“Ho! Who dares speak to me?!” you cried whipping your head around to see where the source of the voice came from. The voice was almost familiar, but the manner in which the voice was speaking was far too different than anyone you had heard before.
With no prospect of there being a speaker anywhere in sight, you began looking around for the source with the Sapphire Flames guiding your vision.
“Hello? Is someone here? If you can hear me, then I’d love it if you came out!”
“It isn’t necessary to speak aloud, human,” the voice said with a caustic tone on its edge.
“Human?” you repeated aloud, anyway. “I knew someone who spoke to me like that, but you cannot be him. I saw him die.”
“And how unfortunate that must be, ____________.”
Your head shot up. Who’s talking to me? Could it be…?
“My brother was right about you being slow in the head. I should have seen the signs when I had the chance.”
You made a face. How rude!
Your stomach churned, and your heart fluttered as though someone were laughing.
“Thinking such unnecessary thoughts and wandering aimlessly around a corpse yard is no way for a Dragonheart to be conducting herself. Bombarding my mind with your pointless meanderings is far more than rude. It’s unjustified. I should have chosen a better vessel.”
“Oh!” you gasped upon finally recognizing the speaker. E-Emil!
“It took you long enough, useless human.”
B-But…Where were you when I was trying to reach you? Unless I’m really going mad…
“Your mind was unfocused, and it still is,” the voice that supposedly belonged to Emil snorted. But there was something frightfully wrong with the Wings of the Opal Skies. What had happened to make him so short-tempered and snooty like his brother?
Emil, is that really you? you wondered in your thoughts.
“Of course, it’s me, you fool. Who else would it be?”
What in Eliatha happened to your tone? You used to be so sweet…
“And no thanks to you. Look where your actions have gotten you, Dragonheart: at the bottom of a pit going along the one-way road to insanity. How my brother was able to stand you all of this time is something I can never understand. How I had once grown to tolerate you is something I cannot forgive myself for.”
What had happened to him? Where was he? If he was talking so callously, then something must have gone wrong with him in the time you had lost contact with him. Could he even have been…?
“If I could see the look on your pathetic face right now, I don’t think I’d be able to hold myself back from hitting you. My brother would have done the same. You’re really slow, human. You’re nothing more than a weak worm that needs to be stomped out of this world, a failed contribution to life’s purpose of existence.”
What in Eliatha…? How did this happen? Not even Lukas had been this cold to you.
“Ah, my brother…” Emil seemed to sigh. “You are right: I do not miss him, either, human. I had grown tired of his doting and snarky remarks. He was a burden to the very end always hiding me in his shadow. When you get me out, I can finally accomplish what he failed to do.”
You made a face. And what would that be?
“To take the flames from you, of course,” Emil answered rather casually. “The only reason you possess them was because you just so happened to be able to fit the requirements, but everyone knows with your bad luck, you’d end up dead in a ravine with the blood rolling down your pathetic skin. My brother had been irresponsible. I will ensure that the humans will never get a chance at redemption. Under my control, Eliatha will be swallowed by an eternal winter as was intended without any interference. That being said, I will not let myself to be so easily killed for a human’s life, either.”
That’s insane! you shouted in your head. Lukas gave me the flames for a reason, and I mean to keep them under my guard!
“Oh? But he had intended to hand the flames over to me if it came down to those circumstances,” Emil reminded you. It was so unsettling hearing how venomous his voice sounded. “He had not expected a hunter to shoot him. He had not expected to get so close to you. Neither did I, but now that I know better, I will not let the same thing happen again.”
With an attitude like that, I might as well keep the flames and leave you to rot wherever you are! you snorted. From the sound of things, it looks like you really need to get your morals together, Emil!
“And how will you even survive without my help?” Emil brought up. “You may have the blessing of the flames and the possibility of living forever, but you are still mortal. You will die without the proper nutrition and attention. And then, you will fail my brother and the rest of the world upon perishing.”
“Shut up!” you shrieked squeezing your head together. “Stop talking! Where’s the real Emil?! I want the real Emil! I want him! Not this imposter! Lukas! Lukas, help me, oh gods!”
This was all wrong. None of this was supposed to happen. You had never asked to be a human vessel. You had never asked to be a Dragonheart. You had never asked to have your heart broken twice now. This wasn’t the modest, good-hearted Emil you had known. This was a monster, a beast no lesser than a feral dragon.
“Trying to bar me out of your thoughts won’t work now, human,” Emil seemed to laugh. “You and I are connected by our hearts and souls. There is no escaping me.”
What about when I needed you? you sniffed. Why didn’t you answer me when I needed the support?
“I had been hoping to see how far your spiraling downfall would take you,” the dragon coldly replied. “That turned out to be a mistake, however. I never thought your voice could become so irritable so quickly.”
“Oh, Lukas…” you whispered. “If you could hear your brother now…” You sniffed. “You don’t want to see what happened to him.”
It didn’t matter if Emil could hear you or not. In your miserable state, you had come to assume Emil’s soul had been tainted. Somehow, he had become impure. On top of everything else, he even openly claimed that he wanted to take the flames from you! Lukas’ Sapphire Flames! There was no chance—not in a million years—that you would give up the flames to such a corrupt dragon without a fight. Dragonfall was bad enough as it was. To think of it getting worse than it was would be unthinkable. Whoever had tainted Emil’s heart had to be composed of pure evil and malice.
“Face it, human,” Emil spoke into your thoughts. “You know as much as I do that we cannot survive without each other’s company. As disagreeable as we may have become, we are still connected. I am your dragon; you are my Dragonheart. No matter how much you try to deny it, I am the real Emil.”
“No…” you whimpered. In your sad state of mind, you had begun to tug at your hair hoping the pain would distract you from your emotional breakdown.
“The real Emil was a kind, good-natured dragon,” you said. “He was willing to open his soul to my heart, and I wouldn’t have hesitated to call him my friend. He was a good person to his brother and helped me look past his differences and unlikable traits. You are not the real Emil.”
“But I am,” the demonic speaker with Emil’s voice said. The words drilled into your head, inescapable. You couldn’t bear it. There was no way to block him out and disconnect with his voice like you had been able to do with Mathias and even Lukas at one point. Emil’s voice still rang loud and clear.
“Don’t try to deny the truth, Dragonheart. You will only make things worse for you when the realization hits you at the wrong time. And before you go trying to escape your misfortunes, you must accept the fact that my brother is dead. The Divine Keeper of the Sapphire Flames. Lukas. He. Is. Dead.”
“I know!” you yelled. The blue lights in the dark room quivered and flickered as if your scream had caused a hidden blue flame to waver in the wind. “I know he’s dead! I saw him! I don’t need to remember that! Once was enough!”
“You are still in denial, aren’t you?” Emil jabbed. “You believe that he is still with you, somewhere deep within your heart. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve dug through your memories and self-loathing. I know my brother told you that dragons do not come back when they are killed as humans. Their souls remain connected with their hearts. As a matter of fact, my brother didn’t even have his heart when you saw his dead body, correct?”
Your lips shook. The room was suddenly excruciatingly humid and pungent. The pounding voice in your head wouldn’t stop. This was maddening. You couldn’t stand it. The mental images were beginning to tear down your sanity. Emil had gone to the point of no return, and he was trying to bring you down with him.
“Oh, gods, Lukas…” you moaned. It was hard trying to be strong when images of Lukas’ unsightly body flashed through your mind. He had not died peacefully, but if you didn’t carry on and save Emil, then his soul would not be able to rest. You had to do that much for him after coming this far. Corrupt or not, you had to find Emil. He, alone, was the sole purpose of this agonizing journey. Finding a way to end Dragonfall was just something you had planned on doing once Emil had retrieved his body, but even that purpose was void thanks to the dragon’s ludicrous intentions.
“My brother cannot help you now,” Emil continued to say. “He is gone.”
“You will never see his face again. You will never hear his voice.”
“Eliatha will fall into an eternal winter. Humans will cease to exist as we know it.”
“Don’t say that…”
“You have already failed my brother by merely existing. Had it not been for you, he wouldn’t have died.”
“Emil, stop!” you wailed. “Just stop…Please…”
“I won’t until you start moving.”
You swallowed a lump in your throat. Progressing would just lead you closer to Emil wherever he was. There was no other option, however. Saving him was the reason you had ventured so far out to this dangerous place. What was the point in letting yourself die if that meant letting everything perish in ice?
You had to keep going.
Emil…where are you…?
“You’re on the right path,” Emil answered, a strange feeling enveloping your heart. He must have been satisfied that you were cooperating with him. “Keep going, and you will find the way.”
Without a second to hesitate, you began walking again, suddenly being aware of the surrounding chitter chattering of the bloodsnares and the low groans of the nightcrawlers. The blue light continued to surround the room, but it didn’t look so bright this time. Perhaps you were tired.
Feeling a need to have someone to talk to, anyone at all, you thought to speak to Emil again.
Hey, Emil, when I find you, how do you plan on taking the flames away from me? you asked.
But, to a strange occurrence, no answer came. It was as if Emil had never been there in the first place. Yet you still walked on.