With the Blade of the Ruby Seas accompanying you on your journey, there was never a quiet moment that lasted more than an entire minute. The lively, talkative dragon always had something to say even if it didn’t prove to be the slightest bit insightful. Then again, perhaps it was because he had a short attention span and couldn’t keep track of one thing or another. You could only imagine how he would act if he had been an actual dragon.
“…And then I walloped those groups of bandits with my bare hands and nothing more than my brilliant mind and superior strength!” Mathias beamed after telling you story of how he fended off a group of bandits from a helpless traveller.
“The last time you told me that story, you said it was Mathias as in your vessel—not Mathias as in you—who drove the bandits away,” Lukas piped up after trying to keep quiet for as long as he could. “Not only that, but you said you used a small dagger and killed the leader before fighting them off—not driving everyone away with your bare hands.”
“Well, that must’ve been a different story then,” said Mathias.
“One that involved the same red-scarfed traveller on the same rickety road with bandits that happened to be wearing the same blue-cloaked masks?” Lukas added.
“H-Hey! Lots of people wear red scarves and blue masks, okay?”
“Oh, brother,” you smiled.
“They are a lively bunch when put together, aren’t they?” Emil chuckled.
They are, you agreed. It had been awkward travelling with Lukas on your own with no one else to talk to but Emil, but now the dragons did all of the talking—even though it was more bickering than actual conversation.
“If you’re so bent on trying to say my story was fake, then why don’t we hear one of yours?” Mathias fumed feeling upset as to why his old friend didn’t believe him.
“Uh…I don’t think that’s a good idea…” you said trying hoping Mathias would change his mind.
“Don’t be silly, his stories are great!” Mathias grinned.
“You think so?” you asked incredulously.
“It’s because the background noise gives him room to actually concentrate on something else,” Emil told you.
Background noise? You mean Lukas’ stories?
“Who else’s stories would I be talking about?”
Lukas sighed. “If it will shut your mouth, then I suppose I can talk about the time my first vessel and I met a young woman on our way to Eldur Mountain.”
You perked your ears and focused your attention on Lukas. This story sounded like it would be different from all of the other ones Lukas had told you during your travels.
“Lukas—as in the name of the prince who was my vessel—was already known throughout the land as being praised for his remarkably attractive appearance and ability to take control and lead,” the Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames began.
I can agree on the appearances part, you thought in your head.
“Just like what you were talking about, Mathias, we were travelling on a lone road when we heard a scream coming from a place not too far from the path. Being one to feel responsibility for his people, Lukas went over to survey the area. Sure enough, he saw a young woman being harassed by some low-life robbers.
“Of course, while arrogant, the prince was also noble. With the aid of my powers, he quickly dispatched the robbers, but before striking down the final blow, the remaining robber had inflicted a severe wound on the woman’s side.
“Feeling responsible, Lukas decided to stay with the woman until she recovered; he felt it was the least he could do after failing to save her in time even after being an expert swordsman and having the aid of a dragon’s soul.
“I, on the other hand, had refused to let him waste time on a mere human, but the prince’s heart was too strong so he resisted my control. He even had the gall to justify that his heart was strong enough to last us the entire trip and so there we remained, biding away our time until he was sure the woman would be strong enough to recover.”
The Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames took a moment to pause to see if Mathias was still listening. Since the Blade of the Ruby Seas remained silent, he decided to continue on with the story.
“That woman…I find it strange to admit it, but that woman was remarkably pure at heart. She was benevolent and passionate at the same time, and from what I understood from the thoughts of my vessel, she was far more attractive than some of the princesses he had set his eyes on.
“…Meeting her was a mistake on our part. The journey to Eldur Mountain would still take a long time, and yet I was detecting strange emotions emitting from the prince’s heart. He, too, had never felt such feelings before, but finally, after a few days, he confessed to me that he was experiencing something called love.”
The Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames made a face and wrapped his hands around his arms.
“It was a strange feeling, one of desire and overwhelming affection. Even to this day, I cannot fully express what I felt in words, but it was a feeling that I am sure separates dragons from humans in body and soul if you can put it like that. However, even thought I was able to experience Lukas’ emotions first-handedly, I am still unable to comprehend the inner workings of such a powerful and enigmatic emotion.”
So Lukas knows what love is? you wondered.
“It’s something he prefers not to admit, but yet, he does,” Emil answered.
“And?” Mathias jumped in. “What happened to the woman?”
Lukas—as in the dragon—shrugged. “I never saw her again. After my vessel recovered, we went on our way since I knew his time was running out. After regaining my body at Eldur Mountain, Lukas and I separated and that was that.”
Mathias rubbed his chin. “Hmm…But you did tell me that you saw Lukas—as in the prince—from time to time, right?”
The Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames nodded. “He was a brash fool to the very end. As my part of the deal, I would come to his aid and strike down his enemies with my flames.” He chuckled softly to himself, something that gave him an eerie impression instead of an amused one. “I couldn’t imagine what might have happened had he been a Dragonheart.”
You were unfamiliar with that last word. “What’s a Dragonheart?”
“Dragonhearts are those we acknowledge as being worthy vessels who keep their dragon souls’ powers even after the souls leave their hearts,” Lukas explained. “It doesn’t necessarily mean they are good people, but it does mean that they have the privilege to command the dragon they had bonded with. That is the dragons’ half of the bargain for being revitalized with the aid of humans.”
You brought your hand to your heart. “Do you think I could become a Dragonheart?”
“Ha,” Lukas dryly laughed. “My brother doesn’t have powers to offer you to begin with so no matter what, you won’t become one.”
“Oh…” you frowned feeling disappointed.
“But it’s fine,” Mathias reassured you. “There are very few Dragonhearts to have ever existed. I’ve never heard of another Dragonheart being alive in my lifespan, and I’m older than Lukas.”
“So what are they like?” you asked. “Legends? Heroes?”
“They can be considered legends to dragons and maybe even in a few documentations of human history,” Lukas answered, “but I highly doubt anyone understands the explanation of where the Dragonhearts get their powers. They are so rare that their accomplishments have most likely been lost in myths.”
“It would make sense,” you decided. “After all, before becoming a vessel, too, I never knew dragons could even migrate their souls into human hearts.”
“And it should be kept that way,” Lukas growled. “Can you imagine what would happen if that secret were discovered? My brother and I may not be alive today.”
“Then what’s to say your other vessels haven’t spoken about them?” you asked.
To your unexpected and disturbing surprise, a thin smile spread across the dragon’s lips.
“After my brother leaves your heart, you will be bound to secrecy with a mark,” he explained. “It happens to all the vessels. Your heart will be marked with a dragon’s seal, and if you dare to speak of the dragons and the times you’ve spent with us to another human, your heart will catch fire and consume you in flames. That is how we ensure no one knows of our abilities.”
A cold shudder ran through your body. It looked like the dragons would leave more than just an emotional impression on you; they would also mark you to swear your secrecy whether you wanted it or not.
“Don’t worry about it, ___________,” Mathias smiled in contrast to your grim expression. “It’s not that hard to shut your mouth about it. Besides, how many people will believe you?”
“You’re the last person who should talk about telling others to keep their mouths shut,” Lukas growled. “You can’t even shut your mouth for more than a minute, and you haven’t changed at all.”
“I’m glad you remember!” the Blade of the Ruby Seas grinned completely oblivious to the fact that his friend had meant that as an insult.
“Never mind,” Lukas sighed shaking his head hopelessly. “Are we almost there yet?”
“After less than a day’s worth of walking, we should be able to get there,” Mathias said. “But it’s getting dark, and the further we go down, the more humans show up. I don’t think you can afford to transform right now, Lukas.”
“How wonderful,” his friend sarcastically replied.
“Eh? You think it’s good to be a human?” Mathias perked up. “That’s great! We can be best friends until the day we die!”
“I was being sarcastic, you thick-headed fool!” Lukas snapped.
“Something tells me this is going to be a long night,” Emil groaned in your heart.
You pressed your lips together and observed the dragons arguing—one of them was arguing, anyway; the other one was too dense to realize his friend was throwing insults at him left and right.
I think you’re right, Emil.