“Let me tell you about the Wandering Quester.” Jax looked spooky, with the fire illuminating his elfish face. He leaned forward like he was about to tell us a secret. “Ten years ago, when we were but toddlers, there was a man, and an old street witch told him he was descended from a great dragon. Upon learning this, vanity and conceit began to consume him. He treated his neighbors and colleagues as if they were but grime underfoot. They believed they had to put up with him, or he would unleash his dragon powers on them. But they soon realised that he had no dragon powers. Armed with pitchforks and knowledge, they banished the man forever.”
“Serves him right!” Little nymph Anna piped up.
“Oh, no, this came back to haunt them.” Jax intoned. “For, alone on the road, tired and hungry, he met a hitchhiker. ‘Dude, you okay?’ The hitchhiker asked. ‘Leave me alone!’ The dejected outcast growled. ‘Okay, man, just thought you looked kinda lost.’ The Quester was outraged. How dare this random hitchhiker judge him! ‘I am not lost.’ He spat. Abruptly, he saw ethereal, floating strings connecting the hitchhiker to everything around him. Tentatively, the Quester pulled on them. The hitchhiker crumpled to his knees, yelling in pain. A slow smile spread over the man’s face, and he pulled as hard as possible. The hitchhiker gasped for breath, then stopped. He was dead.”
Anna gasped. “That’s horrible!”
Jax gritted his teeth. “I know. Now, with the knowledge of his newfound power, he went back to his town, and killed them all! As the powerful dragon man surveyed the ghost town he had created, he spotted the witch in the middle of the town square. He headed towards her, drunk with power. He concentrated, pulling on her life strings, but they held strong. He was amazed. No one could resist his power. ‘How?’ He breathed.”
Suddenly, the fire blazed and the vision of a great green dragon appeared. Quite a few people jumped, including me. The only ones that didn’t were Jax and the Fae Tara. She must have used her fairy powers to create the illusion.
Jax continued his story. “Suddenly, the witch turned into a great dragon. ‘I knew you were a dragon, because I am too.’ She boomed. ‘You have one unique dragon power: you can pull on the lifestrings of others, and command them to die. This is my power: I resist any other Dragon Power that is used against me. I am the Dragon Queen, and you have failed Dragonkind! You use your power only for your own gain, only for revenge! You are the last dragon descendant, and you will die alone, with none of your kind around you!’ The man desperately wanted the horrid speech to stop. He pulled the witch’s life strings harder, and they started moving slowly. These were the witch’s last words: ‘I will go peacefully, though I hope you do not.’”
“That’s like, powerful.” Tyler the Faun commented.
“And so, on this day ten years ago, the Last Dragon was doomed to wander the roads forever, searching for something he would never find.” Jax finished his story and sat back with a smug grin on his face.
“That was a good story.” I complimented him.
“Thank you, Bia. But I didn’t make it up. In fact, the witch’s house is about a mile that way.” He pointed north.
“Awesome!” Tyler yelled. “Who wants to go with me?”
“I’m in.” Jax said. “I’ve never actually been there.”
“I’ll come too.” Tara agreed.
“It sounds interesting.” I commented. “Sure, I’ll come. Anna?”
“Er, I don’t know. It sounds creepy.” Anna said with trepidation.
“Come on. We’ll protect you.” I tried to convince her.
“Okaay.” She gave in. I grinned and started walking north.
I coughed as the front door swung open, revealing a very dusty front entryway that looked like it was owned by a sweet little grandma twenty years ago. I tried to wipe the dust off of one of the pictures on the wall, but there was another layer of grime underneath, and I gave up. There was a little table with a mirror in the corner. I walked over to it and started opening cabinets. The others dispersed into adjacent rooms while I looked at crusty handkerchiefs and candy tins.
An ornate hand mirror in one of the cabinets caught my eye. I picked it up and jumped at my reflection. Normally, I have long, dirty blonde hair and grey eyes. In this reflection, though, I had purple scales on one cheek, one emerald green eye, and short purplish horns. I brought my hand up to try to touch a horn, but it wasn’t there. It’s like a Snapchat filter, I thought. Why would an old Dragon-witch own a Snapchat mirror?
“Hey, Anna, come look at this weird mirror.” I called. Anna came over and took the mirror from me.
“What’s so weird about it?” She asked.
“Look at your reflection.”
“I just look like me.” Surprised, I looked. Sure enough, she had no purple scales, no horns, no green eye.
“Uh- ok. Er, nevermind.” I took the mirror back and pocketed it, thinking. Maybe I had imagined it. But it had looked so real!
“Can I help you, sir?” The front desk lady, a rather pretty sprite, asked Eris.
“Just give me a room!” He said roughly. He just needed to sleep for a few hours, and then keep tracking down the other dragon he had sensed.
“Well, of course, sir. How would you like to pay?” Eris sighed. He had run out of money years ago.
“Just give it to me.” He demanded.
“Well, I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t do that.” She told him.
He pulled on her life strings the slightest bit, just enough for her to feel a sharp pain behind her eyes. She gasped, and looked at him with fear.
“Are you sure you can’t do it? Or do you want me to pull a little harder?” The lady quickly pulled a key from her desk and gave it to him with a shaking hand.
“R-room 302.” She told him, then tried to scurry away. Before she could get two steps, Eris quickly tugged, and in one sharp motion, she crumpled, lifeless. Her body would be found in the morning, but he would be long gone by then. With the burst of energy he got from her death, he suddenly was completely rejuvenated, like he’d had a long rest. He put the key back in the desk. He had forgotten how refreshing killing was.
The next day
“Woohoo!” Tara yelled as she jumped into the swimming hole, using flight to make her cannonball last longer.
“My turn!” Tyler yelled, shoving to the front of the line.
“Ew, you’ll smell like wet goat!” Anna teased.
“I will be a wet goat!” Tyler said, and jumped in. Then he climbed back up and shook his goat leg in her face.
“Pee-yew! I’ve got to get away from that!” Anna yelled, then did a perfect dive into the water.
“Jax, Bia, come on!” Tara called from the water.
“You know elves can’t swim!” Jax called back.
“You’re only half elf, though.” I pointed out.
“Still, I’m a bad swimmer.” He protested.
“Come on. We have one person who can fly here, and four who can swim! You’ll be fine!” I said.
“Er, I don’t know.”
“Why are you here if you’re not going to swim? Come on, I’ll jump with you.”
“Okaay.” I grabbed his hand and got ready.
“Three, two, one, go!” We jumped in. The cool water went over my head, refreshing me, but at the same time, confining me. The ground was always more my style.
I surfaced, breathing in the fresh air. I looked around, but didn’t see Jax next to me. I looked down and saw him sinking to the bottom, unconscious.
I took a deep breath of air and dived down, trying to reach him. I grabbed his hand and pulled up, but something resisted. I swam down next to him and saw his Elf Life Force bracelet tangled in a weed. I tried to untangle it, but I couldn’t figure it out. My lungs burned, desperate to take a breath. The bracelet glowed, and then snapped in half. I grabbed both halves and pulled Jax up as fast as I could.
I reached the surface and gulped up air. I dragged him to land and checked his pulse. Nothing. I sobbed, desperately trying to reattach his Life bracelet. It flickered weakly, then died down. I noticed a bleeding gash on his forehead, probably where he hit his head on a cliff and got knocked out. The bleeding was not helping his condition
“Jax!” Tara was next to me, yelling his name.
“Jax!” I joined her, trying to make him hear me. “Jax! Come back! Please…” I sobbed.
At that word, a million colors flared up around Jax’s body. An aura. Tara’s voice faded away, and all that I could register was Jax and his aura. It was flickering, and I got an urgent thought that I needed to stop that. I willed my own aura to flare up. It was filled with oranges and reds, and it flickered like a fire. I cupped a piece of it in my hand, and gently placed it in Jax’s aura. It dispersed into it like a river, reinforcing it. Jax stirred and groaned. Tara’s voice faded back in, and I swayed.
“Bia?” Jax opened his eyes and croaked out my name.
Tara sobbed and hugged him tight. “You’re alive!”
Jax focused on me. “Bia?” He asked. “What did you do?”
Eris flew over the forest where his town once was, ten years ago. Why did the other dragon have to be here? He searched out for the girl’s power scent, and caught a very strong whiff the the west. He zeroed in on it and saw a swimming hole. He headed towards it with a steady pace. It was time to meet his last relative.
“I just- I wanted you to be alive, to come back, and then your aura appeared, and I took some energy from my aura and put it in yours, and now you’re alive!” I hurriedly explained what had happened to Jax.
“Bia, that’s the power of a dragon.” Tara looked at me in shock.
“Yes, it is.” A great booming voice behind me said. Tara’s eyes widened, and she scrambled backwards.
I turned around and gasped. Perched on the cliff above me, a great red dragon stood. He had an evil glint in his emerald green eyes, and a determined expression. He flew down next to me and transformed into a tall man with cobalt blue eyes and inky black hair to his shoulders.
He tilted my chin up to look at my face. “You, my dear, are a dragon. And so am I.”
“You’re the man from Jax’s story.” I realised. “But the witch said there were no more dragons.”
The man sneered. “The witch lied. Now, come with me. Two powerful dragons could rule the world together. All you have to do to prove yourself to me is turn into your dragon form.”
“I do not want to rule the world with you, and I have no need to prove myself to you.” I told him defiantly.
He laughed. It was a cold, humorless laugh. “I was not asking.” He flexed his hand, and Jax and Tara let out cries of pain. I remembered what his power was. If he pulled any harder my friends would die. I reached out with my power and tried to blanket them with my aura.
“I see. Trying to counteract my power? But dear, I am infinitely stronger than you.” He reached out a hand to me and I fell to my knees. I was being cooked in boiling water; I was freezing to death in the arctic. All my limbs were being pulled out; I was being compressed into a tiny cube.
I vaguely registered the other dragon’s voice through my pain. “I am Eris, the god of strife! No one can best me! You will come with me, and I will use your power to enforce my rule! Now, I think your little friends will be my first kills as king.”
At those words I refocused. I gritted my teeth and stood up through the pain. I focused all my power on the vision of me in the mirror I had found. Horns broke through my skull. My canine teeth elongated into fangs. Bones erupted out from my shoulder blades, growing leathery skin connecting them. It was painful, but it felt powerful, too, like I was finally was I was meant to be. I transformed into a dragon-human hybrid, with razor sharp horns and wicked fangs. I unfurled my great purple wings and raised into the air.
“I am Bia, the goddess of power! I am the last Great Dragon! It is my duty to protect the ones I love, and I will do so until my last drop of power is spent!” I roared. “You say you are the greatest, the Dragon King, yet you cannot subdue a teenage girl! You are a weakling, and your days of power are over!”
I saw the fear in his eyes as I lunged towards him. He thought I was going to kill him. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I couldn’t let him hurt my friends. But before I could reach him, he transformed back into a dragon quicker than I ever could. With a great leap, he launched himself into the air.
“Clearly, you are not ready for this power!” Eris boomed. “But trust me, I will come back. And when I do, I will not be so lenient.” He roared a column of fire that singed my eyebrows, and then took off. I landed and collapsed. Tara crawled over beside me, obviously still in pain. I quickly gave her some of my aura, and she sighed with relief. I did the same to Jax who was still lying a few yards away.
“What happened?” Tara asked softly. “I mean, you were flying at him, looking ready to attack, and then he just... flew off?”
“Yeah,” I whispered. “He realised that his first attempt to get me was unsuccessful, but he knows that I’m out here now. He will try again.”
“I’ll try to help you get better with your powers. We all will. We’ll learn how to defend ourselves. And when he comes back, we’ll be ready.” She reassured me. I smiled weakly at her confidence.
“Tara! Jax! Bia!” Tyler came running towards us, Anna close on his heels. They knelt next to us and hugged us. “What happened?”
I melted into the hug. “I-I don’t want to talk about it.”
“That’s okay. You don’t have to.”
Jax crawled over to us and joined the hug. We stayed like that for a while, holding on to each other for dear life, knowing that we were the only people that would ever believe this story.