Chapter Two: Beached

949 5 2

Cirrus watched the ship approach in the distance, coming for where he sat at his post on the southeastern Torian beach. The GLORIA was early, and it usually kept to a strict schedule of arriving every two weeks. Then its sailors would take what they wanted and could carry from the dragon’s lands and leave on the fourth tide.

It was usually the healing plants and herbs that were infused with aeri that they came for. To his knowledge, the Suzerain Continent was that of sickness and darkness under the energy of the Atrum’s estus Aur. He didn’t care for the mercy he allowed them. Cirrus only allowed any of it for the amusement the crew usually gave him. The Awl was his favorite one to torment.

He pulled his invisibility around himself, letting his wind stir the white sand under him, and let his mind wander off. The sailors had seen him before. His presence was enough to remind them to make their stay short and pleasant.

Cirrus thought of their King. The aeri of the Animus around him moved and soon he found himself before the memory of Simera; as clear as reality. But the blue eyes of the black dragon that looked back at him was only the Thread mirroring his own memories back to him.

The King sat still and motionless, as if his senses tuned into every detail and aspect that was not of their world. The waves of lightning and sparks from the Eternal Waters as evening settled in washed under him in bursts of jagged purple and rose bolts that could kill a full grown dragon. But for Simera, it was seemingly effortless to balance the two opposing energies at the same time through his body, and not so much as flinch.

The ocean’s storm settled as the energy that was caught violently between the sky and water fell like pink flower petals. The waves that drowned them in estus energy left some of those stringed together to float peacefully for a few moments longer.

As he watched Simera, a part of him wanted to see the wonders that existed beyond their lands. He wanted to explore past his duty as a High Guard, and see the world. But even if he could fly the distance to the other Continent and make it before the storm’s rising, there was no escaping their Laws or the fact the phelan would spare him no less than he had. His wings and trail of carnage had given him the nickname the ‘White Death’ by the same sailors who now paddled in smaller boats towards the shore.

Their wood and plated ship was like a deeply curved shield covered in silver griffin metal. The metal was a combination of several, that channeled the powerful energy of dawn and dusk into the masts. Then the sail would safely release the energy over and behind the ship into a brilliantly colored, long-haired flower, which was nothing more than collected pluma Thread. When the storm ceased, the Thread sails were twisted away like a flower blossom. Then the white, fabric sails were raised to once again to catch the winds and allow the sailors to continue their journey.

He was only eighteen when he saw one of the ships for the first time and remembered mistaking it for a massive eminor. But whether or not eminor could actually sing, it was what ultimately saved the ship from his father’s fiery wrath and hatred for anything of a phelan scent.

The bottle of wine that was thrown at Dyaus’ eyes when he stalled from the human female’s song, also helped.

He looked back to Simera as the black dragon opened his blue eyes and brought his senses into focus on him. Are you well?

His memory’s portrayal of their King took a moment to adjust to the dim light before fully recognizing Cirrus. “Yes. Despite growing weary of this world split by fire and uncertainty.” Simera stood up to stretch his long, powerful wings, before unsomning into his human-like form. The dark mist encircled and consumed his black scales, before dissipating along the beach with the leave of the ocean’s tide. Simera’s long, dark mauve waves fell around his knees, and his blue eyes dimmed in their glow on his old, but determined face.

Dragoons aged like humans and would gain wrinkles and even grey hair over time, but the King defied Time from taking his beauty. Even in his human-like form, he stood as still and wise as an Ancient. Forever unyielding to the mortal world that was nothing more than a weak chaos of constant change that pestered him.

You had us all worried for a while. I didn’t know you had changed your place of meditation.

“My Vision was disturbing again. Just as most of them are now,” Simera said as he looked across the dark water that had been void of all its rightful light. “I cannot stay here and wait any longer.

You mean your Visions of Earth? But my Lord, Serena’s Visions have never been wrong. If she has seen the Caelestis return to Aster, then she will. Would it not serve us better to wait?

“We are out of time, Cirrus. The phelan stroll through our fields and forests as if it is their own and I grow too old to waste any more of my days just waiting around. Now I just need the will to do what needs to be done and hold onto the prayer that we might still have a chance. But I will not wait around till our enemies hand me Asil’s body, and shatter the last of our hope that Aragmoth might spare any of us from his wrath.

Simera, we need you here now more than ever. If the Atrum’s Army finds out that you’re gone, they will not waste a breath going straight for Toria.

“There will be a day when I no longer have the strength to fly, but it won’t be for some time yet. So I will use my powers where I believe they will serve us most. I am not staying here to die to grief. It may be some time before I return.

Cirrus could see through to the King’s true intentions now, as the dragoon’s spark of anger from being questioned had opened a window to Simera’s thoughts of Earth. Please don’t do this—you can’t just go to Earth! Their sun, the Sentries—you will be destroyed!

“The weak are destroyed or left as cripples!” Simera replied harshly. A voice that commanded respect and obedience to all but the unfortunate fool who dared to test his position and strength. “My son had his mother’s beauty and gentleness, but not the strength needed to do the great things that are crafted from the blood and flesh of battle. This is why I took you from your father and raised you as my second son. You have the strength to both protect and achieve greatness. You always have.

Simera closed his eyes as a dark mist appeared around him, and he became the form of a black dragon once again. Then he spread his wings that blended against the night sky, voiding it of its stars. “You are not to tell the others of this unless I fail to return in three moons. Is this understood? If anything, it will ease some of your fears of the Atrum Lord discovering my absence.

Cirrus wanted to do little else than pounce on the King and hold him on the beach, but the feeling of desperation from his blue eyes held him steady as Simera’s heart pleaded for him to stay put. Whatever madness had overtaken the dragoon to face death, meant something to his mentor that he did not understand.

Cirrus blamed his own Curse; as his own humanity had drawn far away from the soul lost in him for so many years. He had given up ten years ago the possibility of ever finding it again and being a normal dragoon. He didn’t have to give up any more. He was no longer Cursed. Unless by a miracle, Cirrus knew he would never be able to understand all that Simera did, not unless he lived on. Not unless he continued forward. Please be careful.

“Stay true with Aragmoth until I return. We will walk together through the Halls of the Great Dragon when the Caelestis’ tears douse the fires of the Keol that imprisons us here.

Cirrus watched as the King took to the air in a flurry of sand that fell around him like sharp rain, and started over the Eternal Waters that had lost the glow of the Soph Aur on its surface. As the last of its rose strings were pulled under by the tide, he felt his conscious rise back to the present.

Dragon Aster: Book I (Preview)Read this story for FREE!