Zhaiothe Part 7 - Collapse My Dream

Story by Dexdor on SoFurry

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#7 of Zhaiothe

"... But enjoy Part 6, and look forward to the last installment: Collapse My Dream. I'll post it in a few days."

~Bartan's Artist Comments at the end of Zhaiothe Part 6 - Exodus. Posted 05 Jul 2015 23:34

...Looks at the date: 04 September, 2015.

...Two months is almost a few days...



This one... Is different. A random idea I kinda came up with, whereas there was a lot of missing answers and information that was in the previous. Although I try not to beat you over the head with what happened, the information gives you a pretty good picture.

But again: this one is different. The story is actually three stories in one, and instead of just telling all three separately and all in one line, I split it into 3 Story Arcs. Each one following about two characters. It can be a little confusing at times, but I tried to make it as clear as possible. My only real regret with it (and it was mentioned in the note as well) is that Zhai's story is the third Arc. Meaning you have to read through two sections before you can get back to the main character. I felt this was a little long, but most of his Arc flourishes towards the end, rather than the beginning. If you keep up with it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

As for the title, it's a song by The Unguided (or as I know them: Sonic Syndicate). I personally enjoyed the album Hell Frost alot, and although I didn't like it as Much as Hollow Bodies, I was really happy to hear the band got back together. Even if the band name is different, it still sounds like Sonic Syndicate to me, and they kept what I loved about the group.

As for the adult scenes, I felt that Exodus really overdid it and lost what the real meaning between them were (more or less the romance between the two). Although pieces were still in those scenes in Exodus, I really didn't enjoy them as much as the previous. And because of that, there's a large lacking of them within Collapse My Dream. Lacking meaning: there's only one. I also felt that the story was complex enough, and many of the characters that were added were not, well... Sexual deviants. It wasn't a personality trait of them (to enjoy such actions), and to throw them in would just feel like an excuse, and thus, unreal. Anyway, you special keyword is: "halt" and I will say that it's a decently long one.

That being said, enjoy the final part of Zhaiothe's story. And hopefully you'll enjoy the ending, including the bonus ending: Pathfinder.

*Zhaiothe Act 7 - Collapse My Dream *

By Dexdor

Note: The rest of this story consists of 3 story Arcs that will often change, perhaps even during chapters. Each following one or two characters. They have been labeled to help keep track of the story. However, due to these arcs, Zhaiothe's story continues in Arc 3 (In chapter 5). Though I do feel that it's nearly too much to place the main character of the story so drastically far in, I couldn't do it any other way without causing collisions within the arcs. All I can say is just bear with the first four chapters without them, and you will enjoy the rest of the (most likely) final installment.

Chapter 1


Arc 1 Year: Unknown


The pain woke him up again. Everything from the old scars that he bared on his beaten body, to his shattered wings. Tied poorly with bandages by those who knew nothing of his kind. Yet they once again forced him to live, not knowing any different. He hated them for it. Once again, that misanthropy gave him a little comfort. He used that anger to snort and get awake.

The large creature studied his surroundings, still really unsure of where he is. Ever since he was brought here four days ago, he hasn't been able to move. "It's what I get." he muttered to himself. "I should've made sure that I was-" His thoughts were interrupted by a large wooden door that was softly closed, and his ears studied the area. "Come to pester me more, have you?" He waited for a reply from his caretaker. When he heard nothing but silence, he snorted once again, and just laid his head on his paws.

Even though he detested her species, he was big enough to admit that even a few of their apples were not terrible. Once in a while there would be a few good people within the sea of terrible, selfish ones. The dragon knew that from experience. But it didn't make it any easier on him when they were once again taken from this life. That pain alone almost never made it worth making the relationship in the first place.

The dragon felt a soft hand under his chin and started to scratch it lightly. It was just a little secret that he made with her. Something he gave, when she cared for him so much. Although it was still a bit on the shy side, it still felt good enough for the dragon to start to purr loudly. Only to be interrupted by a childish giggle. It confused the dragon enough to gaze at the one causing him to unveil the softer side of him. His Amethyst eyes widened when he discovered it was a small boy who snuck into his shelter.

The morning was very warm as the blonde woman stepped outside her temporary home and into the small town. The basket she carried under her white clothes held their breakfast that was made by her and her homeowner. She gave a few people that were walking by a nice smile, until she heard a small boy screaming from the north side of the town. Followed by a large hiss and a thunderous noise that came from the barn the dragon was being nurtured in. After she seen the boy made it outside safely and was just frightened, she just laughed loudly and began to walk toward the barn.

The woman was still laughing when she opened the barn and closed it behind her. "I can't imagine how you think that is funny. Did you put that scrapper up to this?" The large black beast hissed, still unable to move.

"No, I did nothing of the sort. I'm afraid I am to blame for such an attempt though. The children here are so curious about you, and they wanted to know more." She set their breakfast on a table, and started to withdraw curtains. The dragon growled at the sunlight hurting his eyes.

"Well, thanks to your misinformation, that menace nearly got fried." The dragon snorted.

"It wasn't misinformation. All I told them was that you liked being scratched under the chin, like this." As much as the dragon tried to fight against it, she overpowered his will with her soft hands.

"I only like this by those who have permission to do such things, Tia." He said, his ears still back, but unable to resist purring a bit. "And I told you that in confidence." He forced himself away from her hand.

"Confidence." Tia giggled at him. "I'm the only one who can understand you here. It's hardly considered Confidence." She teased, getting their breakfast ready.

"I would consider it such a thing." His tail thumped on the ground, and grunted at the sudden pain it caused to his back. "You're the only one in this settlement that I trusted." The black one said his thoughts out loud, and couldn't stop himself.

Tia smiled at him. "You trust me, do you Devil?"

The dragon snorted, curling his neck to an S and doing his best to look away from her. Only to reveal his dark ears starting to glow a bit purple. "Trusted. Past tense, human. And right now I'm not sure if I can trust you with any more of my secrets." She just chuckled at him. "And here I was almost considering giving you my real name."

"Well, I would like to call you something else. Devil seems so dark and demeaning. But other than Dragon, no one really knows what to call you. It was just a name an elder woman called out when she was frightened by you, when you came here on that flatbed." Tia smiled sadly at him. The dragon gave out a loud exhale and rested his head on his paws once again. "As frightened as they are of you, they're thankful for what you've done." She reminded him, only to have him roll his eyes at her and lightly toss his snout.

"Back to this again, are we? And I've told you several times: I did nothing for these people. I was looking for rest." Devil growled. "And clearly, those who are trying to 'help' me are only making me suffer longer."

Tia let it go for now. She knew very well that the dragon was trying to die in battle. Against an army that was to attack this town, and just a mile outside of it too is where he fought the Ettins. Singlehandedly, this dragon routed at least three quarters of the Ettin giants, but was nearly beaten to death in the process. The townsfolk tried to save the beast by bringing it to the outside of town and perhaps heal it, but no one here knew anything about dragons. Most never even knew any existed, Tia being one of them.

But Devil is rather intelligent, for how bitter he is. Even though he's told her that the dragon had been abused by humans before: Been locked away, controlled, and forced to defend their lands from harm, Tia could still see some good in his self-tainted heart. And as an Oracle, she was to find a way to give him salvation. Away from the pain that haunts him in life.

"Here." She gave him a large plate. "We made it this morning, I hope you like it." She smiled at him. Devil studied the plate a bit, filled with several types of meats, bread, and some stuff in a bowl. He could smell herbs in it, and let out a low growl. "You won't taste them. And they will make you feel better." The beast sighed, and accepted the plate. Tia then began to eat as well. "What do you think?" She asked.

The dragon was quiet for a bit. "Reminds me of old times." He managed to mumble out. "Better times." And he finished his breakfast. Devil then tried to change his uncomfortable position a bit, but every little movement seemed to cause him pain.

"Still not feeling better?" She asked him, trying to comfort him by stroking his neck. "You're probably going to be sore for a while, these things take time to heal."

"I know of a very quick treatment." He snorted, still fighting with his body and it's pain.

"What we gave you should help it, and when it kicks in, I have a bit of a surprise for you." She smiled at him. It got the dragon's attention, but he didn't seem hopeful for such a thing.

"You better not expect me to be a plaything for the children." Devil's comment sent Tia into giggles. And she shook her head at him. "I don't like surprises." He bluntly stated.

"I'm just going to get you some fresh air. There's a meadow nearby that you can relax in and get some sun." The creature growled. "It will make you feel better."

"And will be a great place to display me to your people as well, I imagine." He tossed his head. Still fighting the pain in his back. They really did a number on him this time.

"I've already talked to the guards. They're to stop others from gawking."

"You say that now, but what's going to stop them?"

"I will." Tia smiled at him, putting up a small fist. "Now stop moving so much. You'll want to save your strength. Here, let me try to change these splints. But I'm going to need help-"

"You realize you can just make this easier on both of us." He snorted again. "Just kill me and get it over with. In three hours, I'll be good as new." The idea brought a frown to Tia. She didn't like the thought of trying to end his life, even though he's suggested it several times a day to her. He's even tried to do it himself a few times, but he's been too weak to do much.

"...Just bear with it, okay? For me?"

"What are you so afraid of?" Devil's Amethyst eyes locked onto her sky blue ones. "I know your kind fears death because you fear what you don't understand. But I do understand it, Tia. And even if I finally stay dead for once, It'll be salvation for me." The dragon gave up trying to move and just rested his head on his paws once again.

Tia stroked his ears a bit. "I know it will be. And I understand the idea of passing. But..."

"You can't do it. It's against your nature to, I understand." Devil sighed.

"...That creature you seen. He said that you can only truly pass when you've discovered a reason to live, correct?"

"Bartan. And yes, that's what he said." He lightly turned his head toward Tia's direction. "Here I never thought you'd bring that up again..."

"It's been two days since you've... Asked me. And..."

This time he got up enough to really look at her face once again. "You're... Considering it?"

"I will, Devil. I'll try to teach you how to really respect life. And let you discover that reason, but I can't... Liberate you." She smiled sadly at him. The black one gave a sigh, and began to wrap a large arm around her. Pulling Tia to his chest.

"...Thank you." He said quietly. "...That is what the meadow is for?"

"Yes." She smiled at him, stroking his neck again. "But I can only do it on my terms. Not yours, understand?" He gave a nod. After a little bit of time, Tia squeezed out of Devil's embrace. "Now, I would like to change these bandages, but I'm going to need some help." The dragon's reply was a grumble. "I know, but I can't do it alone. Bear with it." She tapped him on the snout a bit while she gathered the dishes in the room.

After giving the creature some refreshments, Tia went out to get a bit of supplies and a few extra arms. Walking through the town she smiled and greeted everyone she's grown to know in her short time of staying here. It's been nearly two weeks since she came to this town of Norray, and Tia loved the area. It was very warm during the late spring, but not dry. It almost seemed like a little piece of heaven that was cut out and laid here for people to relax in.

Tia's first stop was the local carpenter Phil and his son Sam. Although Phil was quite a big fellow, and certainly older than Tia by at least twenty years, Sam was about her age of 19. She'd grown to like his company, and he always seemed to enjoy when she visited. "Good morning, sunshine." Phil greeted Tia as she looked around the large sheltered area where they worked.

"Good morning Phil. It's quite lovely today, isn't it?"

"Yes. Although I suspect we're due for some rain soon. The moon last night seemed to have a glow to it." He returned her smile. "What can I do for you today?"

"I placed an order for some new splints. Are they finished yet?"

"Ah, yes. For the Devil is it?" She giggled at the name. "It's hardly a name for someone who has saved our town, but I don't suppose he offered anything better?"

"Not yet. But I do agree, he definitely needs a new nickname for the time being. If you think of something, you should let me know."

"I have just the thing: The Black Tornado Mk. III!" And the three shared a laugh.

"I think that might be a little long, but the effort is worth it." Tia replied. "Sam, can you bring the new Splints to the barn and wait for me there?"

"You want me to wait?" Sam asked, rather surprised.

"Yes, I can't place them alone. I would like a few extra hands if you're not too busy."

"Y-yeah, I can do it. Just as long as the beast doesn't try to eat me while placing them. I can only assume that it must still be in pain."

"He is, yes. But as long as I'm there, he shouldn't do anything rash. I'll meet you there." Tia gave a smile, and went off.

Her next destination was Milly's home. She and her grandmother handled most of the medical supplies and often assisted the town's doctors. "I was wondering when you were going to come around Oracle." The elder woman greeted her.

"Please, Tia will do fine." Tia smiled at her. "Is Milly around?"

"Back here, Tia. Just doing some inventory." Milly shouted from a back room. "I was looking over the notes you gave me a few days ago about his injuries. That was quite a list."

Tia gave a nervous nod. "Yes, it seems that body of his has caused him alot of grief. I've never seen anything like it before."

"I know it's not right to question an Oracle's abilities, but are you sure about this? We've gotten the obvious ones: Broken wings, fractured tail, cracked ribs, and quite a few opened wounds. Those we can help with. But the inner damage..."

"I know. But most of it just seems to be bruises. They will heal normally. Even the few wounded organs seem to be doing quite well. He's a fast healer, I can tell that much. He won't need the amount of supplies that a human would take. The big things are to help the bones heal." Milly nodded at Tia, knowing it must be hard to search through the body of a stranger and find out what's wrong with it.

"And... All these scars?" Tia have a sigh. "It's alright dear. But you know we can't do anything about them. I hardly even noticed he had them."

"Most of them are beneath the armored scales now. I... Wrote them down to show people what he's been through. And the pain he has to live with."

Milly held Tia by the hand, and made her look into Milly's eyes. "You can't heal everyone, Oracle. Even though you have been blessed, try not to get caught up in the pains of others, okay?" A faint nod came from the younger blonde. "Alright, I'll get your supplies for the dragon. Was there anything else you need?"

"Actually, I was planning on replacing the splints on his wings. Could you give me a hand with them?"

"Sure thing. I'll be over there in a few minutes." Tia gave her a soft smile and left for the barn once again.

Sam set the sets of splints down against the large building. It was originally supposed to be a stable for the new farmers that worked at the north, but with the fear of the Ettins attacking within the last week or so, it never got finished. (Just as well.) he thought. (Perhaps it was for the best father delayed its completion. Overall, we instead made it into Devil's home for now... For how little he seems to appreciate it. Poor thing must just be in pain.) He sighed heavily, but the warm fresh air lifted his spirits and brought back the young man's smile once again. Knowing Tia won't take too long, he began waiting. As a habit of not liking silences, he began to whistle.

"Cut that out, Damnit!" Although he couldn't understand the creature's language, the roar was enough to startle him. After staring into the direction of the roar, he could hear Tia laughing from a far.

"Agitating the patient, are we Sam?" Tia said between her giggles.

"I-I didn't mean..." She motioned for him to stop and kept her smile. "I really didn't think he would be able to hear me. I honestly been told that my tunes are quite pleasant at that." Sam scratched the back of his head.

"Don't worry yourself over it. He's quite grumpy right now." Tia said, opening the barn. Sam grabbed the splints and waved at Milly in the distance. He waited for her to enter before going in himself.

"Don't tell me that you brought the one that was making that horrendous noise." The dragon grumbled.

"That noise was a whistle, and it's quite pleasant to listen to." Tia teased him.

"Well, when you're ears are as sensitive as mine, come back to me and listen to it. You'll agree with me." She giggled at the beast's remark.

"You speak to him with our language? Can he understand it?" Sam asked, finally looking at the creature up close.

"Sadly no. I can't really explain it, but it's like when I speak; everything understands me. I'm often a medium between species." Tia smiled.

"I'm assuming that he foolishly asked about my language?" Devil snorted again. Trying to glare at the unwelcome visitor's direction. "Well tell them to hurry up and get out. I don't like people staring at me."

"Be nice you. Besides, it would be nice to get to know them a little better." Tia smiled. Making the other two humans rather nervous at the 'Be nice' part.

"I don't need friends Tia." he growled.

"Well, I'm not going to be here forever, so it wouldn't hurt to try to make a few."

"You want me to make friends with a species that I can't understand? Genius plan. Nothing could go wrong." The black one's sarcasm made her laugh again.

"W-what did he say?" Sam asked, still studying the dragon's wings.

"He doesn't want to make friends that can't understand him."

"That I can't understand!" Devil snapped at her. "They can understand me just fine. For example, they know that I'm not fond of them. And they're looking at me as if I'm probably going to turn around and eat them." Another giggle. "Tell me I'm wrong."

"You're wrong." The blonde teased him. "Don't be nervous you two, he won't eat you."

"I never said that!"

"But you won't." Tia tapped his snout.

"I suppose when you're around I won't. But you don't need to tell them that." He curled his neck to an S, and making her smile again.

Milly motioned Tia to translate, but she just motioned for her to let it go. "Alright then. I've wrote out a few more herb orders for his diet, it should make him feel better but... We don't know what effects this might have on... Other creatures."

"He's a dragon. And I'm sure everything will be fine." The dragon gave Tia a glare, and once again she just tapped him on the snout.

"Your sketches of his wings were quite spot on Tia." Sam said, studying the wings after taking the old splints off. "I spent most of yesterday sanding, and they look like they should fit perfectly." Although the young man only came up to shoulder height of the beast, he could see the wing quite well, and where it was broken. However he would need to be on the creature's back in order to assist properly. Without asking, he grabbed a hold of the dragon's spineful mane, and pulled himself up causing the creature to hiss at him and curse at him several times.

"Get off me!"

"He just needs to be up there for a moment, until we can get the splint changed." Tia assured the creature.

"You could've warned me he was going to do that." Devil hissed.

"Would you really let him try if you knew?" Tia teased, getting Milly to help her with the bottom Splint.

"No. But that's besides the point." The beast snorted. Spines raising quite high and squirming a bit. "Move your damn feet!" He hissed behind him.

"Sam, can you please move your feet? Try around there." And he did so. "Does that feel better?" All Tia got for a reply was a loud growl, but it was enough. The three worked on getting the Splints on. "Do those feel comfortable?"

"No." The dragon said bluntly.

"But do they feel better than the others?" Tia smiled at him.

"...I suppose so." As much as he hated to admit it, the extra attention to the smoother wood surface was more comfortable.

"Then we're done. Thank you two." Tia and Milly gave Sam some room to get down. But the dragon had other plans. When the young man was about to jump off, he shuffled his shoulders hard in one direction than the other, causing the male to fall off and land hard on his side. "Devil!" Tia swatted him on the shoulder and helped Sam to his feet.

"Enough of this. Meadow time." The dragon rose to his paws, as much as it hurt to move. He grabbed the woman dressed in white and threw her on his back. Hissing at the other two while he turned around and shoved opened the door. The sun was still bright outside, but he could still make out several buildings to the south. Along with alot of people in the roads through town, now staring at him. He growled at them as his scales turned white, and slammed on the dirt road below. A few feet away from him a large ice wall started to form. Dividing the dragon from the other townsfolk and breaking their gaze. He then started toward the northern end of the town.

"Devil?" Tia asked, still on his back but finally getting used to the dragon's limping walk.

His scales once again black, the beast turned his head to look at her the best he could. "It will melt by the afternoon. Be thankful it was an Ice wall. I was planning to make it solid rock." he snorted.

"But what was that? You changed color and...?"

"I Atoned to Cold." The puzzled look on Tia's face urged the creature to continue. "...Where I grew up, we were able to choose a path to follow in order to gain power. We were not simply given things like breath weapons, but were to study and earn such powers. Many were just manipulations of our surroundings, like the grounds under our paws or flames that kept us warm." He grunted as he laid down, helping the young woman off his back. "We sacrificed many things to gain that power, but only after learning to respect it."

"But you..."

He sighed loudly through his nostrils as he slowly laid his head in the long grass. "I was good at it. Very good. It came so easily to me, to the point where I was the only one who was able to learn all forms available to study. Even then, that wasn't enough. I honestly obsessed over it, so much that I wasn't satisfied with just using one. I had to use several together, creating chains of the Atonements and making different effects. But even that power marked me." She stared at him with worry, and just comforted him by stroking his neck. Whatever he was talking about, it was a sign of trust to her. "Where I came from, there was no such thing as a black dragon. They were whatever color that matched their Atonement. But whereas I studied so many... I don't even recall what my original color was. It's been too long."

"You're the color off all of them put together, then? Until you focus on one of them?" He gave a nod.

"Because of my obsession, I'm now painted with the color of darkness and fear. After a while you get used to others calling you things like... Devil." He snorted towards the town. "And it's not just humans that fear what they don't understand."

Tia gave a soft smile which confused the dragon, making his neck curl. "I don't fear you." She said softly, her smile growing at his tossed snout.

"You understand me, so you don't count."

She shook her head. "I can speak with you, yes, but I don't understand you." The black one looked at her again. "There's something I didn't quite tell you earlier. When you were sleeping, I wanted to check on your wounds, and find out what was hurting you, so we could find a way to treat it. And... When I was looking through your body, I seen... Scars." The dragon sighed and looked away. "I know what they are, and I know they still hurt you. Be it there anymore or not. And as much as I could feel them as well, even if it's just a fraction of what you feel, I still cannot state that I understand it. And I cannot say that I understand you."

"So you're saying these scars define who I am?" The dragon snorted, and she giggled at him. Causing him to tilt his head at such an odd reaction.

"These ones do. What are these scars to you?" Again with the stroking under the jaw. After looking around to ensure they were alone, he began to purr a bit.

"...Memories. Ones that are not meant to be treasured."

"Oh? That's not what I see." Again with the puzzled look. "I see marks, reminders of those who you've tried to save. The mark of heroism." The dragon snorted at it through his purrs.

"More like the marks of failed attempts to finally rest-"

"Don't sell yourself short. Despite your true intentions you always attacked those who were going to do harm to others, did you not?" Her smile almost faded during his long silence, until he took a sigh of defeat. "You are a good person, I can tell that about you. You have very soft eyes, no matter how bitter you've become over the Eons."

"Is that why you've chosen to assist me? Because you think I'm a good person?"

"I know you're a good person. You're just often irritated by the actions of others. That doesn't make you a bad person."

Another snort and a small glimpse of a smirk the dragon tried to hide. "And you say you don't understand me."

"I don't know what you've been through. And I can't tell you what your next action will be. I don't understand you enough in that way. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to." Tia's smile returned. "I think in the end, if I'm ever going to teach you to respect life, I'm going to be able to understand you. But only if you say it's okay." Once again, the dragon gave her an odd look. "Most people want to be understood, but you're far from them. Even the most simple things I want to run by you before I go further."

This time, the dragon didn't hide his smirk. "You're too kind. I don't like it." he teased.

"Well then. I'm just going to have to be more stern with you." She giggled. "Now take me back to town, or I'll kick you in the stones!" She did her best to stick her nose up in the air, and the dragon just shook his head.

"I... Don't want to leave just yet."

She smiled at him. "We'll come back, I just want to pack a lunch for us. I wasn't planning on getting abducted suddenly."

"Well keep that in mind from now on, if you're planning to bring over guests." Devil curled his neck to an S as he grabbed Tia once again and placed her on his back.

Chapter 2

"The Black Tornado Mark III?" Devil repeated Tia's odd suggestion for another name. His neck was a mix of curling and tilting in confusion along with Tia's constant laughter at his expression. "I can understand the Black part, but what's with the tornado?"

"I'm not sure, I guess they're supposed to be threatening and fierce?" She replied between breaths. She was still preparing their lunch while they spent time in the meadows. At least no one followed them out there. "Although I've never been near an active one, but I've seen the devastation they've caused."

"I know of it. I've caused a few myself." That gave Tia a worried look. "...Not here, I mean. But..." The dragon trailed off, knowing where that conversation lead would make her sad. "Still, it's hardly a name suited for a dragon. Did your people come up with any others?"

"No one else really did, no. I think they're still looking at you as a beast instead of a person." She smiled sadly at him. But he understood. Others couldn't communicate with the black creature, and when they did, it was just a series of hisses, growls, and roars. He couldn't blame them for being afraid of him. "But I think I found one suiting." That broke the dragon's thoughts and he looked at her with wonder. "How about Atlas?"

"Atlas?" Devil repeated.

"Yes. He's a person of legend here. One who sacrificed himself to bare the entire weight of the world on his own shoulders, so that other people could live knowing it would never fall." She smiled at his head tilting. "I always found the story fascinating, and rather heroic. He deals with the pain of others so they won't have to. I honestly think it matches you in a way."

The beast looked away from her, and Tia knew what was going on in his head for that moment. "I'm not-"

"You are. Maybe not in your eyes, but to those of us here you are. And you've always dealt with this weight that you carry. It may not be the weight of others, or the weight of the world itself. But it's something you've been fighting against this entire time."

"And you don't think it's disgraceful that I've given up on carrying it?" He let out a low growl. Although the anger wasn't directed at her purposely, the thought of it still gnawed at him.

"Atlas, how old are you?" His ears went a little low when he thought about it. "If whoever thought of that ignorant opinion of you cannot see how long you've held this burden, they deserve to be slapped. You've suffered enough, Atlas. You deserve to be freed from this pain." She stopped what she was doing and gave the dragon an unexpected hug around his neck.

"Tia..." Atlas started. "...You're too kind." And he held her back, tightly. Even though his ribs were screaming for him to let go. "Fine." He let out a bit of a groan while he partly released his embrace. "You and the others may call me Atlas. But you are never to call me that H word, understood?" A glint of pain shone revealed in his eyes when Tia looked into them.

"Alright." She smiled sadly at him. But if it would make his pain easier on him, she would accept his terms. Even though to her, as well as the rest of the small town's folk, would see the creature as one.

The beast eased his hold on her. And cleared his throat. "...So, where do we begin?" Tia giggled at his uncomfortable reaction. And continued making their lunch.

"Hmm." She stared at the distance in thought. "Look around you. What do you see?"

The dragon found the question to be odd, but did as she asked. "I want to say the right answer is Life." He grumbled, and she giggled at his lackadaisical response.

"There isn't any right or wrong answers to life." She smiled at him, giving him the large cutting board she was working on. The lunch's aroma caused the creatures nostrils to flare and inhale deeply, making his mouth water as he went in for a bite. It wasn't until his first swallow that he actually paid any attention to what Tia actually said. Atlas' delayed response of opened ears and a slightly tilted head caused her to cover her mouth and laugh a bit.

"So it's a trick question?" Atlas snorted.

"No, it's just some answers are better than others. But you're correct for the most part." His ears went back when she teased him, as he took another few bites out of his meal. "There is life all around us. From the plants we're resting on, to the birds in the sky. And you must know that this life exists within itself, being so old."

The dragon let out a low growl. "Don't call me old. It sounds insulting." He snorted.

"That was the point." She giggled again. "You're like a cranky old man." Another grumble, and he motioned for her to go on. "But yes, there's a circle of life that connects with itself. Be it when a tree falls and makes a home for raccoons, or when one of those raccoons are hunted by a lynx and fed to its children. They all work with one another in-"

Atlas tossed his snout. "Yes, yes. I know of this. What's your point?"

Tia just smiled at him a bit. "Well... I've been doing alot of thinking lately. And I believe your lack of value to life is because of this cycle. When you... Become deceased, you don't leave anything behind, do you?" The dragon shook his head as he took another bite. "You don't support the circle, and you really don't have any use for it. You've been excluded from it for so long."

"And you're saying that if I support this cycle, I'll be-" A sudden sharp pain started to appear in the dragons left arm, and he grabbed, hissing under his breath.

"Atlas? What's wrong?" Concern leaked from her voice as she tried to comfort him. As the beast grunted through the pain a bit, he realized it wasn't going away.

"I should probably head back. Or else you're going to need that flatbed again." He said, rather calmly. Tai looked at him with worry. "You should get back to the town and probably warn them."

"I don't want to leave you in this condition-"

"So you expect me to carry you back to town while I'm having a heart attack. Wonderful." He sharply tossed his snout while he got up and started limping toward town. As much as she really didn't want to, Tia had no choice but to leave him like this.

"...I'll be back soon. Please be careful." She stroked his neck when she went past him, and ran back to town. As the creature's limp began to slow down, his breaths started to become shallow. Her words before this episode echoed in his head ("You don't support this cycle, and you really don't have any use for it.") His head became light. His balance was a struggle to keep, and eventually he gave into gravity. (And she says she can't understand me...) His last thought made him use his final breath to chuckle.

Atlas woke up in darkness once again. Pain still ravaged through his sore chest and he grunted with every little movement. A gasp in front of him caught his attention. "Are you awake?" He could smell Tia, but he couldn't see her.

"I can't see anything. Taath... Am I blind again?" The creature grumbled. Feeling the area around him, against his sore warnings. He felt a large bed made of straw, much like the one in the barn he stayed in the past few days. It even smelled like it.

"Hold on, I'll remove the blindfold." Atlas felt Tia's soft hands around his head. He also felt something else odd about them, they almost felt... wet. As she slowly took of the blanket covering his eyes, a bright flame became visible to him. It was a lantern on the table, with several other things spreaded among it. Books, pages, and samples of herbs. Atlas studied them a bit, then his gaze went to Tia's face. "...You didn't make it too far, but we were able to get you breathing again. Then we brought you back here. You've been out for nearly 8 hours." A low growl omitted from the creature's throat. "Atlas..." He rested his head on his paws, turning it away from her. "I had to look through your body again to see what was causing it... I think you had a bad reaction to the herbs this morning and it-"

"Leave." The dragon said sternly. "Tia, just go home."

The woman was quiet for a few moments, and then she stroke his head a bit. He didn't fight with her, but he paid her little attention. "I'm sorry." She whispered, and she left the building with the lantern. Atlas waited until he could no longer hear her footsteps. Then waited to hear a door close in the distance. When he did, he took a deep, angry sigh.

Guilt kept Tia from resting too much during the night. It wasn't so much that she made a mistake, and someone nearly died because of it. It was just an experiment after all. There was no way to tell how the effects of herbs would turn out on a different species. But it was fact that she was the only one Atlas had trusted. ("Leave.") The way he said it really got to her.

Tired of thrashing in her bed, Tia decided to get up. The morning light was beginning to break the night sky, but it would still be an hour or two before the town began to wake. She prepared a small breakfast for her and the dragon, and set out to the barn where he was being kept. Even though she was sure that he was still irritated, Atlas was still ill, and under her care.

She felt a little uneasy when she approached the barn door. It felt like something was wrong when she opened it and barely seen the beast in the building. It's body looked limp, not even bothering to hold itself up anymore. Then, she could smell it. Reminding her of the first night she'd seen him. A strange mix of burnt blood and metal brought the faint memories of the dragon being dragged into the building, horribly injured and beaten senseless. "Atlas?" she called out, but there was no response from the creature.

Tia walked in and set down the tray on the table. As she looked at him closer, she could easily tell he wasn't breathing. A large puddle of murky redness was caked onto his underside, and a bit on his chin. A faint sob leaked out of her. Though Atlas suggested many times that he would never die, it seemed to her he had finally succeeded. The dragon took his own life by gnawing at his wrist. As the sun began to light up the morning, it illuminated slightly where the dragon had laid. At closer study, Tia could see that the creature's arm, though caked with blood, had no wound. As the woman tried to turn over the other paw, her soft touch caused the dragon's head to shoot up and gasp for air, knocking Tia off her feet.

Atlas coughed a bit while taking deep breaths and clearing his dried throat. As he looked around, he almost seemed lost to where he was. The creature searched the air for something, and it lead him to a barrel filled with water nearby. As he got up with ease, he lapped at it desperately. Tia finally started to get up, now that her heart stopped racing, and she got the dragon's attention. "You... Are..." He spoke. After a few moments of what looked like a migraine, he finished. "Tia?"

"Y-yes. You do remember me, don't you?" She studied his body, now standing quite strong, and limpless. Although he still wore the stilts on the wings, and many of the bandages, as well as patches from his injuries, they didn't seem to ache him like they used to. It was then, she was sure what he had done during the night. And why he sent her off early. The thought of it angered the woman.

As Atlas took another quick drink, he stretched a bit, getting the kinks out of his body, and laid down in front of Tia once again. He looked toward the window "It's still early morning. Why are you up so early?" and while he was returning his snout to her, he got a soft punch in-between the nostrils that got him to sit up. A loud growl came from him while he shook off the blow. "What was that for!?" Atlas hissed.

"You... You liberated yourself, didn't you!? Is that why you pushed me away last night? You just wanted to give up?"

"I thought it was a fair plan. Considering I was finally strong enough to do it." He growled at her, laying back down. "Besides, it wasn't giving up. It was letting go. There's a difference."

"Regardless, I told you that I didn't want you to do it!"

"You said that you_couldn't do it. And _you didn't. I did. And now I'm finally free of that distraction, so we can finally focus on your teachings." Tia sighed angrily at him. "Why are you so upset over this?"

"Because-!" She was quiet for a moment. "Because it goes against what I've been trying to teach you."

"Which is what? That pain equals existence?"

"No! It's that pain brings people together! And when they're together, that pain becomes easier to manage when they share it!"

"And you want me to share my pain with people who don't understand me? You want me to open my gates and flood the world with agony? Is that it?"

"If it would stop you from constantly living through hell..." Tia stopped herself, and took a seat. As she took a few breaths, the large creature studied her. After a bit, he gave her a little nudged with his snout, and she placed a hand on it.

"Tia... You have to stop trying to shoulder my pain. It will only ruin you." He said softly. Although he really didn't like showing this side of himself to others, he's grown to know that it's sometimes the only way others will listen to him. "If it helps, I believe you are right. But you alone cannot be burdened to uphold what I carry."

A sad smile crept over her face. "Then we'll just have to find someone who can." The dragon let out a small sigh, and a bit of a sad look. He motioned for her to get up, and lead her into his chest. For a while, Atlas held her there until Tia went to sleep.

"Tia? ...Tia? You don't want to sleep all day." A few nudges knocked the woman out of the small dream she was having. She woke up to a bloody dragon's chest, and gasped at first, pushing herself away. "It's fine. It was from last night." Atlas stated, almost grinning at her reaction.

As she got up, and out of the creature's light hold, she took a look out the window, toward the bright sun. "How long was I asleep?"

"Only for maybe an hour or so. How much rest did you get last night?" The woman's constant yawns answered him. When she turned toward the dragon once again, she had an odd look on her face, which then turned into giggles. Atlas curled his neck back at the strange reaction. "What is it?"

"You actually sound concerned about me. It's a first, really." Tia only laughed more at the dragon's snort.

"It's all in your head." He laid his head back down on his paws, trying to face away from her. "All I'm saying is that you should take better care of yourself, and stop trying to heal the world so much. You can't heal it when you're disabled." Although his tone did sound sarcastic, Tia seen right through it. As she finished prepping their late breakfast, she couldn't help but look at the bloodstains over the beast. Eventually, the creature caught her. "...What?"

"We should really get you washed after you eat." She handed him a plate with a smile.

"You are not bathing me again. Now that I can move at my free will, you're not going to take advantage of me like that anymore." Tia couldn't help but laugh at how serious Atlas sounded as he took the plate from her hands. "Besides, I think I would fancy a swim after this. Perhaps hunt something more filling."

"You'd prefer a wild animal over my cooking? It's not that bad."

"Not at all. It's not the best I've ever had, but I would never describe it as Bad. There's just a liberating feeling about hunting by yourself that I miss. I haven't done it a for a while. You should try my cooking next." Atlas teased, only getting a smile and a shake of her head from the woman. The two finished their small breakfast and the dragon stretched again. "So, Tia. What will you do with your day now that you no longer have to tend to me?"

"Well, I can finally start socializing with the townsfolk once again, and possibly tend to others that have some minor injuries or medical mysteries. However, I'm not done with you yet." She smirked.

"Of course not. You must teach me to respect life once again, or something. For now, I'll just go wash up."

"I'll come with you, but I want to tend to these dishes first."

"If you must. I'll be near that meadow when you're done." The dragon squeezed through the doorway of the barn, and stretched his wings out in the opened air. Only then remembering that the stilts were still attached to their branches. With no regards to the fine craftsmanship of it, he broke the stilts and tossed them aside. Then flew off. Saddened by the amount of work Sam put into them, Tia picked them up to see if she could somehow put them back together, but it was not possible. Instead, she stashed the broken, splintered fragments away for the meantime. Tia would beat the dragon with them for such disrespect when she caught up to him.

And she did just that after tending to her chores. Packing a small lunch, and collecting the broken stilts in a blanket, she set off to the meadow. Down the road, she could see the dragon's haunches barely over a small hill. The more she approached him, the more she could hear him growl. It was very loud and deep, much like a wild rabid animal. Getting a better visual, she could see his spines raised very high, wings were spread to make him look bigger, and his claws were digging into the dirt. She could barely make out his curses and denials through his growls. "Atlas? Atlas? What's gotten into you?" She placed a small hand on his shoulder, but it didn't settle him. He was staring into the distance, at a strange, white furred creature Tia had never seen before.

Chapter 3


Arc 2 Year: 18394


The trip on the monorail was long. Much longer than he liked. After hours of much needed sleep and even more staring out the window, his quadruped body longed to stretch. But he resisted for a little longer, for he was almost at the large city.

The city. New Alzallion they called it here. It was massive, and high in technology. Very few knew the dark secret why it was, and that's why he was ordered here. Not to expose it and collapse the city per say, but there was a mission from his father here. "October? Are you off in your own little world again?" His ear rang from his female friend's call.

"Sorry Lillith. I haven't gotten alot of sleep lately. I think it's starting to catch up to me." The large cat-like creature sighed, still looking out the window. "Have you seen this place? It's quite massive."

"Yes, I can see it through your UCD [Universal Communication Device]. And you should start taking care of yourself, instead of doing alot of jobs for your father. I know he asks for a lot, but he can always get someone else besides you and Hatchet. That 'take better care of yourself' part goes for you too, Cheetah-boy." A small, embarrassed grunt came from his brother's side of the three way call. It made October smile. Thanks to a certain 'ingredient' in October's creation, he was able to feel and deal with emotions much easier than Hatchet was.

"I'm not apologizing. I've got nothing to apologize for. I've never come home with a fatal injury, I don't know why you worry so much." Hatchet stated, only to hear Lillith chuckle at the other end. Although October always felt like a third wheel between the couple, she always assured him that he was nothing of the sort. Lillith was almost like a big sister to him. She was even there when he was created, and she did her role as Force of Reality very well. She was strong, and so was his brother Hatchet. They honestly reminded the Tirix of his father and his father's wife. "Are you sure you're going to be okay alone October?" Hatchet interrupted his thoughts.

"Yes. It's only a minor job. Even after going through the plans, it shouldn't be too difficult. Besides, you tend to overdo it when it comes to infiltration."

"It's true, we've seen what you did to Alecksander." Lillith snickered.

"That was a walking Mech Factory. What exactly would you do against it?"

"Alright, I'll leave you two to your argument." October teased. "The train is about to stop soon."

"Okay, but be careful. I'm getting that feeling again." That feeling being: 'There's more to this than it seems.' (Even when she's several universes away, she can still sense that.) It only made the smaller beast smile shyly.

"I'll be careful, Lillith. Worry about Hatchet." And October ended the call. He gave a deep sigh and shook off that feeling like he was being stared at once again. At least the car he was in was nearly empty, and he honestly couldn't blame them. Most of them around here were human, and they've never even seen such a creature as a Tirix.

(Tirix) He thought to himself. ("They are a failed experiment of reincarnation. Their main purpose was to provide a vessel for a soul to enter and be once again physical within the universe. Although the species itself may be incorrect to the body the soul was once bonded to, the vessel could do everything relatively well. It had enough brainpower to do several things at once, and hold a large amount of knowledge. As well as experiences and memories. It's body was able to be fast, strong, flexible, even bipedal with enough practice. Though it's not without flaws. Even though the mind could withstand the enormous pressure and pain of placing the soul within the body, it would eventually deteriorate and die. However, the Tirix would be reborn with the same soul it was attached to, and it was possible to regain its older memories and experiences once again.") His father's definition honestly scared October. Often enough he worried that maybe he would one day loose himself. Become someone he used to be instead, or even just fade away rapidly.

October's worries caused him to study himself once again through the faint reflection of the window. His face was mostly cat-like, but with a long muzzle much like a canine. It had the teeth of a large dog, and they were even lockjaw. Nose of a canine, and was quite sensitive, as well as the whiskers of a feline. His orange eyes would often change in color, and pupil often behaved like a feline's would. His ears were a mix between the two, they were quite thick, but quick and were often parked to scan his sides, as well as front.

Then there was his mane. A large, thick, dark orange thing that wasn't terribly well groomed. It often had a mind of its own, and it looked a little bit like every one of the three October was designed from. Trailing down from the top of his head, his spine, and ending at the bottom of his shoulderblades. Which lead his eyes to his black furred body. It held little pattern, but the fur was quite thick over his broad chest. His shoulders actually stuck out a bit, allowing him to move them like a humanoid would. He still had a hard time to reach his back, however, but it was still surprisingly flexible.

His forepaws were unique. Tucked in, they were quite wide and thick. But they could be stretched, and locked outward, even releasing a thumb-like appendage from the center of the paw. Opened like this, they resembled another humanoid feature of being able to grasp and use tools. Along with the flexibility of his wrists, one could argue it was the main thing that separated him from being a beast to something humane.

His wrists... They still kind of ached in a way. Though once again quite thick, they withheld a secret weapon that all of his kind had. If the wrist was even lightly tapped, a reflex would send out four large, hidden claws from between his knuckles. They would lock his wrist tightly, and his fingers downward while they were out. The things were quite long, about the length of his entire forearm, and could actually cut through steel. Although, it was very painful to release and withdraw. Even the thought of them, October could feel that pain.

His lower body was more animal-like. Still quite broad like his chest, but his hind paws did not have the same features his fores did. They were still quite thick and wolf-like, though his hips were more flexible. Then there was his tail, rather slender but with a small orange flame at its tip. This flame never hurt, barely gave off heat, and never seemed to do anyone harm. It made little light, but at times it was enough for him to see in total darkness.

The train began to slow down, and broke October's thoughts. Although his worries were still with him, it was best if he tucked them away for now. He had a job to do. As the creature got up to finally stretch, hearing all the kinks be released from his body. He retrieved his small bag and strapped it over his mid-section. Though people were still uneasy of his presence, they got up to depart after him.

The fresh air felt good on his fur and mane, though it was only for a moment. Soon enough October began to walk through the sea of people. The late afternoon was quite busy at the edge of the city, and whereas he was only about 3'9", October was quite hidden. His senses were a mess of sounds and unpleasant smells. Eventually he made his way to an alley to get away from the city. Climbing the fire escape that the large building was attached to, he made his way to higher ground. On top of the building, he began to search for his target. A much larger one on the west side of the city. As well as a more pleasant path. Looking at his UCD for the time, he had a few hours to get there and get ready.

The tirix choose a much less populated path. It was better if he went through the area anyway. It seemed deserted, dirty and written with graffiti. Most of which he was unable to make out. Not that it mattered much, it was nothing more than art. Not propaganda. Although the design did seem a bit troublesome. "It more or less indicates that the artist had a rough life." October's attention calmly turned to another tirix to his left. "It seems that even a city with this much technology and energy support still has poverty." He gave a soft nod at the larger tirix. He was orange furred, with a red mane and eyes. Several tattoos covered his body, one specific on his right hand with the number '22' on it.

"It seems the farther away from home, the more poverty seems to be growing." October shook his head as he walked on. The larger one walking beside him. "At times I wonder if it will ever end, Deago."

"That's what your father is trying to accomplish. You know that, don't you?"

"I do. And I trust his ways, but it doesn't make this much easier. To see the things Forces need to do in order to feed the Terrasque, all to attempt to keep everything moving. It lacks sense. It lacks..."

"Logic?" A second tirix came to October's right. "In a way, I can understand why you think that." This one had brown fur, white and gray mane, as well as light blue eyes.

"But you need to realize that these Forces don't know any different. They grew to know only a single truth: Feed the Terrasque, and you'll get the energy to keep your home running." Deago said.

"That's the only logic that they have. They can't seem to trust anything else, and experimentation has always been a taboo among Counterweights." The brown one continued.

"Much like Veritas." October sighed. "But Veritas worked out for the better, let alone it could function without a Counterweight. Even after the Counterforce locked its creator away for that taboo, the universe of Veritas continued and evolved. That's where Deago is from." The orange one gave a nod. "It's also the main design of Father's universe, and it's stability. If they have examples and proof that it works, why is it that they are so afraid of trying, Ryoko?" The brown one just defeatedly shrugged, and gestured to Deago.

"Like he said, they're just too afraid to."

"They have a right to be afraid." A larger black one with a green mane came from behind Ryoko. "I mean, it was your brother that took out the Counterforce. It's too bad you didn't go. I would've loved to take control and cut loose." A rather sinister smile covered his muzzle. "But regardless, most people this far out don't know that the Counterforce is gone. They're still afraid, I can smell it. And that fear smells delicious."

"Don't expect to 'cut loose' anytime soon, Rixxix." Deago said quite sternly.

"You can't contain me forever, October." The dark one held his head high, and inhaled deeply. As if he caught a pleasant aroma in the air. "There it is..." He gave the smaller one that same devious smile once again, and October's UCD rang in his ear, grabbing his attention. Just that sudden focus of attention for a moment, and the younger Tirix was once again alone.

He took a deep breath and answered the call. "Yes sir?"

"How is everything looking?"

"Just as you planned so far. I'm almost to the first objective."

"It should be to your left and down the street now." October gazed down to an old stairway that led to an abandoned subway. "You almost went by it."

October quietly sighed. "Forgive me, I was... Distracted."

"It's understandable. Ryoko can tell you the appropriate location within the tunnel. Do you have any questions?"

"...Actually, permission to speak freely, sir."

"Granted, October. You may ask me anything."

"Do you think you may be getting yourself too involved in this? I know they remind you of Beo, but I feel you might be letting your affections make your decisions." The tirix said, a bit nervously.

A soft chuckle came from the other end. "It's alright. It may seem that way, but there more to this than those two. It will benefit many others, not just them."

"And there's no hiccups?"

"Not for at least a million years. I've triple checked. And then I'll have returned to fix it." (Meaning he is still planning to do this for a long while...) "Is there anything else?"

October snapped out of his thoughts "No sir."

"Carry on then. And carry your cautions here." The call ended with that worrisome sentence. After a bit of silence, the black creature headed toward the stairway.

"You know, there's many ways you're able to take Cautions." Rixxix returned to his right side, almost towering over him.

"Whatever you're planning, it's best not to engage. Let alone it's very dangerous to cause a massive amount of destruction on a mission like this. There's to be no casualties."

"Doesn't mean I can't maim a few people. Perhaps give them a few scars." The dark one tossed his head.

"Do I have to get Deago back out here?" October stared at him angrily.

"Fine, fine. But you need to feed them once in a while. Or else they'll get out of your grasp."

"I can't believe I haven't asked you this yet, but why exactly are you so afraid of Deago?"

Rixxix double taked at the smaller one. "I'm not afraid of him. I just had a thing with his daughter."

October growled disgustedly "Do not tell me you mounted her."

"Nope. But I did accidently kill her, pulled her out of my own insides. Then died, and was reborn inside of her womb." The smaller one stopped in his tracks for a moment, trying to make sense out of what he just heard. "Ah, Veritas was so much fun."

October followed Rixxix' green tail flame until it completely faded into the darkness. After getting through the few enforced gates and locks, he made it into a large tunnel. It looked like there hasn't been anything around for nearly forty years, aside from the occasional vermin and stray animals that came for shelter. It was hardly a form of a home, but it did keep them out of the rain. The cold still sent chills down his spine as he pressed on. "I can't imagine anything wanting to live down here."

"Most hardly have a choice." Ryoko's sympathy accompanied him. "It seems that it's live in a poor shelter, or die somewhere in the cold. It's not uncommon in cities and other planets. You know that."

"I do." The smaller one sighed. The brown one looked at him a bit sadly.

"At times I often forget that you're still quiet young." October grunted at him. "Even though you don't like to be told that." Ryoko nudged him. "But even with all the knowledge that the universe has to offer, you often cannot fix something like this within a broken system. You need to change how the system works, before you can clean what is inside." October gave a nod. "Which is what your father is trying to do. Even though I know Rixxix has been trying to get you to question Bartan's actions, you need to keep that faith in him. Or else you might end up like the previous October." The smaller one's heart stopped for a moment. Though he barely met the previous one, he did know who he was. That one actually started out with Hatchet, and they were good comrades, but... "He desires Entropy."

"Hmm?" October broke out of thought.

"Rixxix. He adores destruction. Entropy is what he desires, what he wants out of life. It's the way he is." Ryoko explained.

"Oh... Yes, I suppose... What does Deago desire?"

"A life without loss, if I remember correctly. As you know, he was the Force of Death in Veritas for a long time. After a while, I'd imagine he got tired of seeing many awful things before the universe was cleansed."

"That's understandable." October took a deep breath. As he looked at the older, brown tirix studying the wall as they moved further into the dark tunnel, he couldn't help but think about the three he was bound to. The three he was forged from, and how he knew so little about them. He researched them, heard their stories and knew their abilities. But to actually know them... "What do you desire?"

Ryoko's looked at him with a faint smirk. A face that said he was expecting such a question from the younger one. As he took a deep breath, his eyes went back to the wall. "At first, it was to have a family. A place to actually belong in. It's what I always wanted when I was a cub. But after my encounter with the original Bartan, he gave me that. Even when I was alien to Veritas, he invited me in and gave me a home. As well as a family that welcomed me." Again with that smile. "You could say that Desire turned into a Value now." The black one nodded and looked at the ground below him. For some odd reason, that answer made his heart ache. "I guess if I had another Desire, it would be Financial Freedom for everyone."

"Financial Freedom? You mean like money?" October tilted his head.

"In a way, yes. Any type of currency. But it goes a bit deeper than that. From the years I took to study life and necromancy, everything always seemed to take a toll of some sort. Civilizations seem to think they need a type of currency, due to the lack of trust with one another. Everybody seems to keep some kind of score. Be it a loss of a life, or just trying to save pennies to afford some milk and bread. I often wondered what it would be like without that toll. Letting everyone just help each other out when it's needed. Having no real need to repay others, and just do it out of courtesy." The darker one looked at him sadly, and Ryoko sighed. "Perhaps it is too much to ask. But anyway, this area here will do."

October studied the wall and ceiling of the area. "Are you sure?"

The brown one nodded. "Yes. It's in the correct location for what Bartan wants done. Place a Glyph of Stratacast here."

"Stratacast?" October double-taked. "Don't you think that's overdoing it? We just want to shake the building, not completely destroy it."

"If you attune it to only his Roar, it should create enough seismic activity to do just that. Anything else would probably take out this tunnel and cause the building to collapse." The black one looked at him with worry, but took a deep breath and nodded. As October approached the wall, he placed a paw on it, a white light began to draw a large glyph, omitting from the tirix' hand. After it formed a full circle and finished it's fine details within the center, the symbol stopped moving, and faded within the wall. Leaving no trace of the glyph. "That should do it. Ready for phase two?" A quiet, deep breath came from the younger one as he gave a faint nod. "Then let's get out of here. Darkness like this will drive someone insane and cynical."

Chapter 4

Byrin's nap was disturbed by a loud knock at his door. "Boy! Get up! They're waiting for you outside!" The stern officer didn't sound too happy. Honestly, Byrin doubted anyone was. Irritated that he fell asleep waiting for them, the young human male woke up. His drapes were just barely letting in the late afternoon sun light up the warm, near empty room he was staying in.

After a few deep breaths, his thirst got the better of him. He got up, got dressed, and took one last look at his new room. His bed was screaming at him to just come back and forget everything that happened the past year. To just sleep and get away from it all. The Charges, the tragedy, and the predictable weakness that left a terrible scent on him. Another loud knock on the door behind him. "I'm up! Fuck off!" And then one more which split the wooden door a bit. With an angry sigh, Byrin left. He went to the small kitchen for a drink of water, and left for downstairs.

Walking down, barely following his escort, he took a look outside of the windows that were scarcely along the walls. New Alzallion. The city was nothing more than a disappointment to Byrin. His family wanted to move here to start a new life, change their lives. And all they got was an ending. Except for him, the only one left to scour at the pathetic family and their ridiculous beliefs. Thinking somehow this city would save them from poverty and decadence.

The air outside felt almost smoggy. It wasn't fresh and alive. Just felt dead like the rest of the city was to him. As he got into the back of a car, he noticed the escort more clearly. His driver actually. (Great.) The man was huge. Looked like he'd been on steroids for the past 6 months, and his temper showed when he slammed the car door shut just behind Byrin. "You look like hell." The female voice beside him said.

"Well, I plan to look my worst when I'm being forced to work against my will."

"Be thankful that I caught you when I did." The woman said. Her name was Amy, Byrin half knew her. "The charges could've been worse. You're lucky to just get some community service instead of an actual arrest. Whereas you're only seventeen." She was about her late twenties, light brown hair. A bit short for her age, she'd always been short compared to Malori.

"Lucky? That's an odd way of putting it. If it wasn't for you, I could've finally left this city."

"And probably stuck in a prison cell for five years. Can you honestly say that's better?" She half teased him. As much as Byrin wanted to say Yes, he just stayed quiet for now. His eyes just staring out the window as the car started to move. His mind still wanted to sleep, but after seeing Amy, he knew what it would drift to.

It was a late night, a little over a year ago. After staying out for a long time, Byrin was walking home. Just outside of his driveway, he could hear the phone ringing in his home. As he entered the door, the small house was barely lit up by the tv's light. His father passed out in front of it. His mother probably sleeping off her fix in her bedroom. And the phone, still ringing at least 24 times now. "What?" Byrin answered, harshly.

"Byrin? Is that you?"

"Who did you expect would answer, Malori? The easter bunny?"

"I don't have time for this. I'm sorry, Byrin. I didn't take your warnings. They're coming after me."

"Coming after you? Who are? And what warnings?"

"About the cold war we had 20 years ago with the northern countries. Before New Alzallion's rise in technology and prosperity. It's all connected, and I found out how. That victory, they found something. Something that they claimed from the north. They brought it back with them in secret, and with it they can do horrible things."

"Malori, what the hell are you talking about?" Byrin rolled his eyes, expecting some type of joke, until the phone on the other side went completely silent. Then filled with a constant beeping. Byrin hung up, then tried *69, only to be told that the line was disconnected.

A hand on his left should snapped Byrin out of his dream again. Looking at Amy through his semi-long, bleached hair, she gave him a faint smile. "There was nothing you could've done, Byrin. As much as I miss her too, and I know seeing me has got you thinking about her, there was nothing that you could've done to save her. She was taken in action-"

"Is that what they told you?" His blue eyes were a bit cold. "She wasn't taken in action." He grunted, and shrugging Amy's hand off his shoulder. "She was looking into some conspiracy, and they silenced her." His eyes returned to the window. "If she was killed on duty, it wouldn't be so hard to let go. She wanted to help people so badly, but joining the National Guard? That was a retarded move." Amy left it at that for now. Knowing the teenager went through so much in one year, it was no wonder he lashed out on someone. Then they pressed charges against him, nearly sending him to prison.

"We need to talk about your job." Again with a bit of silence. "You'll be a custodian assistant in the city's powerplant. You'll be constantly under watch by the guards there, as well as the cameras and your supervisor. For work, you'll have to-"

"Clean floors and shit. I know what a custodian is."

Amy gave him a sad smile. "I know you don't like this, but this is the best job I could get you. I had to call in my favor to Kevin, your supervisor. All you have to do is your four months. After that, you can do what you want." Again with the silence, and Amy gave up trying to communicate with her best friends' younger brother. As for Byrin, he tried his best to keep his mind from wandering once again. And just wished for his escape.

October hid on top of a building, with a clear sight to the powerplant's gateway. Once the sun set, he could move in a bit closer without getting spotted. It was near dark before he got to study what the night patrol of the large building was like. "How does it look?" Deago asked him, almost surprising him, but only enough to get the hairs on his mane to raise up.

"It's rather well guarded. Almost as if they're expecting an army to approach them. And there's a separate chamber for a Barracks. What kind of power plant is this?" October muttered.

"Bartan did say there was something rather suspicious about it, but never had any details in the report, correct?" The darker one nodded at Ryoko's appearance, still studying the building from afar. "If he didn't say, you're probably better off not knowing."

"I just hope it isn't a Terrasque or something." The statement half worried October, but he knew it wasn't something like that. He would've been able to feel it, if it was in planetary range. He just took a quick breath, and began to put on his harness. "It doesn't seem to be anything like that. Whatever is in there, they seem confident enough to be able to stop it." Deago said.

"They're armed with heavy assault rifles with mounted grenade launchers. It's unlikely they'll use the secondary function at such a close range." The darker one pulled out a sheathed short sword with a slight, upward curve in the blade. A Wakizashi. Deago gave him a concerned look when he seen the weapon. "I won't kill anyone, it's demanded that I don't. It's only for defense."

The larger orange one nodded. "I know you won't."

"He's just worried that you might get hurt." Rixxix showed up, laying on the ventilation machine on top of the building. "Granted, you could always protect yourself using those chains. Don't forget that."

"He doesn't need to use those." Deago half growled at the other dark tirix.

"I'm planning to use them as well." Deago looked at October with concern once again. "But only for defense. Nothing more." The younger tirix gave Rixxix a harsh look. All the larger black and green one did was smile at him.

"Just be careful out there, October." Deago said once again. "Call us if you need us. And remember what Eman said." The younger one gave a nod as he stepped forward. As the Charr's advice echoed through his head (In A Fogless Mind, No Mistakes Are Made).

October took a deep breath, then placed a paw on the ground beneath him. A purple glyph began to draw quickly around it. When it was done, the tirix took a few steps to the ledge, looking at the two guards at the entrance of the power plant. With his other paw, he began to draw that same glyph in the air, and watch as it was written on the ground behind the two guards. When it was finished, he returned to the first one. Looking at the time once again through his UCD, he met a gaze with his three companions. One by one, they gave him a nod. Another deep breath from the younger tirix, and his paw met with the glyph activating it.

The activation created a portal between the two glyphs, and October went through it quickly. With the momentum gained by passing through that portal, the tirix spun and kicked one of the guards really hard in the side, making him loose balance. October then did a backfist to the other guard, surprised by the creature's sudden appearance. The blow caused him to stagger, allowing the creature to get him in a sleeper hold. October held tightly until the guard passed out. Then returned to the other one, still trying to get up from the strike to his ribs, and knocked him out cold with a heavy hit to the head. With another breath, October made his way to the front door. While he did, pieces of Bartan's mission played through his head.

[Your main objective is to get the target into an elevator, and then cause it to malfunction while it descends.]

As the tirix rammed through the front door, it got the attention to the guard at the front desk. He reached for an alarm, but the creature pounced on him before he could activate it, causing them to fall backwards in his chair. October knocked him out there, and then hit the alarm himself. Causing sirens to go off throughout the building.

[First thing I want you to do is get caught. Make them sound the alarm and get them to evacuate the building of its innocents.]

The sirens wailed, hurting the tirix' head a bit, but he endured. As he walked toward the stairway, he sensed another guard come out of a separate room behind him. Quickly, he disarmed the guard with the handgun, and knocked him out before he could take a shot. As October got line of sight to a wall in the stairway, again he began to draw one of those glyphs from before at a distance. Then went to an elevator. Purposely being spotted by the building's cameras. As he entered the elevator, and pressed to a higher floor. He drew the second glyph under the camera that was in the elevator, and stepped through the portal it created. Putting him into the stairway at the bottom floor. He then began to climb to the higher floors swiftly.

As he got to one of the higher floors, he could hear the guards being in a panic. "The elevator the intruder went into was reported empty. There was no one in it."

"Did they go through the roof or something?"

"There wasn't any evidence of it."

"Well, he must be around here somewhere. Keep your eyes opened. Scout the area, in pairs." October stayed out of sight and studied their footwork for a few moments, discovering where they are, and how cautious they've become. (They're walking in pairs, one keeping eyes on twelve o'clock, the other six. I can't sneak up behind them like that. Unless...) The tirix studied the ceiling from where he was. Getting a good estimation of where the lights were placed. As much as he didn't like to use Rixxix' abilities, they could be helpful in utility situations. He concentrated to control them, and get them into position directly under the lights.

Small pools of smokey darkness seemed to gather in those locations, and once October gave the release, a large spiked chain shot out of each pool. These chains were like wild, spiked, serpent-like creatures that seemed to be quite bloodthirsty. But with enough willpower, they went straight for the lights in the room. But one or more of them were spotted, whereas gunfire echoed the room. "Shit! What the hell was that!?" The guards went into a panic, unable to see in the darkness. It was the nocturnal's turn. Quickly, October rushed in, and took out the first pair by parrying their weapons, and striking them. Each strike drained their lifeforce, but only enough to put them to sleep.

"Hetric? Simon? What happened?"

"God damnit, there's something in here!" (The more nervous these guards are, the more likely they would hurt each other) The tirix thought. Using the stealth to his advantage, he took out the hysterical one quickly, then his partner.

"Antricks. Roland. Regroup to me!" Quick movement came into the far east side of the room. "We have a better chance of making it to the exit if we're together!" From afar, the dark one studied the moving unit. He couldn't allow them to fire their weapons, in case it would hit one of the passed out guards. Again, October found himself giving into Rixxix' suggestions. Another moment of concentration, and those chains came out of the darkness to disarm and sunder the rifles of the Guards. Moving in to knock them out, one of the chains got out of October's concentration, and drove itself into the leg of a guard. Causing him to cry out in agony.

The tirix stumbled hard. Fighting roughly to gain control of that serpent once again, and forcing it to slither back into the darkness. As the guards grabbed their wounded, and dragged him to the stairway, October intercepted them. Knocking out the three standing ones, then the injured. He studied the injury and sighed heavily. (It hit an artery, as expected.) As he placed a paw over the wound, and concentrated, the bleeding slowly stopped. (I can at least do that, but I can't Deny {Heal} the wound without bringing attention to the Forces.)

Deago came close to the other tirix to study the wound as well. "He'll be fine. Move on." October gave him a nod and proceeded to move up the next set of stairs.

[Take down any guard you can find on your way up. Make sure they're all incapacitated, but not dead. All of them must live.]

After a few more flights of stairs, some more guards could be heard trying to communicate with the lower floor patrols. "Still no word from anyone below. We can only assume that the intruder got to them."

"Communications say that there's something wrong with the cameras on the second floor. They're not picking up anything anymore."

"Could it be an inside job? Are they coming for the Xiaoviou?"

"It's very possible. Any country would want that if they found it out. Even just a sample of that. But it doesn't explain why they're going up the building instead of down." (Down? As in underground?) October shook his head from any doubts before his mind wandered. The guards were on the far side of the room, and probably expecting his arrival. Quickly, the tirix dashed in and took cover behind a small desk. "Shit, I seen something!" (Damnit!). He grabbed his wakizashi and took a deep breath.

When he started hearing movement from them, October charged. Surprised by such a tactic, the tirix managed to get a few steps in before they open fired. Deflecting the bullets with the sheath of the weapon, October dealt with the minor scrapes the shots did to him and managed to get in real close to the first guard. Crouching, he rammed the hilt of the weapon into the first guard's gut, and dealt small blows to the other two nearby. Chaining from one guard to another, with the hits getting gradually harder, until the tirix got to the knockouts.

With no time to breathe, another set of guards came down the hallway to October's far right. Even with the cautious burst fire of the new squad, the tirix didn't have any time to advance to them. Not without risk. He decided to retreat can take cover by against a wall at the opposing hall. "The hell is that?" A voice came down October's hall. The creature double-taked at what seemed to be a younger boy in street clothing, completely out of place in this mission. (Is that the target? Uh oh...) Improvising, October let out a loud growl, and chased after the boy like an animal.

The teenager got the message, and raced for a nearby elevator. Although the tirix wasn't really after to harm him, he was trying to make it somewhat close. Allowing the elevator door to shut in his face. Then waiting a few moments, unsheathing the large claw in his arm, and cutting through the metal door with another loud roar. Scraping it until the elevator went completely down. The darker tirix sighed in relief, while the brown one came beside him. "Don't you think that was a bit overdoing it?"

"What? I had to make it look real."

"Well, the 'acting like a rabid animal' stereotype was indeed convincing. That's not exactly what I meant." October gave him a puzzled look. "What was the last line in Bartan's report?" And the younger one recalled the message.

[Be sure to not cause anymore real property damage. Especially something that could lead them to Occult reportings. Whereas the guards will be later convinced that this was all just an hallucination.]

October's ears went really low staring at the large claw marks. "I'm sure they won't notice it." Rixxix joked.

"I'll just fix it af-" More gunshots barely missed the tirix as he dove for another wall corner. "Now I just need to get out of here."

"Not quite." Ryoko said. Just as October's UCD started ringing. Looking at the log, he was given the current time. And a ten second prompt. He gasped, and quickly started to draw on the wall, a remoted Glyph. Just barely making the activation in time, a loud roar came from below the building, omitting a heavy quake, and causing some of the windows to crack. As well as the guards to lose some balance. "Now's your chance!"

October bolted down the hall where the guards were, taking advantage of the quake, and knocked them out cold. After that, the tirix took a moment to breathe. Only to have a call come through his UCD. "...Mission Complete."

"I trust everything went well."

Looking at the claw marks through the elevator door, October confidently said "Yes."

"Fix the claw marks later." He swallowed loudly at Bartan's order. "I have another job for you."

2 minutes earlier

Byrin caught his breath while the elevator took it's time to get to the ground floor. "What the hell was that thing?" He said, looking at the large claw marks in disbelief. He shook his head for a moment. (It's what I get, isn't it? Kevin told me to stay put while he went to get me overalls, and my stupid ass needs to see if he can find out what had the guards all panic'd about. Well, I found it.) He rolled his eyes, just leaning against the wall. (At least I'm safe.) And que the big quake that shook the entire building. Causing the elevator to shift a bit back and forth, until something above sounded like it broke.

The elevator car started gaining speed as it dropped down its own rails, causing it's only passenger to curse loudly and fall down. As it feel for only a few moments, it hit something hard, like a solid barrier, and broke right through it. Only to keep falling and falling for nearly thirty seconds. Outside, the walls of the car began to scrape against the shaft itself, as if it was getting too tight to move down it. The walls began to tear through the car, and reveal some older tunnel that was built underneath the powerplant.

As the walls began to tear the elevator apart, the car began to slow down. But the screeching was getting overwhelming. As the car came to a sudden stop, Byrin's head slammed against the floor of it, and he passed out.

Chapter 5


Arc 3 Year: 14639


Zhaiothe awoke once again, with those sobs caught in his throat. He couldn't see anything where he was, but he felt the fresh air against his scales and could smell the aroma of the forest. Breathing heavily, he managed to get out a whimper of being lost, only to suddenly feel someone near him. Something his size and soft. He grabbed a hold of it, and held it tightly, as it started to murmur something and get awake. "Zhai? Zhai, what's wrong?" It was that voice that let him know he wasn't dreaming. That he didn't lose him again. He just held onto it tightly, as it turned itself around to do the same. "Shh, it's okay. I'm here Zhai. I'm here." A few sobs leaked out of his throat as he just braced his mate out of fear. Even Zhai's tail was coiled around his. "Zhai, that's too tight." He half chuckled. "You can relax, I'm not going anywhere... It's still early, try to get some sleep. I won't leave you." As he soothed the dragon once again, his embrace began to soften, and he drifted back to sleep.

(He had that nightmare again.) Khol thought to himself, as he held onto his mate, almost bigger than him now. (It seems no matter how many years past, nor how long we've been back together, those regrets still haunt his dreams. It's no wonder he doesn't like to sleep much anymore.) He gave the large red one a few soft licks. And in a soft whisper "But I'm here with you Zhai. I won't leave you again. Don't worry."

The large red dragon woke up in a basking warmth. He could hear the forest life, and his mate breathing against his neck, but couldn't see anything. A few mumbles, and a few licks from his mate caused him to smile. "You'd think I'd be able to understand you in the mornings now, but that language is just too complex for me." Khol teased him.

"Morning love." Zhai mumbled, running his paw through the silver spines. "How did you get over here? I thought you fell asleep behind me."

"You had another nightmare." A pain shot through the red one's heart, and after a deep breath, he held onto Khol tightly again. "It's alright, it's alright. You won't lose me twice. Unless you squeeze me to death." It put a sad smile on Zhai's face. As he eased up, he heard his mate chuckle at him.

"What is it?"

"You still look ridiculous with that thing on you. Here, let me get it off." As Khol searched through his spines, he felt a small pull, and the cloth over his eyes was replaced by a bright light. Causing the large red one to grunt loudly at the sun. "I'm not sure why you insist on wearing such a thing to bed."

"It helps me sleep." Zhai said, blinking several times, to study where he is.

"But it frightens you when you wake up suddenly." Khol studied the blindfold for a bit, even though the thought of it made him rather sad. It reminded Khol of what his mate went through while he was being harvested. But then he smiled at it. "But I guess it is kind of kinky, not knowing what I'll do next to you." He purred, quickly and softly placing it over Zhai's eyes once again. Getting him to whimper as Khol began to lick random areas on Zhai's body. Until he got to the red Bicep, almost gnawing on it and letting out a pleasure moan.

"Maybe later tonight. But right now I gotta tend to a few things." Zhai licked his mate between the eyes. Khol returned the lick and softly locked lips with him. "I got some labor to do today for the Monastery."

"Ooo, I like it when you do labor." (He sounded way too happy for that) Zhai chuckled at the silver one's reaction. "But alright, I can wait." Khol held him one more time, and then got up. Zhai began to stretch as well. "So, what are we doing first?"

Zhai began to walk through a large clearing in the forest. "Well, I have to find Tadaka-San to see what he wants done with his fields. I need to find out what Headmaster plans for me and the new students as well."

"Ah, yes. You're to dance with the children again?" Khol chuckled, following beside the large red one.

"It's not dancing, it's a form."

"A form of dancing." The silver one teased, giving him a lick.

"Fine, it's dancing. But yes, they want someone to teach them, and he was wondering if I would do it."

"Really? You?"

"I was quite shocked as well. I've only been around for maybe five years now, I guess I just picked it up faster, thanks to Su Ying."

"Well, that too I guess. But I was more or less shocked about what it would do to the children."

"I'll mind my tail, don't worry."

"That's not what I meant." Khol chuckled, causing Zhai's ears to perk up. "I tell you this quite often: When you're dancing, you're stones are very exposed and wide open. I personally enjoy the view, but it might disturb the children."

The red one's ears turned a little purple. "Right. Forgot about that. I think the Headmaster wants me to wear some kind of cloth for it."

"He's made pants for you? Well, I guess it's about time they did something. It's going to really ruin it for me though." Khol smirked at him.

"I doubt I'll wear them. I don't like clothing." His spines raised a bit. "Anyway, then I want to see Marusana's wears. See if he found any armors for me lately." That thought put a sad look on Khol's face. "What's wrong?"

"I... Just don't want... 'Valhalla' to happen again." Zhai stopped him for a moment and held him.

"It won't happen again. No matter what happens, I won't go to war again. It's why I chose this place in the far east. Su Ying says the Monastery will never participate in such things." Zhai assured his mate, and Khol gave him a nod.

As the two got out of the forest, Khol spotted some people walking up the path to the Monastery. "They are dressed a bit funny to be here."

"Travelers maybe. Although it isn't tourist season. Hmm." Zhai only studied them for a moment. It wasn't uncommon for people to travel up there to get the wisdom of the Headmaster. Even from different kingdoms. As he walked closer to town, he caught Khol daydreaming. Zhai gave him a nudge, and he snapped out of it. "What were you thinking about?"

"Just how we got here, five years ago. How little things seemed to have changed." Zhai's neck curled to an S, as he displayed his body to him. "Besides you, I mean." Khol gave him a lick.

"Well, I guess that's what peace is like." The red one smiled. And even his mind began to wander back.

Khol scooped up the small red wyrmling out of the snow and held him tightly. He knew it was really hard on him, but Khol couldn't help but be so happy that they survived. As he rolled in the snow with the young one in his arms, he let out a mix between chuckles, purrs, and whimpers. While the wyrmling Zhaiothe did the same, along with heavy breaths.

After a few minutes, Khol tried to stop draining so much of the little one's energy. Retreating himself back into Lothranis slightly, and out of the physical plane. But it didn't seem to be working, and Khol's face started to paint in worry. "What's wrong?" Zhaiothe wheezed out.

"I know what I'm doing is hard on you. But I can't seem to... Stop." A few of the robed men started to approach the two. As the silver one got up, still holding onto the wyrmling, he waited for them to come forth. "Did you... Help us?" The one in the center spoke loudly in a language the dragons didn't understand. Khol looked at the other two men, and the center spoke up again. "I'm sorry. I can't understand you." His ears lowered. The men began to speak with one another. And then the center one motioned something to the silver dragon, then began to walk to another large building straight ahead.

"I think they want us to follow them." Zhai said, still trying to make out what was actually happening. "I would like to get out of the cold." He breathed heavily. As his mate nodded at him, he hobbled towards the large building. Wyrmling in paw.

As they entered after the men had, they closed the doors behind the dragons. It somehow gave the feeling of entrapment to the silver one. As if they just sealed them within this large room. Many floor torches were burning to keep the building and its people warm. As Khol began to slowly move forward, between the lines of praying men, the center one once again said something sternly to the dragon, and motioned him to stop. Then to lay down in front of him. Khol slowly did so, and let Zhai rest in his arms.

As the man left the room and went into another, the two listened to the gentle hymns of the people there. After a few minutes the man returned, with another elderly one in a heavy robe, and another outsider that looked like a bi-pedal polar bear. The two dragons sucked in a breath when they seen him, knowing mostly likely who he is. As he said something to the other man, and the elder one, the bear stepped forward. "It's good to see you two are still alive." He smiled.

"It's good to see you alive as well Bartan." Khol smiled, and gave him a lick. The bear just pet his muzzle a bit, and moved in closer to do the same with the wyrmling.

"How are you feeling?"

"Very... Drained." Zhai said between breaths, and Bartan nodded sadly.

"What's wrong with him?" Khol asked.

He studied the small one for a bit. "There isn't anything really wrong with him. You however..." Again, he placed a paw on Khol's muzzle. "That bomb did something with your spiritual body. It looked like it completely severed you from Lothranis, and all that weight is now putting alot of pressure onto Zhaiothe." Khol's ears and head lowered. "I can't fix it without permission, and in order to get that..." He sighed.

"I'll deal with it. I just need some rest." Zhaiothe sighed, trying to get comfortable.

"Don't go to sleep just yet. I need to ask you something." It got both dragons attention. "It's more of a deal I'm proposing on your side as well as theirs. These people are northern mages. They've been around for centuries, but lately their magic pool has been drained by the carnage of the earth, as well as the weather. Pretty soon they won't be able to survive."

"What do you want me to do?" The wyrmling yawned.

"They're looking for a battery. And honestly Xiaoviou would do rather nicely." Khol held Zhai a bit closer to him. "They won't harvest it like before. They know of ways to extract it from the body without harming it, using it, then placing it back into the body so it can be recharged. You'll basically become a living battery."

"What's the downside though?" Khol asked.

"You'll... Be asleep. Probably for a very very long time. A few thousand years." The dragons gave him a sad look. "However, I'll make sure that you age very very slowly, and you will gain karma for this act as well. After your services are, well... No longer needed. I will allow you to be transported back here, give or take a month."

"Transported back here? You mean, like in this time?" Bartan nodded at the small one. "So we can still live our lives out then... How old will I be though? When I come back?"

"You won't be quite as old as you were when you were cursed, Zhai. But in estimation, perhaps maybe 480." Zhai let out a shaky breath. "Is everything alright?"

The wyrmling faintly nodded. "I think I just realized how long it would probably take me to die of old age with this curse..."

"It would take a long time, yes. But remember: You will age slowly while you're sleeping. And although the Karma feed probably isn't as good as what you've been gaining by helping people, it will be a constant stream of it. Providing you're still helping someone, you'll be slowly getting back to your older self. Which does remind me, when you do wake up again, I'll have to teach you a few more things."

Zhaiothe gave it some thought for a few moments, as some of the men in the room were talking with Bartan. "Bartan? What will happen to Khol?"

He took a breath. "Khol would have to stay by your side, whereas he can't leave too far from you currently. The farther away he is from you, the harder he is on you."

"Could... I just sleep as well? Beside him I mean?" Khol asked.

"I can put you to sleep, yes. You might end up waking up a bit earlier than Zhai, but it would probably be more pleasant for you that way. There's no need for you to be, and stay, lonely."

After a few moments, and looking into his mate's eyes, Zhaiothe spoke up. "I'll do it. As long as it doesn't harm Khol."

"It won't. You won't even feel it." Bartan assured him.

A small clamping of his ear drove the red one out of his memory. "Ow. Okay okay, you caught me."

"And just before you ran into a wall too." Khol teased. "I had no idea how heavily influenced you are."

"Oh, like you didn't know. I'm very impressionable at times, especially when it comes to you."

"Mmm, then let's have a quickie before we start the day." Khol smirked, trying out his newly found power.

"As much as I'd like to, I really shouldn't. Plowing might take too much out of me today."

"Is it that much? I thought he just wanted a minor extension to one of the fields."

"Actually, it's another field entirely. A bit down south, where the ground is quite difficult to deal with." Khol sighed in defeat. "Don't worry, we'll have some fun this evening. I promise."

"Alright, I'm going for a record then tonight." The thought of it make Zhai whimper. "Oh, come on. It's only 16 times."

~"It's a wonder you haven't drained this collar dry yet." The red one said, with his ears back and now speaking draconic while walking through the town. Although he was quite bigger in normal size, Bartan had taught the dragon how to control his size, providing he didn't exceed his maximum. It made it alot easier for him not to worry about stepping on anyone, or anything important.

The town wasn't anything very special. It usually had its morning rushes, but since the dragon woke up late, he was able to walk through it with ease. At least the town had gotten used to him being around. Though Zhai still didn't enjoy socializing with them too much, Khol still enjoyed it alot. So the red one learned to put up with the children. Yet he still would not admit that he even enjoyed some of their company.

As he approached what looked to be a forgery, the red dragon stuck his head in a window, just behind a woman that was cursing silently. "I thought I might find you here." The dragon smirked at her.

"Just in time! Lizard, get in here. I need you." The woman demanded.

"Lizard? For the last time, I'm not a lizard, Sou Ling. I'm a majestic Dragon." As he tried to hold his head up with pride, Zhai ended up knocking down a shelf with a few things on it.

"You're special alright." She chuckled sarcastically.

"I said Majestic, not Graceful. Now what did you do?" The red one downsized himself to fit in the smaller building.

"I was working on one of the plates needed for your plow and accidently dropped it in the forge. Grab it for me will you?"

"Isn't that why you wear those things on your paws? To protect you from the flames?" Zhai questioned her. Though he grabbed the large plate of metal regardless. Making his scales almost glow with the same brightness as the plate itself.

"Yes, but I don't want to ruin these. They have to last for a long time."

"Because of the lack of trading recently, of course. Anyway, where's your father? And why is the plow in pieces?"

"He'll be back in a bit. And we found a few pieces to be a bit weak, so we're trying to tighten it up. Although, in order to do that, we needed to adjust a few more things, Sire." Sou said. Although the people around here had a bad habit of pronouncing his name as 'See-Ray' instead of 'Sai-Err'. The dragon just let it go after a while. "It won't be ready for today, if that's what you're wondering about."

"For the most part, yes." Zhai replied, his ears turning a little purple when he heard Khol gasping with glee.

"I know that look. What did he say?"

"He... Wants to go for a new record."

Sou just laughed. "Well, the last time he said that, he beat the record. What's it at now? 14?"

"Currently at 15. And you have to stop giving him ideas. It's not healthy for me." The red one snorted.

"The only thing I suggested it that using heated objects might make you more submissive. And well..."

"He doesn't have the resistance that I do. Shame really, I wouldn't actually mind trying it. However..." He met his gaze on a long rod. "Something like that, no."

"Oh come on, I could sand it down and soften it for you if you like." She teased, loving the shuttering expression the on dragon.

"That somehow reminds me, I should check in to see if Marusana has any enhanced armors yet."

"I've already checked. Nothing sadly. Trades have gotten quite bad when it comes to items like that. Alzallion and the other kingdoms seem to be catching them all."

"They're still at war with each other?" Zhai curled his neck.

"I'm not sure anymore. But I know they're still fighting. You've must've seen the messengers passing through here."

"I thought they were tourists."

"Nope, they're trying to convince the Monastery to help them out again. They do this every 4 months or so it seems." The thought of it irked the dragon, and his spineful mane started to raise. "Maybe you should check on the headmaster. I'll tell father you stopped by."

"Alright. I'll probably be back later today." And the red one left the building.

"That is if you can walk again." She laughed again. "You milk him good, Silverthorn."

"Will do!" Khol shouted from outside of the building. Causing Zhai to lower his ears and whimper again.

Within the short flight, the dragon got hungry and decided to hunt a meal first. After that, a quick swim with his mate. By the time the two were done, it was getting to late afternoon. Downsizing himself once again to fit into the courtyard, Zhai landed hard within the monastery. Within the courtyard was a monk that was overdramatically choking. "Oh please." The dragon snorted at him. "You and I both know you've learned to expect it when you hear wingbeats in the air."

The monk chuckled at him, and took another small bite out of his meal. "I know, but I figured I'd try to worry you a bit. Stir things up for once around here. Other than the occasional visits from the negotiations." He slightly gestured to the large door to the Headmaster's home.

"When you're as old as I am Fu, you'll be thankful for the peace we have out here. And how long Headmaster has made it last by not coming to negotiations." The dragon laid down beside him, stealing one of his riceballs.

"You don't find this peace boring?"

"You find war interesting?" Zhai asked while chewing.

"It's more interesting than nothing happening. I'd rather be out there fighting for something. Putting what we learn to use and finally protect people."

"Protect people by hurting other people." The red one said bluntly, and caused the younger boy to quietly sigh and take another bite. "It's thinking like that, that makes the Headmaster say you're still a novice." He said, trying to steal another riceball, but Fu kept his meal away from him. The dragon's ears went back, and glance to his side for a moment, then snorted.

"The old ball and chain?"

"Yes. He says I've eaten enough, and you look too scrawny." Zhai chuckled.

"I don't know, Sire. I always thought it was what we were doing here. Learning how to be a soldier."

"Really?" The boy nodded at him while taking another bite. "What do you think it means to be a soldier?"

Fu gave it some thought. "I always thought it was to help others. Put your life on the line so those who couldn't wouldn't have to. To fight to protect people."

"To protect what we already have..." The red one mumbled.

"Nothing stays the same forever, Sire." The boy smirked.

The dragon took a deep breath. "I suppose not." And he left the area for some privacy. Zhai stretched a bit, and began to do his forms, as well as exercises.

"I wonder..." Khol pondered, studying his mate do his workouts. "Fu fights to protect things. Or I should say; is willing to fight to protect. Isn't that what you fought for?"

~"To protect you and my lands, yes. Now that those lands are gone, and you cannot be taken away from me by them, I don't have a reason to fight." The red one looked at his mate. ~"Is something wrong?"

"I just wonder... if you've given up on trying to age." The silver one said quite sadly.

Zhai took a deep breath. ~"Yes, and no. I still want the karma, and I still want to bring us to Lothranis. But I shouldn't have to kill others, or destroy cities to make that happen. No matter who it helps. It's why I wanted to be here. I don't want to fight anymore, Khol. It never seems to lead, nor end anywhere but despair." His answer made the silver one smile, then look in the direction of a silent gasp. As Zhai looked, he seen one of the 'tourists' stare at the smaller dragon.

"I'm sorry! Carry on." He said looking away. The red one grunted lowly, and started to continue. About ten seconds later, the tourist started again. "It's just, I never thought I'd see a dragon around here. I didn't think there was any left."

"There isn't." Zhai said bluntly. The thought of it made Khol frown. After they got back from Bartan's last job five years ago, the two tried to see if they could find another nest. But after several months of searching, they found nothing. And decided to remain here.

"How are you able to do that? Stand on two legs? I thought dragons were Quadrupeds."

"They are." He grunted. "Do you mind not gawking at me?"

"Oh, sorry." And the tourist sat down, facing away from Zhai.

"Actually, this could be a good opportunity to get some information out of him." Khol suggested.

~"What could I possibly ask him?" The red one's ears went back and completely stopped his exercises for a moment. Speaking in whispers.

"Well, what they're doing here for one. Perhaps this is more than just a negotiation." He shrugged.

Zhai tossed his snout. ~"Fine." He glared at the man. "What are you doing here anyway?" He asked, a bit harshly.

"Oh, me? I just wanted some air." He took a drink out of his waterskin. "I can go elsewhere if-"

"I mean at the Monastery. What are you doing at the Monastery?"

"Well, we've come to ask for help." The man once again faced the dragon, studying it.

"And what do you think that this visit would be any different than the others?"

"Well..." The man looked around for a moment. "It's no longer about us." Zhai raised an ear at that. "Before, yes. We were asking for an alliance to help out against our own kind. But within the last few months, we've seen a greater enemy approach. One we haven't seen in years."

"And that would be?"

"They call themselves On'scets. It's Orc for 'Paragon', or Perfect Being. The first one was spotted about ten years ago in the city of Fiore. Although, that one was far from perfect, it was still rather impressive for a single being." The dragon let out a defeated sigh. "They say he was captured before he could... Well, breed with one of the council members. And he was locked away. But he escaped soon after. And for a while they were in hiding. Trying different ways to reach higher perfection, whatever that could possibly mea-"

"The strength and durability of an Orc, and the intelligence and grace of an Elf. It's a hybrid being..."

The man looked at him in disbelief. "How could you possibly...?"

"Long story short: I'm a dragon. We're magnificent like that." He said, halfheartedly.

"Well, we recently learned that they have multiplied. And they have created a large army, very large. They're a global threat now, even to those here in the far east. We need the help of everyone before they decide to attack and claim the entire land as their own."

"And that's why you've traveled all the way here? To get a few monks to help you defend your walls?"

"Actually, we were also looking for strategy as well. You see, the lands these On'scet have claimed has a great wall of mountains around it. Making it very hard to attack from the ground." Zhai's heart stopped for a moment as he stared into space. "I suppose we could try by Sea, but... I'm sorry, is something wrong?"

"...I need to go." And without saying another word, the red one took to the skies quickly, Silverthorn not far behind him. He landed a few minutes out in the quiet forest, and the smaller one collapsed.

"Zhai!" Khol landed near him "Shhh, it's okay, come here."

"My lands... Our home... They've..." Zhai roared in frustration.

"I know, come here." And Khol just held him, trying to calm him down.

Chapter 6


Arc 1 Year: 14639


A few hard beatings across the snout woke up Atlas, along with a wretched language he's never heard of. Binded in chains, from his bleeding muzzle, to his wrists and ankles, the large dragon tried to study where he was. The smell of burning metal and ash seemed to fill the mightnight air. Another swat across his muzzle directed his attention to the odd black skinned creature in front of him. The thing reminded Atlas of an Orc, and he growled at it. It yelled at him once again in that despicable tongue. "You guys are idiots if you think you can keep me here." The black dragon growled. As the creature went up for another swing, Atlas atoned to cold and made his scales once again turn to a white, with a blue hue to it. The sudden change caused the creature to stop midswing as the dragon began to slowly disappear into a white vapored form. Insubstantial to the chains that were holding him. Causing them to loose grip and fall to the ash-like dirt.

After getting freed, Atlas reformed himself before the creature, then breathed a chilling stream of frost over it. Shattering it to pieces with a powerful paw swing, only to get the attention of nearly the entire camp he was being held captive in. With a quick roar, his scales changed back to a night-sky darkness. Atlas dug a paw into the burnt ground beneath him and concentrated on the energies of the earth below him. As several other 'Orcs' approached him with longspears, the dragon grabbed a hold of something underground. With each tug and pull, the earth below them began to quake a bit. With one more forceful rip, the earth split opened, and within the dragon's paw was a large weapon. A mix of molten rock and cold stone that was forged by the magics within the dragon's body, and the elements of the earth around them.

The dragon swung the large, sword-like weapon backwards acrossed few of the orcs. Although the blade itself didn't hit them, the massive flames that were generated by the weapon painted the air around them. Searing whatever they were wearing and wielding onto their thick skin, and causing them to cry out in pain. Another swing to the other side did the same to those who were in the weapon's spread.

As the creatures brought a few more waves, they eventually brought an Ogre to handle the escaped dragon. As it picked up a large rock used for catapults, the Ogre hurled the stone at the dragon. Just barely getting the sword up to block the projectile and parry it away into a wall. Atlas roared at it and charged the ogre, spreading the flames around it, then impaling the large creature with the searing weapon. The dragon retreated a ways, and shielded himself from the ogre. As the brute, tried to pull the weapon out, a faint ringing could be heard from it, just before the sword exploded. Sending chunks of the ogre all over the camp.

After a few breaths, a loud warning horn filled the sky around them. Atlas hissed at the sounds it made, and atoned to Air, turning his scales a faded violet. Within his left paw, sparks of lightning forged what looked to be a Bow made out of lightning and glass, while his right forged an arrow. With a swift aim at the tower with the horn, he fired in the general area, and the tower's nest exploded with a thunderous wave. Getting a few pelts of arrows from the other towers, Atlas shot an arrow to the other five that surrounded the garrison he was trapped in. Any Orc that was near the thunderclaping arrow had their bodies turned inside out. Even the sound of it was enough to make the dragon a little faint. But Atlas fed on his anger for now. Not knowing what else was left in the building, he went with his instincts.

Pulling several more of those swords out of the ground, the dragon threw them into the walls of the garrison. Hearing that high pitch ringing again, Atlas atoned to Earth quickly as the first sword exploded in the wall. Sending a chain reaction to the others, and taking out the entire stronghold. Being launched out from the explosion, the dragon landed quite a ways towards the water. He eventually came to a complete stop, and shifted his sore body a bit, cursing. Overlooking himself for a moment, he rubbed off one of his ash covered arms to reveal his scales being a crystal white. Though covered in the burnt dirt, they still tried to sparkle in the moonlight. "Diamond Scales." Atlas chuckled, and overlooked his position.

The land was dead. Completely turned into ashes, as if it was holding a sea of flames for several hundred years. The water even looked sick, almost polluted because of what remained of the lands. But the mountains... They remained, even though they've aged over the centuries. "This is definitely the place..." He muttered, not wanting to believe it himself. After a few breaths, he got up, and started digging.

Deeper and deeper into the ashes and dead dirt, Atlas tunneled into the ground. He was searching for the heart of the land. What originally gave it life to begin with. Still, the repetitive motion got him to drift away once again in memory. Painful memory.

"BASTARD!" Atlas roared loudly. "You Cannot Do This To Me Again!" His spines were raised higher than they've ever been. His claws were dug so deep into the ground, he almost feared he'd be stuck soon. But his anger flooded his reason. So much so, that he couldn't hear Tia trying to calm him down. Still, the beast before him did nothing but sigh at him sadly. It made him angry. So angry. As if he was the reason of Atlas' cursed, never-ending life. That rage got the better of him, as he charged the six legged beast.

The creature didn't move. His expression remained as Atlas took a wild swing at his face. But the white beast defended himself, flipping Atlas on his back and pinning him. It didn't stop the dragon from roaring at him again and again. "You Can't Do This Again! You Can't! Not Right When I Found It! You Can't..." His rage turned into frustration, as the beast went from pinning him, to embracing him tightly. A few more roars of anger, Atlas took a shot at the creature's side. Then another. Then another. But it did nothing to defend itself against the dragon. "You... Can't."

"...I know." The beast finally spoke. "And I'm sorry... I'm sorry," He looked at Tia for a brief moment. "Atlas. I'm Sorry..." And he just held him for a few minutes until the dragon calmed down. "I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to drag you away from here. But I'm giving you a choice."

"You're choices are nothing more than illusion... You always pin me with a suggestion that I will always take. That everyone will always take... And if I don't, something bad will happen. Tell me I'm wrong..." Atlas hissed under his breaths.

For a moment the beast was quiet. "...You're not." He said softly. "...There's something wrong with one of your previous homes... One of your previous lives." The creature eased his brace on the dragon, allowing it to look at his brown eyes, focused only on the ground below them.

"What do you mean? What Home?" Atlas asked, but it was soon clear to him which one it was. He sighed angrily, trying to hold back his tears once again. He knew what the beast wanted. "Damn bear..." He cursed at the white creature. "...Will I be able to come back? Within her lifespan? Answer me that."

"...I can't promise you anything." The beast said sadly.

"That means 'No'..." There was silence between the two for a bit. "...No." The dragon said, as he shoved the beast to get off of him. "I won't be your toy anymore Bartan. I've done enough, find someone else."

"Atlas..." Tia said slowly approaching the two creatures. "You need to."

"I don't need to do a damn thing! He said it was a choice-"

"But this is for one of your previous homes. Someone who cared for you is in danger, isn't that right?" The dragon growled at her. "You need to save them. You need to be that H-"

"Do Not Call Me That! I'm Not!" He roared at her. Another angry sigh exhaled from him, as she leaned in closer to him.

"I'll be here when you get back." She said softly. "If he can't promise, I will."

"Tia... You don't..."

"We don't need you here. But they do." She looked at the beast. "You will bring him back to me, won't you?" The creature sighed quietly, and nodded. "See? You just have to ask nicely." She gave the dragon a sad smile.

"Fine." Atlas tossed his head. "You, get off me." It made the other two chuckle, and the beast allowed the dragon to get up. "...You better keep that promise, Bear." He growled at the beast.

"I'll do what I can-"

"That's not enough. You better bring him back to me." Tia demanded, getting an unexpected reaction out of him.

"...Can I just say goodbye to her?" And the bear nodded. Atlas then scooped Tia up and placed her on his back. As he took a few steps away, he sighed heavily.

"It will be alright. I'll probably be back home, east of here. But I'll be waiting."

"I don't think you'll live long enough for my return..."

"Don't say that, Atlas. I need you to come back to me. And you need to come back to me. Don't die and get reborn a hundred years later on me or anything." The thought made him chuckle a bit. "You'll be back Atlas. Just believe in yourself, as I do to you." He gave a slight nod and stopped in place for a moment.

"Have you... ever flown before?" A devious look in his eyes shown into hers.

Gazing at the scenery and allowing them privacy, Bartan sat in wait for Atlas' return. At least the time wasn't critical for now. But the sooner, the better. As he heard Tia's screams fill the air, his head spun around to see Atlas take off with her on his back and fly away from Bartan. He just smiled and shook his head. "I'm sorry. But it has to be you..."

"Damn Bear." Atlas muttered again, shaking his sore paws. He'd been digging all night it seemed. The air was getting heavy, but he had a hunch he was almost there. After a few minutes, the ground gave into a large airpocket within the earth. Clawing his way through, Atlas squeezed his way into the large underground room. Shaking his sore paws a few times and resting, he looked around to see a poorly made altar made out of earth with a large, dragonkin resting on it. "There you are, Kresskre." He muttered. Kresskre was ancient draconic for 'Big Softie'. A nickname the dragon had given him back when they were together.

As Atlas approached the resting dragon, he studied it a bit. Kresskre was bigger than he was, always had been. But he was so passive and naive, it irked Atlas. His scales were still painted silver, despite of how many years he'd been down here. As he took a deep breath, the black one muttered something. "Get up." He bluntly said. After a few moments, the larger dragon started to shift again. A few shoves to the silver one's side and he responded with a few mutters himself. "Ziik, get up."

A bit more movement, and the silver one opened his blue eyes. "Shroud? Is that you?" He managed to get out.

"Yes, who else knows you are down here. Now it's time to get up."

"How long have I...?"

"I don't know. I just got back. Now for the last time: get up. You need to help clean up a mess you've made."

"...Mess?" The silver one got up and started to stretch.

"Yes, apparently one of your old friends and underlings have made a mess of things. And we're the only ones who can fix it. Now come on." Shroud walked up to the hole he made, and started to make it bigger by atoning to earth once again. "You should be able to fit through this. Start climbing." And the two began to claw up the tunnel.

When they reached the top, Shroud helped Ziik reach the surface. When he got up, and took a few harsh breaths of the ashy air, he gazed around to look at the dead wasteland. "What...?"

"Just as bad as we left it, isn't it? Guess that whole plan to 'become the heart of the land and restore its beauty' didn't work out. Like I expected. Looks like you wasted 1500 years or so doing nothing productive." Shroud's words were quite harsh, and Ziik sighed in defeat. Tossing his snout, the black one tapped the silver dragon's scarred chest. "I told you, you can't do anything to help people down here unless you're upstairs. Be an immortal body or not. Besides, what good would it do you if you sacrificed yourself to help other people anyway?"

"...I just wanted to..."

"Atone for what you've done by creating two bothers that are constantly at war and destroy everything between them. Of course. But you can't do anything if you keep being such a Kresskre. Now, we have to stop them from doing anymore damage, or else the rest of this world is going to end up looking like this... If it isn't already, that is." Shroud snorted. And he took off to the skies. After a deep breath, Ziik followed him.

It wasn't very long into the air that Ziik's stiff body began to feel sore again. "Shroud...? Can we stop for a moment?" Although he didn't want to admit it, Shroud was pretty sore himself.

"Fine. But it looks like our old home finally caved in. There's another one over here." And the two flew into another large cave to rest. Ziik landed with a loud thud, which half worried Shroud for a moment. But when he got up with ease, those feelings subsided. After lighting a small fire within the cave, the walls revealed drawings on them. The black one studied them a bit, while Ziik got comfortable and enjoyed the rest. Upon one of the walls seemed to be letters that were horribly drawn. "...Z...H...A...I? Why does that sound familiar?" Shroud thought aloud.

"Perhaps it's who stayed in this cave before. It does look like someone used it as a home a long time ago." Ziik suggested.

"Back when we occupied this land, this cave was too small for us. Well, I could fit in it, but you couldn't. It's why we needed something bigger." The black dragon's comment put a faint smile on Ziik's face.

"...I missed the way things were back then... I'm sorr-"

"Don't. Say. It." Shroud said slowly.

But he ignored his friend's demands. "I shouldn't have left you alone to try to fix this world. I shouldn't have listened to my instincts... Once again, they just seem to be wrong..."

The black one walked up to Ziik and shoved his shoulder, causing the silver dragon to look up at the other. "Stop." he demanded. "It's not doing anyone any good to beat yourself over your poor decisions, and I honestly don't want to hear it. Again." The dark one snorted as he laid beside the larger. For a few moments, they were just quiet. When Ziik tried to wrap an arm around Shroud, he just glared at him. After a deep sigh, and once again muttering Kresskre, he leaned into Ziik's embrace, and the silver one used him as a pillow to rest his head on.



"...That day I came to earth... When I fell, and came to that battlefield nearby. They looked at me as if I were their enemy. As if I were the losing side's reinforcements..."

"What about it?"

"Before any harm was done to me, you jumped in to protect me, before an entire army of people..."

"It was more like 3/4's of an army."

"Still... Why did you do it? We didn't know each other, and you could've been hurt..."

"I told you, I'm immortal like you-"

"But you can still feel pain."

The black one sighed. "...You want the honest truth?" He felt Ziik nod on his neck. "...There's nothing like fighting a losing battle. The feeling you get knowing that you're probably going to die against an enemy is a bit frightening, but there's this odd comforting acceptance to it, making you want to fight harder... It's the closest thing I've ever felt to being alive, and ironically, it's those last few moments before death. That is, if I could stay dead." Another sigh. "I didn't do it to save you, but it was... A bonus."

"A... Bonus?"

"I'll go as far as to say I've enjoyed your company... More than I have with other males, if you can even be called that. Seeing as you don't seem to have anything at your lower half besides your tail." It was then, Ziik coiled his tail around the black one's. "But after you left for that self-redemption 'Trying to restore this land with your body' business... I..." he took a deep breath.

"...I'm sorry, Shroud." The silver one said, still holding the black one close.

"...Haytre... My real name is Haytre, Ziik. It's about time you knew it..." A soft bead of wetness was felt on the black one's neck, as the two feel asleep.


Arc 2 Year: 18934


Byrin woke up with his head throbbing. The occasional electric spark illuminated the trashed elevator he passed out in, now come to a full stop. He had somehow survived it, but he remember that he was so far underground, no one would be able to get him out. Slowly, he started to get up, only to have the elevator's floor shift and sink a little bit. He braced himself for a moment, taking deep breaths. Another step, and the floor collapsed, him with it.

Only about four feet down, it came to a sudden stop. A ground reaching stop. Byrin took a breath of relief. A faint glow lit up the room he was currently in. A place that didn't seem to be visited for a long time, but was still intact and running. He could hear this low humming coming from somewhere in the room and above him. "Hello?" A voice came into the darkness. "Is someone there?" It sounded strange to him. Almost like an echo. "Is anyone alive?"

"Yes, but barely alive." Byrin answered it. "Where are you?" He asked, getting up. "Tell me there's a way out of here."

"Well, I'm not sure about a way out just yet. Your crash just woke me up." Again, it seemed to echo in the large room. A few steps in, he could hear the very very slow rhythm of something... Breathing. "Are you okay? Are you hurt?"

"Just a headache from the fall. What were you doing sleeping down here? And where are you?"

"Oh, right. You probably can't see me like this." As the voice muttered to itself for a moment, and then the room began to get a bit brighter as lights from above were turned on, allowing Byrin to see better. He could make out something rather big and red wrapped in a strange tarp. Closer look it almost looked like a Wing. "How's that?" The voice came behind him, as he turned around, he was bet with a rather large silver muzzle and a pair of blue eyes.

"Fucking A!" Byrin stumbled backwards a bit. The creature tried not to chuckle at his surprised expression, but it couldn't be helped. "What the hell... Are?"

"I'm a dragon." The creature smiled at him. It then suddenly looked a little sad. "I'm guessing there isn't anymore dragons living up there anymore, is there?"

"I've... Never even heard of one being real. How long have you been down here? Let alone why?"

"One question at a time." The dragon smiled. "First of all, my name is Khol. What's yours?"

The boy studied him for a bit. "Byrin. I'm human, obviously."

"Yes, I can see that." Khol smiled. "And we've been down here for a very long time."

"We?" He quoted the dragon.

"Yes, Me and my mate, behind you." Byrin gazed at the large red wing, nearly about fifteen feet tall while laying down. Whereas Khol was maybe eleven. "He's still sleeping, probably will be for a while now."

"He's...Rather big. How did you guys get down here?"

"We made a little... Agreement with the mages above us." Byrin gave a puzzled look. "Are they no longer there? Is there no magic in your world anymore?"

"I wouldn't call it magic. More like science."

"Science? Hmm... What year is it?"

"18934. Getting close to 35. But back to that Agreement..."

"Wow... 18934..." Khol got lost in thought for a moment. "Sorry, it's a bit overwhelming. Is it still very cold up there?"

"Cold? In New Alzallion?"

"Alzallion? No, we were in the far northeast of Alzallion. That's where we made the agreement."

Byrin took a deep breath. (Looks like Malori was right. They did bring something back from that Cold War.) "What was the agreement?" He asked rather sternly.

Khol gave him a bit of a worried look. "Sire, my mate over there, he's attached to some kind of machine that will drain the magical energies out of him so they can use it for power. Then they can place it back into him to recharge it. He volunteered to help the mages to the north for as long as they needed."

"As long as they needed? What year did you make this agreement?"

The silver one gave it some thought. "If I remember correctly, it was around 14634." Byrin exhaled loudly at the unexpected number.

"Yeah... That would explain the whole 'Dragon non-existent' thing." He sighed for a moment. "About 20 years ago, Alzallion had a small war with the north. They couldn't even declare it as a war. But my sister dug into it a bit, and apparently they 'brought something back' with them after the war ended, and the kingdom there was in ruins. I think she meant you guys. I mean, it would explain the large spike in technology recently." Khol gave him a sad look. "But why is only he hooked up to the Drain-o-matic, and not you?"

"Me? Oh..." Khol stuttered a bit. "Okay, um... Try not to be scared, okay?"

"I'm stuck in a large room with two dragons, what else could make my situation worse?"

"One of them could be the ghost of his mate that anchored himself to him so he could be with him on this plane of existence?" Khol's ears and head lowered.

"...What?" Byrin gave him a funny look. "Okay, Dragons are real. Ghosts are real too? Is there anything else you want to add to that list?"

"Well, we did meet a creator of a universe, and nearly had a three-way with him." The silver one chuckled.

"I've gotta be dreaming. Maybe I hit my head harder than I thought." The human thought out loud. Suddenly, Khol licked him, causing him to stumble backwards again. "The hell?"

"Did you feel it?" Byrin studied his hand, feeling a bit warm and wet. After he shook it, Khol had a smile on his face. "Then you're not dreaming."

"Warn me next time, will you? I don't like being licked by ghostly dragons."

"Really? He didn't mind it at all." He pointed his silver head to his slumbering mate.

"Well, he's in love with you. I assume anyway."

"He is. And I love him. Makes me sad that there isn't anymore dragons around... I would've like to meet another one." Byrin gave him an odd look. "Sire was the first, and only dragon I've ever met. He's met a nestful of others, but after we met, we've never seen another one. Would've been nice to see him mount a female."

"Mount a female? Wait, you're a male?"

"Yes." The human gave a repulsive look that he was trying to half hide. It only made Khol laugh. "I see children are as single-minded as ever."

"Who are you calling a child?" Byrin folded his arms. "I'm just not fond of homosexuals."

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Is it why?"

The dragon lowered his silver ears. "...Yes." He rolled his eyes at Khol. "If it's a privacy issue, remember that you're talking to a ghost and you're about a hundred feet underground." That statement kinda worried Byrin a bit, not knowing how he'd get back up to the surface. The only thing he could really do was wait for a rescue team to venture down here until then. "Byrin?" He snapped out of his thoughts as the dragon lowered his head to the floor. "You don't have to answer that if you don't want to."

"It's... a few different reasons, more or less. I don't like it when they hit on me for one."

"They hit you?" Khol's head shot back a bit.

"No, they hit on. It means... To Flirt." The boy started to rub the back of his neck.

"So you don't like the attention of other people?"

"I wouldn't say that. I don't mind when women do it."

"Then what's so different about males?"

"Do I have to explain the birds and the bees to you?" The question made the dragon tilt his head. "I mean... Reproduction."

"Oh, no. I know how your species mate. I've seen it enough." That put an odd look on Byrin's face. "But why is the attention so different? I never noticed anything different about Sire's."

"But didn't you say you've never met a female?"

"Doesn't mean I wasn't around females of different species. I did often spend time around childr-I mean, people. Although, they all thought I was a female." Another strange look from the boy. "What I'm getting at is, the genders might be different, but the love is the same. Is it not?"

"Doesn't seem like it to me. It almost feels like harassment."

"Really? Is it that bad up there?"

"For the most part. The last guy didn't know the meaning of the word No, and I ended up having to break his jaw to get the message through." Byrin sighed, as he leaned against a machine. "He ended up pressing charges against me and I nearly got sent to prison."

"I'm not sure I completely understand, but I know what a prison is. They labeled you as a criminal?"

"Kinda, but I was too young to be sent to prison. So, instead I got forced to work here. And well, on my first day: I got attacked by some sort of animal, nearly killed by a malfunctioning elevator, and now I'm talking to a ghost who happens to be a gay dragon." Khol couldn't help but chuckle a bit. "I don't suppose you know a way out of here?"

"I'm sorry, I really don't-" The dragon's ears flickered a bit as he looked behind him.

"...What is it?" Byrin asked. And the lights began to flicker.

Chapter 7


Arc 3 Year: 14639


Zhaiothe laid on top of the monastery, as he watched the visitors begin their long journey home. His mind echoed with the information they brought with them, and all he could do was feel that ache in his heart. His lands were now the continent's enemy base. The lands he himself set aflame.

It was hard to believe that anything could survive the wasteland he turned it into during his rage. And Tong described it as being a "dessert" when the dragon started telling his tale to him nearly ten years ago. When he described the mountains that surrounded the lands.

Depression fell over the red one like a heavy weight. Torn between trying to live a peaceful life here, or to attempt to destroy that species that occupied the place he once called home. Even if he did somehow succeed, he would be the ruler of a dead land. A land that nothing could survive in. Possibly not even him. Yet, he wondered how long the pain he felt in his heart would last.

As a soft lick was felt at the back of his neck, all Zhai could do was sigh heavily and once again try not to cry. A whimper from Khol's muzzle got him to finally move, placing a simple paw on the silver one's snout. "I don't know what to do, Khol." Zhai mumbled. "I don't want to fight anymore. But..."

"You can't shake it off your mind. I know... I've been thinking about it alot too." That worried the red one. "And I know you've been trying to find a solution by yourself. But it's ruining you. Try to relax a bit, okay?" Zhai got another lick from him. He was right, the red one knew he was. But it still didn't stop the thought from haunting his rest. Once again, he just sighed deeply, and pet Khol's muzzle. As for Khol, he knew what that sigh meant. 'I can't. Even though I'm trying.' He picked up the now smaller dragon, and rested it on his silver arms. "Zhai..." He spoke softly. "Are you... Happy here?"

For the moment, the red one didn't really know the answer. It was quiet and peaceful here, but at the same time... "I... I don't know." Zhai replied. "It's nice here, but... It doesn't feel like home. It just... Simulates it."

"Like Lothranis." Khol whispered. Causing the red one's ear to flicker a bit. The smaller one looked at him sadly for a moment. "Do you think what I did... Leaving Lothranis... Was it a mistake?" It almost sounded rhetorical.

"Of course not. It's one of the very few things that saved me..."

"Then, perhaps you need to make that choice too." Zhai tilted his head at his mate. "I left that heaven because it felt... fake. Empty, and unreal. There was something missing in it, and that's the same thing with this place. You feel like it's not what you... Want."

"Are you saying you want me to fight? Do you want me to try to get my lands back?"

"I don't believe you'll find rest, nor feed that emptiness here. Even though it seems alot like home, it still isn't." Khol just held onto him tightly for a bit. "I don't want you to fight, because I don't want to see you get hurt again. But I don't want you to waste your life away regretting not fighting. I'm in the stalemate, as you are. You're not alone..."

"Sire? Is that you up there?" One of the monks called from the courtyard. "The Headmaster is asking for you."

Khol held him a bit tighter, and Zhai only returned it. "He's probably just wants me to instruct the children." The red one said, and the silver loosened his embrace. "I'll be back in a few minutes." And the smaller one glided down and entered the Headmasters den.

The den was quite large. Able to fit several units of men to do forms under his watch. For the moment, it was empty, and the dragon made his way to the back balcony. There, the headmaster sat in wait with his tea. "You wanted to see me master?" The dragon laid across from him.

"Yes." His raspy voice said. He was nearly eighty years of age now, but was somehow still fit, and strong as an Ox. "Sire, I've had some visitors today. From the west."

"Yes, I seen them several times. Even... Spoke with one."

"What did he tell you?"

The dragon took a deep breath. "He said... There was an army building in the southwest. One that was a threat to the entire land. He said that they were here to look into strategy to get around their defenses: A wall of mountains with very few passageways through it."

As the Headmaster took a small drink of his tea, he took a breath. "Ah, so you know then... Dragon, why are you still here?"


"You've yet to tell us much about you and your past. Though I know it is not a dragon's way to pry upon such things, and I've not asked a thing of you. But the reason why I let you stay here, despite the fears of the people here, was because of my ancestor. He was a traveler in his younger days, often going to the far southwest, even when it was being ruled by a dragon." Zhai fought to keep himself composed. "At the time, people here were in fear of dragons. But it was he who reached out to one. To find that they were not the monsters we thought of them." Another drink of his tea. "I want you to be honest with me, Red one. Are you that dragon?"

Zhaiothe took a shaky breath. "...Yes."

"Then why are you still here?" The red one gave his master a worried look. "Your home has been captured by the enemy. You are needed there, to extinguish that threat."

"I... Just don't want to fight anymore." The dragon replied. It sounded so pathetic to him out loud.

"Sire, nothing is gained with inaction. If you do not fight, you will only loose another home." He took another drink of his tea. "You must fight viciously, until the day you can rest calm. Now leave, the land and its future need you."

"But... What about here?"

"What about here?" The headmaster said, rather playfully.

"I mean... What about the town, the people, the fields?"

"If you're asking about Tadaka-san's request, that field was for you. Or should I say, for the massive amount of rice you consume." The dragon's ears went low. "You eat enough for ten horses. And work the amount of one. We'll be glad to be rid of you." He smiled at him, to let the red one know he was joking. "Now go and reclaim your home, before I ban you from my monastery."

"Yes, headmaster." And the dragon got up to leave.

"Oh, one more thing, Sire." The dragon looked back at him. "It has been an honor to meet a legend, such as yourself. What you've become; I can feel Su Ying feeling nothing short of pride." The red one smiled, and nodded, then left. Passing one of the monks that often served the Headmaster.

"Master, do you want me to send a messenger to the visitors? To let them know the dragon is coming to help?"

"There is no need. I've already told them before they left." He smiled, as he took another drink.

As Zhai left the building invigored, he began to take to the air. Khol began to follow him as the dragon started to upsize to his natural length. The winds and clam sky greeted the two with a pleasant warmth as it fueled the new determination within the red dragon's heart. As he came over the town he and his mate stayed in for the past 5 years, Zhai circled it three times. Roaring in the sky. It was a roar that was a mix of sorrow and pride. A roar that his friends understood. It said: "Farewell. I must leave, and I must fight."

As Khol followed the red king's lead for a bit, and then flew beside him. The two of them nodded at each other, and took off into the distance.

For several hours they flew. Took a small break, then flew most of the night. They slept in the forest, as well had a session of solitary fun. The next morning, they took to the clear skies once again. Several hours later, Zhai took another destination for a small break. He downsized and landed on a large flat land that overlooked a village nearby. Almost hiding from its folk, the red one laid within the trees and forestry for a rest. Khol understood though, and followed him the best he could. With enough focus, Zhai spotted a man giving his son some archery lessons close to another forest near the village. The sight warmed, yet ached his heart at the same time. "How many times have you been here? At least once every 8 months or so?" Khol nudged him. "Just go talk to him already. He'd be relieved to see you."

"He would, perhaps. But..." The red one took a deep breath. "He... Knows too much about me. He's seen me at my all, as have you. Still..."

"You can't bring yourself to do it. I understand. And he would as well, you realize that."

"It's not just about me though. Not anymore." The silver one gave him a puzzled look. "His wrath..." And the larger one exhaled in understanding. "If he knew... He would think it's his responsibility to hunt down every one of them." Zhai sighed and just watched them for a few minutes.

"He seems... Happy. Doesn't he?" Khol asked, as he laid down beside his mate.

"...Yes. I guess he finally settled down." Zhai leaned into the silver arms. "...I want that." The silver one tilted his head at the smaller dragon. "What he has. A place to call home. A place to rest and be free. I want it again. Even if it means allying with the children and rebuilding my lands from scratch... I want it." A few soft licks were felt on his red neck, then a slight nibble on his ear. Zhai looked at him for a moment. "Here? Really?"

"Why not? The visitors won't reach Alzallion for another few days. We can take our time to get there." Khol replied with those bouncing eyebrows.

"I just don't want to be heard. Let's move a bit farther west first." The silver one overdramatically tossed his snout, only to receive a lick when it returned. Together, the two once again took to the skies for a few minutes, and landed for a few hours of rest.

A few days later, the dragons reached the country of Alzallion. But still before the Monastery visitors had returned. As the two came in sights of the capital kingdom, Zhai began to descend early and walk the rest of the way. Khol landed soon beside him. "It's been a while, hasn't it?" The silver one asked, his voice sounded a bit worried.

The red king took a small sigh. "It has. Nearly seven or eight years."

"It feels longer."

"It has been for us. But yes, back then the years went by like days. Now they definitely seem... Slower. Almost as if time itself had been ill."

"Are you... Okay?" Zhai looked at his mate for a moment. "You've always disliked Alzallion. I can't say I blame you, but... I just want to make sure you're okay with this."

"I..." He sighed again, as he turned away. "I don't want to ally with the children. But I don't want to attempt this on my own. I still don't like Alzallion, but if my chances of regaining my lands is greater with an alliance, then I'll take it." A lick on the red one's neck made him face his silver mate, with a sad smile over his muzzle.

"Just try to behave yourself this time. Don't explode in front of their leader again, or else you might end up starting a war before you get your country back." Khol nudged him, only to hear a small growl.

~"I'll... Try." Zhai lightly tossed his snout as he approached the large gate of the citadel. ~"But they're a very paranoid species themselves. They better not start a war with me first."

As the red one stood outside the gates, one of the guards above it caught eye of the large beast. "D-dragon! There's a dragon outside the gate! Arm yourselves!"

~"Your witness." Zhai snorted. Only to be peppered with arrows shortly after. He shielded himself with his wings to cover his eyes, while his thicker back scales only absorbed any arrows that would be lethal. "Hey-Hey! STOP!" He roared at them. "I'm not here to attack your city! I'm here to assist it!"

The guards held their fire for a bit. "Do you think it's telling the truth?" As the dragon covered his face with his paw and loudly mumbled something about regretting his decision, the guards looked at each other for a moment. "Creature. What business do you have with the kingdom of Alzallion?"

"I told you, I've come to assist it with the armies to the west. You sent a few people to seek help and strategy to the monastery to the far east, that's where I'm from." The red one grumbled. Shaking the arrows out of his scales.

"We did let out a few people that were traveling east several weeks ago. Perhaps he's telling the truth?"

"In any case, a beast that size wouldn't need to try something funny. It could just fly in and set the castle on fire." The first guard said. "I'll escort it to the captain first, then we'll find out what he's after." The guard leaned forward toward the dragon on the otherside of the gate. "Dragon. I'm coming down to escort you to my captain. Stay where you are for now."

"Yes, yes. Do whatever makes you feel less frightened." Zhai grumbled as he sat on his haunches. ~"Honest to the Gods, I don't see why they must take fear in every little thing they come across."

"They're a species that is constantly at war with something. It's in their nature to be cautious, especially to something as threatening as you." Khol smiled at him.

~"Perhaps, but still. If I state that I'm an Ally, then I'm an Ally. I can see if it was one of their species the need to expect a ruse. But dragons just know better." The red one tossed his snout, while his mate chuckled.

"Maybe you should downsize yourself then. To make them feel safer around you."

~"And make me seem weaker to them?" Zhai snorted, curling his neck. The large gates to the city began to open.

"They would probably be more trusting. Most species fear what's bigger than them, and alot are afraid of what they don't know. Besides, it wouldn't hurt to try."

~"Unless they somehow knock me out and bind me for another hundred and fifty years." The red one's ears went back, but his anger wasn't directed at his mate. Khol put a paw on his right shoulder.

"You're not alone anymore. I won't let them do anything to you if they become hostile." Zhai let out a sigh, and a faint nod as the guard stepped through, and overlooked the large red creature, his hand still on his hilt.

"Still untrusting, are you?" The dragon snorted.

"You can understand why I am. It's my job to question and be cautious of others. As well as worry about the safety of my city." The guard replied.

"That's a better answer than I expected." The red one said, as he raised from his haunches, and began to shrink himself. Stopping at about four feet tall, and about 6 and a half long. "Does this make you more trusting of me?"

The guard looked at him strangely. "How did you...?"

"I'm a dragon. We're magnificent like that." Zhai boasted, as he walked towards the guard. "Shall we?"

"...Yes. Alright." And the guard walked beside the creature while they made their way into the city.

It was a busy day within Alzallion. The streets were quite crowded and filled with people. As the guard often kept a watch on his surroundings, he also kept an eye on the dragon. Making sure it wasn't doing anything funny. As it turns out, the creature was overlooking the city as if it noticed how much it changed. "Have you been in Alzallion before?"

"Once, a long time ago. Back when someone was trying to rebel against the crown. I assisted in the west defense, but at that time there was nothing within the walls." Zhai explained. It actually surprised the guard. "I never noticed how big of a marketplace you had here."

"Yes, this is the biggest marketplace in all the land. You can often find very rare items here. Many people from all over the land often come to get sales or search for specific things. I can't say we've ever had a dragon come though."

"That's because there's none left. None that I've seen anyway." His statement was a bit cold, but it was his country that was to blame for his tribes extinction. He took a deep breath before lashing out further on the human. After all, it wasn't his fault that such a thing happened. Khol smiled sadly at him, happy that Zhai took that higher road in not blaming the guard. Then his attention drew off into the distance sharply, perking his ears up a bit. The silver dragon began to wander off away from his mate. ~"Where are you going?"

"I see an old friend, I'm just going to say hello. I won't be too long, but you should probably turn your collar on before you pass out." Khol smiled at him, and went off.

Zhaiothe sighed loudly. "What is wrong?" The guard studied him for a moment.

The dragon looked at him, and at his mate getting farther away from him. It seemed every step he took began to put more and more weight on Zhai's stamina. "Nothing. I thought I seen someone I knew, but I was mistaken." He replied to the guard. Another breath and the red one activated his collar, while the guard gave the dragon a sharp look. "...It's a medical thing."

"Sure it is." The guard replied coldly, losing trust in Zhai with every action the dragon made. "The Captain should be in this building. She'll know what to think of you."

"She?" The red one double taked, and instantly he knew who it was. His heart felt the cross between fluttered and heavy as he followed the guard inside.

"Captain. I've delivered a rather suspicious character to you. It says it's here to help us against the army to the west, but it's been acting... Oddly." The guard explained.

"Fair enough. I'll interrogate the suspect." The woman entered the room looking at some papers. She barely took a look at the dragon, and double taked, almost losing her breath. "It's alright Simmions. We can trust this dragon."

The guard looked at her for a moment. "Are you sure?" The woman gave a solid nod. "Alright then. I'll return to my post." And he left.

"It's been a long time, Captain." Zhai smiled a bit sadly at her.

"Please Sire, you can call me Irone." She smiled sadly back at him. "We all thought you... died."

The dragon let out a breath. He could feel Khol interacting with the world a bit more, and it was draining him. "I barely managed to survive. I'm honestly not sure how."

"Are you okay?" She put the papers down on the table as she started her way beside him.

"Yes. Silverthorn is just mingling, and the more he does, the more drained I get. Doesn't help that he's quite far away at the moment." Zhai said, as he picked a spot out of the doorway and laid down. "I'll be fine. I just need to lay down for a bit. It's been a long trip."

"Where did you come from?" Irone asked, taking a seat.

"From the far east. I had an old friend a long time ago that was from the monastery there. The way he talked about it, it seemed like a good place for a home."

"What happened to you after that bomb though? In the castle on the lake?"

Zhai took a moment to collect his thoughts. "...We tried to disarm the bomb, but the best Silverthorn could do was lower the blast. It was made to wipe out the entire land of every species except orcs. Allowing them to be the dominate race of the world. He narrowed it down to the castle itself, but that's all he could do. After Silverthorn did that, we didn't have enough time to escape... The bomb sent us far north, where a group of mages rescued us. It took us a while to recover, and when we did, it seemed like there was no more to the orc threat."

"Yes. That castle event ended it for quite a while. But one of our merchants tried to take a shortcut through the mountains to the west a few months ago, and spotted several units of these black orcs. After looking more into it, we discovered the entire army. It doesn't look too good for any of us right now." Irone said. She leaned forward and stroked his mane. "I'm really glad you're here. Alive even."

Before he could get lost in the strokes of his old friend, Zhai resisted purring. "Did everyone make it out al..." And he was overwhelmed. Leaning into the hand that made him feel comfortable.

"Yes, we did. The blast was huge, but we all got cover behind a large rock. We gave a report that the Orc threat was eliminated. After that, Exodus went their separate ways. Tong looked after the woman that we rescued, and they grew to really like each other. To the point where they got married, and moved to a quiet village to the northeast. Ingkelus and Railley went on into a mercenary group, but they've kept the soul of what you made in Exodus in their work. I think they're trying to pass it on to the others that they meet. Grinn returned to the south, back to his home. I haven't heard from him since. And I obviously came back here." She smiled at the dragon, completely lost in her hands.

"What... About... You?" Zhai tried to speak over his purrs. Only to lean more into Irone.

"I told you, I came back to my home. And as you probably noticed, they let me take a job as captain instead of knight. It was my choice really."

"I mean... Gods that feels good... Have you... met... someone?"

"I've dated a few people, now that I feel unattached with my work. But... No one really stuck out so far. I've even taken a few to bed. As wonderful as your gift was, Sire, I honestly think it ruined me. I never found anyone else that could satisfy me as well as you did. And It's doubtful I ever will." She smiled at him.

"I'm... Sorry." His ears dropped a bit, but he was still lost within his purrs.

"Don't be. I was sad at first, because we all thought we lost you. I just need to lower my expectations of men from now on. But now that you're alive..." She rubbed his ear a bit, and it began to turn purple.

"...N-now?" The dragon felt a little embarrassed.

"Not right now. But sometime, could you?"

Zhai smiled at her. "Sure. But for now can I just rest?"

The silver dragon was walking though the sea of people. Although usually alot more thoughtful about 'stepping' on others, there was just not enough room in the crowded road. Though he was thankful to be a ghost, and the most harm he could do to them without trying is give them an eerie shiver.

Up on the wall of the citadel, Khol could see him. Probably having lunch after the morning's duty. The dragon took a short climb to where he was, got very close to him, and gave the human male a wet lick on the back of his bare neck. Only to spook him and see him cringe. "Honestly, who does that to people!?" He yelled at the dragon with his mouth full of food. Only to get Khol laughing out loud.

"It's been a long time, how've you been Byrin?" The silver dragon laid down.

"It's Allison now, and it has been a while, Ghostly gay dragon that I can't remember the name of." Another chuckle from the larger one. "Laughing doesn't help." He took another bite out of his lunch.

"It's a bit hurtful that you don't remember. I'll give you a hint though, It starts with K and it rhymes with Whole."

"Khol?" The dragon gave a nod. "Yeah, it's been a while. How long exactly? The calendar seems a bit different in this era."

"Only about five years." Khol thought back. "How are you making out here?"

"Been doing rather well actually. Much better than where I was."

The dragon's ears went a bit low. "You don't miss your own time?"

The man shrugged. "A few things. Electricity, The Unguided, Buffalo Wings."

Khol's head tilted and his ears perked. "Buffalo in your era could fly?" Allison laughed at him.

"Nah, it was just a style of chicken wings." The silver one's expression only tilted the other direction. "A type of food." And the dragon did a large nod. "But overall it's worth it. I feel like I have a life here, more fit to my virtues."

"But how did you end up in Alzallion?"

"It was one of the only areas that had work, to be honest. I wanted to get into military, and well, I became a guard here. Although, at the time I didn't realize it would be very boring." Khol chuckled at him. "But don't tell anyone here I'm from the future. No one knows that yet, I'd rather keep it that way."

"Hence the name change, okay. Consider my invisible muzzle shut." The silver one smiled at him.

"Alright, your turn. What are you doing here? I thought you guys left to the south."

"We did for a while, searching for other dragons. But no luck. Eventually we settled to the far east, in a monastery. It was quiet and peaceful for the years, but..." Allison motioned for him to go on. "That large army to the west, it is Sire's old land. Our old home. When he heard about it being overrun by these hybrid orcs..." The dragon sighed.

"He wanted to retake them?" Khol nodded. "But he can't do it alone, which is why he came here. At least he isn't an idiot and tried to do it on his own."

"Believe me, he wanted to. I don't blame him, Alzallion hasn't been to kind to us. To ally with them, I can tell it irks him."

"I won't pry. It's not the place to really. But even so, would he be enough? I know he's pretty big, but size isn't everything."

"He can handle himself. Sire has done some impressive things on his own, and he always has his blood magics, if it resorts to that. That's not to say that I'm not worried. He doesn't want to fight, and I really don't want him to. Not again. He's barely made it out alive everytime he fights something like this." The silver dragon lowered his head, and Allison put a hand on it, trying to comfort him.

"He won't be alone though. And if we and do this smartly, as well as with the help of everyone, we can survive this."

"I hope so." Khol smiled sadly.

"Alright, I gotta get back to my post. I'll talk to you later Khol."

"Okay, I best get back to Sire anyway. It drains him when I'm too far from him." The dragon gave him another lick for goodbye, and the two went separate ways.

Chapter 7

It was dusk when Irone and Zhaiothe went to the courtyard. "Your shifts for the mornings are already posted, and everything is laid out for you guys." She explained to a few guards that were walking beside them, carrying a bedroll and a small bag of supplies. "Me and the dragon are going to spend the night outside. When it turns dark enough, we'll take to the skies and scout with the veil of darkness. That way our presence will less likely be detected by the enemies."

"But sir, how are you going to see anything in the dark?" A guard asked her.

"Dragons can see clearly in the night." Zhai snorted.

"That, and odds are they'll have the garrisons lit. They don't know that we have a dragon here, they won't be looking to the skies for anything." The guards looked concerned for their captain. "I'll be fine. He's an old friend anyway. I trust him, just like he trusted me to guard his back years ago."

"How exactly are you going to ride... That?" The question was bad in timing, whereas in the courtyard the dragon had alot of space to upsize to his near normal height.

Irone threw the bag of supplies on the dragon, and tossed the bedroll up there as well. "I'll be back tomorrow around noon to report our findings. Wait for our return until then. And no more shooting arrows at him. They don't do much anyway, understand?" The guards saluted and left as the woman climbed the dragon.

"Tell me when."

"Go easy, I have never ridden you before. What exactly am I supposed to hang onto?"

"My mane should be enough-!" The dragon grunted at the sudden tight pull of his spines. "This is why no one rides me." He muttered.

"Relax. I want to make sure I don't fall off. Alright, everything's tied down here, ready when you are." Irone braced hard as the dragon jumped heavily into the air and took off. The skies were a bit cloudy, but great for a test flight. Though her heart was racing, Irone did her best not to scream at the raw power of the dragon's wings. Although excited, Flight herself greeted the woman with warmth, the same way she always greeted the dragons as they sored.

It was still light out when the dragon landed in a small opening within the forest of trees. As the woman dismounted him carefully, she set up a few things from her supply bag for a small fire. "Now why in the name of the Gods would you bring such a thing?" Zhai snorted at her, curling his neck as she laughed at his offended ego.

"Because some of the boys packed this for me, and forgot you were a fire breathing beast. Besides, I'd rather trust the flint to your breath. You might try to overdo it and set fire to this forest, bringing this entire scout mission to a halt."

"I'd do no such thing." The red one tossed his head, laying down. "Besides, I learned that lesson when I was a hatchling."

"I'm sure you did." She smiled at him. Almost blushing a bit as she got the fire going. The odd look puzzled the dragon. "There's a reason why I wanted to leave early..."

"...Right. You want another session, correct?" Zhai exhaled a bit nervously.

"Yes. And it's for the best that we were completely alone. That way there's no distractions."

"About that alone part..." The red one's ears turned a bit purple, causing her to question and study the dragon. It was then she noticed, his collar wasn't on.

"Oh... Is Silverthorn...?" The dragon nodded. "...How would he feel about us...?"

"He would probably enjoy the show, but I'd feel bad if he was left out." The red one couldn't help but smile a bit. "Instead of having a session with one dragon, how would you feel about two?"

Irone smiled, but covered her mouth. "Sure. But I'm leading." It wasn't the answer the dragon was expecting. "Now shrink yourself while I get undressed." She started taking off her footwear, as the dragon leaned up against a large mossy rock, downsizing himself to about five feet tall.

"No longer nervous about sheading your clothing in front of another?" He said, trying to tease her a bit.

"Should she be?" Khol asked, coming behind the rock, and giving his mate a few licks.

"You should've seen how nervous she was before. She didn't want me to even see her undergarments." The red one said, giving his silver mate a wink.

"That's enough you two." She playfully scolded. Taking a deep breath, and pulling down her trousers. The dragons could smell the excitement from the few feet away, as Zhai's sheath began to swell. The woman stripped off every item of clothing she had on. She walked towards the smaller red dragon laying on his back, and stroked that spineful mane. Giving the smaller one a tongueful kiss while the silver one activated the collar. "Are you ready?"

Zhai nodded, stroking the jaw of his mate. "Just about." Irone smiled at him as she started to crawl further down the dragon's body. Taking the time to study his underside. From the thick plates that seemed to be less glossy than before, to the firm muscles that were felt under his scales. Though the dragon was reduced in size, he wasn't reduced in age. And when the woman got to the dragon's hind legs, she noticed the difference in his development over the years. The red one's stones were much larger and thicker. Almost firm themselves, yet felt rather full compared to her first encounter with him. As for that tool, barely peeking out of the red sheath, it seemed to have this strength within it.

The silver dragon started to walk behind the exploring female, aiming for her own sex. Though it's been a while since Khol had kept with his studies, he remembered the human body rather well. He laid before it, taking a soft paw to her lower cheek. Softly stroking her back and sides. The interaction, as well as the excitement, got the red one to breathe deeper and heavier, as his mate began his own exploration of the female. Starting with a few licks to her legs.

Irone gasped at the first touch of the tongue. Though it felt softer than the one she was introduced to, she missed that feeling so. But this session wasn't about her. She took a few deep breaths over the purple shaft in front of her, ever growing larger by the moment, and gave it a first lick around the bottom spines. Causing the dragon to moan a bit. "Guys..." She said, barely keeping herself from moaning. "This session is about pleasure and fun, but keep in mind that we are on a mission not to be detected. Let's just try not to be too loud." Another deep breath, and she slowly placed the red dragon's tool in her mouth. Zhai shut his muzzle tightly as he moaned through it, enjoying the rather tight feeling. Her large tongue wasn't as graceful as Khol's was, but it had this strange texture to it that the dragon was not used to. It tickled the spines on the dragon's tool with every little movement, causing him to dig his claws into the ground.

Meanwhile, Khol had patrolled the woman's legs and back with his tongue, and now was the time to move forward. He leaned in a bit closer to her sex, and softly licked it. Getting a muffled moan out of the female. Then went inside a bit with his lavender tongue, slowly squeezing it inside, again getting a large reaction out of her. Receiving the faint taste of her excitement within. The penetration caused her to pull the red one's shaft out of her mouth for a moment, and she licked at his ridges. "Easy on those." Zhai gasped, nearly shooting out a jolt of pre with the exotic touch. With that, she returned to the head of the tool.

Several minutes went by as they kept at it. Khol working on Irone, and Irone working on Zhaiothe. As Khol sped up a bit, it started to get to the female. Causing her to faintly squeeze that tongue once in a while. Progressively squeezing harder and more frequently, until all at once that excitement filled her, and she shot out the purple tongue with wetness. The silver one chuckled at her a bit, and started to lick her clean. Stroking the red dragon's tool a bit, she stopped and got up for a moment. "Okay, Silverthorn: you lay in Sire's spot, on your back." The dragons followed her directions, as she got a closer look to Khol's lower areas. "He doesn't have...?"

"No, he doesn't. But he'll work just the same. Maybe a bit harder to get off." Zhai smiled at him, licking his hamstring and getting a purr out of the larger one.

As Irone rested her breasts on the silver dragon's ridges, she stroked the larger shaft before her. "Alright, Sire: you get behind me. You'll have to mount me standing up." The red one whimpered a bit, but didn't argue. He stood up, and walked behind the woman.

"I'll try to keep myself up, but this collar makes me heavy." He stated, as he searched below for her wet opening. It was that pointed tip that got the woman excited once again. For years, she's wanted this, and the excitement was really getting to her. That slow press, and forceful head pushing her lower lips apart felt just amazing. She almost moaned too loudly as she squeezed the larger purple tower between her breasts and in her hands. Zhai carefully moved in and out of her, letting Irone enjoy herself. Although it felt a little tight at first, she seemed to adapt to the purple intruder, squeezing it from time to time.

After a few minutes, the smaller dragon began to move in and out faster. Causing the woman's body to start moving with every thrust, and that in turn started pleasuring Khol. Her large soft breasts brushing against his ridges were almost too much for him, and the strokes from her hands nearly put him over the edge. A few more minutes, and Zhai went in deeper, reaching that first ridge and nearly collapsing from the wave of pleasure it brought with it. Along with the few squeezes from Irone's lower lips. A couple of thrusts cued a spray of pre inside the woman, making her warm inside.

The excitement got the best of the smaller two as they gave into their instincts. Riding harder and harder into each other, while giving blissful moments to the silver one. As the red dragon's sheath started touching the female's sex, he began to take more forceful steps into her. Getting as deep inside as possible. Though he wanted to make it last for Irone, Zhai couldn't control himself when she was squeezing his ridges. It was very soon he reached his point of no return, and started hammering into the human woman. She enjoyed every thrust inside of her, as she reached another climax. Only to be flooded with warmth and pressure soon after. When the pressure got too much for the two, Zhai forced a dismount, and sprayed the rest onto his mate's tailhole. Several loads after, the two laid down for a few minutes.

"Gods, that was amazing..." Irone said, as she could feel that warmth drain from her. "Let me take a break. Silverthorn, do you mount Sire at all?"

"At times, yes. You want me to?"

"Yes, I would actually enjoy seeing that." She said smiling deviously.

Zhai's neck curled to an S. "Why is it that everyone likes to see me get it in the tailhole?" He complained, but still upsized himself and laid down for his mate.

"Because you're magnificent like that." Khol teased him, giving him a few kisses as he felt for the red one's lower area. Irone got up for a closer look at the lower end. The two dragons got lost in each other's lips for a while, and then the silver one began to prod Zhai's tailhole a bit. Getting those whimpers of pleasure once again from the larger dragon. The female watched intently as the purple tool began to very slowly open the small hole wider and wider, getting her excited once again.

Little by little, Khol pushed in ever so slightly, and then back out. Getting the most out of his mate. After quite a while, the silver one got his lower head fully inside the red dragon, getting those moans once again. The two laid there, stroking each other and enjoying such a moment, until Khol started moving slowly once again. "You guys really take your time with this, don't you?" Irone commented. "Is it that dangerous for you to do this?"

"No." Zhai managed to get out between breaths. Getting slightly out of his engagement, whereas Khol was submerged in his. "It's just typical of other species to try to mate as fast as possible. We try to make it last, like a gift should be treated."

The woman smiled at him, barely taking her eyes off of their act of love. "There's that word again. Gift."

"It's what it should be. It's what it feels like, other than amazing." That time, Khol let out a chuckle at Zhai's comment. Only to enter deeper and take his breath away for a moment.

"How long do you usually go for?"

"Between forty-five minutes, to maybe six hours." Zhai moaned.

"Six hours!?"

"That's between both of us though, and taking a small break in-between."

"Still, that's a very long time."

"Not our longest, I'm afraid." The two whimpered, Khol reaching his first ridge.

"What's your longest time?" Irone asked, taking a drink.

"About 28 hours." The woman choked. "It was pretty much straight-" Another moan. "And we wanted to see how long we could go for. Bartan wanted us to often test my stamina pool, and so we went to my limit."

"Sleeping for about 4 days after it." Khol managed to get out. Whimpering over the red one's flexed bicep. After confirmation, the silver dragon bit the muscle hard, and released a small load into the red one. The two purred loudly.

"Still, that's just ridiculous."

"How long does your kind last?"

"About twenty minutes." Both Irone and Khol answered. The woman giving an odd look at the silver one's rather accurate answer.

"He used to study chil-" Another interruption of bliss. "But we understand. It's almost dark. Silverthorn, how close are you?" The muffled roar answered him. "He won't be too much longer. But let's hurry up a bit." Zhai began to stroke the back of his neck harder, and then suddenly bit it rather violently, getting a rather startled reaction out of the woman and another muffled roar out of the silver dragon. After he released his jaws, Khol began to thrust a bit faster inside the red one. Getting more and more moans and whimpers out of the two.

After a few more minutes of climbing thrusts, the silver one began to take steps forward, plunging his purple tool deeper into Zhai's tailhole. The red one slightly rotated himself towards Irone. "Come over here." And she did. "Place your hands on my belly, just above my sheath." And she did what she was instructed. "Wait for it... He's almost there..." She could feel a little bit of warmth off of his scales from his body and the friction, but it wasn't until the silver dragon completely stopped that she felt it. A large amount of warmth within the scales, as Khol's seed began to fill Zhai up. Before long, the red one began to grunt a bit, and Irone started to see it. The pressure of Silverthorn's release began to bulge out of Sire's lower belly. As it began to swell up and get a bit tighter, Zhai began to exhale heavily and grunt a bit loudly. His belly began to round a bit, stretching nearly to its limit before Zhai tapped on his mate, motioning Khol to forcefully pull out and spray the rest of the silver one's load over his lower end. The two collapsed breathless.

"Good Gods..." Irone whispered, feeling the red one's swollen belly as it began to deflate.

"That took about four years of constant practice to do, and I still can't take his full load. Not to mention that was a quick one. He usually holds more." Zhai smiled at his breathless mate, just now going into his afterglow slumber. Then laughed at Irone's expression. "I know, for a male without stones, it's quite the stud." The red dragon started to set up, feeling the warm seed quickly drain out of him. "Enjoy yourself?"

"Yes, but... How is it that you're still awake? The collar?" The dragon nodded. "So you can have multiple releases then?"

Zhai tossed his head. "Yes, don't get him started on those. He likes to milk me until I beg him to stop-" A sudden grip over the dragon's ridges interrupted him. "I've gotta stop telling people this." He hissed, as the woman began to roughly stroke the dragon's large tower. "Just not so rough! Ease up a bit." He instructed as she paralyzed him with those pleasure waves. It only took about a minute of stroking to get the dragon to whimper loudly, and feel the large torrents of white force itself through the purple tower. Releasing its sprays towards the dragon's head. Although jerking his body from the release itself, Zhai still tried to catch the flying streams with his mouth, causing the woman to laugh at him. "Satisfied?" He asked between breaths.

"A little more, yes. But after seeing you two go at it, I want another ride." She smiled at him, only to laugh again at him tossing his head. She felt the dragon's sack only to clarify that it was still quite full. "You still have some ammo left. Come on, shrink yourself again."

Zhai sighed at her, but it was still getting dark out. They were to wait for a few more hours after dark before heading off again. "I won't be able to function without the collar being higher, and if it is, I can't hold myself over you for long."

"You're strong enough for that." She teased, playing with his stones a bit to convince him.

"Not when I'm climaxing." The dragon growled. "It's difficult to concentrate when a male releases."

"Hmm." Irone thought a bit. "What if I was on top then? Would the collar put weight on me too?"

"Well, no but..." The dragon admitted and gave it a bit of thought. He could fit entirely inside her when he's smaller, so he probably wouldn't hurt her that way. "Fine, but last time tonight. We still need to wash up." The woman smiled at him and started to climb him a bit. Zhai sighed a bit, increased the regeneration of his collar while pinning him to the ground, and began to downsize himself. Only to see Irone with that Excited Idea look again.

"What about that size changing thing?"

"What about it?" The dragon curled his neck the best he could.

"Can you only do it in large spurts? Or are you precise with it?"

The red one's ears went back. "I can control it quite freely, but it takes some concentration. What are you getting at?"

"I want to see how much I can take." Again with that smile.

"Irone, no." The dragon bluntly said, only to have her mock his snout tossing. "It's too dangerous to do anything like that. I don't want to hurt you, especially like that."

"I'll be fine, besides, I'll tell you when it's too much. You just need to go slowly." Zhai growled at her idea. "Please? We'll be careful."

"You realize what you're asking. If you do this, no man will ever be able to satisfy you anymore."

"No man has yet to satisfy me. Only a dragon has." She smiled, feeding his ego, but watching as his ears turned a little purple. "It's my decision, I want this."

The dragon sighed. "We go very very slowly, and very very carefully. If you feel even a pinch of pain, you tell me to stop. Understood?" She smiled brightly at him, getting that excitement back. (I'm going to regret this...) The dragon thought once again.

Irone stroked the dragon's tool once again until it was fully erect, then began to slowly slip it into her sex. She felt the shape of it from inside her, and she cherished that feeling. Although it was a bit awkward to ride it when the dragon's tool was naturally pointed towards his head, she could still slip it in and out thanks to the last release on Zhai's body. For a few moments, she just enjoyed that feeling once again. "Okay, a little bigger." The dragon gave a worried look, and then swallowed. Concentrating, he began to upsize slowly by the inch, and Irone could feel his shaft's increasing volume from inside. It felt so amazing, that she rode it slowly for a few minutes.

It didn't take too much longer for her to start squeezing the large tool, and get the dragon grunting. After a few more minutes of faster pace grinds, the woman felt comfortable with its new size. "A bit bigger." Another concerned grunt, but the dragon obeyed. Slowly upsizing himself a bit more and getting that tool a bit bigger inside the female's sex. The fleshy spines roughly tickled the inside walls of her vagina as they brushed up and down to Irone's movements. Her breaths got away with her, as did her moans. Riding the creature a bit harder as she started squeezing again. A bit more and she came over the large tower. Letting her slip up and down a bit easier.

Once again comfortable, but not quite done, she grinded a bit. "Bigger." She moaned. Getting a whimper from Zhai once again. With the constant squeezing on his ridges, he was having a hard time to concentrate. But he began to once again increase his size, letting his mating tool begin to reach that inner wall of Irone's and start pushing against the walls of her sex instead. It was nearly too much for her, and she moaned loudly as she squeezed the shaft very tight. Making Zhai loose concentration, and upsize a bit too much. His tool stretched the woman's sex to its limit, to the point where she couldn't move. Completely submerged into bliss, all she could do was moan and breathe loudly. The sheer shape of the shaft was enough to get her squeezing rapidly, nearly climaxing once again over it.

It was the squeezing that kept Zhai from focusing. Everytime he tried to downsize, that large squeeze on his ridges broke his concentration. Over and over he kept at it, only to feel that point of no return once again. His heart skipped a beat, releasing at this size and pressure would probably do some harmful damage to his friend, and he began concentrating again. Trying to downsize, but got interrupted. Another attempt, another squeeze to break his focus. "Irone!" He shouted. "Stop squeezing! I can't concentrate!" But the dragon's words could not be heard over the woman's orgasms.

All at once, Zhai felt the pressure in his shaft, as it began to thicken with his seed. Trying to get his mind back onto his magics, he couldn't do it. As he seen the woman's lower belly began to swell from the pressure, he had only one more resort. "KHOL!" He shouted, causing the silver dragon, to shoot upward and look around. Seeing Irone on top of him. "Get her off! Quickly!"

Khol didn't waste any time, he scampered up and got his paws under the female's legs, then pulled forcefully, only to see streams of white spray over the three. As the other two caught their breaths, the silver one looked at them. "What exactly did I miss?"

"Another experiment gone badly." Zhai grunted, soaking up the energy the collar was giving him. The block in pressure still hurting his lower area, and his tower almost feeling numb from the constant squeezes.

When the woman caught her breath, she smiled at the red one sadly. "Thank you, but I'm sorry." She stroked his mane. "If it helps, it felt amazing."

"For you maybe." He tossed his head. "No more of that. Not until you can learn to control yourself." Irone nodded in agreement. Realizing now that perhaps what they were doing could be dangerous. Still, as long as she didn't go down that road again, she could still have her sessions with the two. And the sessions were enough. "Now, let's get cleaned, then rest for a few hours. We'll scout after that."


Arc 1 Year: 14639


Chapter 8

The large steps still had that pearl look to them, but were somehow more tarnished. Not just with age, but what almost looked like Corruption to the large silver dragon. Going up them seemed so surreal, like a strange dream that was beginning to turn into a nightmare. He wanted to turn back, this fear in his heart warned him, to the point where his paws froze in place.

It wasn't until that black paw on his shoulder banished that fear, and those purple eyes gave him a little courage. Though silent, they spoke. "Don't back down now, Kresskre." They said to him without words. But still, a shaky sigh trembled out of his throat and the black one growled at him. "...I-I don't think I can do this."

"You don't have a choice, if you want to save that other world down there." Haytre grunted. His arrogant strength seemed to be rather gifting, regardless of how unkind it always seemed. Ziik's old friend was always bitter, but behind that he held such strength that only carried onto others. It's why he always liked him... Perhaps even- "Stop thinking so much. Just move forward. Trying to think of every possibility, and how to react to them, will not help you right now in the least. Now keep going." The silver one gave a sad smile at him, which puzzled the black one. "What is it?"

"It's just... Even after fifteen hundred years, it's like you still know me. You've remembered how I often... Get ahead of myself."

The black one lightly tossed his snout. "Yeah, well... Let's just say you haven't really left my mind. Regardless, now's not the time for memories. We need to find out what's going on here, and how to stop it." The silver one gave him a soft lick, and Haytre lightly held the other side of the larger one's jaw. "I have a bad feeling about all this, Ziik. Watch yourself."

"I'll be careful." And the two went up the long stairway. It was opened, as if the palace were built out of the sky itself, hovering above the clouds like a fortress. It was Ziik's old home. A mountain made of pearl that held the living quarters of all the immortals. But it seemed ill since he last left it. And a little bit of that fear returned.

When they reached the top, there were several piles of large crystals in the lobby of the palace. When the dragons approached, they began to form into golems, possessed by a specter of some sort. The black one growled at them, preparing for a fight. "Halt! You are not welcomed here. Leave at once, or expect hostility, mortals!"

"We are not mortals. We've come to investigate the meaning of-" The black one hissed, only to be interrupted by a warning slash from the golem.

"This is your last warning. Leave!"

"Stand down!" A voice came from inside the palace, and the golems stopped. A red, anthropomorphic hound entered the room. Though a bit short, he was quite stocky. Wearing a heavy breastplate and some plate armor on his legs. The symbols on his chest indicated he was a type of general. "Lord Ziikrhi'd?"

"Jirrhyharra?" The silver one asked in surprise. "You're still alive?"

"I could ask the same thing about you. We were all told by Galore that you've passed. Leaving your siblings in your place." It was then that the silver dragon slightly studied the large scar on his chest with his paws, and the Hound sighed. "...I see. It was true then. But how are you still in this plane of existence?"

"I'm not sure, I was sent into the mortal's world after..."

Jirrhy nodded. "Archons. You may let this one pass, he was here before you were created. I will take care of him from here on out." He then studied the black dragon. "And this one?"

"H-he is my... Mate." Haytre's ears went back at Ziik's description, but he didn't argue.

"Very well, he may pass as well. Good work Archons. Resume your posts." And the golems collapsed once again into piles. "Come this way. Galore would enjoy seeing you." And Jirrhy lead the two further into the palace.

"What happened here, Jirrhyharra? It looks like the palace has been... Infected." Ziik asked.

"Your two spawns have done alot of damage. And nearly took out every immortal within their conflict. Until one of them remained. And since then, the palace has been tainted. I think it was from the Incur [Immortal's/God's Blood] that was spilled, but we cannot be sure."

"Yet you survived the conflict?" The black one snorted, only to get a glare out of the Hound Archon.

"I am considered a General for a reason, dragon. I've fought many wars, and survived countless deaths. I've lead the guard of this palace at a very young age, and still continue to do so now, with loyalty. I've learned how to survive, because I needed to."

"You were always there whenever one of us needed you, Jirrhyharra. But right now, I fear that something has gone wrong. Shroud here was sent by another because this palace is in danger." Ziik explained.

"...I believe you are correct." The red Hound sighed and whispered, as he lead on deeper into the palace.

Throughout the small tour, memories were flooded in the silver dragon's mind. Good ones socializing with the other immortals, and having conversations about their mortal children. Awkward ones about the large dragon trying to fit in, and being taken under Galore's metaphorical wing. And then the hall towards his older home. "Can we...?" The silver one couldn't help but stare at the large doors. "Please?" The hound looked at him with a bit of pain and loss in his eyes, and then nodded. The three went to the large door, and Haytre looked at him. "This is where I used to live... With..." His heart sank.

"Yes, with Kholryik. That companion of yours." Ziik looked at the black one with a bit of surprise. "You talked about him an awful lot, don't you remember?"

"...Somewhat. I'm just surprised that you remembered his name." He smiled at Haytre. "But I don't think I can-" The black one tossed his snout and shoved opened the door for him. Causing the silver one to gasp a bit, and slowly look into his old gardens.

The trees and plant life had nearly withered away. The water seemed to have this tint of yellow and sickness within it, staining everything the liquid touched. The grass felt dried and crackled with every little movement that was made. "I want to say it had better days." Haytre said, half sarcastically.

The room left alot of pain within the larger dragon's heart. Looking around desperately for any signs of movement or life still within the room. He knew what he was hoping for, and how foolish it was to think he'd still be here. A few tears fell from his eyes when he seen Jirrhy's expression, the same one he used to wear when one of his own comrades passed to the outerplanes. "We never seen much of him to begin with." The hound said. "But we knew he looked like you. After your incident, no one seen him. I can only assume that he passed on with you, but..."

Ziik slowly laid down into the dead grass, trying to hold back his sobs. While the black one approached him, covering him in his wing and tried to hide the silver's sorrows. Haytre motioned the Archon to give them a few minutes, and the hound left the room. Closing the doors to keep the two in solitude. When the door clamped shut, the sound broke Ziik's will, and he completely collapsed within the arms of the black one. His emotions drained out onto the dried grass and dead soil, quenching a far neglected thirst they've nearly forgotten. "...This is why you don't raise your false hopes, Ziik." Haytre said. "It may help you get on for a while, but if you raise them too high, the shear collapse of it can nearly kill you."

"...I just... Wanted him to be alive. I wanted him to live in the world he so desperately studied. To be part of it, support it... Perhaps even to the point where he would fall in love with another. But..." The silver one cried. "He was more than just a companion... More than just a spine from my mane... He was my first real son. My first love. And the one I walked away from. Just to follow my foolish dreams and avarice to have more. And I killed him, by killing myself..."

"Stop it Ziik." Haytre said rather harshly. "Empty if you must, but stop bashing yourself. It won't fix anything, and it will only make you feel worse. Just stop talking, and cry." That last sentence was filled with more emotion than the rest, as the black dragon just held the other tighter. Stroking him through his whimpers and sobs for a while.

An hour later, the two exited the door to find Jirrhyharra patiently waiting for their return. "Are you alright, my Lord?" The hound asked with concern.

"...Y-yes. I'll be fine."

"The mortal world has changed you." The archon said sadly.

"That mortal world changes everyone." Haytre growled lowly as he went past them. Only to have the other two frown a bit at the black dragon. With a silent gesture, Ziik asked Jirrhy to lead the way to Galore.

Further up the long stairway, and closer to the source of the corruption the silver one could feel, the more his scarred heart started to race. It seemed that the once beautiful pearl home was now painted with a unhealthy dark green from the inside. It almost felt warmingly sick under the dragon's paws, and he swore he could hear it... Coughing in pain.

"Here we are." Jirrhy stopped in front of a large door, surprising the silver one. The source was coming from further into the palace. (It must be...) The dragon came to the conclusion that only hurt his heart more. As the archon opened the door to Galore's residence, Ziik held his breath.

The room was quiet. Opened and spacious. Almost how the silver one remembered it. Tapestries decorated the walls, as well as a few paintings and artistic pieces. The walls of the room felt a little less sick, but still ill like the rest of his old home. Within the center kneeled a human with medium black hair. He was in noble's robe, with a long rapier still sheathed in his arms. "Lord Galore. Someone requests and audience with you." Jirrhyharra bowed to him. Getting the relaxed attention of the orange eyed immortal. He held his breath for a moment when he seen Ziik.

"...Ziikrhi'd?" Galore studied him for a moment. "Very well. Thank you Jirrhyharra, you may leave us." The archon nodded slowly, and turned to leave. He met eye contact with Ziik once again, and was scooped up by the silver dragon. Held in the large one's arms one last time, before leaving the room.

"Thank you for everything, Jirrhy. I mean it." Ziik whispered, though everyone could hear it.

"It was my pleasure, my lord." The hound said, leaving the room once he was let go.

The room was silent for a few moments. "It's been a long time, old friend." Galore said, now standing up straight. "We all thought you've passed."

"Yes... I was sent to the mortal world instead." There was something odd about him, the dragon couldn't explain it. "Galore, what happened here? Why does the palace feel corrupted?"

The man exhaled. "You're underlings. They've caused alot of damage over the years with their rivalry. Trying to become the dominate god, while their species becomes the one to rule them all. In the process, they killed nearly everyone, including Ezeria. But now that I see you are alive, their ramblings make sense."

"Ramblings?" Haytre asked.

"Yes, they were constantly trying to win the affection and approval of their father. Following their given paths that Ziik had given them. After their creation, the two siblings created their own species: Efil'retfa, the creator of the High Elves. And Zarkfra, the creator of the Orcs."

"High Elves? Ezeria created the Elves, were they somehow connected?" Ziik's face painted with worry when he asked that.

"Efil was made from your affection of her. So yes, his mortal children were based off of hers."

"But I never even seen any High Elves."

"They were often hidden in the mortal world, much like Nymphs. But Zark demanded their extinction early on from his children. After finding this out, Efil tried to protect them. Hiding them in plain sight with the other species."

"Is that why those hybrids are gathering an army? So they can get rid of the High Elves once and for all?" Haytre demanded.

"Yes and no. They got rid of most of Efil's children, and when Zark couldn't kill his own brother, he Devoured him. Threw his bones to the mortal world, where he would be forever imprisoned." Galore exhaled. "After that, he hunted down the rest of the High Elves, and created a hybrid species. One with all the strengths of every mortal, and only one weakness. The same one that we Immortals share."

"...Death." Ziik whispered. "But this isn't possible. Immortals have rules when it comes to creation-"

"Ones that Zark was never taught. He is nothing but a wild animal. But it makes sense now, how he exists." Galore pointed the sheath rapier at Ziik's chest. "Your suicide didn't kill you. They cannot die until you do, Ziik." Haytre covered the silver dragon. "I'm sorry, old friend. But you must pass onto the outer planes for my plan to succeed." Galore threw off the sheath of the Golden blade, and went into a fencing stance.

"Galore... It won't fix anything..." Ziik said.

"Forget trying to convince him, Kresskre. I know that look of madness in his eyes." The black dragon slammed a paw into the pearl ground, conjuring a weapon out of the same sickness that infected the palace.

"You can't stop me mortal. No matter how many tricks you've got. You're as much as a pawn as I am, but not for long."

"We'll see about that." The black dragon roared, as he charged the human.


Arc 2 Year: 14639


He'd seen this sickness before, climbing up the pearl steps. Though it didn't seem to be effecting the outer edges too much, in the distance he could see that corruption. Toning the large palace to an musty, ill green. With every press of his black furred paw, he could feel the heartbeat of the structure. As if it were screaming at him to end its suffering. Cleanse it before it rotted away into nothingness. "It won't be like last time." The voice of Rixxix came from behind the young tirix. "You have room to make a difference before it's too late."

"That's... Very unlike you, Rixxix." October said, barely looking in his direction. "It's almost like you want me to stop this destruction."

"Believe me, I love the feeling of Entropy around me. But there's a difference between destruction and just plain torture." The larger black tirix took a look at his right arm, where the fur didn't seem to flow so naturally. Always lightly raised up where that arm's inner claws used to be. "When you become a victim of it, it changes the way you feel about these things."

"Yet you still enjoy the decay of such things."

"I do. But if there's one thing you'll notice about my victims is that I usually kill them quickly. Not infect them and watch them suffer over decades at a time." Rixxix glanced at the younger one's maw. "Are you sure you're ready for this?"

"...No." October admitted. "But it doesn't change the fact that it needs to be done."

"And you're planning to use my strategy for such a mission? That's a first. It still surprises me."

"...It will make it... Easier."

"Of course it will. It always does, at least at first it always does. It gets almost too easy after a while, addictive really." The younger one gave him an odd look, and Rixxix tossed his snout. "Deago will lecture you about it eventually. You might as well hear it from me." It made October chuckle a bit. "Just watch yourself, and keep control. If you don't, they might not see you as Master."

And like that, the older one was gone. Leaving October once again to his lonesome as he approached the first floor. Several piles of crystals laid on the floor of the lobby. As the tirix got close, the rose up and formed a humanoid shape, as specters possessed them. "Halt! You are not welcomed here! Leave at-" A large, spiked chain with a serpent like head bored through the ground behind the first specter. Whipping itself at the golem, connecting with a massive impact that shattered it into pieces, barely missing October's eyes.

The other golems charged the intruder, swinging their crystal blades at him. The first one came with an overhead slash, but another one of the chains came from the ground and caught the blade midswing, while another chain pierced right through the specter's heart. Then tearing it apart and throwing its remains off the side and into the clouds.

The second golem came with a horizontal swing with the crystal blade. The tirix jumped over it, while kicking across it's 'head'. Two body blows followed it, then a second kick to the side. October then ducked the second sideways swing of the golem, and a chain rammed into it with insane force. Sending the specter off the edge, where it was hit by another chain that came from below the lobby's floor and swinging upward. That impact sent the golem into pieces that hit another floor above them at a distance, and then fell into the clouds below.

Another golem came forward with a thrust, only to be parried by October's Wakizashi and then stabbed by it. The tirix ripped the blade out of the specter and ducked while a large chain swung across head level and impaled the golem with a large spike. Slamming it into one of the structural pillars. Finally, coiling itself around the specter and the pillar until it was crushed into fractures.

The fourth golem gave the tirix some trouble, swinging it's blades into circular X formations. Preventing the intruder from getting close. Until a chain came up through its foot, then bored through the golem's leg and came out at its knee. Opening its three-jawed Hydra-like head, it pierced through the golem's skull. Then through its chest from its back, before throwing the specter off the platform.

Deep within the palace, Jirrhyharra could hear his soldiers fall. Although their screams couldn't be heard by the naked ear, he could feel what pain they went through before they left this plane. As much as he wanted to help them, it was his duty to protect the last of the immortals up the stairs behind him. His brothers knew the risks, and the Hound would meet his fellow Archons in the outerplanes.

As the palace went deadly quiet, the hound waited for the soft, slow steps of the intruder. Coming down the large hallway, he spotted the black quadruped with nothing but a small knife on his harness. "So you're the one who they called in to execute him." The creature stopped about ten feet away, silent. But looked deep into the hound's eyes. "You're... Still young? Regardless, I cannot let you pass." The hound drew his six foot greatsword from his five foot tall body. Holding it in a cross formation in front of him, two extra blades of ethereal light formed parallel with the main blade. Making the tip of the greatsword an M shape. "I am General Jirrhyharra, the Hound Archon of this Immortal's palace."

"...I know who you are." October said sadly.

"...Then you must know what I need to do... Please do me one request then, young one." The tirix looked at him with worry. "Don't hold back." October exhaled, and nodded slowly. Several Chains came out of the surfaces of the hallway and started to quickly draw symbols, the same ones that Ryoko had shown the younger tirix. After they were done, the chains withdrew, leaving the glyphs unactivated. The black one then positioned himself before the archon, indicating he was ready, and the Archon charged him.

Despite his smaller size than the other archons, and his heavy weapon, Jirrhy was incredibly fast. Swinging nearly three times in two seconds at the tirix, causing him to jump back and retreat. But not without cutting a few patches of fur. October landed on a glyph and slammed to activate it. The symbol highlighted in orange and white for a moment, covering the tirix with tamed flames that coiled around him. The intruder then threw the lightning bolt-like flames at the archon, which exploded on contact, filling the entire hallway in flames.

When the smoke cleared, revealing that Jirrhy barely managed to shield himself from the bolts, October swiftly moved in very close to the archon, getting a few cuts with the Wakizashi, as well as a few unarmed hits before the hound could get some distance to properly block and counter. A couple of swings at the intruder caused him to jump onto the archon's greatsword, and attack him from there. Jirrhy then threw the tirix off, and launched a projectile from the greatsword, made of that ethereal light.

October landed on the wall and ran acrossed it to dodge the ranged attack. He came across another glyph, activating it when he went by. It glew faintly of an orange rust and violet, as the tirix landed on the floor. (He siphons power out of them!?) October than charged towards the archon. (He maybe young, but he's still a fool.) Jirrhy thought, swinging the greatsword at the intruder, only to see it pass right through the tirix. October hit the archon heavily in the chest with a body blow, his fist actually passing through the hound's breastplate and thick skin. The impact being directly absorbed by Jirrhy's ribcage only, cracking it and causing him to stagger backwards breathless.

A heavy breath, and the archon rose back to his feet. Trying his best to ignore the pain in his fractured ribs. With a low growl, he engaged the intruder once again. The two once again on equal grounds, but the archon knew of his disadvantage. Through the one-on-one fighting, he would send a projectile out to break a glyph's circle. Making it unusable. October caught onto this, and disengaged to a nearby glyph that was still active. Slamming it just before Jirrhy's projectile was about to ruin it. The remains still illuminated in a deep purple, staggering the tirix for a moment.

The archon seen a small opportunity, but as he tried to advance, October roared excessively loudly. Causing the entire palace to tremble and shift a bit, cracking the walls. Also deafening the hound, causing him to rely on his sight for a moment. Still disorientated, he witnessed the tirix dig his claws into his mid-section, and rip out a large box of some sort. When the intruder set it on the ground, it was clear it was some type of missile pod, and they instantly fired the barrage at the Archon. Jirrhy guarded himself from most of the explosions, but the smoke blinded him from the tirix's charge and ram with his shoulder. The impact was unreal, cracking the hound's greatsword, and shattering his breastplate apart while sending him further down the hall.

A moment of rest, and the Archon staggered up. Throwing off the remains of his broken armor. Getting his vision straight, he could see the Tirix completely unwounded from that surrealism of the pod. (This is what one of their agents are like...) He thought. (They don't obey the rules of the Forces. They don't even obey the Counterweight...) With one last grunt, he placed everything he had left into his fractured greatsword, and threw one last projectile at October. The attack exploded into a cloud of debris, and for a moment he thought he got him. Only to see the black blurr almost go past him, and a piercing of a small blade into his heart.

The shock of it seemed to freeze time completely, as the Archon struggled with his last few breaths. With October's hand on the very blade that resided in his heart, his other paw was wrapped around Jirrhy's back. For some reason, no pain was felt through the hound's body, but he could feel himself struggling to breathe. Though still deaf, he could hear the Tirix's words from the vibrations in October's chest. "At ease, Jirrhy... You may finally rest after all your eons of duty... You will die as the Loyal Hound you are, and your doubts will never be carried with you..."

"...Thank you..." The archon's last words brought a tear to October's eyes. As Jirrhy's body began to fade into fragments of light, the tirix couldn't help but look into Deago's eyes before him. Once his body completely faded, October collapsed, trying his best not to let his emotions get to him.

"...It's alright to." Deago said. "It's what he wanted. It was his choice to stay loyal to the ones he protected." The younger one shook his head. "You may not think it's right, but you must realize that you didn't have a choice."

"I had a choice! I could've... Walked away."

"Only to have someone else do the same thing. If no one did it, it would turn out worse. You have to realize that Bartan does what he can to make sure it ends up better for everyone."

"And for Jirrhyharra? How is this a good ending?"

Deago lifted the younger one's jaw rather harshly. "You saved him from a much worse fate that could only bring shame to him. It may not seem like it now, but if you went back through all the possibilities that could happen, you'd come to the same conclusion that Bartan did..." October fell silent for a few moments. Getting up, his eyes were caught by the Archon's fractured sword. The black tirix took a breath, and carried it across the hallway. Only to start drawing a small glyph into the floor against the wall. He placed the sword on top of it, and activated the glyph, which formed an alter made of pearl, holding the sword up with a plaque.

"...I don't feel like I'm the one who should be doing this, but..." He said, looking at Deago sadly. "...I want to honor him in some way." The larger orange one nodded as he lead the way upstairs.

Haytre's breaths were heavy, and his wounds were deep. Barely landing a scratch on the immortal that threatened his friend, he couldn't help but enjoy that feeling again. That losing battle. But this was somehow different. If he lost, Ziik's life would be taken...

The black dragon growled at him. "You can't win, mortal. Although I am impressed how much you can take. You're definitely a remarkable species, I'll give you that."

"Galore, stop this! Please!" Ziik shouted, feeling helpless. "What you're doing won't fix anything."

"After I get rid of Zark, I'll be the last Immortal alive. I'll have all the power and command over that world, and make it exactly what it needs to be. What I envision will fix all the wrong within it."

"No it won't." October said, entering the room. "What you're doing is trying to fix violence with violence. You can't do this with the plans you've made."

"Who are you?" Ziik asked.

"I'm the one that was sent to take care of this one." The tirix answered, looking at Haytre's wounds and walking up to him. The dragon growled at him, but with a soft touch, his wounds began to heal quickly, and the dragon's stamina was restored. "You're fighting the wrong battle." The younger one's gaze went to Galore. "He's too fast for your fighting style. You two are supposed to go after Zarkfra."

"I would've been fine if I could Outbreak here." Haytre grumbled.

"This place lacks insulation for it. Doing so would only tear a hole in reality." The tirix said softly.

"...Impossible... You are...?" Galore grunted. "There's no way! Everything I've done was underneath their noses. It's none of the concern of the Forces!"

"I was not sent by the Forces. They don't know I'm here."

"But you denied his wounds! Only Death can do that."

"Ziikrhi'd, in order to stop Zarkfra, you'll need to do more than destroy his body. You need to break his will, and also sever his soul from this plane of existence. You'll need to fight him together in order to defeat and stop him." October's gaze fell to the floor as he turned to face Galore. "I know it won't be easy for you, but you need to stay strong if you want to save your home."

"...Alright. Be careful." Ziik said, as he turned and left the room, looking back one last time at the one he once called friend.

Haytre shuffled his wings and growled at the immortal. "Let it go." October said, causing the dragon to be quiet for a moment, then snort as he left.


Arc 3 Year: 14639


Chapter 9

The dragon landed in the courtyard hard, startling everyone around and panicking the guards. "Damnit dragon! I told you to slow down! You nearly broke my neck!" Irone shouted at him.

"I told you to hang on. Besides you're as tough as they come. You can handle a little bruising here and there." Zhai tossed his snout as he laid down and waited for her dismount. Only to feel her grab his ear as soon as she touched the ground. He yelped loudly, hissing at her.

"Another stunt like that, and this thing is mine, understand?" The dragon grumbled something she couldn't understand, and she twisted the ear.

"Okay-Okay! No more hard landings when you're riding me! Now let me go!" He growled at her, clutching his ear the moment she released it.

"You shouldn't be doing it anyway. I can only imagine that it must hurt your limbs."

"Not as much as you hurt my ears." Zhai grumbled under his breath.

A guard came up to Irone and saluted her. "Sir, we've been waiting for your arrival. And so has King Gallagar. He has asked to hear your report as soon as possible."

"I understand. Sire, you should come as well." Irone lead the way to the palace. Still grumbling a bit, the dragon downsized himself for easier travel throughout the city and followed her.

"King Gallagar?" Khol asked his mate. "I wonder what happened to Farrel?"

~"I'm not sure. Honestly, this species is so short lived it seems they have a new king every week or so. He was also the target of a rebellion several years ago, perhaps he was assassinated." Zhai sighed. ~"The human species is a strange one. They want to follow power, yet they want it for themselves. Politics is an excuse to divide them from animals, yet they tend to act like them regardless." The red one snorted. ~"I never liked Politics. And I think if the power itself was placed in the hands of a superior being, things wouldn't end up like this."

"Uh, Sir?" The guard slightly pointed at the dragon speaking to 'himself.' "Should we be concerned about that?"

"Ignore him. He does that quite often." Irone replied.

"Superior being? You mean immortals or dragons?" The silver ghost asked.

~"Either or. They might as well be in the same league." Zhai gave a smirk. ~"But if the people view it as a superior power that they cannot simply overthrow, they'd have a better reason to follow it."

"That almost sounds like Tyranny." Khol gave a sad look.

~"Not if they don't promote fear. I never really gave a reason for the children of my lands to fear me."

"Other than that time they started cutting down my forest. You scared the pants off of them." The silver one nudged him.

~"That was a misunderstanding. And they never would've done it if it wasn't for your permission."

"That's because they feared you."

~"They feared for their safety. And granted, with my size and strength, yes. I could do much harm to them. But I never hurt any of them... When I was in control." Zhaiothe sighed. ~"But my point is, I wasn't ruling them with fear. They were being ruled by their own fears and concerns. They were my lands after all, but it was a place they could live freely, and be safe. I cannot see how that would be considered Tyranny."

"I suppose you have a point. But if the people are scared, they would view it as such."

~"Only if everyone was scared. There was quite a few that were not afraid of me, and many many more that were not afraid of you. If they had a concern, they would turn to you. Correct? Or one of the few that would talk to me personally. There was still communication, if they were too afraid to talk to me directly. That time I came home poisoned was the one chance to overthrow me, if they choose to. But they never did. I don't think they even talked about it, did they?" The silver one shook his head.

"Not that I know of. I mean, when you were... being controlled, they felt fear towards you. But..." Again the red one's heart sank.

~"...That would've been Tyranny..." Zhai looked up at the palace gates. Khol gave him a small nudge to cheer him up.

"How's your shoulder?" He asked.

~"Still hurts from the landing." The larger dragon gave him a scolding look, but with a smile, and Zhai tossed his head. ~"I know, I know. I shouldn't be doing it. Even after hundreds of years, I still can't break the habit."

"Someday you'll learn." The silver one gave him a few licks as they entered the throne. Crossing several units of guards along the way. "There are alot of guards here. Try to keep your cool, alright? I don't want to be patching anymore holes in you."

~"Yeah, yeah." The red one gave him a little smirk.

The group entered in what seemed to be a war meeting. Several knights and commanders were present as Irone and the dragon came forward. The woman took a bow before her king, while Zhai just laid down. Giving the impersonation of a bow, yet not at the same time. "Welcome back, Captain. You've caught us at the very end of our meeting, but we would like to hear your report anyways." King Gallagar said. "What news do you have for us?"

"My lord. We've scouted over the enemy's land during the night using flight. We've seen at least twenty garrisons that were occupied just around the boarders of the mountains, and countless more throughout the lands. All of them holding what we believe to be barracks with many soldiers. Along with ogres as well."

"Ogres?" A commander spoke up. "How did they manage to get ogres?"

"Probably from the waters. Ogres were only seen down in the southlands, and even then, there are more within those mountains than we've ever encountered." The red dragon spoke up. "Whatever they've been doing to make soldiers, they've done it with the Ogres as well. Not to mention, they looked like they were enslaved by these On'scet."

"So, they have some type of supersoldier, and now Ogres as well?"

Irone sighed. "That's not all. Their defenses look... Overwhelming. The main gate looks to be made out of two large walls. Twice as thick as our citadel's. These can rotate to open up and let out their ground troops, but it takes four ogres each wall to move it. No siege weapon can breech it."

"Not even our towers?"

"They won't be high enough. These walls are almost one hundred feet tall. The only one that can get over them is me." The dragon snorted.

"And any other paths within the mountains?"

"None that enough soldiers could get through. They'd just be bottle-necked and loose too much strength." Irone said. The men looked at each other for a moment. "What is it?"

"We've received word back from many of the Negotiators that we sent to the Kingdom of Able and Kingdom of Lenziz. None of them wish to ally against this threat, due to the lack of information we currently have. Because of this, we will not press our army against the southwest."

"What!?" Zhaiothe hissed.

"We don't know if they are hostile toward us. For what we know, they could just be setting up boarders to divide their territory."

"So you plan is to just sit and wait for them to make the first move!?" The dragon growled loudly.

"We don't have a choice, dragon. You've already stated that its futile to attack them-"

"I stated no such thing! I just warned you not to take this enemy lightly!" He slammed his tail on the ground. "With enough strategy, and careful tactics, we can stand a chance."

"With no other support from anyone else?"

"You Have Me!!" Zhai roared at them, and the room fell silent. The look of disbelief feel over the faces of the commanders and king, and the dragon knew that he wouldn't be able to convince them. He snorted loudly. "Fine. I'll do it myself." He then turned around and stormed out in one fluid motion.

"Zhai! Wait!" Khol tried to stop him. "You can't do this alone."

"I can only try, which is more than I can say for every other species on this forsaken land. This kingdom reeks of cowardice." The red one growled, getting outside in the opened where he took off to the skies. "I only allied with these children to help support them. If they just choose to wait and die, I won't help them."

"But... Zhaiothe..." Khol followed him. "Please think about this rationally-"

"I have. Ever since we started our journey from the east. Everytime I've fought in battle, I've been wounded because I run out of stamina. This collar can make up for that, as well as some of the techniques that Bartan showed us. If I'm careful, and take my time, as well as use my advantages, I can do this... I have to." The silver one gave him a sad look. "Besides, I'm never fighting alone."

"...You're right." Khol said with a smile. "We'll fight together. As one."


Arc 1 Year: 14639


The corruption further in the palace was far stronger than before. It was almost like a smog, affecting Ziik's mind and making it harder for him to think. In return, he could feel his body slowing down, but only faintly. (If the others were exposed to such toxin, perhaps that's why they fell so easily...) But the immortal didn't want to think about that. His focus was to stay alive, and figure out what that creature meant by 'Break his Will, and Sever his Soul.'

The silver one looked beside him for a moment, to see Haytre keeping up with him. The wounds Galore left him with were gone, besides the dripping of blood that once outlined them. Not even scars remained. "What?" The black dragon caught Ziik looking at him.

"N-nothing." The silver one turned away for a moment. "It's just... How do you feel?"

"I feel pissed that I overestimated that one." The black one grunted. "But I'm fine. It's not the first time someone denied my wounds, and it won't be the last. I'm sure."

"What did Galore mean by that? Denying your wounds?" Ziik asked, stopping for a short break.

Haytre sighed quietly as he slowed to a stop. "Deny... It means to cease existence. Or reverse something that has been done." The dragon wiped away some of the blood on his arm. "That's why there's no scars. No pains from them. The wound has been completely sealed on a molecular level. Only Forces can do that..."

"You think that creature was a Force?"

"...No. I've met Forces before." Ziik studied the black one, and Haytre's ears went back. "Okay, fine. I've pissed off some Forces before to the point where they personally seen to me. Still, that thing didn't act like one. Forces don't dwell on such trivial things like us, unless we make a big commotion. That one was sent by someone special."

"A friend of yours?"

"I wouldn't describe him as a friend. Let's get moving." The silver one frowned, but followed Haytre regardless. A few more minutes and the two dragons made it to the source of corruption.

"...This is it." Ziik said, giving Haytre a worried look. "Please, be careful."

Haytre only snorted as he pushed open the door. Inside the near black painted walls was a large sphere that showed an army of some sort within a land of Ash. And before it sat a dragonkin, it's scales almost black with a tint of green. "It's starting." It said, not taking its gaze off the sphere. "Soon what we've planned together will come into motion. My children will sweep the land with one clean motion and destroy everything in its path. Leaving nothing else alive. That should give enough Entropy to grab the Blackstar's attention and come towards us."

"Blackstar? Where have I heard that before?" Haytre questioned himself, grabbing the surprised attention of Zark.

"Who are you?" The green one demanded, only to instantly turn his attention to the Silver one, and the scar on his chest. The faint memory of the very first being that Zark had seen with his eyes was that dragon, and his heart began to race. "No... Impossible..." Ziik looked at him sadly. "You're dead! I seen it! You died thousands of years ago! How...?"

"I was only sent to the mortal world. After I created-"

"NO! You never created me! I forced myself out of your heart! The one that imprisoned me for eons with that kindness and neutrality!" Zark hissed. "The same thing that imprisoned Efil, and what made him weak!"

"Efil? Your brother?"

"Do Not Call Him That! He is-" The green one violently covered his face with a paw and growled in pain. "That's why he's been fighting more, recently. It's because you've been getting closer. Drawing near. You are the only reason why he exists in this world, and the only strength he has left!" Zarkfra reached into the sphere and pulled out a large weapon. A thick shaft with a double-headed axe on each side.

"I'm beginning to think that everyone in the world right now is trying to kill you." Haytre grumbled at Ziik, as he created a weapon out of the moisture in the air. The silver dragon's ears and head went a little low. "Hey! Focus! That creature said we need to do something special for him, right? Any ideas?"

Ziik nodded at him. "Just focus on the physical part for now. I'll see what I can get out of him." Haytre nodded back, turning his scales into a glossy red, and threw a fireball at the green dragon. Then charged him directly behind.


Arc 3 Year: 14639


The dragons rested most of the day. Doing an assault during the night would be their best bet against the entire army of the On'scet. Even then, it was unlikely they will be able to do such a thing. But Khol knew how much this land meant to his mate. And sometimes you just need to fight that losing battle. It worried him to death, but the silver dragon did his best not to let that concern ruin what would be their last session of love. He woke up completely relaxed to his surprise. And by the sounds of it, so did Zhaiothe. "Good evening, you." He said softly to the red one, giving him a few licks, and getting some in return.

"Good morning." He mumbled, embracing him hard, and stroking him. "I don't suppose we could replay that session."

"I don't want to wear you out just yet. If we come back alive after tonight, then yes. Until then, you have to focus on living for that reward."

"It'll be worth it." Zhai smiled at him, getting a sad smile in return. "I know you don't want me to do this..."

"It's not that... I just don't want you to do it with just me behind you. I was hoping that the others..."

"The humans are too fixed on their own lives to be worried about their future. All the more reason that we must win. Show them the true power of the last dragons." A heavy exhale, and the red one got up. Staring at the distance of that massive wall. The main gate to his old lands. "I've waited what felt like forever for this. That one chance to get back what I had. Now that it's here... I'm not sure I'm ready for it."

"You're as ready as you'll ever be-" A loud growl came from within Zhai's belly. "Maybe after you've eaten something." Khol teased him. The red one nodded, and they took off, grabbing a nearby yak. "What do you plan on doing exactly?"

"I was planning on going through the main gate." Zhai said while eating.

"Really? Not just over it?"

The red one sighed. "If I can break it open, perhaps then it might give the people hope. If not just buy them a little more time. Hell, if I can just tear it to pieces, they will have the perfect front door to storm the lands. Maybe Irone could finish off what we couldn't."

Khol hated to hear him like this. That possibility of failure swimming through Zhai's mind. "How do you plan on that though? The wall is huge."

"I'll figure it out. Even if I have to use Bartan's technique to move it, I will."

"I've got a better idea." The silver one smirked, leaving the red one with perked ears.

The mountains were quiet at dusk, but the gate was still guarded. The ogres, now unarmed and chained to the door they were slaved to fell still in the setting sun, while the black Orcs that patrolled the walls held their crossbows halfheartedly. A faint whistling could be heard from above, while something red fell down and landed hard on the ogre nearby. Shoving a sharpened rock through its skull, before turning about and setting fire to the first guard. A second one on the second wall spotted the flames, and ran towards the large horn. Warning the other garrisons that they were under attack. Only to find it suddenly blown into splinters, with the faint sighting of a silver dragon that took a swing at it.

The red dragon jumped onto another ogre, violently shoving his claws into its skull and ripping it out. It continued to do that with the other two, while the silver one snuck around the other guards in stealth. Crushing them when they didn't expect it. After the first four ogres, the red one executed the other four chained to the second gate on the inside of the territory. Then returned to the outside where Khol was waiting. "What exactly was this all about?" Zhai asked his mate, now studying the walls.

"Don't you find it odd how they have a hundred foot walls made of steel and pulled by only four ogres?" He asked.

"Considering they were ogres, I never really questioned it. We've fought them before, you don't remember me being thrown around like a ragdoll?" The red one curled his neck to an S.

"Yes, I remember. But how much did you weigh back then?"

He gave it some thought. "I donno, 380 lbs? Something like that."

"And how much do you weigh now?"

"Enough." Zhai's ears went back when his mate chuckled. "Where are you going with this?" The silver one then knocked on the steel wall. Though thick, there was still a faint echo from within it. "It's hollow?"

"Yes. It's the only way they would be able to pull it. Even looking at the tracks in the ground indicate that this thing could not be completely solid. It's just a bluff to ward others from using the front door. However, it would be enough to hold out on some siege weapons, I suppose."

"What was your plan though? We've cleared the area, now what?"

"Remember what you said about these mountains? And how the weather often eats through some of the rock here?" Khol asked.

"Yes, but only if the weather actually were the same as it was back then, I could understand some of the mountains being weak. But it's doubtful that they're the same now."

"Only on the surface though. Try shifting the ground from far below the walls. See if you can find an air pocket inside for it to sink the walls."

Zhai sighed. "Alright. But it's going to take some time." The red dragon completely laid down and tried his best to feel through the grounds. Using the magics in his blood to manipulate the ground itself, and shift it a bit. After a while a large crack immerged before Khol, and he rushed back towards Zhai. The crack became larger, and started to circle around the wall, going over the mountain that the walls were jointed with, and across the other. When it nearly made a full circle, some of the air pressure from within the ground blew out of the cracks, and the two walls fell underneath. The red one took a breather for a few minutes, and then created a large bridge of rock over the large pit for easier access. "What do you know, it worked." The red one chuckled, licking the silver one only to get the taste of dust on his tongue.

"It's the thought that counts. But that's the easy part."

"Yes, how much do you think we can take out before they finally alert the entire army?"

"I'm not sure. But I'll keep watch for those Horns. As well as any environment you can use to your advantage. If we're going to win this, we need to do it smartly. No more rushing in and taking ballistas head on." Khol nudged him.

"Alright. You lead then. Be careful."


Arc 2 Year: 14639


"You're an outsider, aren't you?" Galore asked the tirix before him. After being silent for so long and doing nothing but stare at him, the Immortal was getting uneasy. "I should've known that Thing was bad news to begin with. He's been nothing but a menace, trying to bring me out and disrupt my plans."

"He's correcting your mistakes." October finally spoke.

"Mistakes? These are not mistakes!" Galore took the first swing, followed by a series of thrusts. "They are done with a purpose! A Goal! It's what we Immortals do, we rule over the planet we've been assigned to!"

The tirix deflected a few attacks, and evaded to counter. "You rule with Suffering and Pain. That itself isn't right. If what you're doing is for the people-"

"It's got nothing to do with the people anymore! Not these people. They're all completely flawed and unchangeable. They need to be reset!" The human's speed was remarkable, and the threat of the attacks seemed to be extending farther than the rapier's edge.

(It's no wonder the dragon had a hard time with him.) October thought. "The planet itself is still functional! It doesn't need a reset. The people just need faith." Getting in close, he managed to take a few swings at Galore, getting a few deep cuts, but only in his clothing.

"Faith?" The immortal stopped, in a moment of remorse. "They used to have faith in us. But they've grown outside of faith. Cast it aside as if they no longer needed us. The ones who gave them life to begin with." He ripped off the robe and tossed it aside.

"Is that what you think? That they resent you?"

"More like choose to ignore. All we did was create the world they live in. The Forces do all the other work, while we watch." A moment of anger shown through Galore, as he attacked again, trying to keep the tirix at a distance.

"Then why the reset? You have more control than you think over them. The Forces are nothing more than instinctive rules that make Truism. How things live and birth. How all things come to an end. Their fates are still in your hands-"

"Fate? The one that plans everything out to begin with?" The immortal scoffed. "We're nothing but pawns for her little game. Everything we do is all part of her master plan! Or has an outsider like you forgotten that?" He managed to scrape the beast in the arm with the very tip of his sword.

"Yet you plan to reset everything to start over?" October pressed forward with a series of blocks, getting close enough to swipe at Galore's face with a hind leg. But only cutting a few hairs off his head. "If it's all part of a plan, how will that make any difference?"

"The Blackstar." The immortal took a breath. "With it I can become more powerful than the Forces. I can create and change them without laws. I can make a difference with that power alone!"

"The Blackstar? Do you have any Idea what that is!?" The tirix hissed. "It's a Scale of the Terrasque! It's nothing more than a physical form of agony!"

"It holds power! The power to change!" The immortal attacked again, nearly getting the creature several times until they got into a deadlock.

"It only holds power to destroy! Everything you can possibly do good with it will only result into destruction! And that in turn will only feed the Terrasque!"

"Then so be it! If I can change the outcome of fate itself, I can change the impact of the Terrasque's damage!"

"It doesn't work that way!"

"How would an outsider like you know?"

The tirix retreated for a moment. "Look Around You! The corruption within your walls! Stained by the blood of your friends! Your Family! The ones you loved and adored their affections! This will be you're entire world, only worse if you wish on that star!" October attacked once again, getting a few of his chains to draw glyphs within the walls and floors. "I've seen worlds turn into Nightmare. I've seen entire universes corrupted by such ideals, thinking that Power would be able to change something so little and frail! All this brings is despair, you're just too blind to see it!"

"I'm not like them! I have more control, I have integrity!" Galore pushed forward with his attacks, being more aggressive and eventually disarming the creature. "And You're The Only Thing That Stands In My WAY!" A quick slice to the throat, and October shattered into nothingness. "!? An Illusion!?" He sucked in a quick breath, feeling a presence behind him. Desperately, he turned around and swung across to retaliate, but hit nothing. A faint gaze to the ground, and he seen the Tirix flat on the floor. With a sharp look into those orange eyes, he seen the flash of his Wakizashi swing vertically. "NO-!"

The Tirix landed behind him. Letting the immortal fall to his knees before completely fading to the outerplanes. October kneeled there in silence for a few moments, while his heart slowed down. With a faint sigh, he sheathed his blade, and slowly walked out of the immortal's coffin.


Arc 3 Year: 14639


Chapter 10

The air was still hot and heavy within the lands, while Zhai was catching his breath. Looking at the ruins of the garrison before him for any survivors within the sea of flames. "That's number three." Khol said as he approached his mate.

"I can only imagine that they'll notice a trend soon. Three garrisons that have become a giant torch, even though no horns have been blown yet."

"They'll figure it out eventually. But until then, we're still undetected. Are you ready for the next one?" The red dragon took a deep breath of the ashy air, and gave a small nod. "How's your fire bile doing?"

"It's getting depleted. I shouldn't be relying on it so much. But it doesn't exhaust me as much as magics do. I'm honestly considering increasing the regen on the collar."

"But in turn you'll be heavier, and thus, slower." Khol gave him a sad look. "So far, we've done alot of damage with very little harm to you. It's a good thing we practiced alot." He smiled at his red mate.

"Yes. And this isn't as bad as that record we went through. The 28 hour one." The silver one chuckled. "Okay, I'm ready for the next one." They nodded and flew off into the dark.

A short flight in the dark sky refilled the red one's adrenaline. With the next garrison in sight, he motioned Khol to head in first while Zhai circled around. When he felt a large tug in his stamina, he knew the horn was taken care of. The red one then swooped in to carpet the garrison in flames. Searing anyone within it that was exposed to the open air.

Another circle around, and the red dragon landed inside. Slashing any smaller target that moved, and kept an eye out for any ogres. One emerged from behind him, going for an overhead slam, but the silver dragon swooped before it, and sprayed its eyes with frost. Allowing Zhai to move in and execute it before it could do any harm.

While Zhai was occupied with that, Khol spotted a few Orcs taking aim at his mate. Using the magics to increase the winds, the bolts they fired got carried away. Then the silver one slammed them with his tail across the garrison. They broke a few barrels filled with a black powder of some sort. Again, the silver one got an idea. "Zhai! Take cover!" And the red one hid behind the ogre's body. Khol controlled some of the flames that were around, and lit the barrels to explode the garrison's walls apart. Taking out any other guards on the upper level.

Zhai shook the ringing out of his head. "Well, that's one way to do it. Think it was a little loud though?"

"It might've been. But I wanted to get rid of it before it exploded accidently. Best to use it as our advantage, than to have it used against us." Khol smiled at him.

"You're quite the strategist, aren't you? Where did you learn such things?"

The silver one lowered his head and ears. "I watched alot of wars when I was... Up there. Many things that they've done to each other. I don't like it, but if I can use it to help you..."

Zhai held his mate's jaw with a soft paw. "Thank you." And he gave him a kiss. "Are you ready for the next one?"

"Yes." It brought Khol's smile back. "Let's go." And the two took flight once again into the dark night. Another garrison was spotted quite far in the distance. As they got a bit closer to it, a small light flew out of the stronghold and into the sky high above it. It then exploded in an extremely bright light. "ZHAI! GET DOWN!" Khol shouted just too late, as the whistles of ballistas could be heard. A few passing through Khol, and several hitting his mate. The silver one's heart stopped as he dived after him.

Pain woke up the red dragon, along with his mate's cries. "Zhai! Zhai! Please wake up!" The red one grunted against the pain. "No! Don't move! Just don't move! I'm going to try to get some of them out, just stay still." His sides hurt tremendously, as well as his chest. A few sharp movements, and one of the sharp pains were released. "I'm not sure how bad they are. The ballistas were small, but..." Khol sobbed a bit, trying to get another one out. Another sharp pain, and a release.

"...How bad are they?" Zhai managed to get out. Worrying his mate with his speech. The red one remembered being hit. He could feel the hard, dried ash on his right side, as well as a pain in his right shoulder.

"...They're small. They went through your armor, but not terribly deep in. I don't know how bad the damage is though. Zhai, we need to get you out of here."

"I can't..."

"We've done enough damage for Alzallion to do the rest. Even if we just guerilla the rest, it will be enough-"

"I can't move..." Zhai admitted. Causing Khol to stop for a moment. "We tried..." The red one tried to smile at him.

"No... Zhai, don't. Don't give up yet." It brought tears to his blue eyes.

"It's alright Khol... I've done enough... I'm sure. We'll make it to Lothranis, don't worry."

"But... I haven't." Khol held his mate's head. "I haven't done enough for you, Zhaiothe."

"You have..." He tried to give him a lick.

"No. I need to do more. Zhai... For you to get your lands back... Your life back, I need to give you my all." The silver one resumed pulling out the small bolts out of the red dragon's body. "Zhaiothe, my love. This will be my final gift to you. For cursing you, and giving you so much misery. I will give you myself. Whatever is left of my lifeforce."


"Please, use it to get your life back." The silver dragon's scales began to turn iridescent, as he became brighter. Blinding the red one for a moment. Only to completely be rid of his pain, and allowing Zhai to move once again.

"Khol? Khol!" The dragon shouted into the darkness.

("I'm here with you, Zhai. For now.") His mate's voice was echoing in his mind. In the distance, the red one could hear shouts of orc soldiers coming his way. ("We will fight together, as one.")

"...Alright." Zhai agreed for now. A few shots of crossbows were heard coming for the dragon. But with a single thought, he bent them around himself. Making them miss entirely. With a large slam on the ground, the earth split opened, and brought up the fires beneath. The dragon then threw it at the soldiers, melting them instantly.

A few steps closer to the garrison, Zhai drew the magics from both his body, and his mate's. His right paw began to glow from bright red to white, and a large light began to build overhead of the stronghold. Another slam to the ground brought the huge beam of light down on it, vaporizing it's remains.

The magics were flowing through his body, and were leaking out of his jaws. With his power, he could win. With his power, he would eradicate those who inhabited his land. Destroying the very threat of the planet itself. Keeping his mind away from the aftermath, Zhai pushed forward through the ashy wasteland.


Arc 1 Year: 14639


This fight was more to the black dragon's tastes. Zark was much slower with his large double-axe weapon, but still a threat to be cautious of. For one wrong move, and that large axe could be devastating. But fighting the dark green dragon, it was like fighting a wild animal. "Why exactly are you doing this? What good could come out of this Zark?" Ziik asked him harshly.

"Really?" Haytre asked while caught in a deadlock with the other dragon. "Your master plan is to talk to him? Play twenty questions?" The black one snorted.

"If we can bring enough suffering, we can bring forth the Blackstar. It will grant us ultimate power, far beyond the Forces! From there, we can become true paragons! And I can create an army of perfect beings!" The green one answered, confident that he can't be stopped. Prying himself out of Haytre's deadlock, he took a swing at the Silver one. Only to be blocked by Haytre again, and pushed back.

"Perfect beings? Sounds egotistical to me." The black one snorted.

"It also sounds illogical." Ziik stated, getting a shocked expression out of Zark, while Haytre continued to fight him.

"What do you mean illogical!?" He hissed. "It's the prime purpose of existence itself! Everything strives to be better, to reach perfection!"

"And your master plan is to achieve perfection by destroying the chance of perfection. Sounds flawless." The black one snarled sarcastically, pushing Zark away once again.

"Look at them." The green one gestured towards the sphere, displaying the On'scet. "They are indeed superior beings, but they are not perfect. They may have intelligence, strength, will, and durability. But they still are slaves to Death! I must make Death itself bow down to them and myself, before I can achieve Perfection!"

"And you want to achieve this by summoning this Blackstar?"

"Yes, you understand now, don't you?"

"Indeed. But it's still illogical." The green one roared at Ziik, going after him again. Haytre resumed getting in his way, and protect his silver friend. "What you don't understand, as a creator, is that Perfection is Useless! It serves no purpose in worlds such as these!"

"How can you possibly say that?"

"Because it insults the very purpose of existence in the first place! The reason why these creatures live, our Children live, is to change! To make the life they have better, to make themselves better as a whole! Giving them perfection as soon as their born gives them no reason to exist in the first place! They turn into nothing but mindless slaves."

"They are not mindless! They think for themselves-"

"But for what purpose? What ultimate goal?" Ziik hissed. "You've taken that out, the main reason for living, and replaced it for yours. Your goals, your reasons for their creation. They're nothing more than slaves to something worse than Death: YOU!"

Zarkfra froze in shock and anger, leaving him wide open for Haytre's swing with a hammer made of glass and lightning. The thunderclap of the blow left the green one dazed and disoriented. "This entire time, I thought my dream's faults were my lack of conviction. But my conviction's extremes are no better, especially you." Ziik continued. "You are the worst possible spawn, the worst thing I have ever created-"

"NO!" The green one roared, and lunged at the silver dragon. "I Am Not Your Creation!" He barely scratched him, before Haytre held him back. "I Am Something Better! Stronger! I'm Not Weighed Down By Such Weaknesses As Kindness!"

"Kindness isn't a weakness, it's a virtue! Something you know nothing about!" Ziik hissed at him. Noticing a sudden change in the presence. Directly behind the two dragons ripped open a strange portal, filled with stars and lights. The black one looked at it, and then back with a saddened look.

"I can't just throw him in and leave him. He might do more damage where ever it leads." He said.

"Haytre? No!" Before the silver dragon could reach him, the black one threw himself, as well as Zarkfra within the storm, and it closed. A sudden pain of emptiness filled the dragon's heart for a moment, before his eye caught on that sphere. Revealing the On'scet being broken apart and banished from reality. "Sever the soul from this plane of existence..." He sighed heavily, but could feel the corruption of the palace slowly fading away.

Ziik spent several minutes alone in the silence of the room. As the sphere began to shrink and disappear, he got up and left to look at Galore's fate. Going down the halls, he met up with the Tirix again, looking off into the distant clouds below the palace. "...Is Galore...?"

"He is." October said softly. "I... am sorry."

"...It's alright. I just hope he's in a better place. Without torment." The tirix stayed quiet. "Can I ask you something?" The creature nodded. "What are you?"

October sighed, looking at his right paw. "I'm a creation of a Counterweight. I was never born into a universe, but was created outside of one as a Chimera. A soul that held the same wavelengths as three previous souls from a different universe." The dragon laid down beside him. "I was the fifth and final one created. In a way, I am his son. But in another..."

"You... Help people, don't you?"

"...At times. Other times it feels like all I end up doing is bring death. But it's usually for the better... Even though it might not seem like it." The dragon pet the creature, trying to be settle, but not really knowing his own strength. Causing the tirix to look at him.

"...Thank you. I know it wasn't easy for you to do this... All of this. But... Thank you." He smiled at October for a moment, then sadness filled his eyes. "However, I'm not sure what I should do now. I have no more friends, no more sons. The world below is a mess, and my home feels vast and empty." The smaller one scraped his claws on the ground, holding back his words. "I'm not sure what I should do..."

"-He's alive!" October bursted out.

"October!" Deago growled. "You're not supposed to-"

"Shut up! He deserves to know!" The silver dragon looked at the tirix, puzzled at his sudden outbursts. "Your... First son. He's still alive... He's living in the mortal world, happily."

"...Khol? He's alive?"

"Yes." It brought a tear to the dragon's blue eyes, he then got up and gave the tirix a big hug, lifting him off the ground can causing him to yelp loudly. "Careful! Careful! Don't throw me off, I can't fly!"

Ziik just smiled brightly. "Sorry, I just can't... Believe it. Khol is alive..." The dragon put October down lightly, giving him a few licks.

"Yes. And though it might be a bit lonely here, they really need someone to look out for them down there. Things haven't been doing too well without the care it needs."

"And you think I can...?" October nodded. "It's always been a dream of mine, but... I'm not sure that I can."

"Ziikrhi'd, at some point you need to Collapse that Dream, and make it into a reality. It might not be the way you always thought it would end up or be, but you need to take what you can get. Regardless of the shape it's in." He placed a paw on the dragon's. "You're ready for this. But let go of that doubt you've held onto for so long. It won't help those you've lost, and it won't help those who are in your need."

Ziik just smiled at him. "I'm still not sure how you know so... Much. But, okay. I'll try."

"And you'll succeed." October smiled. "Live well, and listen to your intuition." And the tirix walked off.

"I... I never caught your name."

"...It's October."

The silver dragon smiled at him. "Thank you, October."


Arc 2 Year: 18394


Byrin and Khol studied their surroundings quietly as the lights began to flicker a bit. A large portal came from the other side of the room, with two dragons falling out of it. The green one slammed its head into some of the machinery, while the black one studied his surroundings. He felt something different with the walls here. Like they were somehow... Insulated. His eyes widened, as he scrambled to his feet and grabbed Zark's body once again.

The two struggled a bit, hearing Haytre's growling getting louder and louder. Then he roared loudly, as his scales went prismatic and iridescent. Constantly shifting colors with the changing of the lights. Covering his right paw with flame and lightning, the prismatic one took a shot to the green dragon's ribs, causing Zark to lean forward at the sudden shock. Haytre then grabbed his head with both paws, and froze it solid, crushing it with pure strength. Then ripping the dragon's green body in two before letting go of the Outbreak. Reverting his scales back to its natural black.

"...Shit..." Byrin whispered. Causing Haytre's ear to twitch in his direction. But the black one did nothing but catch his breath for the time being. He destroyed the threat to Ziik's home, and it was over. All that mattered to him was getting back to Tia. Still breathing heavy, he looked at his surroundings, seeing the red dragon's head sleeping near him. (Valo?) He thought, as he walked towards it.

"No!" Khol shouted, standing between the two and protecting Zhaiothe. "I won't let you harm him!" Haytre took a step back, surprised at what looked like a younger form of Ziikrhi'd.

"You... Look just like him... What are you doing with Valo'oath?"

"Valo'oath? Zhai's brother?" Khol asked, a bit shocked himself.

"Zhai?" The black one exhaled for a moment. The name he read in the cave... And it all came clear. He began laughing. Loudly. "Taathing Bear! That Damn, Taathing Bear... You planned it all along, didn't you?" He looked at Khol, who was puzzled at Haytre's actions. The black one took another step closer, and the silver dragon hissed at him. "Relax. I'm not going to hurt him."

"Who are you?"

"I'm... His replacement." Haytre said softly. "Now help me get that thing off him." He pointed at the contraption that was on Zhaiothe's slumbering head.

"I don't understand... You called him Valo, but you're not his father... Haytre?" The black one exhaled. "His great grandfather? You really are immortal..."

"It's not a blessing, I can tell you that. Now are you going to help me or not?"

"But... How do we?" The lights began to flicker again.

"That one is for you. It'll take you back where ever the hell you need to be." Another time storm opened on the other side of the room. "I'll help you carry him."

"What about you? You can't stay here-"

"I can't go with you." Haytre sighed. "You're even as kind as him." Khol looked at him with a bit of sadness. But he helped carry his mate to the other side. "You take good care of him, alright?"

"...Yes. Thank you." The silver one smiled at him, but then turned his attention to the human. "What about...?" The black one looked at him for a moment.

"Take me with you." Byrin said to Khol, surprising him a little. "I never felt made for this world, and I sure as hell don't want to go back to it. I want somewhere new, somewhere with less corruption. Where I can feel like the warrior I'm meant to be."

The silver dragon looked at him with a bit of worry, and then at the black dragon. "He's down here for a reason, isn't he? That's probably it. Now go in before it closes." Haytre demanded, and the three entered the storm. Leaving the quietness of the room and the smell of blood to Haytre alone. He sighed loudly as he placed the device on his head, and went to sleep.


Arc 3 Year: 14639


The red dragon's rampage across the ashy fields continued, going from garrison to garrison and unit to unit. Anger was in his heart, but there was also something warm within it. Like a fuel that kept him level-headed and thinking straight. With that, no arrows or bolts could hit him. Ballista shots would be pushed away from him. Steel couldn't cut his scales, even in his most sensitive of parts, as if they were made of diamonds.

He took no pleasure in their deaths. He took no rewards for his destruction to their structures. Their Bunkers. Their comrades. He just wanted them out of his home. Since they would not leave, he would end their lives quickly, and painlessly.

The dragon fought until the light of day began to break the night. It only encouraged him to fight harder, and clear up the rest of what was left. Though there was beginning to be this physical pain in the dragon's heart. He noticed it before, Zhai felt like he was growing over the hours. As if they were decades of his life and how they were somehow returned to him since he was cursed. But Age made a dragon stronger. And it was enough for him to fight.

As the early morning went on, his lands were getting more and more empty and occupied with ruins. That pain began to grow larger within his chest, and was going into his arm. Zhai tried to remain concentrated, while he was facing the squads of remaining soldiers. Swiping with his paws, and extending a razor-like wind across a few of them. And slamming the earth around him to create rock spikes to his surroundings.

Suddenly, he could see it. The ones that were further away were being torn apart and fading into fragments of ashes. As if they were somehow being pulled away by something extra ordinary. Something powerful. It started with just a few soldiers, then many. Eventually the entire sky ahead of Zhai was filled with the black mist as it was being pulled up and away into the horizon. The On'scet, and their ogres, were exiled from existence itself. And without them, that one sentence, that one thing he wasn't expecting to hear in his thoughts.

(These Lands Are Now Mine.)

It brought a faint smile to him. He sucked in a breath to roar, but only to feel that pain again, only amplified. His arm, and his chest. His heart was slowing down, giving out. (No! I just made it... My home...) Zhai felt himself completely giving out. Finally feeling that peak of old age. And now his body was dying, by natural causes. Slowly his vision began to fade into blackness. And that Sheet of Cold started to cover his tail. Crawling up his body, until it submerged his core.

Chapter 11 Blessthefall - Deja Vu

It was dark. And cold. There was fear in the dragon's heart like he felt before. When he ended Valhalla. He knew what it was; he was falling. Slowly opening his eyes to nothing but blackness, he could see something silver. Something dragonkin falling as well. (...Khol!) His eyes opened wide, and fought for control of his body as he fell. "Khol!" Zhai shouted loudly. "Khol! Wake-" A loud thud knocked the wind out of the red dragon, as if he hit some invisible barrier. Seeing Khol fall through it and keep falling. "NO!" Zhaiothe roared loudly, only to see his mate stop and be suspended in air for the time being.

Desperately, he felt around for a hole, or an edge to the barrier below him. Even clawing at it to get through, but nothing worked. "It's no use." That voice he wished he never heard again. "You can't get through. You don't deserve to get though." Zhai felt himself become the wyrmling he was when he last saw his father, towering before him. "You didn't even deserve to live, not compared to what Valo was."

"Of course you would say that. But I didn't kill him! My entire life, you acted as if I did!" Zhai hissed at him.

"It was because of your hatching that I wasn't there for my son! I could've protected him, but no. I had to watch you come into this world only to shame it!"

"Shut up!" The wyrmling slammed the ground. "Tell me how to get through! Tell me how to save him!"

"You don't. You don't deserve it." Kray said. "You never deserved anything we ever gave you, not if you were just going to take off and run away. Die off in some plague barren land."

"I left because of you! I left because of your obsession over your dead son!"

"I was trying to make you into a great dragon! And this is how you repaid us!? You left our tribe, shamed our family, ruined your mother, your sister's lives! And then you got us all killed by bringing forth that army!" Zhai hissed at his father again. "Don't act like you didn't do it! You always were nothing but trouble, and that's what got us killed! It was Your Fault!"


"It was YOU! And for that, I'll send you to Momaganon!" The wyrmling caught Khol suddenly start falling once again, and he called out to him. After a few moments, the floor beneath Zhai gave out, and he found himself falling as well, at the same speed as his mate. He tried to propel himself to fall faster, but it was no use.

The dragon slammed into another barrier. Grunting from the shock of it, he looked down to see Khol hovering again. He sighed of half relief, and half torment. Again, trying to find some way around the barrier, but the dragon found himself much older once again. "There's no way around it." A female voice came from behind him.

"Doesn't mean I can't try." He growled. Looking to a face he hadn't seen in hundreds of years. "Senterra..."

"Yes, Sire. It's... Nice that you remember me."

"I can't forget. But...?"

"Sire... Zhaiothe... You were a good king. You ruled the lands well, and were a much softer person than any of us would've expected. You made a land where we could be free, and you protected us from any corruption that tried to do otherwise..." She trailed off. "...But only at first."

"Senterra..." The dragon whimpered.

"I don't know what happened to you. You were a hero to us, all of us. Maybe the corruption got to you, I heard it often comes out in all dragons. It's why people fear dragons to begin with. The destruction you caused in the last years of my life... I still can't believe it was done by the same king that used to protect us."

"Last years? But you left... I remember you saying it."

"Yes... But I didn't have the money to leave. No one did. And so, a few years of struggling later, you set our village in flames. And..." The dragon collapsed, his heart getting the worst of him.

"I-I... I was being-"

"It doesn't matter anymore. You don't deserve peace for what you've done to your people. Be it controlled or not, in shock from killing your mate, you still did it. And for that..."

"Senterra...! Please! Don't!"

"Farewell, Sire." And once again, Khol began to fall below the barrier Zhai was on. The red dragon desperately slammed the barrier, until it gave out. Again he was falling, trying to catch up to Khol's limp body, until he hit another barrier. Knocking the wind out of him once again.

Trying to look through it, he could barely see his mate below in the darkness. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry for everything that I've done... I just don't want to lose him again..."

"I know you don't. No one would." Another voice from the past. "And you must realize that this judgement has been a long time coming. You've lived a very long time, Zhaiothe. And with a long life comes many regrets."

"I swear this is Momaganon... A constant torment of chasing your mate down to the very pit of hell. While everyone around you thinks that you deserve such a fate." A few tears fell from his amber eyes, only to have them wiped by Su Ying.

"Zhai, you've done a lot of bad things within your long life. But a Man... Actually, let's say Dragon. A dragon who makes no mistakes, is a dragon that has not lived. Everyone has burdens, but even with some as heavy as yours, they don't deserve to be condemned for them." The dragon looked at him with hopeful eyes. "Now, are you ready to move on and carry your burdens once again?" Zhai just grabbed the human male, and hugged him tightly. Only to hear him laugh. "I'll take that as a yes." He smiled at him, stroking his ears and neck a bit.

"Thank you, Su Ying... Thank you."

"Alright, and be ready. Use this opportunity well." The dragon let go and got ready. "Fight with every last ounce of your strength, like the proud dragon you are, Zhaiothe." And the floor gave away. Zhai rushed down at a still hovering Khol for a few seconds, then he started to descend.

The red one dived harder and harder, only to be hit by another barrier. A large crack in his neck ached the dragon's entire spine. "Ooo, that one looked like it hurt." Another female voice that Zhai instantly recognized. He looked down at his mate, still hovering below him, but at least closer to him now. "Yes, you finally found out how it all works. You were always smarter than Kray thought you were."

The red one cracked his neck hard, trying to get it back in place. "Here I thought he was speaking for all dragons." He turned to see Zi-Zi, and to his surprise, Lycrii'd.

"Yes, we're both here." His sister gave Zi a lick. "And we both have the same answer. Even though there's two of us, it will only count as one, I'm afraid." Lyc said.

"It'll be enough." He smiled sadly at them. "It was very nice to see you two again. And less awkward than I expected."

"Oh please. Look at him and his ego. Thinking we're going to send him to Lothranis." Zi teased the red male.

"Well, I know I can always bribe my way over you two regardless. But it does make me question... What I seen there, about ten years ago. Was that real for you too?"

"Yes. Although it was like living in a memory. None of it really happened outside our minds." His sister informed him, as she walked towards Zhai, giving him a hug. "Still, I appreciate the experience. So much so that I couldn't bare the thought of you falling into Momaganon." The red male hugged her back, and motioned for Zi to join them.

"Same, we're a sucker for a male that can satisfy two females to no end. Even if one of them is his sister." Zi gave Zhaiothe a lick, only to have it returned.

"Thank you two... And as much as I'd like to thank you in other ways, I really..." He looked down below at his mate.

"We understand. Just remember that we love you, and we'll be waiting for you in heaven." Lyc gave him a lick. "Save your mate, brother. By any means."

"I have to say though, I thought he would be bigger." Zi-Zi said, looking down at Khol hovering below. "You seem like the type that could take a much larger male, Zhai." The red male tossed his snout and smiled at her. "Go get him. And if you managed to grab him, mount him like no tomorrow." A nod from Zhaiothe, and he readied himself. The barrier gave out, and he fell.

Diving into the darkness once again, Zhai fell straight for the silver dragon below him. Nearly reaching his paw, he was suddenly stopped by another barrier. "I should learn to expect these." The dragon growled, as he got back up. He looked down to see Khol almost face to face with him, and his heart sank. "I'm so close... All I need to do is just grab him."

"What exactly would that do?" The dragon looked around to find another dragon. He was large, Red, Amber eyes... Himself. At a closer look he could see something off about him. Not to mention it's voice was... Different. Zhai was speechless for a moment. "I mean, yes. You can grab a hold of him, but how would that help your case? What exactly would it do?"

"I can protect him if I can grab a hold of him."

"Are you saying you're willing to fight against Hell itself in order to be with your mate?"

"That's what it's like to be in love... Not that you ever knew, Valo." Zhai stood completely straight and stared at his older brother. It was like looking into a mirror.

"It's true, but I've seen it in your eyes. Through your eyes." Zhai curled his neck to an S. "Zhaiothe, I'm not really Valo'oath. I'm just your conscience. Our father was obsessed... With my death. So much so, that he passed a little of that obsession down to you, realize it or not. Everything you went to do, every challenge you've accepted, has been because of me and what you've thought of me. I am your driving Will to survive, demand, and fight claw and fang for what you want. And right now..." He looked at Khol. "You want him more than life itself."

Zhai's gaze met with the silver dragon below as well. "It's true... Even if I could switch places with him... Become a ghost while he could enjoy life. I would take it." He sighed deeply. "So, what's your verdict?" Valo looked at him. "It's all up to you now. You say you're my conscience, and you sound like you've been with me ever since I've been hatched. From everything that I've ever done with my life until this point; From leaving home and destroying my family, to meeting him and learning to love another. From beating and raping him while I was drunk, to trying to impregnate him because he wanted a hatchling. From nearly dying in his arms, to eventually killing him with my own. From burning his body while trying to burn my own, setting my entire lands on fire. Living hundreds of years alone in despair and torment, only to be abducted and harvested. To finally getting that second chance and have him come back to me in an incorporeal form, to learning to finally deal with the children and fight for their safety. Their freedom and existence. Even when they didn't want to do it themselves... What is your verdict?"

Valo just smiled at him and shook his head. "I still find it amusing..." Zhai tilted his head and perked his ears. "Remember what Bartan said about Lothranis?" Zhaiothe curled his neck for a moment. "Let's go back there, just for a moment." And the scenery changed, to that third day Zhai and Khol had met. They were laying in a slightly foresty area, in the shade, with an eaten ram nearby. They were laying against each other, enjoying the weather and talking to each other. "You remember this, don't you?"

"Yes... Our third day. He was concerned about the ram and the idea of death itself. In order to feed us, it must die, and one thing lead to another..." Listening to the conversation, Zhai began to say the words with his past self. "When dragons die... They are judged by what they've done in their time in this world. If they are considered to be good, helpful, and overall a benefit to the world they were a part of, they go to a palace called Lothranis. If not, they go to another palace called Momaganon."

"Exactly." Valo said, with that smile again. "You realize that it doesn't matter what I say, the decision is not up to me. I'm not real enough to have that judgement in your life. I'm nothing more than your idea of judgement. Even so, I can only assume that you either did things for the better of the world, or the worst. But I cannot tell you for sure." The scenery changed once again back to the darkness and the silver dragon below.

"So what happens then?"

"You grab him, and fight all of Hell for his Existence, Being, and Love." Zhai gave a solid nod. And readied himself to grab him. "Barrier coming down in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1." And the red one grabbed Khol's arm hard. Pulling his limp body to his own and held him tightly.

Together they fell through the darkness, not knowing where it would lead. But it didn't matter. If Zhaiothe was condemned to hell, he would fight it. In order to save Khol, he would give anything, like Khol did for him.

Another hard landing, but Zhai didn't let go. Not until he realized that Khol was sustained by the barrier as well. He sighed, breathing on him, only to get him coughing a bit from the impact. "Gods that hurt..." The silver one moaned, only to be held tighter by his mate. "Zhai? Zhai! Too hard!" The red one eased up, licking at him.

"Thank the Gods... I won't let you go Khol. I'll never let you go..." Zhai breathed in, getting his scent once again and taste. "I don't care who it is this time, I won't ever let you go again."

"It's..." Khol looked around a bit, and sighed deeply. "...Zhai... It's me."

"You? You're my...?"

"Yes." He smiled at him sadly.

"Well then we're home free. We can go to Lothranis together." He noticed some sadness in his eyes. "Khol, what's wrong?"

"...I... I'm sorry Zhai." He choked a bit. "I don't want you to go to Lothranis."

Chapter 12


Arc 1 Year: 18396


The room was still cold and lonely. The smell of decay still filled it, while the Black dragon stayed slumbering. The lights that still remained intact started to flicker a bit, while a time storm opened up. A silver dragon and a hexeped stepped through and into the cold room. "Wow that's... awful." Bartan said, in remark to the smell. With a soft movement of his forepaw, he removed the body and it's odor from the room. "Much better."

"Wow... How long has he been here?" The silver dragon asked.

"Only about two years." Bartan answered, looking the black dragon over. "Are you sure you want to do this Ziik? If you remove him, alot of people in this timeline will suffer for it."

"...I know. But... At the same time, he's been through so much. He's taken on the suffering of the entire world several times. The least they can do is take it back, if not just a bit. It's something that I personally would like to take responsibility for. As a thanks for him supporting me so much." Ziik laid down beside the sleeping dragon. "...He's done alot for me. Saving my haunches several times. Constantly telling me to be stronger. Listening to my regrets and holding me everytime I caved in. I honestly loved him for it, to the point where I wish I could find a salvation for him."

"I feel the same way, to be honest. Since no Force has any control over him, I need to ask him for many... Favors. Jobs. Just so I can get things moving again. And you're right, he doesn't deserve the amount of weight that I place on his back, regardless of how strong he is."

"So, will you help me? Find him a home, I mean?"

"...Yes." Bartan said with a smile. "I know exactly where he wants to be."

Ziik smiled back at him, then gave the sleeping dragon a big hug. "Thank you, for everything Haytre. As much as I'd love to have you for myself, I'm sure there's someone else that needs you. Or that you need someone else." As Bartan opened up another timestorm, the two tossed in the sleeping dragon. "Is he going to be alright?"

"Yes, he'll be fine." The counterweight said, as he lead the way back through the first portal. Ziik took one last look at the room he was in, wondering what exactly the world above looked like. "I can take care of it, if you like."

"No." The silver dragon said softly. "It's my world, I should be the one who needs to cleanse it." Bartan nodded, and the two left.


Final Arc (1) Year: 14639


"...What?" Zhai's heart nearly completely stopped. "Khol...? Why? We're so close..."

"I know, and I'm sorry... But... I don't want to go back there. I don't want your life to end. To say you want to go to Lothranis is to give up..."

"And Momaganon is better!?" A tear came out of his amber eye.

"No! Zhaiothe... I want you to live. I want you to survive, carry on with your life. I want you to create your lands again, see the world become something better- TEACH the world to become something better. I just... don't want you to die..." Khol confessed, his eyes tearing up as well.

"But I can't do it... Not without you. I've tried it before..."

"At that time, you didn't have a choice. I didn't have a choice. We were separated out of factors that we couldn't control. Now... I know if things ended this way, you'll find a way to carry on. That you can live on and do great things."

"No." Zhai said. "I don't care, Khol. I don't want to live a life without you."

"I need to stop being a burden to you, Zhaiothe. You're never going to get over me if you don't let me go."


"You can move on. Find someone else, and live another life."

" No!" Zhai roared loudly. "I Am Not Leaving You Here! I Am Not Letting You Go!" The red dragon looked Khol directly into the eyes. "Kholryik, you think you are a burden to me. From the weight that you lay on my back, to the constant amount of sexual activity that you demand from me. Everything I do, I do for you. The reason I Exist is for you. The reason why I Fight is for you. These are not things that I can just throw away! You have never been a burden to me, you've been a gift. In every meaning of the word: You, Kholryik, are a GIFT. And I don't care how selfish it sounds, I will never let go of that gift. Even if it kills me, drains me dry, or breaks my body apart; I Love You. And if you're verdict is to send me back into the mortal world, then you're coming with me!" As the barrier below them gave in, Zhaiothe held onto the silver dragon. "It took me too long to realize this... Haytre's Gift..." Zhaiothe took his own right paw, and shoved it into his chest. "It was never Immortality!" Ripping out a bright light from his red chestplates, he shoved it onto Khol's. "It Was LIFE!" And the light banished the darkness around them.

The daylight woke up the red dragon, coughing from the old air in his lungs. Near him, he could hear someone else doing the same. "Wow that air is dry..." Zhai heard Khol's voice, slowly getting up and turning to him. All they could do was smile at each other, for a moment. Then moved in to embrace tightly. A bit of rumbling came from the skies to the south, just below the sun. Khol still coughing a bit, he tried to speak. "I have to get used to breathing again..."

"Yes, it takes some getting used to." Zhai held him for a few more minutes, before getting up and viewing the scenery. "That storm's coming our way. We really need the rain."

"Good Gods though... look at this place." The two studied for the first time the lands in daylight. It was completely dead and a wasteland. Every tree that was grown was cut down to make the garrisons. Every bit of plant life was reduced to nothing but ash. And no wildlife in sight.

"Yes... It's going to take some work. But it will be worth it."

"Alot of work. Your lands though... You finally got them back." Khol smiled at him

"That's another one..." The silver one looked at him puzzled. "Another mistake I've made for so, so long..." His ears perked and his head tilted. "It was never my land to begin with."

"It wasn't? Who's was it then?"

"Ours." Zhai smiled, giving Khol a kiss... And eventually leading to him on his back.

"Really?" Khol asked between licks. "You want to do it here? And now?"

"Well, I kinda promised Zi-Zi we would." The two chuckled. Zhai got up one last time and looked around. Although it seems dead now, there was still life in the land itself. And though silent, he could hear a familiar sound. One he hadn't heard since the first time he entered these lands centuries ago...

The Sound Of Starting Over...


Zhaiothe woke up in a loud gasp. His heart was racing as he breathed in the cool mountain air. It was dark, but he could see the glow of the moon outside his Throne. Looking around, he felt Khol, still breathing and sleeping soundly beside him. His soft furs were still there as a bed, and his cave was still very much intact.

The red dragon got up, and searched the air for the scent of water. It led him to the barrel outside of his home. Exiting out, he seen his lands as if they were from his near-perfect memory. How beautiful they seemed struck him in the heart. After a few laps, he sat in the midnight air, gazing at them and the old settlements of the Children. Everything was the same.

Zhai grunted as he held a paw to his head, trying to figure out what was real and what wasn't. That dream he had, about losing Khol and going through all that pain felt so real, he swear it was. Every detail began to play through his head, and a small thought began to link to another. "...Bartan." He faintly whispered.

"Yes?" The hexeped's voice came up the old path to his throne. The white beast slowly walked up beside the dragon with a friendly smile on his face.

"What is this?" Zhai gestured to the lands around him. "What was that vision?"

"This is the night before that merchant from Alzallion came to you with that gem." He gazed across the lands, with the same reaction the dragon felt. "They are just beautiful, I still can't believe it."


"I know. I'll get to it, but first I want to ask you a few things." The dragon tilted his head at the Polar Bear. "Out of everything, why did you leave your hatchplace?"

Zhai sighed deeply. "I wanted to get away from my father and Valo's death. I couldn't stand it anymore. I thought I told you that when I first met you."

"Doesn't it go a bit deeper than that?"

The dragon gave it some thought. "Perhaps I just needed a change. Needed to change, something if not anything in my life. Even though I was very young and well... It ended up being the death of me, leaving was just something I had to do."

"Granted, the leaving part was not the death of you. You just traveled too far without refreshments. And when you basically reached your limit, there was nothing safe." The dragon frowned at him, lowering his head. "All younger ones have to know those limits somehow, but for the most part, I want to say that's a better answer."

"Better answer?"

"Alright next one. What do you fight for? I mean, for these lands and within that dream. What caused you to make those decisions?"

Zhai's neck curled to an S. "I fought for Khol. I fought for my life, but also the lives of him and the lives of those that are here. I fought for my lands, to protect them."

"Well, yes. But you've never tried talking to the kingdom of Alzallion to begin with. You never stopped to think that maybe you could do this without violence, did you?"

The dragon lowered his ears and faced away from Bartan. "No. I never even considered that. But something tells me that it wouldn't have mattered anyway."


"Because it's the way Children are. If they can take it by force, why bother trying to reason with the enemy? Especially if the enemy is beast?" Zhai sighed. "I never attacked them though. I never gave them any real reason to do such a thing, unless I was defending my people." He looked at the Bear, who was wearing a bit of a sad smile. The dragon gave him an odd look when Bartan nodded at him. "Where are you going with-?"

"Next question, and this one's a bit odd. You come across a burning building with three, unconscious people inside. One of them is a youngling, not even a year old. One is just hitting adulthood, and the last is an elder one. You only have enough time to save one. Oh, and your scales are no longer resistant against flames. Who would you save-?"

"All of them."

The Counterweight double taked at him. "All?"

"Yes. You said I only have enough time to save one, assuming that meant safely save one."

"You would go in at the risk of your own life to save, not only a stranger, but the life of an... Well, let's say 'Not-As-Important' person. Can I ask why?"

The dragon thought about it for a moment, and his eyes trailed back towards his bed within the cave. "...I guess he's changed me more than I wanted to." Zhai looked back at Bartan, who was once again smiling at him. "Seriously, you're starting to get under my scales."

"Last one. And I'm serious about this one." He gestured towards the dragon's lands. "This is real, Zhaiothe. And so was that Dream of yours. I'm going to give you a choice: you can remain here, before that gem destroyed what you made here. You can keep this home and live your life from the moment it was taken away. Or you can go back to where you got them back, after fighting the army of On'scet. Where you will have Khol, but you used Haytre's gift to make him alive again. On a note about that: You're no longer immortal like you were before."

"I can...?" He looked around at his lands. How welcoming they were to the dragon, and how Flight seemed to want him to take to the skies and embrace him. Zhai then looked towards where his mate was sleeping. "And he won't remember anything? No one will but me?"

"Yes. That is correct." Bartan said softly.

The dragon took a shaky breath. "...I can't." He shook his head. "I can't just abandon what actions I've taken. Pretend it never happened, and just run away from it once again. I need to take responsibility for what I've done, for what I've lost. As much as I..." His amber eyes scanned his land once again. "I want this... But I need to earn it. I need to build it myself, and finally create my lands. Rather than just take them. I need to go back." Turning to face his old friend once again, he got a big hug from the white furred one. "Bartan-?"

"That's exactly what I was hoping to hear." The beast said. "He said the same thing."

"He!?" Zhai looked at him, trying to pry him off. "...Khol?" He felt a nod.

"Go back to sleep. When you wake up, you'll be back there." Bartan smiled at him again, giving the red dragon a lick between the eyes before he turned around and started to walk off.

"Bartan...? What was...?"

"Forces need to start somewhere. Believe it or not, most start off as Mortals." Again with that smile. "But for now, enjoy your new life with Khol, Zhaiothe. I'll see you in a few hundred years."

The dragon fell back on his haunches once again, and just stared off in the distance. After a while, a smile grew over the dragon's muzzle. "...He planned all this out. Right from the beginning..." Zhai shook his head. For the very last time he gazed at his lands from the past.

"Things will never be the same as they are now, but that doesn't mean that they're going to be bad for us." Khol said, coming out of his Throne. "However, we're going to need to find a new place to sleep. This throne of yours finally caved in." Zhaiothe gave him a lick when the silver one came close enough. "It is beautiful though. I almost feel like I took this place for granted."

"Yes, but we can make it kind of like it was. It won't be exact, but we can still make it beautiful."

"Perhaps someday we can do that for this entire world. And maybe a few others too?" Khol asked him. And the red one's only reply was a nod. As Zhai took one more breath of the fresh mountain air, he turned around and headed back into his throne. "Not going to take another look? Perhaps maybe take a last flight for old time's sake?"

He smiled at Khol. "I think I've finally had enough of the past. I'm honestly eager to work on the future. Unless you want..." The silver dragon came up beside him and gave him a lick.

"I'm ready when you are. Besides." The silver dragon nibbled at his red ear.

"Still wanting to try again? So soon?"

"I have a good feeling about this one." Khol licked him again. As the two dragons laid down on the pile of furs, Zhai took a deep breath over his mate's silver neck.

"So Do I..."

_ _

The End

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