What had been going through Berwald's head when he had made you go with Lukas all on your own? It was bad enough that the two of you got off on a terrible start when Emil was inside your heart. Now that the dragon had been captured at the cost of a few mistakes—though you couldn’t be entirely sure if it was completely your fault—the line between your relationship was holding together by a micro-sized thin spider web ready to break at the right breath of the wind—or the wrong words.
Still, if Berwald had intended for your trip to only consist of you and Lukas, then it couldn’t hurt to try to patch any holes that might have shattered in your bonding—not that there was much of a bond to begin with. In that case, you would have to build it up even stronger than before. Whether he liked it or not, you were going to have to earn Lukas’ trust if you were going to successfully pull off a rescue mission for Emil. You first decided to try it out by speaking with Lukas.
“Um, Lukas? I was wondering—Oh, wait, no! Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames, you know, since you’re so confident about being able to save Emil on your own, would you mind sharing what sorts of powers you have that could pull this mission off? I mean, Berwa—the Golden Sentinel did say you were a powerful asset to have.”
“Don’t talk to me, worm,” Lukas snapped causing your heart to leap in your chest. He was still upset. Even so, you had to persist.
“Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames,” you nearly lost your breath at such a high altitude from saying his name, “could you tell me where the ‘Sapphire Flames’ part of your title came from? I know you’ve told me it wasn’t important to me, but I have a feeling it has something to do with your amazing abilities, doesn't it?”
“I told you to be quiet,” Lukas growled.
Is it even worth trying again? you wondered clamping your mouth shut. It was times like these when you wished there was a third person involved between your rocky conversations with Lukas. While Emil hadn’t been able to directly converse with his brother when he was inside your heart, he was there to offer you support and act as an alternative companion during your travels. In Mathias’ case, the dragon had always been around to lighten up even the tensest of moods and acted as a beacon to distract Lukas away from your mess-ups. Even when Lukas had nearly bitten your head clean off, he had been noble enough to act as your shield, too. Clueless or not, Mathias was a kind dragon at heart. Too bad the same couldn’t exactly be said about Lukas.
Sometimes you wondered what might have happened if Lukas had been the one who was inside your heart. What then? Would he still have been the snappy loathsome dragon that you were riding on at this very moment? What of Emil? Would Emil be so patient with you as he was when he regained his dragon body? Would you even have become a Dragonheart? Then again, if Lukas had powers to offer you, the journey might have been easier. Even so, many things wouldn’t have happened; you wouldn’t have encountered the netiss, you wouldn’t have gotten a chance to take a bath for the first time in your life, you would have never met Mathias, and you may not have ever been able to speak to dragons again.
Such questions led to a mental debate on whether or not the positives outweighed the negatives. Now, sitting atop a dragon who most likely would have eaten you if you weren’t his brother’s Dragonheart, you were having a hard time deciding which alternative reality was the better of the two.
“Do you feel anything?” Lukas suddenly asked making you snap back to your senses. “You’re a Dragonheart. The Golden Sentinel mentioned something about being connected to my brother’s emotions. How are you feeling right now?”
You scrunched your face. “Troubled,” you answered, but that could have most likely stemmed from your uneasiness at being at the mercy of Emil’s safety. It was best to keep that last part unmentioned from Lukas.
“That’s too vague,” Lukas responded. “There has to be something else. Desperation, fear, sadness…Saying you’re troubled is like saying I’m upset with the fact that my brother was captured by your foolish actions.”
“There wasn’t anything I could do!” you shouted. “It was just meant to be a quick trip to the hot springs. After Emil showed me his human form, we were about to fly away, and then—”
“So there was something between you two,” Lukas cut in catching you by surprise. You had expected him to lash out at you in protest and claim everything was your fault. Of course, that was still a possibility.
“My brother doesn’t show his human form to very many people—even amongst dragons,” Lukas continued to speak. “In the course of my brother’s lifetime, I can count the times he’s shown me his human form. To know that he revealed himself to you at such an early time since meeting you…I feel that he really has a genuine sense of trust for you, and I mean that outside of you being a Dragonheart.”
The dragon snorted. “It may be due to my own lack of expressing certain emotions, but I have a feeling the others were right. Even Mathias saw it before I did, and yet here I am still unable to comprehend the most trivial of things.”
You didn’t quite understand what Lukas was getting at. You were right here. He could have talked to you about his dilemmas. You wouldn’t have minded. After all, if he had any dilemmas going on in his life that didn’t include his brother being kidnapped, finding a way to end Dragonfall, and knowing that he nearly chomped his friend’s arm clean off, the problems would be most likely centered around you.
“Lu—Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames, what are you unable to understand?” you asked.
Lukas paused for a few minutes, his eyes searching beyond the snow-blanketed valley looking for both his brother and the right words.
“I understand it now, but my other emotions got in the way,” the dragon finally answered. “At first I couldn’t see why my brother would choose someone like you as his vessel when he had chosen so wisely in the past. Look at you, human: you lack any physical and intellectual strength, you let your feelings get the better of your common sense, and you’re a girl.”
You made a face at that last quality Lukas listed.
“Is there a problem with me being a girl?”
There was a deep rumbling the emerged from within the dragon’s throat that sounded similar to a grunt or a sigh.
“I was afraid,” he said. “I was afraid your good-natured heart would turn my brother into something he wasn’t. I was afraid that such corruption would lead to him feeling attached to you. And…I was afraid that I would lose my brother to you—because of the fact that you are a girl.”
You could only stare.
So that’s why Lukas was so upset when I became a Dragonheart.
“I was jealous,” Lukas continued. “I still am. I didn’t understand how someone like my brother, with nothing to offer to you, could grant you the privilege of becoming a Dragonheart. I still can’t. Even Mathias knew what you were worth. He would not have protected you otherwise. My brother has never been close to anyone but me, and I relished in that sort of bond. When you came along, he saw something in you that I refused to see because of…because of who I am.”
You sighed. “You really love your brother, don’t you?”
To this, Lukas had no response, and the flight became void of your voices lost on the wind.
Because there was no sense of predicting where Emil could have been taken to, you had to resort to making a large spiral around the perimeter of Eldur Mountain. Once an entire circle was made, Lukas would fly even further and travel a larger circle around the mountain. Because he was a dragon, it didn’t take long to cover distances that would have otherwise taken days to traverse. Since there was such a thick blizzard down below, neither of you bothered to worry about humans spotting you overhead.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, you felt a faint tug of sorrow flood your heart and cause your spirits to fall. It must have been Emil.
“Divine Keeper of—ah, forget it—Lukas, stop!”
Immediately after the last word left your mouth, you nearly careened off the dragon after he halted in midair while your body’s momentum continued to drag you forward.
“What is it?” he spoke up halting his flight into a slow glide and circling the spot he had spotted at. “Do you feel something?”
You brought your hand to your heart. “I felt sadness. It was soft, but I definitely felt it.”
“Can you pinpoint an exact direction?” Lukas asked.
“It was…” You looked ahead while the dragon continued to fly in circles. Then, you felt a strong force tugging you in a specific direction.
"There!” you said pointing far away from the mountain.
“To the east…” Lukas murmured and began to fly in the direction of your finger. The more distance you gained, the stronger the emotions became until you could feel fear and pain gathering inside your heart.
Hang on for just a little longer, Emil, you thought. We’re coming.
“Are we getting closer?” Lukas asked tilting his head slightly to check on your condition.
“Yes, it’s really strong now,” you said gripping your chest. Now, the tug was beginning to pull below. Emil couldn’t have been too far now.
“Lu—Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames, we need to descend,” you spoke up pressing gently down on the dragon’s neck. Much to your relief, he obeyed without protest and turned down into a sharp dive. The wind became sharp like needles as tiny ice crystals began to sting your skin and drain the blood from your ears. You remembered Mathias telling you to yawn when the altitude changed, so you did your best to leave your mouth open.
Finally, the ground was starting to come into view as you flew past the clouds and into the true blusterous winds of Eliatha.
“I don’t see him,” Lukas said while still diving.
“Me neither,” you frowned.
All of a sudden, like a pair of scissors cutting thread, Emil’s emotions became disconnected, and you no longer felt the strings pulling at your heart.
“Lukas, stop!” you shouted. “Something’s wrong!”
But before the dragon had any time to react, he struck what appeared to be an invisible wall and went flying backwards sending you sailing into the air from the sudden deflection of momentum.
“Lukas!” you screamed. Being in the air wasn’t fun at all. You couldn’t see anything, and you had absolutely no leverage. The ground was spiraling into view, and at the rate you were going, you could barely hold in enough air to keep your brain fully functioning.
“I’m coming, ___________!” you heard the dragon shout. In a flurry of glimmering blue scales and the sound of clothes flapping in the wind, you felt something grab onto you—albeit with sharp claws—and attempt to remain airborne.
However, like before, Lukas struck something solid yet unseen and went hurling back striking an unfortunate tree and snapping the top off. Snow went spraying into the air as the tree’s leaves were disturbed, and even more powdered snow kicked up and began to steam from underneath you where you and the dragon landed onto the ground.
Your heart pounding fast and your head spinning, all you could think about was how lucky you were to be in one piece. When you managed to sit up, you looked behind you and saw the Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames looking a little flustered from the landing, but other than that, he appeared to be alright—until you saw his wing.
Apparently, during the crash landing, Lukas had snagged his wing onto a branch or something because the tear you and Mathias had worked so hard to patch was now in utter shambles. There was more than one tear on his wing, and to make matters worse, you were sure you left the needle and thread with Mathias back at the mountain.
“Lukas…” you breathed. “Are you hurt?”
The dragon had already seen his wing and began to curse. Before he answered you, a familiar blue light began to surround him, and in an instant, he had changed into his human form.
“There’s no way we’re going to be able to make it back without my brother now,” Lukas panted. “My wing is completely destroyed, and on top of that, there’s something blocking the way to the east.”
Your face fell. “Lukas, I lost the connection with Emil,” you said. “It just happened when we were diving, I swear, it was really strong up until now.”
Lukas sighed and brushed back his fair blonde locks of hair. “I believe you, but for now, we’re going to have to travel on foot. There’s no need for me to stay a dragon if it means being unable to fly.”
“I suppose you're right…” you mumbled with a disheartened look on your face.
“Alright, follow me,” Lukas said and began heading towards the direction of the invisible wall. “And don’t fall behind.”
“I won’t,” you quickly said and gathered yourself together before setting off after the dragon. That’s when you remembered your bad ankle as you tripped and fell face-first into the snow.
“Gack!” you cried and spat out a mouthful of powdered ice crystals.
Lukas whipped around and looked down at you.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Did the fall hurt you somewhere?”
You shook your head. “No, it was right before Emil was captured. When he was taking off, we fell, and I twisted my ankle upon impact.”
“That’s going to be a problem…” Lukas sighed. He paused to think for a moment. “Alright, I’m only going to do this for a little while…”
“Huh? Lukas, what are you—eek!”
Without even bothering to tell you first, Lukas had already hoisted you onto his back and began to trudge through the snow. For someone who didn’t look half as muscular as Mathias, he was surprisingly stronger than he looked.
“When we get to that force field, I’m going to put you down to examine it,” Lukas said without the slightest hint at being tired.
“Force field? Is that what the thing that we hit is called?” you asked.
“Yes, and whoever put it there has some powerful magic,” Lukas answered.
Since there was nothing to do until you reached your first destination, you buried your nose into Lukas’ tunic and began to ponder your thoughts for a while. That’s when you remembered something and began to laugh aloud.
“Quiet, you stupid girl!” Lukas hissed. “Do you want the whole world to know we’re here?!”
“Sorry…” you apologized bringing your voice down to a whisper, “but I remembered something just now.”
The dragon rolled his eyes. “Was it really that amusing?”
“Maybe,” you chuckled. “When we were falling, right before you caught me, you said my name.”
Lukas didn’t say anything.
“It’s the first time,” you smiled.
“Yes…I guess you’re right,” Lukas mumbled and continued to keep walking.