Chapter 21:

Arcane Lessons


“… The Flighted are all innately magical beings, of varying quantities. But did you know, little hatchlings? The draconian race is special— for only we dragons are blessed by the Sky, Sun, and Moon gods— known as the Three. Our affinity to the arcane is unrivaled throughout all the lands, and to many we are known as the children of the Sun and Moon.”Bookmark here

Tsuki spoke slowly, as if she were recounting an old tale. Her voice was somewhat monotonous and calming, causing Lilia to start nodding off. Phos elbowed her in the ribs to get her to focus. Bookmark here

“All dragons are born attuned to one of the Nine Elements: fire, water, earth, wind, storm, shadow, light, ice, or life. Generally speaking, this process happens during the later stages of an eggs’ incubation… Ah, but there are instances recorded where a dragonet is hatched without an affinity, taking longer to develop one or simply not ever managing it. Please do not worry though, these cases are exceptionally rare…” Bookmark here

The dragoness held a paw out in front of them, palm facing upward. The air around it shimmered, as if it were distorted by smoke or intense heat. Phos’s eyes widened as a pale light flickered into reality between her waiting claws, illuminating his and Lilia’s faces with a pale pink glow. Bookmark here

“A—Amazing…!” Lilia gasped, completely enthralled now. “What is this? How did you do that?!”Bookmark here

“This is light magic,” Tsuki chuckled, flicking a clawed finger to send the light over to the two of them. “When I hatched, I attuned to the element. I do not know why we bonded. Light is exceedingly rare, but has meager application to combat… It does have its uses, though.” Bookmark here

Phos held a hand to his chin and made sure to make a mental note of all the nine elements, as well as the dragons he had met so far. Bookmark here

Tsuki’s a light element dragon. Judging by the stealth and purple color to Silvermere’s magic, I’m willing to bet he’s a shadow element. And Aurelia… Well, I haven’t seen her use any magic. Bookmark here

… I wonder how she’s doing.Bookmark here

The light levitated, before fading out without a sound. The grey dragoness looked pleased as Phos and Lilia digested the information she had given. Bookmark here

“Question! How does any of this help with shifting? Can humans shift, too?” Lilia asked, popping a hand into the air like an overly eager student. Bookmark here

Tsuki tilted her head. “Understanding how magic works is the first step to being able to control it, little dragoness. Humans cannot shift, as they are a race of Grounded devoid of any blessings from the Three. It is fundamentally impossible for one to even use magic.” Bookmark here

“But we shifted... I see the facts here, Tsuki, but I’m still finding it hard to believe my sister and I are dragons. It doesn’t make sense.” Phos added to the conversation. “We’ve lived our entire lives with our Uncle. Until Silvermere attacked us, I never once felt anything questionable to my identity.” Bookmark here

“Brother attacked you?” Tsuki paused, eyes darkening. She shook her head, ridding herself of the worry and fear that had plastered across her face. “I see… You have my most sincere apologies for his actions. Is he the cause of that scar on your arm, little drake?” Bookmark here

Scar…? Bookmark here

Ah. Phos hadn’t even noticed it, but the broken, mangled arm of his was almost completely healed. No longer were bones peeking out of the confines of his skin, sending jolts of pain whenever he moved. Such an obvious thing, that he’d missed entirely during their journey to Cirr. Bookmark here

… Maybe I shouldn’t have slept so much. But now that I think about it, every time I woke up after deeply sleeping, the pain got weaker and weaker. Aurelia slept after being wounded too— do dragons heal faster like that? I’ll have to ask later.Bookmark here

“Yeah, he did. Silvermere was sneaking around our town at night, in the middle of a snowstorm. I confronted him and well, this happened.” Bookmark here

Lilia scooted over, petting Phos’s head like he was a dog. His wild and fluffy hair extended well past his shoulders, almost touching the ground when he sat like this. “I’m glad you’re okay, big brother. I was so scared…” she softly whispered to him. Tears threatened to spill from her green eyes, but before Phos could respond to her, Tsuki cleared her throat and spoke. Bookmark here

“I do not have the answers for why you were raised among humans, like you say. You will have to seek elsewhere for that mystery, hatchlings. I do know, however, that there is no doubt you two are dragons. As I have taught you, only beings of Aether can use the magic required to shift, and only dragons can shift into dragons, just as griffins can only shift into griffins.” Bookmark here

Phos sighed, suddenly feeling very tired. He couldn’t deny what Tsuki said without looking like a complete and utter fool. The facts of the matter were in front of his face, smugly taunting him. Therefore, he resigned, having no other choice but to accept the words of the grey dragoness in front of him. To argue with her would be unnecessarily bullheaded, not to say rude. Bookmark here

“… I understand, Tsuki. Well, I don’t understand completely, but I can accept what you say. Thank you.” he said. Bookmark here

“You’re quite the patient one, aren’t you? There is no need to thank me. But I can tell that we have strayed from the original topic… So, quiet down and let me continue, little dragonets.”Bookmark here

Phos and Lilia straightened their postures once more. A delicate breeze caressed their faces, bringing with it the many scents of Cirr. The sun felt wonderful on their backs, warming them despite the frost around. Bookmark here

“… Shifting requires an adequate amount of magical energy to sustain it. If you run out of energy to give your shape form, you will revert. And if you lack sufficient energy, you won’t be able to in the first place. The magic consumption rate differs from dragon to dragon, and some elements, but overall it’s an inconvenient form of the arcane. You won’t see many dragons shift to a human form for more than a few minutes.” Bookmark here

Tsuki opened her wings, stretching them out in the warmth of the sun. “This seems to be the opposite with you, little drake. At least for now— I’m sure we can correct it, if you so desire.” Bookmark here

Phos shrugged. “I don’t know about that yet… As a dragon, I don’t really feel like myself. Not being able to stay as a human most of the time sounds like the poorer end of the deal.” He turned to his little sister. “What about you, Lilia? Would you rather be a dragon most of the time?” Bookmark here

She thought for a moment, fiddling with the hem of her rustic furred clothes. When her response came, it was uncharacteristically sheepish. “I… I don’t know, honestly. But when you turned into a dragon, big brother, you were so powerful and strong looking… If I could do the same thing, wouldn’t that be better?” Bookmark here

Phos blinked. Her words had taken him by surprise. He went silent, not knowing how to respond to her. Bookmark here

Didn’t she want to stay in Lotor, with Uncle and all of her friends…? Why the sudden change of heart? Bookmark here

 “I see… Well, if that’s what you want, then…” he mumbled. “I’ll support you—dwohh?!”Bookmark here

A blue and yellow dragonet barreled into Phos, sending the two of them in a speedy tumble down the hill… And right into the river. With an enormous splash, the two were submerged in the chilly water. Bookmark here

Blech, arrrghh… What was that for?!” Phos coughed, struggling to swim to the shore under the weight of his heavy clothing. Bookmark here

“I’m sorry! I wasn’t paying attention…” he responded, slipping through the current as effortlessly as a fish. He swam to Phos’s side, guiding him safely to the sandy shoreline. Phos stumbled once he reached the safety of lane, soaked to the bone and quickly becoming chilled. “Fire, Fire… I need fire. Where’s my pack?!” Bookmark here

The tanned leather bag Phos always kept on his person, tied to his waist by a cord, was nowhere to be seen. He despaired— Uncle had made that bag together with him many years ago. It contained his coldcoals, cindersap, food provisions, and almost everything he’d need to survive a few nights in the wilderness of Terra. Bookmark here

The blue dragonet perked his ears. “You lost something? Hold on a minute!” Bookmark here

He slid back into the river, slipping under the azure waters and disappearing from sight. One… Two… Three… Four minutes passed. His head popped back out of the water, grinning proudly with Phos’s beloved pack in his jaws. “I found it! I think. Is this your bag?”  Bookmark here

“Yes! Thank you so much,” Phos gushed. “I don’t know what I’d have done if it was gone for good… I’ll have to replace the cord so this doesn’t happen again. What’s your name?”Bookmark here

The blue dragonet reared up out of the river, pushing a clawed fist into his open palm. Phos wasn’t aware that this was the standard draconian greeting, so was quite taken aback by the display. Bookmark here

“I am Veld, son of Pnenome. And you?” Bookmark here

“I’m Phos. Son of…” he thought for a moment, before deciding his Uncle was a good a father to remember as any. “Proc. Son of Proc.” Bookmark here

Veld’s tail wiggled. He was the smallest dragon  Phos had met so far, but despite his young age he still was an imposing size when compared to a human. His scales were bright blue, with a yellow streak running down each side of his body. “Well met, Phos. It looks like your friends are here though— I don’t want a scolding from Tsuki, so see you later!” Bookmark here

With that, Veld sunk back into the water and disappeared, only bubbles left in his wake. Phos hadn’t thought of dragons as creatures that were adept at swimming, but apparently he was wrong. Or maybe Veld just liked it? Who could say. He shivered, stripping his sodden parka and outer layer of clothing off. Bookmark here

“Big brother!” Lilia called out, sliding down the steep hill and running over. “Are you alright? You’re soaked!” She checked him over, and once she was satisfied, deflated in exhaustion. “What happened, big brother?”Bookmark here

“Well… I got pushed into the river. But I guess you could say I made a new friend, too. I’m cold, though, so let’s hurry and get somewhere warm.” Bookmark here

Tsuki had arrived shortly after Lilia did. She sighed, looking at the river with a chastising glare, as if she knew who was responsible for  Phos’s current sorry state. “It would seem that our lesson is going to be cut short for today. It can’t be helped…” she held a paw out for Phos and Lilia to climb up on. “Come now, little dragons. I will take you to the Spires. It is warm there, and we have some most unusual guests right now…”Bookmark here

Tsuki took flight, her light grey wings carrying the siblings off in the direction of the towering columns of marble where the dragons of Cirr communed. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.