King of Kings

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How to describe the burning ache of Bahamut, in his noble human form, holding my hands?

Like I'm on fire in Ifrit's hut, except it's only on my insides, so if I can just channel my cool, I can trick everyone that I'm calm.

But if I open my mouth, I might twist and gnarl my tongue, so I just stare in awe.

Fairy tales warn the King of Kings is an angry and self-centered man. His heart pointed at only himself, he thinks he knows how to love another, but only if they first fawn over him. Yet since no one can worship another indefinitely, the idolization always slips; then the King of Kings retracts his love, since it must be self-centered, afforded only for himself.

As a child, I loved this fairy tale. Mother read it to me many times; it was a staple bedtime story for the Summoners of Mist, a warning tale not just about the greatest of summons, but about great men of the human world as well.

I wouldn't dare demand Bahamut let me summon him, the way I stood over the cockatrice. And I would not assume he would let me summon him kindly, as I summoned Titan; nor would I think he'd let me summon him casually, accidentally, the way Shiva first came to me, at the mouth of Leviathan.

Still holding my hands, he quirks a devilish smile and whispers, "I'll take you to the Dwarf Castle, Last Summoner of Mist."

"T-thank you," I stammer. He is strikingly beautiful and dangerous. "Your help is appreciated more than I could describe."

He grins wider. He falls for my reverent words—for now. He leans into my ear, sharing with me alone, "Visit me sometime in my homeland. When you are at the Moon."

I have no intentions of ever going to the Moon. So I guess it's an easy promise to make. "All right."

Thankfully he lets go of my hands, sparing me from taking them back on my own. I tilt my eyes to the ground, stepping back a bit, and am relieved when I bump into Shiva. Then I realize, just as she rests her chilled hands on my shoulders to still me, her icy breasts are pressed firm along my back. So I'm wedges between my heart throb, and the human form of the most magnificent creature in the Light World, Dark World, and Moon combined.

I must have a ridiculous look on my face, or the two violet-robes children wouldn't be snickering at me. There's a special kind of embarrassment that only blooms red when little kids laugh at a teenager looking like an idiot. I want to retaliate at them, Someday your body will feel like a slinky hell too, and I can't wait for people to laugh at you, except these kids emerged from Bahamut when he descended from his dragon to human form, so I can't help thinking they're your run-of-the-mill children.

"We appreciate your help," Shiva echoes behind me. I can hear the tightness in her lips, even though I'm not looking at her face; this is how well I've learned the nuisances of how Shiva XIII speaks, the edge of irritation she manages to hide from Rob. Perhaps, even Ifrit doesn't know how to pick up on it, unless he's also secretly in love with her.

Bahamut's children guide us further away, giving him distance to again assume a dragon form; only this time, he's assumes a sleek, mithral body, to better navigate the thinner tunnels of this underworld.

In order for all of us to ride him, we sit on his back single-file. At Ifrit's roaring, "You first, Rydia," I take the front, swinging a leg onto each side of Bahamut's serpentine body. His scales undulate beneath me, up and through my core.

I try to cast Shell, yet the white magic doesn't appear. Shell is such a simple spell; why am I not able enough to use it anymore?

As Shiva mounts Bahamut behind me, her cool hands touch my shoulders once again, yet only long enough for her to whisper, "Shell," encapsulating me in a wintry green bubble.

With Shell's protection, I hold Rob in my lap, certain his fiery body won't hurt me. He leans his Bomb body into the curve of my stomach, happy for the front seat.

Ifrit leaps on Bahamut next, with the same force that barreled him from wall to wall in the Cave of Sylphs, and Bahamut turns his long, thin snout around, snorting Ifrit into stillness.

In three powerful wing thrusts, Bahamut ascends. I squeeze Rob, as if he's the token of luck that'll prevent me from falling to my certain death. In response, Rob pumps the tiniest Bomb-fists in the air, hollering, "IamthebaddestBomb, thebaddestBombintheworld!"


Author's Note

New cover art still in progress... :)

We're nearing the end! I'm so stoked! I've had the ending outlined for awhile, but I've forced myself not to enjoy my cake (i.e., fully write it) until I get there, since it'll be a treat for me to draft the Golbez scene. My excitement should glitter in the prose, so it'll make it a treat to read, too.

First draft: September 18

Word count: 900

I appreciate you reading this far! Make sure to star (⭐️) if you liked the chapter.

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