battle gradually quieted until there was no sound to perceive. Sylice heaved a sigh of relief, but before she could even orient herself in the forest, a sharp pain wracked her body. The darkness started to pour out of her mouth and eyes, and the dragoness could only suppress it as much as possible.
"Stay away!" she begged. "Leave me alone!" She forced her eyes open to see a great wall of shadow fluttering before her. Two white, blank eyes stared back at her. "N-no! You can't convince me!"
"Convince you of what?" the entity asked.
"Y-you're going to use mind games on me to convince me to...to let this evil take over me!" Sylice stuttered between pangs.
One of the eyes grew. "Evil? I see no evil here."
"But...you're the representation of the darkness within me!"
The entity scoffed at the notion. "I'm in your head? That's a stupid notion. What, am I supposed to convince you to be evil by using your past actions against you or manufacturing perceptions of those you know by preying on your anxiety?" The creature mocked. Sylice stared at the eyes, her mouth agape and unable to respond. "Whoever told you that is a complete idiot," the entity continued.
It took Sylice several attempts to tell the entity. She felt embarrassed. "It was my family who told me that."
The dragoness heard crunching within the darkness, and the eyes shrunk as they moved back. "Ooof. And like that, I inadvertently just insulted every generation of your family." The creature laughed loudly. "So what exactly is wrong with you, aside from the smoke coming out of your body? Perhaps I could help?"
Sylice looked at her fore foot and ground her teeth. "You can't help. No one can." She turned away, ready to run away, but the figure and the wall of darkness were there as well.
"Since you're here, we might as well try. No harm in that," the entity suggested.
"I...Don't have a choice, do I?" The dragoness took a deep breath and looked down. "It's a darkness inherent to my family. Each and every one of us. It happens randomly, but a darkness awakens in us. A great evil that-"
"And what does the darkness have to do with the evil?" the entity interrupted.
"It's what causes us to turn evil!" Sylice shouted angrily. "I only learned recently that my family has constantly tried to conquer the world!" Her anger receded to pain as tears welled up inside her from the pain she was feeling. "My adoptive parents told me when this started happening. That I was adopted and the line I come from." Her claws clenched, digging into the forest ground. "I can only run. I don't want to hurt everyone I love."
"Then don't do it," the entity suggested flatly. "Seems to me like that's the sensible solution. Not sure why you ran away for something so petty."
The dragoness' face distorted in rage and confusion. "Petty?!" she bellowed. "I'm cursed to act out in the same manner as my family!"
"And why is that?" the entity wondered.
"I've told you why! Now let me go," Sylice commanded. "Who even are you?"
"Such a tone," the entity teased. "As for who I am, that's not important. There is no reason for you to fear what is within you just because it's darkness." The entity stared at the dragoness silently.
"But it's a curse." The dragoness clenched her teeth. "I can already feel the need to kill and subjugate."
"That's only your mind playing tricks on you." he darkness swirled around the dragoness before returning to the wall. "Tell me, why do you think it's darkness that's causing these impulses?"
Sylice put a claw to her chin. "We were all taught that. All good things live within the light, showing themselves to everyone. All evil things hide in the darkness since they can't be seen."
The entity laughed heartily. "And who is to say that evil doesn't hide within the light?" it chuckled.
"Those armored dragons are interred under the light of the sun, but you fear them," the creature said. "Does this not make them evil?" it asked with an upwards inflection.
"W...I..." The dragoness couldn't find proper words to fight against the question. "Well, how do you explain how every evil creature to terrorize the world was related to darkness?"
"Avoiding the question, hm?" It chuckled. "Every is a strong word. I would say many started in the dark, but many more were born in the light and were evil from the start or corrupted within it."
"Why do you fight against what I'm saying? Because you are filled with fear? Because you fear of being like the blood coursing through your veins?"
After a long silence, Sylice gave an answer. "Yes."
"Then answer me this: Did you have issues in the past when you hid in the shadows while you played? When you rested under the shade of a tree or a house to cool off?"
Sylice thought deeply and shook her head. "I guess I didn't."
"There is no reason to fear what you are or what is within you, dragoness. That darkness is yours," the entity insisted.
"But what if I turn evil?" She clenched her teeth from the pain. "What if I'm corrupted?"
"Then take my word for it: the word of a stranger." A giant silver claw emerged from the darkness and raised Sylice's head by her chin. "Darkness and light can hold just as much evil as they can good. They are simply elements of nature. They came before life, so do you think they would have a conceivable notion of good and evil?"
Sylice shook her head. "I suppose not. But then why?"
"Good hides in the light because it's easier to see threats. When you see everything as a threat, it becomes the norm and no longer becomes a threat. Regardless of what they're capable of, even what you see as 'evil' hides in plain sight. A simple farmer to the highest class in society. All are subjects to the whims of their minds."
"And yet I've seen so many history books talk about deathly creatures hiding in the darkness. Emerging only to destroy what is around and reign over the remains," Sylice said.
The entity retracted its claw and hummed. "While this is true, judging the whole of the creatures of darkness by the few is not a way to approach the inhabitants of the two elements." There was a moment of silence. "Think of the birds that live in this forest, or the insects, or the multitude of other creatures here. They do not attack you nor your walls. They do not seek to crush your bones and disperse your scales. They only live where they have always lived." The creature emitted a deep laugh. "For them, you're the evil creatures, hiding in what they see as the opposite of their own life."
"Opposite? What do you mean?"
"Have you ever thought about why most of these creatures only wake during the night?"
"You just said it's because they're creatures of darkness," Sylice responded in a tone of annoyance.
"Well, you can't see very well during the night, can you?"
"N-no," the dragoness stuttered.
"Just as those in the light cannot see in the dark, the dark are blinded by the light."
Tired of the mind games, the dragoness tried to leave once again, ending up with the same result as earlier. "If you want to say something important, tell it to me directly."
The entity groaned in annoyance, and despite the lack of pupils, Sylice could still see it rolling its eyes. "I haven't talked to anybody for thousands of years, and now you already want to leave? Fine!"
The dragoness was taken aback. "Thousands of-Dragons don't live th--"
"Let yourself be engulfed by the darkness," the creature stated bluntly. "It's already within you, and suppressing is only going to hurt you more."
"You aren't your family. The darkness flowing through you isn't theirs." The claw emerged, this time a black obsidian. "You are you. No one else. It is your darkness, and as far as I can tell, you've never had any inclinations as to what you fear."
The dragoness hesitated. "But what if I do become corrupted."
The entity sighed. "You will have to deal with this darkness sooner or later. Maybe not now. Maybe not tomorrow. But eventually--"
"Will you kill me if I turn?"
The entity was surprised. "Kill you?"
"If I turn evil because of the darkness."
"I don't kill just because--"
"I don't want to hurt anybody," Sylice insisted. "Please. Kill me or imprison or whatever if I turn evil." She looked down in shame. "I just want to get this over with, and you butted your muzzle into my life, so you have an obligation to help me." She looked at the eyes angrily. It laughed in response.
"Very well," the entity conceded. "I see you're very determined for this. Then let it flow into you. Deepen into your soul. See that darkness and smile. The darkness is your light, so use it to navigate that which you fear most," the entity said.
Still shaking from fear, Sylice let the inherent darkness engulf her and flow from the cracks and kinks of her scales. After several minutes, her eyes opened slowly.
"Interesting," the entity said.
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