Fight. Fight. Fight.
The foreign voice echoed inside Phos’s skull, pulsing through his cranium and energizing his mind. It repeated itself endlessly, in an almost artificial fashion.
Fight. Fight. Fight. Fightfightfight…
Time seemed to slow. As Lilia cried from underneath the silver dragon, and his own blood froze in a frosty crust to his clammy skin, Phos could feel a strange heat building up from within him.
It burned, it scorched, it raged. It searched for a release, bubbling in his core, demanding to be freed from the confines of his broken body. Phos had never never experienced such a phenomenon before, and was too exhausted and stressed to control this newfound power welling within him like a burbling volcano. And so…
He let the fiery magic consume him.
Time returned to normal in a flash. Perhaps magic had slowed it down, or perhaps adrenaline caused his brain to incorrectly perceive the flow of time— Phos couldn’t tell. A flash of blinding white light exploded from his body, and the silver dragon leapt back, landing atop a building with the liquid-like grace of a feline. He held Lilia in one of his paws as he balanced, swishing his tail left and right.
“Oh? So you intend to fight me after all, then, little drake?” he laughed. “Not a good idea!”
The light cloaked Phos, bathing him in a sea of white. Instinctively, he could tell this was magical energy. Was it his own? It hummed, electrifying in a thrilling way, similar to the snow that plagued Terra’s lands. The magic changed his form, growing him in size. In the span of a single heartbeat he doubled, tripled, quadrupled… Phos lost count. The houses and tents around him looked so tiny to him now. So fragile and breakable.
He blinked as the magical light dissipated as quickly as it had appeared, revealing his newly-shifted form. Ebony colored scales covered his muscled arms, which ended with… Claws? Hooked claws, gleaming in the dim light, capable of slicing through a tree trunk like butter. He was keenly aware of a long tail extending from above the end of his haunches, and a pair of leathery bat-like wings sprouting from his shoulder blades.
This can’t be… Am I…?!
A dragon. He had transformed into a dragon, of all things.
Phos had no time to spare gaping at his newfound form. His wounds were healing now, albeit slowly, but his broken arm remained to cripple him. Did dragons have enhanced regeneration? No matter.
“I see you have awakened from your dream of being human, little drake,” the silver dragon hissed. His eyes narrowed as he assessed Phos’s transformation. “Not quite as terrible as I predicted…” he flickered out of sight like before, dropping Lilia on the roof. “Eep!” She squeaked as she slid down, just barely preventing herself from toppling over the edge of the slippery metal by digging her feet in.
“Lilia—!” Phos started, stumbling towards her clumsily. He was unused to the experience of walking on four legs instead of two, and didn’t know what to do with his enormous wings. He felt like a newborn toxa deer, moving with powerful legs that weren’t his own.
“… But not nearly good enough!”
A streak of silver slammed into Phos, sending him in a tumbling roll, right into a house. He knocked right through the metal and wooden walls, wincing as debris collapsed on top of him. He shook it off, leaping to his feet to stand before his enemy. They were almost the same size, but Phos could sense the difference in power.
I’m starting to get used to this. I think I can manage for now, but how can I beat him? Can I even beat him?
His purple eyes widened.
In a battle of pure fighting ability, Phos had no chance. His opponent was clearly skilled in combat, and possessed magic to boot. Aurelia had mentioned dragons having elemental attributes, but Phos didn’t know enough to discern what type this drake was using to conceal himself.
But maybe, just maybe, he could turn the table here in his favor. But it was risky….Almost too risky. But Phos had no other choice.
Phos reared onto his hind legs, extending his neck to the sky. Flaring his wings outwards, he let out a ground-shaking roar. Houses on the vicinity trembled, and Phos left his own ears ringing with the shock.
The silver drake shook his head and lunged forward. Phos skipped to the right to dodge, but was too slow; fangs nicked his shoulder, drawing blood. Phos snarled, whipping back around to fiercely swat the next attack away with his good paw. Quick as a snake, his foe retaliated and spun around, smacking Phos square in the face with his tail and causing him to see stars.
The two dragons paced, circling each other slowly. In the distance, they could hear the shouts of men and women awaking from their sleep and rallying to defend their town. No doubt the two clashing behemoths had woken them up instantly, to say nothing of the roar Phos let out.
“Give it up, little dragon. Soon, this entire town of minuscule Grounded will be here to swarm us. Me? I can just fly away,” the silver drake smirked. “But you? Oh, you poor little hatchling… It seems like you’ll be in a predicament. You can’t fly, can you?”
Phos snarled. “You say that, but we both know I’ll die either way, regardless of my choice. You don’t plan on letting me live.”
The other dragon spread his wings in a grandiose fashion. “Your weak attempts at draconian combat disgust me. Your personality is unbearably human, and you reek of their sweat and filth. It fills me with such a desire to squish you like an insect, right here and now. But you managed to shift— therefore, you are the kin of dragons, as abhorrent as you may be…” he bared his teeth, reaching forwards to grip Phos’s muzzle between his talons, forcing him to meet his eyes. “I will allow you to live if you surrender. But you shall come with me to Cirr, where you belong. Our Queen will judge your worth.”
Phos slowly exhaled. His ears pinned themselves back in displeasure, a reflex he couldn’t control. As the wind howled and his own town approached to fight him, the boy made his choice.
Would he regret it? Certainly. He knew his life would never be the same.
If it were only him in this twisted scenario, Phos would have fought the silver dragon to the death. His home was not in the Aether, among dragons he’d never met. He would rather die with his family, in his home, defending the humans and town he loved.
But Lilia was here.
Phos could never abandon her or condemn her to such a cruel end.
Their gazes met for the first time since he’d used magic to change his form. Lilia shook her head frantically, voicing her unspoken opinion. Her body was pale, blue tints creeping along her fingers and lips. Her bright green eyes, the color of spring flora, were filled with panic. Was she scared of him?
From his viewpoint high above her, she looked oh so delicate… Her body wouldn’t be able to take much more. It scared Phos.
He had to protect his little sister. This, he was certain of with every fiber of his monstrous being.
And so, he made his choice.
“… Alright. We will come with you.”