A/N: Whoa guys I am so sorry it has taken me so long to get this chapter out. School and work has been keeping be crazy busy. Anyway, here is chapter five of Fire Legend. Please R&R! I love critique! And I'm always looking for ways to improve : D
"What are you doing here? Where is here anyway?"
Zain smirked at me and beckoned me to follow him with a sharp jerk of his head. Not knowing what else to do, I followed him as he walked down the maze of paths and streets that surrounded us. Zain walked at a brisk pace but not so fast that I couldn't look around me.
We were walking down a coble-stone path through what appeared to be a market, if the vendor stalls set up around a central fountain were any indication. The fountain was absolutely exquisite; carved from a pure white marble that glinted silver in the sunlight. At the center was a dragon spouting water from its open maw with two human figures flanking its sides. One was a woman and held her hands out from of her in a gesture of welcome while the other figure, a male, held one hand palm-up in the air, the other rested on his chest. So exact was the detailing, I could make out the fine hairs on the woman's head and the veins in the dragon's wings.
As we left the market square we began to wander down a system of complex cobblestone streets that looked like a residential area. The houses were absolutely beautiful. While they varied in color, they appeared to be made of the same type of smooth stone that made up the streets. There were startlingly red houses, deep sapphire blue, and vibrant violet structures just to name a few. Each house was surrounded by the greenest grass I had ever seen and flowers of every color imaginable, some that I was sure I had never seen back home.
Zainen led me down one street after another and through alleyways until we were on the outskirts of the town. It should have been a long walk, an hour at least, but it felt like mere minutes. There was so much to look at. Children were playing in the streets while parents watched and chatted and I swear I saw a man produce a shower of sparks for a young baby's amusement.
We spent the entire walk in silence as I took everything in but as the houses became sparse and shops disappeared all together, I remembered my voice.
"Zain, where are we?"
The boy in question looked back at me from over his shoulder. "You ask a lot of questions, you know that right?" I stared at him until he sighed and complied.
"We are in my home city, Emërsia, well, actually we are in Emërsia as it was several years ago, ten years ago in fact. We're in my memory."
I raised my eyebrow at him. His memory? Was this guy for real? I'm asleep for heaven's sake, if anything, we are in some dream world of mine. Although, why would I be dreaming about him?
"You don't believe me do you?" he asked, a slight grin on his face. I shook my head, which caused him to chuckle. "Well, you don't have to believe me, not just yet. But hey, after everything that's happened to you at the hospital, I thought you would have learned to keep an open mind."
Once again, he turned and began walking away from me and not wanting to be lost in whatever place I was –what had he called it, Emairsia?— I followed. Oh, I was glaring bullets into the back of his skull the whole time to be sure. I didn't like his attitude, so sue me.
Again, I took in my surroundings as we walked and noticed they were definitely a bit different. We were no longer walking along cobbled streets but instead a dirt path and we were obviously outside the city limits. Sure, a few houses stood here or a garden was over there but it had the feeling of a very rural area.
That didn't make it any less beautiful though. The grass was still that breathtaking emerald and the sky was the brightest blue I had ever seen. Wildflowers of every variety and color grew right up to the side of the path. Even the ragged mountains surrounding the valley lost their sharp, menacing façade.
That's when it hit me; I had been here before.
Of course not in any physical form but now that we were walking towards the mountains and away from the city, it started to come together. The dream. Or daydream, vision, whatever you want to call it, it had been here.
This time around, however, the field was different. Hesitantly, I walked forward toward the middle of the field. A large statue stood there now and the golden light from my dream thing was gone.
Several yards later, I was at the foot of the huge statue. It was large from far away but up close it was positively gargantuan. And just like the statue back at the market square, the craftsmanship was exquisite, almost magical. It featured a beautiful woman with long hair and pointed ears standing by the foreleg of a large dragon. The woman's hand rested lightly upon the dragon's flank while the dragon's tail wrapped lightly around her waist like a thick, scaled belt.
Yet somehow, this statue, made of the same stone with the same exquisite detail was very different. The marble figures back in the square were white; the purest white I had ever seen. This statue was filled with color, so beautiful and yet so subtle, it seemed to be alive.
The woman's skin was a light tan, as though she were a real human who spent everyday in the sun. Her hair was a vibrant auburn and her eyes a burning, cat-like gold. The dragon beside her was a deep red, his eyes a fiery, jewel-like orange. But what was most stunning about the statue were the colors themselves. They didn't seem to have simply been painted or glazed on, they seemed like a living light that was infused within the marble. There wasn't any other way to describe it. If you looked closely they pulsed and swirled bringing an intense feeling of life into the statue.
Entranced, I placed my hand on the dragon's foot, which was equal with my shoulder, and immediately I felt a rush of pure peace rush through me. My eyes slid shut as the sweet warmth radiated through me. Once again an image began to play behind my eyelids.
I was standing in the same field but several yards away from the statue. It was sunset; a soft yellow-orange glow was just peeking over the topmost ridges of the surrounding mountains. There was a multitude of people and dragons standing intermingled around the statue and three figures stood before it, two of which bore a striking resemblance to those featured in the statue. The other standing with them was an elderly woman with long silver hair that fell to her knees and was decorated with braids and crystals.
"Gifted Ones and Dragon-folk," began the old woman, "today we gather to commemorate the new peace between our people with this statue of Thirva and Kahrnock, our new peace keepers. Together they brought this peace and together they will keep it. Let this memorial serve as a reminder to all who see it that peace must be kept between magical peoples or else we shall crumble.
"Let is also serve as a reminder for future times, that we are never as strong alone. The Winthraul Kahn will be powerful but even she cannot control the many races that exist in this world. A time will come when we shall be hunted and feared, killed and subject to torture simply because of who we are. When that time comes, we will need to work together among the races to survive. May this memorial always remind us that although we are different, we are stronger together."
The woman bowed to the young maiden and dragon beside her in turn before turning and facing the rising sun. She lifted her hands and clasped them together and sparks erupted above the statue, shooting into the sky before falling like crystal rain back to the earth. As the gathered humans and dragons cheered and bowed to the duo before the statue, my vision began to blur and turn black as I felt myself fall to the ground.
I opened my eyes not a second later and found myself standing, once again, before the same statue with my hand rested on it's now cool surface. I quickly snatched my hand away before turning to face Zain.
"So what was that supposed to be?" I inquired. "A dream within a dream?"
"To be honest, I really don't know," he replied. "I wasn't expecting that to happen. I'm assuming that since you got your necklace back, the past Dragon Children are trying to find a way to communicate with you, to help explain what is happening to you."
"And what is happening to me, Zain? Huh? One minute, I'm a normal girl who goes to a normal school in a normal state. Then I pass out, wake up with a brain disease and am sent to the mental ward. Of course, let's not forget all the strange things that seem to happen there either. Like that girl screaming and then you giving me this dumb bracelet and now I'm having this insane dream that is way too life-like for my taste. Go on, explain all of this to me," I demanded, crossing my arms.
Zain sighed and reached out to grab my arm. "Not here, perhaps somewhere a bit more comfortable. It's a long story and I doubt you want to be on your feet that long." He started to lead me away from the statue and back into the city the way we had come.
"I know a great little café not to far from here and once we get there I will tell you everything. Ah-" he put a finger up, stopping the question that was about to come flying out of my mouth. "Please, don't ask any more questions until we get there. Like I said, you ask way too many anyway. Just enjoy the scenery until we get there."
With that, he turned away from me and I was left to scowl after him and follow. Not that I had much of a choice really. He was still holding my arm and practically dragging me behind him. Ugh, boys.
Fortunately, he was right in that the café wasn't more than ten minutes walk back the way we came and the town was so beautiful that there wasn't a moment of awkward silence. Zain chatted to the man who owned the shop and eventually we were seated in a small booth next to window that overlooked the street.
When we were handed out menus I couldn't help but be very confused; none of the food was anything I was familiar with and it was all written in an alphabet I couldn't understand. When I voiced this to Zain –very begrudgingly I assure you— he just chuckled and said he would order for me.
"What's the deal with these letters anyway?" I asked as we waited for the waiter to return. What looked like random swirls interceded by dashes and lines seemed legible to him but certainly not to me. "What language is this?"
"It's the same language you and I are speaking right now," he answered, shaking his head as he reclined into his seat. "It's just a different way of writing it."
"So people in this city speak English?"
"Well, it's not English if you look at it from our perspective. You see," Zain began, gesturing with his hands, "history gets a lot of things wrong, science too, for that matter. They teach us that magic doesn't exist yet here we sit, inside of my memory in dream form. Science teaches us that humans are humans and animals are animals yet werewolves do, in fact, exist.
"One of these things that history got wrong is where the language you call 'English' came from. It was originally spoken hundreds of thousands of years ago by my people, magic-folk. Those were the times where my people actually used their gifts to help mortals and were thanked rather than killed, as later became the story.
"Anyway, the higher classes of other civilizations started to borrow words and sentence structure from us and voila, through a few years this language turned into Latin which then turned back into this and many other languages to boot. Germanic languages, and Scandinavian languages came from the Dragon-tongue and many Asian and African languages came from Fearies and talking beasts." As Zain finished, he raised a brow and peered at me.
"You may want to close your mouth, Krystal. Not only is a gaping maw extremely unattractive, but this café does allows animals inside. I wouldn't want their actions to give you an intestinal disease."
I shut my mouth quickly, my teeth clacking together. I leaned back in my booth and scowled at him as well. Was he crazy? Did he actually expect me to believe all this nonsense he was spouting? All languages deriving from one, and one that is still spoken at that? I don't think so.
"Is the rest of this history lesson going to be so… fantastic?" I sneered.
Zain frowned at my tone but nodded. "Look, I understand how hard this must be for you to believe but you have to try! You see this town, this café, this everything? This could all be gone if you stubbornly refuse to believe me! Lives are at stake!" Zain slammed his fist against the table to punctuate his shouted statement, startling the patron sitting at the booth behind him.
"Okay, Zain, calm down," I said softly, putting my hand over one of his. His hands were slightly sweaty and shaking. "Zain, please. Take a deep breath. Calm down."
Surprisingly, Zain did as I'd said. He took a long, deep breath before unclenching his fist and splaying his fingers across the polished table. He shut his eyes, collecting his thoughts, I would imagine, before once again starting at me with his piercing eyes. He slid his hand away from under mine only to pinch the bridge of his nose.
"Okay, but Krystal, you have to listen to me. I'm not lying when I say lives are at stake. If we don't act soon-" Zain stopped mid-sentence as our food arrived. The server placed a brownish soup before he and some kind of meat dish in front of Zain. As the waiter left I took a cautious sip of my soup. It was actually pretty good. It had an almost nutty flavor and was rich and warm. As I sipped at the soup Zain continued, not even touching his food.
"If we don't act soon, more than just my people will die. This could spread across the whole world. Krystal, please hear me out."
I put my spoon down before leaning back in my sear to stare at the boy across from me. His eyes poured into my own, filled with desperation and a longing for me to understand. He had one hand, palm down, extended across the table as though he were reaching for my help.
I still didn't quite believe him but I could feel my assuredness wavering. I rubbed a hand across my eyes. 'Okay, Krystal, lets think about this, really think about it. What proof do I have that he's telling the truth? Well first off, Zain seems to know so much. He knows about my necklace and he knew about that girl back in the cafeteria. And now there's this. I used some spell and bracelet and now he's in my dreams. I can't even argue that this is a normal dream either.'
I knew from my psych class at school that dreams were just random neural images and messages that the brain mashes together in an effort to make some sense of them. This "dream" was making entirely too much sense. When you got to it, all we had done was walked, seen a statue, I'd had some crazy vision and now we were getting food. No flying pigs, robotic men or Dr. Seuss creatures popping out of nowhere. Plus, I couldn't even call the vision that strange or out of place since it had happened before when I was awake as well! ARRGH! This was so frustrating.
Once again, I focused my attention on Zain; he hadn't moved an inch and his eyes were so sad yet strangely hopeful at the same time. Something pulled at my heart and made me want to listen to him.
"Okay Zain," I sighed, "for now, I'm going to believe you. I'll listen to whatever you want to tell me."
A small smile wormed its way into Zain's face. His hands snaked out and he grasped my hand with both of his. "Thank you, Krystal." He pulled his hands away from mine again though he kept his eyes locked on mine.
"Well, I guess I should start with a little history lesson, ease you into it." His blue gaze shifted off of me and instead he gazed out the window. "This valley has been here for a long time. Millennia have passed yet this valley has changed so little. As I told you earlier, this place is called Emërsia. It is hidden in these mountains and houses the Dragon-folk and the Gifted Ones, which is simply a collective name for the witches and sorcerers that live here. Yes Krystal," he said when he saw my mouth pop open in a little 'o'. "Witches and sorcerers do exist. Can you do me a favor? No questions or comments until I'm done okay? You have this problem with always needing to talk and that will be very inconvenient at this time."
I could only nod. His story was only just starting and I already had so many questions. I leaned forward as I listened, my now cold soup long forgotten.
"Thanks," he said with a small, crooked grin. "Where was I?" He stared at the ceiling, trying to gather his thoughts. "Oh yeah, magic. Other magical creatures exist too: werewolves, the Fey, centaurs, mermaids and more but very few live in the city. Most live in the surrounding woods in hidden villages and a few even live in human cities.
"Now, about ten thousand years ago, a war broke out between the dragons and the Gifted Ones. It was started by a small misunderstanding and things just escalated from there. The war was eighteen years long. During that time the Golden Sorceress, the Queen of the magic users at the time, fled with her daughter, Thirva, who had been injured by the Dragon Lord. This was the reason for the war.
"The declaration was made and during those long eighteen years, magic-folk and dragon-folk, the very same people who used to be friends, fought each other but neither side ever gained ground above the other because they were too evenly matched. They had fought together for years and knew the other's fighting style by heart. Most of the war took place in this very valley and it was almost completely destroyed."
Zain suddenly got very quiet and his voice shook slightly as he spoke. "Thousands of people died. Whole families were destroyed. There were abandoned children living in the streets, crying day in and day out for their mothers and fathers that had died in battle. Children were even slaughtered and not even pregnant women were spared. I've read a few of the histories. The grass was literally red and the streets were like streams of blood. Dead bodies lay everywhere, broken and burned beyond recognition. It was like those fighting weren't even people any more. They were savages."
I felt my heart break for him. It was a horrible tragedy. After taking a few calming breathes, Zain continued.
"Finally, on the last day of the eighteenth year, the Golden Sorceress returned with her now eighteen year old daughter who had grown into a powerful sorceress. She stood up to the Dragon Lord and demanded that they stop this ridiculous war. Another dragon sided with her, the heir to the Dragon Throne, Crown Prince Kahrnock. He and Thirva tried to convince their elders to stop the war but they wouldn't listen and finally the Ancients had to come down from the citadel and try to finish making the peace the two had started to forge.
"The Ancients are very old, very wise magic users who serve as council to the leaders of all the different races of magical beings, both in the city and outside," he explained, having seen the confusion on my face. I nodded my thanks and eagerly waited for him to continue. His story was amazing! Albeit, it was a bit sad at parts but it also sounded thrilling and a part of me earnestly hoped that it was true.
"Anyway, the Ancients are still alive today," Zain continued, now looking at me. "They are amazing sorcerers and no one knows what gave them their almost infinite life. All we know is that they have been around since the beginning of our records, which go back several millennia and they are also mentioned in our oral histories.
"But, I digress," he said, waving his hand around. "When the Ancients arrived on the scene, they could immediately sense the immense, raw power flowing out of Thirva. They had been keeping watch on her magical signature even while she had been outside the valley. They knew now was the time to make peace and they finally had the people they needed to accomplish it.
"They knew that Thirva had a special, unique gift and they told her to show the assembled dragon-folk and magic-folk alike. You see, when Thirva was a baby the Dragon Lord had breathed fire on her and her mother had used magic to shield her. This combination of magic, especially at such a young, vulnerable age when her magic was just starting to manifest, made her a type of sorceress the world had never seen before: a were-dragon."
I couldn't help but raise my eyebrow at that. A were-dragon? That was just too unreal. Humans and dragons are just too different. Maybe with time I could get used to the idea of magic, dragons and even were-wolves but there have always been legends about them in almost every culture and religion across the globe. I had never even heard a single whisper of a legend that came close to a were-dragon.
"What? You can't believe that?" Zain asked, seeing my expression.
"Well, can you blame me? It's just too fantastic! Legends about magic and dragons have always existed and I more comfortable believing something like that. I've never heard any mention of a were-dragon in any book I've ever read, fictitious or explanatory, and I've read hundreds of books."
"Then I don't know what to tell you. This is the truth whether you choose to believe it or not." I opened my mouth to add more but Zain quickly held up a hand. "Wait, let me finish. Then we can argue with your hard head to your heart's content. Or until you finally admit that I know what I'm talking about," he added smugly.
I sent a small glare at him before gesturing for him to continue. It was a good story at any rate.
"Thanks. So, as I was saying before your untimely interruption, Thirva turned into a Golden Dragon. They are very rare, only spoken of in our oldest histories. They were extremely powerful and contained vast amounts of magic but no one knew much else about them. So the ancients explained who she was and that she, along side with the dragon prince, Kahrnock, were to be the new peacekeeper of the magical world. They could prove that dragons and magic-folk could work together once again. Thirva started a new breed of sorceress called the Withraul Kahn, or Dragon Child in the ancient language.
"There was a problem though: the magic could not be passed on by blood. Instead, the Dragon Child lives for one thousand years, the last fifty of which are spent training the new Child. Because the magic does not flow through blood, the dragon child must be created. Thus the Golden Sorceress and Dragon Lord were granted eternal life so long as they came together every thousand years to create the new dragon child who would be marked because of her magical signature."
"That's great and all," I interrupted. "But what does this story have to do with me? I mean, yes, this is an interesting story but I would really like a few answers if you don't mind."
Zain rolled his eyes and leaned back in his seat, an exasperated look adorning his face. "You really don't understand the concept of listening do you? Is it that hard to just listen and know that I will get to that eventually?"
"Yes, as a matter of fa-" suddenly, my voice cut out. As in I could no longer talk. I sure as hell was trying to but no sounds were coming out! I glared at him and started shouting at him… silently of course.
"Yeah, I did just shut you up. Yes, I can use magic. And yes, performing any while at the hospital is really stupid but we really aren't going to get anything done if you keep running your trap! I'm taking a big enough risk with this dream thing, but sure, let's add a silencing spell on top of that!"
Zain rubbed the bridge of his nose as I continued to glare at him, only vaguely aware that I should be freaking out about that whole magic thing right about now.
"Now if you don't mind, I'm going to finish and hopefully your questions will all be answered. Will that satisfy you, your Blabbermouthiness?"
I only continued to glare.
"Anyway, the tenth dragon child was born almost eighteen years ago to the day. She, just as all Dragon Children, looks almost exactly like Thirva and her name was changed to resemble that of the original child." Zain paused here for a small moment and gave me a look loaded with meaning. "Thirva's name means 'crystal' in the ancient language."
My mouth popped open in shock but only for a moment. I almost immediately began laughing, albeit silently. My shoulders shook and I gasped for breath while my eyes narrowed into slits. I saw Zain make a motion with his hand in my direction and my loud laughter sprang into existence in the small café.
"S-so you are trying to say that I'm this Dragon Child person?" I managed to laugh out. This started a whole new round of giggles and I fell back into my booth, holding a hand to my mouth to try to stifle the giggles.
"What other explanation do you want!" Zain cried, slapping his hands down on the table. "How else can you explain why you are here? Why you look exactly like the statue of Thirva? Hmm? Or why you have her necklace and her name!"
Zain's angry voice shook me from my giggles but an amused grin still stretched across my face.
"Oh yeah, this magical necklace that you seem to know so much about. Go ahead, try to explain that to me," I challenged.
I swear Zain growled as he bunched him hands into fists on the table.
"Alright, I will. That necklace is known as the Dragon Chain and not only does it mark the Dragon Child, it holds part of her power in it. Kahrnock's spirit and magic was put inside the pendent as he and Thirva died. The ancients knew that as time wore on, a dragon would be very conspicuous but they knew that the Dragon Child needed a partner. So, with Kahrnock's permission, they put his spirit inside the necklace so he could help the future Dragon Children.
"In a sense he is immortal but he lies dormant, slowly letting his magic grow into the next Dragon Child's until she comes fully into her magic at age eighteen. You were attacked so violently because all that magic jut bombarded you at one time because I'm guessing you were kept from the necklace until your birthday."
At this point, I was past laughing and just stared at Zain in disbelief. At the beginning of his story, it had sounded almost credible. But then he started to insinuate that I was some magical being? Sorry, that was just a little too crazy for me. I was normal. I had wonderful parents and a good life ahead of me. I had friends, clothes, jewelry- wait, jewelry. How could Zain have known I'd gotten it on my birthday? Albeit, he said it was a guess but still.
"How did you know I got this necklace for my birthday?" I asked, gripping the edge of the table tightly.
Zain rolled his eyes and blew out yet another frustrated breath. "Sure, we're low on time but yes, I'll just keep repeating myself. I know because I read your file and snuck into the doctor's memory. You collapsed and your magical signature spiked; basically all your magic came bursting into your body at one time, along with the magic in the Chain. That wouldn't have happened if you'd had the necklace since birth."
"Well then if I were this magical creature thing, why wouldn't my parents have known and given me the necklace," I countered.
"My GOD you infernal woman, use your brain!" he nearly shouted, rubbing his temples. "You're adopted aren't you? They most likely didn't know anything about it and just thought the necklace was a keepsake from your birth mother."
For a minute, I just stared at him, well, glared at him. A tense silence settled between us. I could vaguely hear the chatter of the other patrons of the café and could feel warmth from the sun streaming through the window warming my skin. Well, if anything, if was only serving to fuel my irritation with the boy sitting across from me. Really, who does this guy think he is?
I was about to open my mouth to argue another point with him when I felt a strange tugging in my stomach. At first it was just a strange pulling sensation at the base of my spine but it very quickly turned into a burning pain swelling throughout my gut. I grabbed the edge of the table and leaned forward, trying to do anything to push the pain away.
"You feeling it too?"
I looked up at Zain, seeing his facial muscles twitch, obviously in some sort of pain. I nodded, trying hard not to cry.
"It's the spell. Time is running out and it's forcing us to return to our bodies," he ground out. "Just give me a sec."
I watched as he screwed his eyes up in concentration and bawled his hands into fists. He mumbled a few words under his breath and the pain was gone almost instantaneously. No sooner had the pain vanished, did my vision start to follow suit.
"Zain?" I asked, panic creeping into my voice as darkness started flowing into my vision. "W-whats happening?"
"Relax, it's just the spell taking us back to our bodies." I heard his voice softly reassuring me from somewhere beside me. My vision was completely gone at this point and my hearing was starting to go too.
The low hum of the café slowly faded and I felt my eyelids drooping. Sleep was starting to sound very good right now. I felt my thoughts become slippery and flit away from me before I was surrounded by total nothingness.