The Heir of the Dragon
Alone in the fields of Eldrasil Village, feeling the mana of Eldrasi surging through him, Trevan wondered if this feeling was what Awakening Magic was like.
Ever since he had released Eldrasil from her seal and the sword revealed her true form to him, he was connected to the Sacred Tree in a way that he had never felt before. He could sense her breathing, feel her heartbeat as she sent mana down her roots and out through all of Estval, and even hear her voice in his mind.
Was this what it was like for someone who had lived in chains their whole life, being finally set free?
Trevan raised his sword and swung. The blade, thick like a tree branch, was light as a twig in his hands as he spun it through the air. He imagined striking down the enemies of Eldrasil and she sung to him, urging him forward. “Take care of yourself,” Eldrasil whispered to him. “Take care of yourself and protect me.”
“I will,” Trevan promised her, swinging the blade down hard. The grass beneath him parted with the force of the blow.
“It seems you are practicing well.”
Hearing the voice of Jorn, Trevan released his connection to Eldrasil and raised his head, turning to his friend.
“Of course I am,” Trevan said, nodding sharply. “You said it yourself. We must prepare for the war that’s to come.”
Eldrasil sealed herself away in Trevan’s hands, returning to her form as a thick white branch. He gingerly tucked her into his belt and walked over to Jorn, staring into the older boy’s eyes. He could see the fire there, and it brought a frown to Trevan’s face.
Jorn may have been smiling, but there was anger there, mixed with frustration.
“What do you plan, then?” Jorn asked. “It’s been months since you awakened Eldrasil from her slumber, yet all you do each day is go out to our fields and swing that sword around. Shouldn’t we be using its power to score victories? Attack the districts, overwhelm the guards, and liberate our people?”
“It isn’t as simple as that,” Trevan said, shaking his head. He raised his head to stare up at the massive tree over their heads, the green light of the crystalline orica shining gently down on him. “Since I’ve awoken Eldrasil… I’m connecting to her in ways that I can’t begin to imagine. You couldn’t understand, Jorn, this power… this feeling… it’s more than just raw strength and brutality. I’m a part of her now.”
Trevan realized his mistake the minute the words left his lips. He glanced back at his friend and saw the look of anger stretched across Jorn’s face.
“We are all a part of the Sacred Tree,” Jorn scowled. “Just because you may have been chosen to hold that sword does not mean that you are better than the rest of us!”
“No, that’s not what I meant!” Trevan cried. “What I mean is… Eldrasil is strong. Stronger than we can ever imagine. And our people are strong, too. If we take the time to-“
Trevan paused when he saw Jorn’s expression. Jorn looked at him like Trevan had just slapped the other boy across the face.
“Time?” Jorn hissed. “You’re sounding just like Elder Wormwood now, do you realize that? Take time? Time for what? For our people to weaken and die in their chains? You have the power now, Trevan, you know the stories as well as I! The Sacred Blade of Eldrasil, the heart of the forest itself, wielded by only the most worthy.”
“I know the stories,” Trevan scowled. “And I know the power that I hold. And believe me, I want nothing more than to take this sword, and turn it against those who oppress our people.”
“Then do it!” Jorn urged, his eyes wild. “We have it now, with that power, you could destroy an entire district in a single night! How many of our people could we liberate if you and I go to the closest district, right now?”
“I know that we can,” Trevan agreed. “But…”
Trevan couldn’t put his objection into words. He didn’t have the words, because he agreed with his comrade. Before awakening Eldrasil, he had wanted nothing more than for every Saekorian to experience the pain and anguish that Estval had felt.
And that ambition hadn’t changed.
“But what, Trevan?” Jorn growled, giving Trevan a look of disgust. “You haven’t found yourself giving into those feelings of weakness and subservience that Wormwood preaches, have you?!”
It didn’t go unnoticed by Trevan that Jorn had removed the “Elder” from his reference to Elder Wormwood now.
“No, of course not! I feel the same, if I could-“
“Then why can’t you?!” Jorn demanded. “Come with me, fight with me, brother!”
Trevan wanted to, by Eldrasil Trevan wanted to!
But whenever his thoughts turned in that direction, he felt resistance from Eldrasil. Attuned as he was to the Sacred Tree, he could sense her feelings much clearer than he ever could before.
So why didn’t Eldrasil want to fight against the invaders, the Saekorians who defiled her trees with their very presence? He couldn’t understand it. He had spent the past months grappling with this dilemma, wondering why Eldrasil didn’t want him to use her great power.
She pleaded with him constantly to protect her, so why wouldn’t she let him?
The uncertainty Trevan felt must have been showing on his face, because Jorn now looked at him with confusion.
“What’s wrong, Trevan?” Jorn asked suspiciously, his tone softening. “Are you unwell?”
Trevan let out a sigh. “I am troubled, my brother.”
Jorn’s eyes widened with worry. “Is your connection with Eldrasil causing you strain? I can bring Keela to give you some tears from the poppy, or lavender tea.”
“No, it isn’t that sort of trouble. I face… an emotional dilemma,” Trevan assured his friend. “I stand with you. I want to do whatever it takes to destroy those monstrous Saekorians who have caused our people so much pain! But…”
“But what? What is it?” Jorn asked. His rage was gone, replaced with only concern. “What dilemma could lead you to question our mission?”
Trevan sighed. He stared up at Eldrasil and felt her warmth cradling him, nurturing him with tenderness like his mother once did.
“Eldrasil… when I commune with her, I can feel her heart. She wants me to protect her… but when my thoughts turn towards the Saekorians, I can feel her resisting. It’s almost like… she doesn’t want us to fight,” Trevan said. “I know that we need to defeat them, but knowing how Eldrasil feels…”
“Is she restricting her power from you?” Jorn asked, narrowing his eyes. His face darkened.
Trevan shook his head, surprised by the sharpness in his friend’s voice. “No, nothing like that. My connection to her remains strong, no matter what I would choose to do. It’s just that she doesn’t want me to do it.”
It was such a shock to hear the normally-eloquent Jorn give such a brusque answer that for a moment Trevan wasn’t sure how to respond.
“What do you mean?” He finally managed to ask.
“Why does it matter what Eldrasil wishes for?” Jorn asked, sounding honestly confused. “You have her power. She will listen to you. What you should be concerned with is what you want, what is best for our people!”
Trevan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. How could Jorn, someone who had grown up with the same teachings as Trevan had, who tended to and protected Eldrasil the same way Trevan did, not care about what Eldrasil herself wanted?
“You don’t care?” Trevan asked. “Jorn… Eldrasil, she… what’s the matter with you?!”
Anger flashed across Jorn’s face for a brief instant, but he managed to push it away. He took a deep breath, staring silently at Trevan. Trevan could see the anger in his comrade’s green eyes. No doubt, Jorn saw that same anger in his.
Trevan understood so much about Jorn, seeing how free of doubt the other boy was. I know it’s my connection to Eldrasil that’s causing me this turmoil. Even though I convinced myself that I have doubts about what is right… no, I know what is right! So why am I hesitating to do what I know must be done?
Jorn was the one who broke things off. He turned away from Trevan and stared at the village in the distance. He looked towards them for a long time before finally turning back. His face was much softer now.
“Trevan… what is most important to Estval?” Jorn asked.
Trevan was taken aback by this question. He looked at Jorn in confusion. “What do you mean?”
Jorn let out a long sigh. “I know that due to your connection to Eldrasil, you feel for her more strongly than the rest of us. But what of our people, Trevan? Who matters more? Eldrasil? Or our people?”
“That’s… I don’t know.” Trevan couldn’t answer. Indeed, without Eldrasil, Estval would certainly flounder and die. But without the Estvalians themselves… “They’re both… both of them are essential!”
Jorn nodded, a thin smile appearing on his face. “Agreed. But you have to understand, Trevan, that for not only the sake of our people, but for even Eldrasil’s sake, we have to act against her wishes.”
Trevan winced. Defy Eldrasil? Indeed… he couldn’t help but acknowledge the sense that Jorn made. Eldrasil didn’t want Trevan to follow his heart and eradicate the Saekorians. But Trevan knew that it must be. The Saekorians had to be driven out, exterminated, made to feel the same pain that Trevan felt, that all of Estval felt!
But he didn’t have the strength to disappoint Eldrasil, who loved him so dearly.
Jorn reached out and placed a hand on Trevan’s shoulder, a comforting gesture that relieved the turmoil in Trevan’s heart.
“Eldrasil is wonderful, I know that,” Jorn said softly. “She has so much love, doesn’t she?”
Trevan nodded, Eldrasil’s warmth soothing him as much as his friend’s kind words.
“But because of how gentle she is, she can even love those who would seek to destroy her,” Jorn continued, the warmth in his voice gone now. “That’s where we must come in, my brother. We must defeat them, for Eldrasil’s sake. Even if she won’t thank us for it. Don’t you agree?”
Trevan bit his lip, and nodded. He knew what Jorn said was the truth. “I just… need a little more time,” he whispered. “To get the strength to do what needs to be done.”
Jorn smiled, apparently satisfied with that answer. He clapped Trevan’s shoulder and removed his hand, nodding. “Tonight, Keela and Jayon will be at my house to plan our next move. You are welcome to join us when you’re ready. I hope to see you there.”
Trevan forced a smile to his face, and nodded. “I think… I shall stay out here a while longer, and sort out my thoughts.”
Jorn nodded. “Be well, my brother.” He turned and walked back towards the village, his back broad and his steps sure. Trevan felt a twinge of envy. His friend carried himself as a man assured of his way forward.
Trevan hoped to one day gain that resolve for himself.
“It troubles you, doesn’t it?” Creaking whispers in his ear sent a chill down Trevan’s spine. He whirled around and drew his sword, stunned by what he saw.
It was the witch! The black witch who had come to them that night, standing just outside his reach! Just seeing her here, in Estval, sickened him.
“What are you doing here?” Trevan snarled angrily at the blight upon his pristine home. “How dare you invade our village?”
“’Invade our village’, ridiculous,” the Black Witch said, Trevan hearing the sneer in her voice. She walked closer to him. “When I’ve taken the time to come here, to help you in your time of doubt?”
“What do you mean by that?” Trevan demanded. He sent his energy into Eldrasil, and the great blade of wood extended. He pointed it threateningly at her, but the Black Witch didn’t move. She just stood there, black robes drifting in the wind.
“One of my experience knows many things,” the witch murmured. “I can see the doubts of your very soul. But you need not doubt any longer. Shall I tell you why that is?”
Trevan didn’t want to hear a word out of her mouth, but he found himself compelled to listen anyway. Before, the Black Witch had always met with Keela or Jorn, beyond the barriers of the village. To come this close, to come to them here… and not just that, but to him, specifically, there had to be a reason.
“Tell me!” Trevan snarled, clutching Eldrasil tightly.
“What do you know of the ‘Rem Magic Academy’?” The Black Witch asked.
“Nothing,” Trevan said. “Is that some sort of school? In Saekoria?”
The hooded figure nodded her scarf-wrapped head. “Precisely. I have an operative placed there, a collaborator who shares my vision. She has provided me with a particularly useful piece of advice that I feel compelled to share with you, Trevalyn Wud-Shannah.”
Trevan still felt uneasy. He wasn’t sure what the witch was getting at, and was running out of patience for her. He could feel Eldrasil’s hesitation. She couldn’t stand this witch any more than he could.
“If you have something to say, then say it,” Trevan growled at her. “Say it, and be gone from here!”
“In a week’s time, students of the Rem Magic Academy will be traveling here, to the Ruins of Eldrasil,” the witch explained. Trevan nearly struck her down for her rude words, to think the Sacred Tree was a ruin! This witch was no better than the Saekorians she claimed to despise!
If the witch noticed Trevan’s fury, she didn’t let on. She continued. “Among those students, there is one in particular that stands out. A boy, like you, who has awakened a Sacred Arm. Soulfire. And with it, he brings to this forest… five dragon eggs.”
Trevan’s blood froze. Dragon eggs? Impossible.
“There are no more dragons,” Trevan said, shaking his head in disbelief. “They’ve been extinct for over a hundred years.”
“While that may be true, their legacy lives on,” the Black Witch said. Her voice was fierce, and her insistence startled Trevan. “It is fact, in a week five dragon eggs will be here.”
Even if that were true, so what? “Why should I care about something like that?” Trevan demanded. “How is anything you’ve told me supposed to help us drive out the Saekorians?!”
The Black Witch shook her head, a rumbling sigh escaping her throat. “A child like you, who has never seen one of those great beasts, could not understand. The sheer destructive power they command is like nothing you could imagine. Fully-grown, a single dragon could burn a castle to the ground, drive a whole city to ruin… and Blake Harker brings five of them.”
“You… want me to what? Take the dragon eggs for myself?” Trevan asked.
“Yes,” the Black Witch sharply declared, nodding. “Kill the boy and take the eggs. When they hatch you will raise them, train them, and finally… use them to burn every island in Saekoria to ash!”
Trevan had heard the stories of the dragons. Mighty creatures capable of felling forests with a beat of their wings, whose fangs could snap metal and whose breath could melt stone. “With that power, we could… But, no. It would take far too long! We need to start the war now, every day our people-!”
Trevan caught himself. It wasn’t his words on his lips, but those of Jorn. Trevan hadn’t realized it, but his heart had already made its choice.
“In the time of Roland, the so-called ‘Great Unifier’ forced Estval to surrender with the might of the Harkers and their dragons,” the Black Witch recounted bitterly. “Now, Estval can repay that debt. Imagine, a free Estval, guarded by the only five dragons in the sky! You would never again face the shackles of those who think they are superior… your people could live in their forest in peace, the way they’ve always wanted. The way you’ve always wanted… and all you’d need to do… is burn Saekoria with the same flames they used to ravage your people! Can’t you see that future, boy?”
Trevan could picture it. It was the world he wanted, the world he’d dreamed of! It would take time, certainly, but with five dragons… it could be done.
Saekoria would burn, and the pain of Estval would not go unanswered. His heart throbbed with pain, he could feel Eldrasil crying. “Forgive me, my friend. But it is the only way. This is how it must be. To make sure you’re safe.”
“…Well now. I can see that you have difficult times ahead of you, Trevalyn Wud-Shannah,” the Black Witch cackled. “I shall take my leave of you now… you may do as you like.”
With that, the witch departed, fading away into the shadows of the approaching dusk and leaving Trevan alone with his thoughts.
He sealed Eldrasil away, and returned to the village.
Trevan was so lost in thought, he didn’t even see where he was going. He bumped into Ki, nearly knocking the boy over before he caught him.
“I’m sorry, Ki, I wasn’t watching where I was going,” Trevan gasped, checking the boy for any injuries. Thankfully, there were none, and Ki looked up at him with a big, beaming smile.
“Don’t worry, Trevan!” Ki shook his head, dispelling any traces of worry from Trevan’s heart.
“Good, that’s good,” Trevan sighed in relief. Then, his expression hardened. “What are you doing out here? You know you should be in bed at this time of night!”
Ki glanced down sheepishly.
“I, um… I was actually looking for you,” he muttered.
“Me?” Trevan asked, surprised. “Why?”
“I… I wanted to ask you something,” Ki said. He looked around, like there was something to be wary of. Trevan was worried for a moment. There should be nothing concerning to be found in this village!
“What is it?” Trevan asked, trying hard to keep his voice gentle.
Satisfied there was no one else around, Ki lowered his voice to a whisper. “You can’t tell my mom. Promise!”
Trevan nodded, kneeling down so the boy could whisper into his ear. “I promise.”
“My mom won’t allow it, so I had to sneak out to ask you,” Ki admitted. He was surprisingly shy, considering how energetic he usually was. “When I get older… I want to be like you. I want to protect this village, too!”
Trevan was surprised. Like all the children of Eldrasil Village, Ki had no idea of the dangers that existed beyond the village gate. But the light in his eyes, he was adamant about it. Trevan couldn’t say no to those eyes.
“Ki… I need to tell you something important. And you can’t tell anyone, not until the time comes,” he whispered.
“What? What is it?” Ki asked, his green eyes widening.
“Soon… Keela, Jayon, Jorn, and I will be leaving the village for a little while,” Trevan said. “We have… important business. On the surface. But… it could be dangerous. If we don’t come back… then Eldrasil Village will be in trouble.”
“No!” Ki cried, shaking his head. “No, you’re our protector, Trevan! We need you! You can’t just leave and not come back!” He wasn’t bothering with the whispers anymore; his voice was only getting louder.
Trevan let out another sigh. This was so hard to explain… “I can’t tell you why, but it’s important,” Trevan said. “And if anything should go wrong, please… you’re going to be the one who will have to protect Eldrasil, in our place. You’re the oldest, Ki. It will be your responsibility.”
Ki gasped, stunned by Trevan’s words.
“You’ll have to be strong,” Trevan gently told him. “Do you think you can do that, Ki? Do you think you can be strong?”
Ki swallowed, and nodded. “I can. I’ll protect this village for sure.”
Trevan gave him a warm smile, and patted his curly black hair. “Then I have nothing to worry about.” He rose back up. “Now, let me take you home. You don’t want to worry your mother.”
Ki shook his head, and scrunched up his face to look brave. “I can get there myself! Don’t worry!” Trevan laughed and waved the boy off as he ran back the way he came, stopping momentarily.
Ki looked back at him, his eyes still worried. He was just a boy, after all. Trevan knew there were limits to his bravery. “You… you will be okay, right?”
“Don’t worry, little one!” Trevan called back to him. “We’ll take care of each other!”
Ki’s face brightened in the night, and he nodded, turning and heading back home for real this time. Trevan watched him go, assured that he had made the correct choice. This… yes, this is what I’m fighting for. Jorn was right. The people of Estval… we need to fight for them. Not just Eldrasil.
Those thoughts carried Trevan to Jorn’s door. His friend greeted him, surprise and hope in his eyes. Trevan looked past him to see Keela and Jayon, both just as curious and hopeful.
Trevan smiled, clutching the sword on his waist.
“My place is here,” Trevan said with resolve, Jorn’s face brightening into a wide smile at the news. “I’ll fight with you.”