Chapter 44:

Chapter 44: The Dragons Reborn (Blake)

The Heir of the Dragon

The stretch of land surrounding Silverscale Castle was perhaps the most symbolic of House Harker’s affinity for dragons. It was called the Field of Fire. The grass that grows there is named firegrass, an herb cultivated for brewing that makes the entire area smell spicy and strong. Those who were not used to the aroma would find their visit to Silverscale riddled with sneezing and coughing on days of strong winds, and often spent their stays in the fresh air behind the thick stone walls.

But for Blake, the aroma of firegrass reminded him of home. It reminded him of his family. He took a deep breath and stared up at the sky, the scent rising up and filling his lungs like the odor of fire burning tea leaves.

It was a very rare evening when Blake’s mother and father were both home and free of responsibility. On days like that, Marea and Alaine Harker would each take one of Blake’s hands and lead him out through the fields towards the dragonfruit trees. They would lie underneath the flat and drooping leaves and eat the fruit that hung before them, talking about their day.

Those were precious memories to Blake. He never imagined he would see those nights again.

“How was your day, my sweet dragon?” Marea asked. Blake sat nestled between her legs and leaned back into her embrace, feeling her gentle fingers whisper through his hair.

“It was hard,” Blake admitted, sniffling a little. The side of his stomach still really hurt. “Sabine and I were climbing on the wall, and I fell…”

“Now Blake,” Alaine said sharply, staring down at Blake with a stern look on his face. “What have I told you about climbing?”

“Um… make sure I have a strong grip before I move to the next rock?” Blake remembered.

Alaine cracked a grin and ruffled Blake’s hair. “That’s my boy. We’ll make an adventurer out of you yet!”

“Alaine!” Marea scowled, giving him a playful swat on the shoulder. “Don’t encourage him! I swear, if it wasn’t for me keeping an eye on you two, you both would have broken your necks by now!”

“Apologies, dear, but climbing to high places is a child’s romance,” Alaine laughed, scooching a little closer on the blanket and wrapping his arms around his wife’s waist. “You can’t tell me that in all the time you spent growing up here that you never once tried climbing!”

Marea’s face flushed scarlet in the moonlight. “That- That is beside the point!” She huffed, turning her head and tilting her nose up.

Alaine’s eyes went wide and a big open-mouthed grin spread across his face as he looked first at his wife and then at Blake. “Aww, look at that Blake, mommy’s just a big hypocrite, isn’t she? Can you say that? ‘Hypocrite’?”

Blake tried. “Hip… Hippo...”

“Alaine, what are you teaching our son?!” Marea exclaimed, swatting at him with both hands this time as they both burst into peals of laughter. Blake smiled. His stomach didn’t hurt so badly.

Marea cleared her throat and Blake felt her comforting hands beginning to rub his shoulders.

“Just be careful, okay?” Marea’s soft whisper tickled Blake’s ear. “You’re our precious little dragon, my love. We would just hate to see you injured.”

“I’ll be careful, momma,” Blake nodded. His heart hurt to hear that, and he didn’t know why. He nestled back closer to his mother, suddenly feeling the desperate need to feel her warmth now, more than ever.

“What about me?” Alaine asked in mock-surprise. “Aren’t you going to tell me to be careful?”

“I’ve given up hope in you,” Marea dryly replied.

Alaine’s mouth dropped open and he held his hand over his heart.

“I mean it, Blake,” Marea said, her voice harder now, stronger. Blake suddenly felt very cold and alone. “Please. Take care of yourself. More than our name, our lands, the dragon eggs, you, my sweet dragon, are the treasure of House Harker. Never forget that.”

“Your mother and I will always love you, Blake,” Alaine assured him, and Blake felt his father’s large hand rest down gently upon his head. “No matter what, never forget that.”

“Look, Blake!” Marea gasped, pointing up in the sky. “Up there!”

“What?!” Blake asked, his eyes shooting skyward. The familiar shadows of sky islands wove together ribbons of starlight in their gaps. “What is it?”

“There, right there,” Marea murmured. “Do you see those stars? The brightest ones.”

Blake squinted, and then he saw them. Five stars, brighter than any others, gathered together in a tiny ring in the skies above them.

“What a magnificent sight,” Alaine sighed. “I wish you and I were still alive to see it, my love.”


“Did you know, Blake? Whenever a dragon is born, a new star burns in the sky,” Marea said. “Every dragon is your family. And these newborns are your responsibility. I wish I could say that you’re ready to be a parent… but no one is. But I believe in my sweet dragon. Even though we aren’t here for you… we will always be right by your side.”

Blake felt her lips in his hair, kissing him on the top of the head, and then… he felt nothing at all.

Still staring up at the night sky, Blake realized he was no longer a boy of five sitting in his mother’s embrace. He sat there alone, fifteen now, his mother and father long gone. Silverscale stood before him, a castle in ruins, the Lake of Fire reduced to wasteland.

There was nothing for him here. Nothing but the pain of loss, and the growing agony in his stomach. What awaited him when he opened his eyes was not Silverscale.

Pain. That was the link between his memory of the past and the world of the present. A searing pain in his side, burning his gut like a burning sword run through him. But as he awoke, as the world returned to him, that pain faded in place of something stronger.


It flooded into him with the memories of the day’s struggles. Blake remembered now where he was, what he’d endured, what he fought for. He remembered how he fell, unable to protect anything. He clutched Soulfire tightly in his grasp, knowing not how the sword had returned to his side and not caring, either.

“Trevaaaan…” He growled, glaring at the Estvalian before him. Yes, that was the name of that trash. The man who struck him down, who stole from him, threatened him, the man who would destroy all of Saekoria if Blake didn’t exterminate him.

“Blake!” A gasp touched him, the startled squeak of Elly.

“Blake…” Reed’s voice was weak and soft, but he heard it all the same. “Blake… the eggs… please…”

One other sound caught his ear. A sound he had never heard before. But he knew what it was. Because it was how he could stand here now, reinvigorated, the fire of life burning through his soul.

Blake’s eyes were solely on the Estvalian Trevan. But his heart knew that the moment he had waited all these years for had finally come.

The chirping of newborn dragons rang through the sky for the first time in centuries, and their song was a battle cry that had roused Blake from death’s door, urging him onwards to victory.

“So you live, Harker,” Trevan spat. He clenched his sword and raised it, a green aura wrapping around him. “And now, you have brought with you the dragons as well. How wondrous.” A wicked smile stretched across his face. “I shall finish you off for good, this time. And with your death, I shall take those beasts from you, and destroy Saekoria once and for all!”

Never. Not as long as Blake breathed.

Blake roared, flames bursting up around him as Soulfire ignited in a blaze. “You will not! Touch! Those! CHILDREN!” He shouted, charging at the Estvalian.

Blake brought Soulfire down in a powerful slash, one that Estvalian easily blocked. Jumping back from him, the Estvalian raised his hand, glowing green spears of wood shooting towards Blake from all sides.

Blake did not concern himself with that.

“Useless!” He growled, holding Soulfire high and swinging the blade. A ribbon of scarlet fire spit from the point, engulfing the wooden protrusions and lighting them ablaze. Before, the Estvalian had used his strange magic to protect the forest from Blake’s fireballs.

Blake’s flames now were of a different level entirely.

“Impossible!” Trevan shouted, and Blake relished in the look of horror that spread across his face.

“I told you before,” Blake spat out, swinging Soulfire again and sending a wave of fire at the Estvalian, “that I would burn down this entire forest before I let you take those children!”

“You self-righteous Saekorian!” Trevan shouted. “What right do you have?! To deny us our vengeance?!” He ripped a blade of wood out of the ground at Blake’s feet, but Blake was too quick. He rolled to the side, the spear piercing air, and with one blast of magic it was soon reduced to ash.

“What right do you have?” Blake hissed, righting himself and conjuring two massive fireballs. “You speak of vengeance? Justice? You, Estvalian, have no right to speak to me about vengeance! Not you, whose kinsman took everything from me!”

“You lost everything? YOU?!” Trevan roared, charging forward and bringing that massive sword down upon Blake. But Blake remembered his master’s teachings well.

“Large weapons can be intimidating, but they have their weaknesses,” Miss Esterwind had told him. “Because of their size and weight, small consecutive attacks are out of the question. So one swing will leave a big opening. If you dodge, then you can strike in that opening while they’re recovering, and end the battle decisively.”

The white sword hit the ground hard, nearly splitting the dirt in two. Blake had jumped out of the way, and raised Soulfire to strike. There was no way for the Estvalian to-

A skewer of wood nearly took out Blake’s eye. He twisted his head away and felt the branch scrape across his forehead, the familiar warmth of blood trickling down as he jumped back to put some distance between himself and the Estvalian.

“I may not know much about swordplay,” Trevan admitted, straightening out and glaring at Blake, “but I told you before. It isn’t just me you face! All of Estval is my sword and shield! The forest itself will-“

“Then I will burn down your precious forest,” Blake snarled. “And then, maybe you’ll see what it’s like, to have your home burned to the ground!”

“What do you know about loss?!” Trevan roared furiously. “YOU, you Saekorians, who live lives of ‘freedom’ and ‘peace’, safe behind the walls of your precious little castles, slaughtering our people and filling our sacred lands with blood?! You say you want to show me what it’s like to have my home burned to the ground, Saekorian Devil?! Your people showed me that a long time ago!”

Who was this Estvalian? To speak to him about anger and pain? Estvalians like him took everything from Blake. They killed his family, burned down his home, and for what? For nothing! Every word the boy spoke fanned the flames of Blake’s rage, and to think that he would try to steal Blake’s children out from under him?! Blake would not allow this to stand!

“You will not get your hands on my dragons,” Blake said, filling his voice with all the anger and venom that he could. “Look around you, green-eyes. Look at what you have to show for your efforts! For your senseless destruction of the innocent! The dragons are gone! Your victims are gone! While I kept you busy, what you wanted was taken right out from under you!”

Trevan looked around, his face reacting with shock and outrage as he saw what Blake knew to be true. He could no longer hear the song of the dragons in his ears, or the groans of pain from the other students. Reed had disappeared with them all, even Rio Saleigh. The other Estvalians, thawed from their icy cages by Blake’s flames of rage, were in no shape to fight.

The Estvalian was now totally, truly alone.

And the thought of that was delightful.

“I have been waiting… for so very long for this day…” Blake rasped, stalking towards the Estvalian as flames leapt up from his sword. “Since the day you Estvalians burned down my home, slaughtered my family, and sent me into hiding… I have been training, waiting, for the day you would come after me again and try to take what I hold most dear. And now… now I’m ready. I will protect my children, if I have to slaughter EVERY! LAST! ONE OF YOU!

Blake leapt forward with a roar, the flames of Soulfire burning the air around him. The trees surrounding the clearing were glowing green, and Blake suspected that the Estvalian was trying to use his magic to preserve them.

That didn’t matter to Blake. It was not the trees that were his enemy, just the man who controlled them. Yes! Blake surged with triumph. Use your mana! Expend it all, and then when you’ve run out completely, I will burn you down into NOTHING!

“URAAAAAAAAAH!” Blake shouted, swinging his sword at Trevan in a might slash, a blade of fire swinging out at him. The Estvalian pulled a wall of wooden roots from the ground to shield himself, but they were ignited immediately. Unfortunately, the boy’s sword proved more resilient. The green light it shimmered with shielded him from the flames, preventing Blake’s slash from striking true.

Blake could not allow that. He charged forward, hacking and slashing at the massive sword as the Estvalian shielded himself. Blake couldn’t believe how hard his swings actually were. This was it, this was real power in his hands, and the Estvalian was feeling it! Blake struck with the rage of House Harker, the flames of agony felt by all the lives lost that day giving him strength.

“DIE!” He shouted. “DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE!”

He could feel the other boy’s strength starting to give. With each strike Blake forced him back, back, towards the river’s edge. Just a little more, Blake would break him down, and then-

Pain shot through Blake’s back and he let out a roar of pain, feeling sharp spears dig into him. A swipe of his sword and he burned the wooden spears away before they could rip him to pieces, but the force of the strike threw him off-balance. Blake stumbled forward, his flames sparking against the Estvalian’s face, and they both fell into the river.

All Blake could concentrate on was keeping his grip on Soulfire as the current battered against him. He spotted the green gleam of Trevan’s sword seconds before he slammed into the other boy, and he let out a gasp of pain as the rolled over a fall and landed in a shallow lake.

Blake emerged, sputtering, looking around frantically for his enemy. He saw large, thick roots all around him, and realized that he was somewhere under the massive white tree Eldrasil. As he searched, he heard a roar and turned to see a large white blade flying at his face. He could barely raise Soulfire in time to keep the blade from taking his head off!

The force of the blow was stunning, considering how perilous the ground he stood on was. Miss Esterwind always made a great deal about emphasizing balance and footwork, and a lake like this was perhaps the worst place to find stable footing. The water only came up to his ankles, but the way it pushed against him meant even the slightest push could knock him off-balance, which it did.

Blake tumbled over the lip of one lake, and landed in another. Pain shot through his ribs and he held his side. That fall must have opened his old wound! Blood seeped into the water, washing around him as he scrambled to his feet. This lake was deeper than the last, coming up to his waist. He managed to pull himself up just in time to see the Estvalian leap down from above, sword raised and tendrils of sharp wood whipping around him.

“DIE, SAEKORIAN!” The Estvalian howled. Blake glared up at him, the pain in his side doing wonders to fuel the fire of rage surging through him. Blake raised his sword, scarlet flames bursting up the soaked metal, filling the lake chamber with steam. With a slash he greeted the approaching Estvalian with flame, incinerating the wood before it could strike.

He was less fortunate when it came to the Estvalian, however. Trevan was licked with fire, but the lake smothered it on his landing, his mighty swing making waves in the shallow pool. The Estvalian turned towards Blake, sword raised, and lashed out at him with a roar.

“You fight for nothing!” Blake shouted over the pounding water, blocking the sword stroke. “All you Estvalian bastards know how to do is hurt and destroy! I will NOT ALLOW YOU TO TURN THOSE CHILDREN INTO WEAPONS!”

Blake’s flames glowed, and he slashed at Trevan, a blade of flame roaring out over the water. Trevan raised his sword, the blade glowing green as he shielded himself from the flames. But the force of the blow was enough to knock him to the edge. Blake could feel the triumph of victory surge in his breast. Just a little more! He could feel the other boy weakening. His magic was nothing compared to Blake’s rage.

Die. Die. Kill the Estvalian. Die. He fed that hatred into his blade, willing it to destroy the Estvalian in front of him. He would enjoy seeing that bastard who had threatened his children burn away into nothing.

“You know nothing about what I fight for!” Trevan roared, stomping through the lake, raising his blade. He swung, and Blake parried. “I was born in a paradise! And then you monsters came and you destroyed it! Your people took EVERYTHING FROM ME!

“Your people came and burned my home to the ground, Estvalian!” Blake snarled, bringing his sword up into Trevan’s shoulder. The Estvalian cried in pain and fell to his knees, the force of the water pushing him the rest of the way over. Blake stood over him, sword raised. His voice was a silent hiss as he dug his sword into the Estvalian’s side, right where the man’s spear had pierced him. He twisted, relishing the agony on that ugly tan face.

“Do you feel that?!” Blake snarled. He sent flames through Soulfire, burning the Estvalian from the inside. “That is the pain of my family! You Estvalians burned them, and I will not let you harm my children! NEVER AGAIN!”

“You-!” Trevan gasped out, and Blake felt the boy’s foot drive into his side, sending pain surging through his gut. Blake stumbled back and flung his sword, flames spurting out to keep Trevan back as he regained his balance.

Trevan stood, raising his sword, but Blake’s rage would not be stopped. He charged the boy, Soulfire raised high, and brought the sword down with every bit of hatred he had, knocking him down once more.

“I will end you!” Blake hissed, glaring down at the green-eyed monster through the light of his flames. “You and all you Estvalians who bring nothing but pain and misery!”

“You Saekorians!” Trevan spat out, glaring contemptuously up at Blake. “You are the ones who bring pain! Misery! The slaughter and destruction of my people! You make the forest cry, our people toil and suffer, and for what?! For NOTHING! You hurt US for nothing!”

Nothing? This bastard thought that the deaths of Marea and Alaine, Blake’s mother and father, were nothing?

Hate like none Blake had known filled his heart at those words. It was black and raw and pure, a rage that needed to be fed!

“Oh no,” Blake growled, raising his sword again. “Not nothing.”

He swung with all he had, the flames of Soulfire burning so hot they were white with rage. He struck the thick blade of the Estvalian’s sword…

And ripped right through it, tearing the sword to splinters and slicing into the man himself.

“AAAARARGH!” Trevan’s wail was music to Blake’s ears, the rushing water growing thick with his blood. Blake lifted his sword one final time, aiming for his throat. But before he could, a thick vine wrapped around his own neck, tearing him off of Trevan.

“Y-You-!” Blake choked out, the vines squeezing tightly around him, cutting off his air. He thrashed desperately, but he could feel himself weakening. Soulfire slipped from his fingers and to Blake’s horror he saw it land on the lip of the lake below, and seconds later it washed over the edge.

“You… defiler…” Trevan groaned out, struggling to stand. In his hand he held the mangled remains of his sword, wooden blade torn away leaving nothing but the hilt. “What have you done?” He asked quietly, hatred burning brighter in his eyes than ever. As Blake struggled to breathe, it sounded like the other boy was… sad.

“You destroyed Eldrasil’s blade… her heart, burned away… you will suffer for this. You will die for this!” The Estvalian raised his hand and clenched his fist, and Blake felt the vines tightening, wringing the air from his lungs as his chest burned desperately.

No! No! Not like this! I will not die here! I can’t die here! Not until I’ve killed that Estvalian SCUM! Blake’s thoughts were a desperate inferno as he thrashed against his noose, clutching at the tight vines, and then…

Flames leapt from his fingers and the bonds that choked him were no more.

“IMPOSSIBLE!” The Estvalian exclaimed. As air filled Blake’s lungs he felt it feeding his fire, the flames in his hands burning hot. As Blake plummeted towards the lake, he tilted his his body so that he crashed into the Estvalian, hands extended towards his throat. He grabbed Trevan’s neck and began to strangle the boy as they tumbled over, Trevan losing his balance with Blake on top of him.

Then the current smashed into them, finishing the job that was started with the force of Blake’s fall-- and both boys were washed over the edge.

Real Aire