Chapter 29:

Earthquakes (II)

DRAGON’S FLIGHT


Stoneshaker collided with Aurelia. The force of the impact kicked the air from her lungs. It was a burning, painful sensation, and her brain blanked with instinctual panic. Luckily, it only lasted a brief amount of time, and Aurelia heaved oxygen back into her body greedily. Bookmark here

Veskar blinked into Stoneshaker before he could harm his daughter further, and the two Elemental Guardians disappeared into a cloud bank, illuminating it with flashes of their magical light. Bookmark here

“Phos, are you al— Phos?” Bookmark here

Aurelia was filled with dread when she realized her friend was no longer perched atop her back. There was no time to think; the white dragoness simply dove, eyes scanning the air as she raced to find him before the ground did. Bookmark here

She spotted him below, free-falling with horrid speed. His purple eyes were wide with terror, and his arms were reached out to Aurelia, as if he were trying to grab on to her paws. The sight spurred her onwards, and she pulled her wings back to stoop with more speed than she had ever before dared in her lifetime. The wind buffeted her, stung her eyes, howled in her ears until she was sure her eardrums would bust— but still, the white dragoness continued. Bookmark here

How much time had passed? Aurelia didn’t know, she couldn’t tell. All that existed in this moment were herself and Phos. All that mattered in this instance was saving her dear friend. Bookmark here

Finally. Finally, Aurelia reached the boy. She snatched him with her paws, clutching him protectively to her chest. She snapped her wings out, attempting to break her rapid descent and level out her flight. But the white dragoness only managed to just barely slow herself to an acceptable speed. Bookmark here

Aurelia curled her body around the boy in her paws, refusing to let him be harmed, and crashed into the ground. Bookmark here

Then… Her world went black. Bookmark here


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“Aurelia…?” Bookmark here

Phos squirmed his way out from underneath her, his voice a broken whisper. “Aurelia…? Are you alright?” Bookmark here

He could see the steady rise and fall of the white dragoness’s chest, so he knew she was alive. But Aurelia was unresponsive, knocked out cold from the impact of her fall. Bookmark here

“You… You shielded me, huh?” Phos touched her face, gently wiping mud and ash off of her cheek. Fear strangled his neck with invisible hands. Had her scales always felt so cold, or was he imagining things? Bookmark here

The roars and screeches from the battling Guardians above were nothing compared to the pounding of his own heart. His blood pumped so hard with every beat that he could hear the rush in his ear, drowning out all that surrounded him— save for a foreign, yet familiar voice that resurfaced from his mind for the second time in his life.Bookmark here

<<Fight.>>Bookmark here

It commanded, setting his nerves on fire. Bookmark here

<<Fight, Phos… You must.>>Bookmark here

But Phos didn’t need the help from this mysterious voice. His emotions surged, an inner tempest of negativity. Anger, fear, and sadness accumulated from within, rapidly rising. This time, Phos welcomed them with open arms, letting his magical energy run rampant. Where were his arms? Where were his legs? As the light of his magic consumed him, he couldn’t tell anymore. Was he dragon, or human? Bookmark here

Ahhh… Does it even matter? I don’t care anymore. He thought, magical light dispersing to reveal his shifted form. Because no matter what I am, be it dragon or human, I’m going to crush that bastard of a dragon into a pulp. Bookmark here

Phos was surprised to hear the mysterious voice speak once again, echoing throughout his mind. It was airy and light, like a fleeting midsummer breeze. Bookmark here

<<The winds have always taken, and always given. We steal the warmth from flesh, whisking it away into our eternal possession. We take water, carrying it so it may join with the sky and be given back to the earth. We are Wind, couriers of the Sky and Stars.>>Bookmark here

Phos found himself smiling. The voice comforted him, like a long lost parent, or a cherished friend. He felt as if the mysterious voice was filling him, filling a hole in his self he’d never even been aware of until now. Bookmark here

<<Fight. For the blessing of the Wind is yours now.>>Bookmark here

“… Ah!” Was the only word Phos managed to gasp out as an otherworldly sensation entered him. It was like a ghost had entered his body, fusing itself with his soul— but this was no ghost. Phos understood what had just happened on an instinctive level. Bookmark here

“My element… I attuned to the element of wind.” He whispered, feeling the strangest sensations from within his body and soul. Phos knew without looking that his magic had taken on the color of the wind, and if he were to breathe a beam of dragonfire, it would be the clearest shade of white. Bookmark here

If Aurelia was awake, what would she have said to him?Bookmark here


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Veskar and Stoneshaker grappled with each other in the sky, a whirling ball of claws and fangs. The bronze drake landed a heavy smack with his tail, following it up by another blow that punched Veskar out of the air, forcing him to land next to Phos, and the unconscious Aurelia. Bookmark here

“Give up already!” Stoneshaker shouted, his voice hoarse from exertion. The two dragons had been fighting for at least an hour now. “Leave! Just leave already, damn you!” Bookmark here

Veskar wiped blood off of his brow, his cobalt blue tail snaking back and forth in the dirt. “Not until you give us answers, Stoneshaker. I’m not going anywhere.” Bookmark here

Phos still didn’t understand what had transpired between the two Elemental Guardians while they were alone in Stoneshaker’s cave. But judging from all that had happened as a result, it was safe to say that the earth dragon was guilty of the crimes Queen Nimbus and Seiryu suspected him of. That came as a surprise to Phos. But since he didn’t know the history behind Stoneshaker, perhaps he shouldn’t have come to a conclusion like that by himself. Bookmark here

“Let’s end this, here and now.” Stoneshaker hissed. He narrowed his eyes, striking the earth with his paws again and again. The ground quaked, shaking the canyon walls. Fissures cracked open along wall and floor alike with creaking groans, and large portions of rock crumbled apart from everywhere around them. Veskar shielded Aurelia and Phos with his enormous wings, hundreds of pebbles clattering and bouncing off of them. It must have been painful, for the few stones that managed to slip past his wings and strike Phos hurt. Some of them even nicked through his scales, and he was acutely aware of the blood trickling from the tiny wounds. But Veskar stood resolute, showing no fear or reaction to the injuries. Bookmark here

The worst was yet to come, though. When the quaking stopped, and Phos was able to look up at their enemy once again, the sight sent freezing chills down his spine. Bookmark here

Stoneshaker was holding the largest rock Phos had ever seen above himself, levitating it mere inches above his sky-spread palms. It was a boulder of massive proportions, having to way at least couple hundred tonnes. Yet Stoneshaker manipulated it with his elemental magic like it were nothing more than child’s play, a maniacal grin spread across his face. His gums were pale and swollen, puffing around his fangs and bleeding where they connected. Frothy saliva dripped from his maw, soaking into the sand and dirt and leaving only bubbles. Bookmark here

“Die now, Veskar. I’ve had enough of you!” Stoneshaker bellowed, hurling the titanic boulder towards them. Bookmark here

Veskar flared his wings out over Aurelia, lightning cloaking his entire body. But Phos knew that Veskar couldn’t escape this attack; not if he wanted to save Aurelia. By himself, he could have simply blinked to a nearby location, dodging the boulder entirely. But Aurelia was here, and Veskar would never abandon his daughter. Even if it meant he died with her. He looked down at his daughter sadly, smiling remorsefully and touching his blue nose to her white one, saying an unspoken farewell. Bookmark here

As the shadow of the boulder grew above them, time slowed down to a crawl. Uncontrollable and new magic surged within Phos, filling him with power, albeit only temporarily. With nowhere to go inside of Phos, the elemental energy forced itself outwards— in the form of a formless gust of wind. Bookmark here

The wind flew forth from Phos, meeting the boulder head on. Space and time resumed it’s normal speed, and the magical gale buffeted the projectile nonstop, until it halted its approach… And sent it flying right back to its maker. Bookmark here

“… Hah—?!” Stoneshaker gaped. But he never got to finish his words. Bookmark here

The boulder crashed into him, flattening his body under the immense weight with a nausea-inducing crunch. Nothing remained of the former Guardian of the Earth, save for dark globules of blood and viscera dribbling out in rivulets from underneath his stone grave. Bookmark here

The land around them was ruined, utterly flattened and destroyed by their battle. Anything that had been alive was now charred to a crisp and unidentifiable. But still, the sun shone down upon them with the same bright and noble light. Bookmark here

Finally…Bookmark here

Finally, the long battle was over. Phos sighed in relief, collapsing to his knees and losing his shifted form. No longer possessing the strength nor willpower to keep his eyes open, they fluttered shut, dragging him to the land of sleep.Bookmark here

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