To Drakenstead — Part 2
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
“So how far away is your village anyway?” I flapped my wings to push myself through the air as I asked a question whose answer I should’ve figured out long prior to departure.
“It is a fair distance away,” she said. “Our journey is likely to span four days in either direction.”
“Four days? Wow, that’s pretty far…”
I had packed us enough supplies for a month on the road, so it wasn’t like we were going to run out of food or clean clothes, but that didn’t mean that I was all that keen on flying for four days straight. That just sounds exhausting.
“The village is situated at this continent’s outermost reaches. It will not be difficult for us to find our way given our capacity for flight, but the same cannot be said for those that lack it, for Drakenstead lies in a territory like the Wicked Forest, one uncharted by the races.”
“Let me guess, the whole area’s filled with overpowered monsters?”
“An accurate assumption indeed,” she said. “As it is a domain that houses a high concentration of magical particles, its inhabitants are relatively powerful.”
“I see… I guess that means the area around it is kinda like the Wicked Forest, but that doesn’t really give me an idea of what to expect. Nor does you calling it a village, since I kinda doubt a dragon village is much like a human one,” I said. “What’s it like there?”
“There are few words by which I am willing to describe it,” she snorted. “The only two that come to mind immediately are monotonous and dreary.”
“I know you don’t like it there, but why? Do you just hate all the other dragons ‘cause of how annoying they are?” I still wasn’t really sure what she meant, so I probed her for more details.
“It is… because Drakenstead does not ever change.” Her response came after a moment of contemplation.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“The draconic race is one that is eternally stagnant. We do little but persist through the ages. We attempt not to induce change upon the world, nor ourselves. We are not like the races, whose circumstances change drastically as the sands trickle and the season pass. We simply remain, from dawn till dusk and conception until demise, exactly as we were…” She turned her eyes upwards and looked off into the distance. “The sole change that was sought was my ascension to the crown of dragonlord. I could not stand the lack of change, nor the constant nagging of my acquaintances. And it was for those two reasons that I departed.” She heaved a sigh. “But in the end, I was incapable of escaping my draconic blood. Despite my relocation, I continued to stagnate and engage in nothing but tedium. Until the day we met.”
“…Does that mean that you guys basically don’t have any cultural advancements?”
“Indeed. That is one term through which our circumstances may be explained. Our culture does not adapt. We possess not the means to enable cultural advancements, for our large, mighty frames are ill suited to creation.” She tightened and unclenched a fist as she spat out a series of venomous, loathing complaints. “We have only ever destroyed. It is for that reason we are viewed by the world at large as a threat.”
With that, I finally understood her. But though I kept opening my mouth and attempting to speak, I could never find the right words to say, so I closed it. The cycle repeated, over and over, and ultimately resulted in me flapping my lips like an idiot. That, however, was enough to convey my feelings. Her expression softened almost immediately after she turned her head my way.
“I have only one final statement. The ancient ones that have inhabited it for countless millennia do their utmost to accomplish naught. The existence borne by each is no different from that of a statue,” she concluded. “It is not as if I do not enjoy spending my days in carefree leisure. But I am unlike them. I cannot stand the thought of laying still for centuries.”
Holy fuck. I’d definitely go batshit if I did nothing but lie in the exact same spot for one century, let alone multiple…
“Yeah uh… that’s a bit too long in my book,” I said. “Especially if you’re just looking to chill for a bit.”
When Baldrgaen mentioned that dragons liked taking it easy, I’d more or less reenvisioned them as a calm, gentle, but otherwise relatively normal race. But now, I’d come to realize that my understanding had been more than just a little bit off. My previous impression had completely and utterly failed to take the length of their lives into account.
“Our long lives lead us to treat years as the races do days, for we have thousands upon thousands to spare.” she said. “But I feel this way no longer. The life I have led by your side has taught me that each day may yet be full of rich experiences to be had.”
“Yeah, same here. Before I met you or any of the others, I kinda felt like everything was just a boring blur. It was kinda like I put life in control of the reins and let it give me whatever lemons it wanted.”
“The otherworldly nature of your origin is quite intriguing indeed. I knew not that such a thing was possible, nor that this world contained so many mysteries yet to be unraveled.”
“I know, right? Your stomach’s gotta be one of this world’s greatest wonders. Its capacity is basically infinite.”
“It would do well to be honoured alongside the extent to which you attract children of the opposite sex.”
We gave each other a bit of side-eye, and then each broke into a fit of laughter. Following that was a moment of silence. But not an uncomfortable one. We simply spent a bit of time enjoying the comfort that came with a moment all to ourselves.
“So uhh… remember what we were talking about earlier?” I ended up breaking it eventually once I finally figured out something that I’d been thinking about for quite some time.
“We spoke at length, Yuki. You will need to be more specific.”
“I get that you might not really like being a dragon and all that, but, you know… it ain’t all that bad.”
I took a moment to recollect my thoughts. I knew that she really didn’t like the overwhelming power she was born with. She had never once been happy to tell me that she would always be there to protect me. Because she felt that her strength was all she could offer. That it was the entirety of her worth.
“You being the supreme dragon is the only reason everything is the way it is now. If you weren’t born the way you were, and if they didn’t annoy you enough to leave Drakenstead, then you wouldn’t have ever ended up in the Wicked Forest.” I turned to look her in the eyes. “If even one variable was off, we would’ve never met. That’s why I’m glad, from the bottom of my heart, that you’re exactly the way you are. And that includes the whole you being a dragon thing.”
It was a clumsy bit of speech, one that didn’t quite come out exactly as I’d intended it to. But it was enough to convey the message, and enough to lead her to reconsider her stance. She stared at me a bit, rattled, before slowly allowing her surprise to melt into joy.
“I suppose you have a point.” She chuckled. “Then I will not complain any longer. I am also grateful we met, and I cannot deny that I owe it to the draconic blood flowing through my veins.” She looked at herself, smiled gently, and then continued, in a much brighter tone than before. “Let us focus on flight. The road ahead is long yet. We have only flown a tenth of the way.”
“Man, it’s hella far…” I said. “But honestly, I don’t really mind. The wait’s only going to get me more hyped.”
“I’ve spotted two individuals with wings. One’s even got horns and a tail. They must be demons!” A faraway soldier noted a few observations to his squadmates before raising his voice. “Halt! Advance any further and you’ll be entering our airspace! We will open fire and shoot you down if you don’t stop right where you are!”
“Oh wow, are those dragon knights?”
I raised a brow as I watched the troopers flap their way over atop large lacertian mounts. They were, essentially, a type of cavalry, and seemed to more or less serve as this world’s dragoons, minus the whole gun aspect. Though I called their mounts dragons, they weren’t true dragons by any stretch of the imagination. They consisted entirely of demi-dragons, dragon-like lizards who, unlike real dragons, were incapable of speech. Honestly though, who cares if they’re riding real dragons. Either way, being a DK makes you a total badass.
They didn’t seem to be Allysian. The armour they wore was of a completely different design, and I didn’t quite recognize the coat of arms it featured. It didn’t even look vaguely familiar. I’m guessing they probably came from the fort I see off in the distance. Looks like it’s what… 3 kilometers away?
While the less-than-perceptive riders were undaunted, the wyverns that served as their mounts were terrified of Lefi. Though they’d followed their orders and approached her, they were practically shivering in their metaphorical boots. Each of the creatures was trying its best to look as small and insignificant as possible. They were basically scrunching themselves up into small, airborne balls. Evidently, the riders weren’t totally incompetent, as they began comforting their partners once they realized they weren’t doing so hot. Hmmm… doesn’t look like they’re planning on letting us through. What to do… What to do…
“Hey Lefi, which way is Drakenstead?”
“It lies directly ahead.”
Greeaaaat. That means that we’ll either have to take a detour or just go straight through. I’m not all that keen on roughing up the soldiers since they’re just doing their jobs. They seem like pretty decent people, based on how they’re not just straight up attacking us even though they think we’re demons. They even gave fair warnings and whatnot. Yeah, Iunno. I don’t really want to fuck them up for no reason.
While I was stuck trying to think up an idea, Lefi had already moved on to implementing them. She narrowed her eyes into a glare and spoke in a low, impatient growl.
“You are in my way.”
“Stop acting tough, little la—woah! Dawn? Dawn!? What’re you doing!?”
The statement wasn’t directed towards the riders.
But rather, their mounts.
As prey before a predator, the wyverns froze. They stopped obeying their riders and halted their advance. Each lizard submissively turned its eyes up on the sole dragon present, and those that were directly in her way even went as far as to part like the red sea. They probably weren’t intelligent enough to understand what she’d said, but they were well aware that they’d pissed off a divine entity not to be trifled with. I almost felt bad for them. Some of the wyverns were so scared that they looked like they were going to tear up. It’s alright guys. This is just a passing nightmare. It never happened. You’ll be alright.
“Let us be off,” she huffed.
“Err… yeah… sure,” I said. “Man, having you around makes everything so simple…”
I flapped my wings and casually floated off. But while I was enjoying my lack of a struggle, the soldiers were busy with the exact opposite.
“Dawn!? Dawn!! Come on girl, relax, it’s okay! You don’t need to freak out!” The man that’d been issuing the warning looked back up at us as he desperately attempted to regain control of his mount. “Wait! Where are you going!? Get back here! Hey!”
Despite his protests, we flew right off without a care in the world. Aside from feeling kinda bad for the wyverns, that is.