As soon as Phos noticed the unseen creature outside of his home, it vanished back into the night without a sound. He felt his heart hammering in his chest— he recognized those eyes.
They were the unmistakable eyes of a dragon. Cold and predatory, enough to make him shudder.
But how had a being of such immense size managed to sneak into Lotor without being spotted? Even with the snowstorm, someone would be sure to notice. Perhaps it was using some sort of magical ability to conceal itself? Phos ran possibilities through his head, quietly grabbing an unsheathed hunting knife off of the table near him. It wouldn’t do much against a dragon, but it made him feel somewhat safer.
Phos looked back at the sleeping form of his little sister. Lilia had not woken up. Unsure whether that was a good thing or bad thing, he pushed through the flaps of their tent-house and into the cold of night. Wind instantly tugged strands of his hair, bit into his face in an almost painful way. But he ignored it, scanning the surroundings.
Phos saw nothing. But he refused to let his guard down, had spent enough time hunting dangerous beasts to be fooled. Something was out here, and he gambled on it not being friendly.
It was then that it happened.
Before Phos could blink, a force beyond his comprehension slammed into his chest, sending him flying backwards into his home. He slammed against the metal frames, feeling the force reverberate through his body, rattling his bones and turning his stomach. Warmth and wetness blossomed from his arm. It was his blood, weeping from an odd white shard that had impaled him. Were they shards of glass?
No… I’m wrong. These are my bones.
The bones of his left arm had erupted from his flesh, and it hung limply at his side, crumpled like a ball of paper. Acid rose in Phos’s throat at the sight.
My arm… My arm…!
He keeled over, clenching his knife in his good hand. The pain had yet to overwhelm him due to his shock, but he was losing blood at an alarming rate.
“Oh? I barely put any force into that though. Such a pity.”
A form shimmered into view in front of Phos, revealing the previously invisible being who had attacked him. The silver dragon leaned forward to sniff him, icy blue eyes narrowed.
“I see, I see. You are indeed the one,” it hissed. “Yet you are so weak, so fragile. You are nothing like our kin. You fill me with disgust!”
Phos took the opportunity to swing his knife forward, aiming for the dragon’s face. It clinked harmlessly off of its scales, and fell to the snowy ground as he lost his grip.
“Damn you… Who are you?! What do you want?!” Phos snarled. Pain was slowly starting to surface from the shock, and he grit his teeth with rage. Blood dripped down his crippled arm, melting the snow around the puddles.
The silver dragon flicked his tongue. “I would be more concerned about other things right now if I were you. Who I am is irrelevant information to someone who is about to die.”
Phos fell to his knees, too dizzy to stand as the world tilted around him. Was this where it all ended? Was this as far as he would go?
“I came here half in jest, only wishing to retrieve the two of you… But your powers are weak. Too weak. Retrieval is pointless; you will never belong with our kin. How regrettable.”
The dragon leaned back, violet colored sparks spitting out of his maw as he prepared to breathe arcane fire. Phos closed his eyes shut, awaiting his imminent destruction...
But the flap to his tent-house opened.
“Big bro? What are you doing out…”
Lilia froze when her eyes met his, slowly taking in his injured form. When she spoke again, her voice was barely a whisper. “Bro…ther?”
The dragon released his magic. His attention was now locked on to Lilia with a wicked intensity that made Phos’s blood boil in his veins.
“I won’t let you hurt her,” he growled. “Never! Don’t you dare! Lilia, run!”
His little sister turned away and bolted, running as fast as her legs could carry her. But the dragon was faster. In two heartbeats, he had leapt into the air and pounced on Lilia, pinning her to the ground beneath his claws. She went still, breathing heavily in her panic.
“That’s no good. You ought to behave now,” he chided. Pausing, he gave her a sniff, just like he had done to Phos. “Ah. The female. Now here is a dragon! So much stronger than your brother. You’ll be worth taking with me.”
Phos willed himself to his feet, staggering clumsily over to his sisters’ side. “She’s not a dragon, you goddamn insane lizard. Get away from her!”
The familiar light he’d been annoyed by the last few days lanced his mind, sending waves of pain through his temple. It was far worse than before, unbearable when combined with the agony of his injuries. No longer capable of standing, he collapsed at the feet of the silver dragon.
“Brother! Brother!” Lilia cried out, fighting against the claws that kept her pinned. Tears streamed down her face.
“Quiet.” The dragon hissed. “If you draw humans here with your juvenile squealing, I will kill them.”
The cold wind was rapidly stripping away the warmth in Phos’s body. His consciousness was foggy, as if his brain had been dipped in thick molasses. He could no longer feel his fingers, although he was unsure if that was from blood loss or the numbing cold.
Was he dying? Is this how it felt to die? It was… Lonely. Shockingly so. But what could he do? He was powerless. He would die here alone, surrounded by only snow, in a pool of his own blood.
Lilia… I’m so sorry…
Through the haze of his mind, the light flared once more. This time, however…
You must not give up.
A voice resounded. It echoed, unspoken to all but him. He had never heard this voice before, but it was strangely comforting. It caressed him, comforted him, helping to clear his mind.
You must not give up. It repeated. And then…