Flashback: Few Centuries Earlier
The sun was shining quite brightly on the warm sunny day, many of the farmers in the region could be seen starting their day with joy as many began to tend the seeds and work on the harvest. Among one particular farm was a young woman wearing all black on her body, from her shirt to her skirt, she had glasses on as she placed her hands on the ground causing it to open up as two young children came next to her and started to plant seeds.
"Oh thank you very much Terra, I must say, with the profit we were able to turn in, are you sure you wouldn't want to be paid" A woman said as Terra looked over to her.
"Of course not, believe me I don't need money to help out around her" She said with a kind smile as the young children finished and went back inside.
"Hey Terra!" one of the farm hands called to her from across the field. "You got a visitor, said he knows you from a while back." Looking around the corner of a large barn towards a slim man in a long black cote with red hair and eyes. Though he was waiting for her, he wasn't looking in her direction.
Terra at first didn't reconize who the person was, "May I help you?" She said as she slowly went for her sword that was leaning on the corner of the room.
"You know it's funny..." The man started, still not looking at her. "Last time I saw you, you where to pissed off with humans to even think straight." Though his words caught her off guard, his gaze when he looked over to her did so even more. "Yet here you are working alongside them with a smile on your face. Funny how things can change isn't it?"
"Well, it seems the young hatching has grown much since our last encounter, it's been some time Wottryon." She said calming down as she focused her attention on him. "Yes, well it took some doing, but I reconized that not all humans were evil, especially these kind folk" She replied looking over to the mother and her children as they were harvesting some of the ready crop. "How did you find me?" Terra asked with curiosity.
"I'm a lot better tracker than most." Wottryon said simply. "We kept moving, but master kept an eye on you to make sure you were ok, you did walk off after being bandaged." Wottryon looked out the window at the farmers tending to their crops. "And to be honest, you'll never forget someone's smell after they've bled all over you." he said smiling.
"I didn't exactly have a choice in the matter, so what brings you here?" She asked curious as to why the youngling, now grown, decided to pay her a visit after so long. "We didn't exactly leave on the best of terms, it's surprising that your master decided to keep an eye on me".
Wottryon huffed, then looked at her to explain. "Master doesn't hold grudges, he told us he knew you wouldn't be to opened to the idea of learning about humans. It's not that strange that he's concerned for your well being is it?" he asked surprised.
"No, I suppose not, he did save me from that horrible life" Terra said grabbing her sword and sitting down on a tree stub, "So what is it that I can do for you?" She asked looking at Wottryon with her glasses on.
Leaning back against another tree, Wottryon crossed his arms and explained. "I was hoping you had rethought your choice to make your own way. It's hard enough trying to track down others while remaining hidden. Most of the one's we've tracked down have the same problem as you do, thinking the change is permanent. If we could show them the spell could be broken, it would be a lot easier to get them to follow us."
Terra at first thought it impossible for anything to reverse this form of her's, but even though she enjoyed being a human for the first time in her life, she wanted to be a dragon again. "Alright, I accept, I will tell the family" she said with a sad sigh as she went to go break the news.
After a short goodbye, Wottryon and Terra walked towards the forest, seeking cover from human eyes. finding a clearing, Wottryon stood an the sender and began glowing. Blue cracks began forming all over his body, then a bright flash of lightning lit up the entire area, temporarily blinding Terra. When she looked back, a massive creature arcing electricity was standing before her. It resembled a dragons skeleton with glowing red eyes. "Ready to go?" it asked in a raspy voice. Terra stood stunned for a moment, but nodded and climbed into Wottryon's glowing claw. He raised his massive wings and took to the air towards the horizon.
In a cave located on a long mountain range, a child with large blue gauntlets was tending to a campfire, while an elderly man was skinning an animal. Just as rain began poring down in front of the cave, a dull purple light began illuminated the entrance ,and the sounds of wing beets could be heard. Soon Wottryon landed just outside and began walking inside with Terra clutched in his claw. Looking over at Wottryon's dragon form, the elderly man said ,"So your back Wottryon." Though after seeing Terra jump out of his hand he smiled surprised. "Ah, that's where you ran off to."
"Well if it isn't Little Miss Sword-Crutch," said Nidia with a smile. She walked over to Terra and sqeezed the life out of her in a surprisingly strong hug dispite her size. "So ya stayin this time or what?" said Nidia, though she said as more like a challenge than a question.
Terra laughed a bit as she hugged back "Well for now, I'll have to talk with the old man and see what he has to say about this" She said looking over to see the old man as she put a smile on her face, "It's been much too long, how have you been?" She asked with a kind smile.
"We've been doing fine." Jelonghoul said returning the smile. Before he could ask anything else, Wottryon crawled between the two of them, headed for a larger part of the cave. After finding a spot where he didn't have to press his wings up against the ceiling he curled up and seemingly went to sleep, though the only indication of this was that his glowing eyes faded away. Laughing and shaking his head at his student, Jelonghoul took Terra by the arm and led her over to Nidia, who was back to sitting by the campfire. "So how's life as a human been treating you since regaining your freedom?" he asked.
"It's been interesting, I have to admit, I never saw myself ever becoming like this, but now I can really see humans as different creatures, some more good than others" She said putting her sword down and sitting near the campfire. "How has it been for you all?"
"It's been great for the most part I suppose," said Nidia with a warm, but somewhat forced smile. She didn't want to bring up the fact that she still couldn't revert back to her dragon form if she didn't have to. That would just ruin the good mood of everyone, "We haven't really done many note-worthy things though I guess though."
"Well everything starts small, especially something like this, though I did find it a bit strange that there isn't many people here, weren't you all dragon humanoid finders?" Terra asked looking over to their leader as he took a drink from a nearby canteen.
"Ah, well..." he started before wiping water off his chin. "Not everyone is as eager to learn as others." looking into the fire solemnly he continued. "Everyone's on edge since the war broke out. Many see us with young Nidia there and assume we're human eaters, others send us away when they learn we're not." running a hand through his silver hair, he sighed. "It hard to make friends when you're standing neutral."
"No need to sound so discouraged Jelong-sama," said Nidia, "After all, we've managed to make allies with others besides dragons, which is huge for a little group like us. Master Boreana links us to the Phoenixes too. Don't get down when we're still making progress."
"I know where you're coming from, most of the dragons thought that humanity was a plague, though nothing is ever easy, which raises the question, what can I do to help?" Terra said feeling hungry as she grabbed a rock nearby and began to munch on it.
"We were hoping that you would be willing to join up with us for a while." He said, looking more upbeat about the situation. "There's news of a dragon attacking an out of the way human settlement. We'd like to resolve the situation as soon as possible, but it's a little more difficult than we would have thought." He gestured to Nidia and said. "Nidia can't talk to the humans because she resembles one of there young. We need you to convince them to allow myself and Wottryon access to there village to deal with whoever it is the next time they drop in.
Nidia puffed up her cheeks in annoyance, "Those arrogant little bugs, not taking me seriously. I'm more than old enough to be some of their grandmothers. It's so hard not being able to transform. But anywhoooo, what do you think about it Terra? Could you do it pretty please?" Nidia held her hands together in a prayer-like gesture, and shot Terra the best puppy-dog face she could muster.
Terra chuckled a bit as she walked over to Nidia and rubbed her head, giving her a kind smile as she looked over to the master, "Alright, if it means that we can protect the humans, then sure I'll gladly convince them to allow you passage into their home" She said bowing with respect.
"Thank you Terra." Jelonghoul said sincerely, looking a lot more hopeful than he did a while ago. "Though I do feel I should warn you, this group is particularly distrusting of outsiders. I'm not sure how they'll react the idea of letting Dragons around them." Focusing on both her and Nidia now he continued. "If they get violent, just turn and run, we'll just track this Dragon the old fashioned way." gesturing to his nose.
"All right then, let's go!" said Nidia loudly, jumping into the air. In the back of the cave Wottryon began to stir a bit from her noise, so she quickly covered her mouth with her hands, whispering through her fingers, "Let's go!" and began tip-toing out of the cave with Terra close behind.
Terra smiled, knowing that a lot will change in that event and decided that she would make sure no innocent people would die because of the rouge dragon.
The two dragon's had walked for several hours, eventually arriving at the village that the master told them would be under attack, Terra immediatly told Nidia to hide somewhere and wait until she went to get her, then entered the town as she was suddenly glared at by some of the people in the village.
Out of nowhere, a crowd surrounded her, headed by someone who was in an important uniform. "Identify yourself." said a stocky human, stamping a cain on the ground. Many of the villagers seemed underfed, and several houses looked to be in disrepair.
"My name is Terra, and as many of you have noticed, I am a humanoid dragon, but listen to me you all are in terrible danger from those that have more power than even me" She said as many of the villagers backed away slowly, allowing some of the warriors there to point their weapons at her.
"Danger, yes. Danger from another of your kind." The elder said, shaking his staff at Terra. "Be gone from here, we don't have any more patience for Dragons in our village."
"I will admit, danger can be found on all sides, in dragons or humans" Terra said gripping her blade as she remembered what had happened to her so many years ago. Thinking that, she quickly threw her blade on the ground and put her hands up, "But there are good dragons in this world and my allies want to help you. Please, give us the chance to prove ourselves".
There was silence between them for a moment, then one of the villagers called out. "What if this is a trick?" Causing an uproar from more villagers as they too called out. "How can we trust her? Why are they coming after us? No More Dragons." there words all blended together into a mess of incomprehensible jeerers.
Though most of the village was in an uproar, the Elder stayed silent. A loud crack was heard as he stomped his walking stick on the ground, silencing the entire village. He waited a moment, then said. "What proof do you hope to bring to us to convince us that you can be trusted?"
Terra threw her sword to the elder as he held it in her hand and turned around, lifting up her shirt as she showed a special emblem on her back. "This is a restriction that was placed on me by humans, if someone focuses magic into it, it will paralyze my entire body, I show this to everyone in hopes of gaining your trust or killing me if I lie" she said with a determined voice.
"You tell us this, knowing that many of us could kill you simply out of spite for your kind?" The elder asked, though his look seemed less one of contempt, but of confusion. Thinking for a moment, he suddenly threw her sword aside and pointed at Terra with his walking stick. "How do we know this will happen as you say? Nobody is here to back up your claim."
"Um, I am," spoke up Nidia as she emerged from her hiding spot, "I know Terra and she's no liar. She used to be like you all, afraid to trust from the bad experiences caused by a few, but sometimes you must give someone a little faith for something great to be acomplished."
"If we wanted to, we would've alligned ourselves with the dragon trying to hurt you, but we know that every being has the right to feel safe" Terra said putting her shirt down as she turned around with Nidia on her side, seeing a lot of the villagers talking to each other.
"That's..." The Elder trailed off, trying to collect his thoughts for a moment. Rubbing his chin, he asked. "Even if we permit you two entry to our village, what do you hope to accomplish? Our strongest mages and warriors have tried every time to stop it with no effect. Even if you were dragons, humans have no hope of stopping this creature, there's simply nothing to be done." He said, pointing a boney finger at the two girls.
"Don't you worry your pretty little old head about that Mister," said Nidia as she rubbed the Elder's bald head with her hand, "If there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that we can take care of ourselves." She folded her arms behind her head and began walking through the croud, with Terra following behind.
"We're not alone in this, this dragon will face the might of three others after it, believe in us and you're troubles will end" Terra said as the two went heading back to their home.
The entire town was on edge. Not only had they accepted two complete strangers into there midst. But now they where talking of bringing other dragons there to help with the first one. The day hade arrived when Terra and Nidia would introduce Jelonghoul and Wottryon to the rest of the village. A small squadron of soldiers stood at the ready outside the elders hut, anticipating these new dragons to be just as ill mannered as the last. The elder stood next to Nidia ad Terra, watching the sky's for any sign of there new visitors. Slowly growing impatient, he said. "What trick is this? There's no sign of any dragons, old or new."
"Listen Oldster, patience is a virtue, haven't you learned that by your age?" Nidia and the Elder began bickering back and forth for a while, which made the wait for Jelonghoul and Wottryon even longer for poor Terra. Eventually two large black masses appeared in the sky coming towards them, slowly becoming clearer and clearer.
A massive blue dragon emerged through the clouds, followed by a smaller but glowing skeletal looking one not far behind. Many of the soldiers grew tense, causing many more to ready for action. The glowing one broke off from the larger one, roughly landing on a nearby rock face overlooking the town. The other circled a few more times, decreasing his speed with every pass, until he glided to a large opening in front of the elders hut. As he gently touched down, many of the solders where surprised. The smaller one on the cliff as if it had crashed, yet the only noise this larger one produced where the sound of wing beets and the ground groaning under the creatures weight.
As the smaller one looked on, the larger one watched the humans for a moment, then said. "My name is Jelonghoul. I'd like to thank you for letting us here. I want to assure you we won't interfere with your daily routines, except to deal with this rouge brother of ours." he said slowly, not wanting to startle any humans.
The elder stood silent for a minute, glancing back and forth between the magnificent creature before him, and the other one watching them from up on the cliff. He gestured with his walking stick while saying. "What does that one think it's doing? We don't want to be watched like children by one of your kind."
"My student Wottryon." Jelonghoul said, looking up at him. "He prefers to act alone, but he does serve a purpose in this. If that dragon comes within more than a kilometre of here, he will feel it. And that will allow your people enough time to get to cover."
"Please Elder, trust us, you will have nothing to worry about with him patrolling your borders and your sky's" Terra said with a truthful look on her face, hoping that it would someway convince him to trust her and let Wottryon soar in his forms.
"Hmm..." The elder grumbled. "Alright fine, but you four are only here to kill that dragon, nothing more." He said as the solders dispersed, moving many citizens away who had come out to see the dragon that had landed in there village.
"Well I guess you guys better get to it," said Nidia, addressing her three companions, "I'll be investigating some nearby places on foot while you guys fly. It's time..." she paused and slid her blue shades down over her eyes, "Dragon Detective Nidia!" She struck a pose with her claws held together like a gun, then she pointed it at a nearby cow and accidently shot a small bullet of light at it, "Oops," she said, before scurrying off into the woods.
Terra sighed as she looked over at the Elder, "We'll be sure to have the money to give for the cow" She said pinching the bridge of her nose, hoping that this one action doesn't break the alliance they just made a few minutes ago.
"Just take care of this problem, then go away." The Elder groaned, before disappearing into the hut behind him.
"You have my word that we will be gone the moment you say." Jelonghoul said, before spreading his wings and taking off. He moved to a field not to far away and laid down again, waiting for Wottryon's signal.
Meanwhile, Nidia began exploring the forest that surrounded the village, saying hello to every friendly animal she encountered and keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. She began noticing how dark the forest was getting as she went in deeper, with the canopy almost completely concealing the sky, so she slid her shapes back up on her head and closed her eyes, "Glare of The Light Dragon," she whispered, and her eyes started to preject two beams of light out in front of her to light her way like headlights, "There we go," she said.
"Hmm, so what else do we know about this dragon? You've only ever told me that we were hunting a rogue dragon, what exacty is his story?" Terra asked with her eyes closed as she had been sitting in a meditative stance, keening in on the ground's vibrations to detect where and when their opponent would be coming after them to fight or try to harm the village in anyway.
"You'd have to ask Jelong-sama for the complete details, but from what I've heard, it's a Steel Dragon. Her name's something like Stely...Steely...Steelica. It's Steelica, and she sounds like a real hateful ol' girl to." Nidia replied.
"Interesting, I had heard about her, but what is it about this village aside from the humans that makes it so Valuable?" Terra said looking over to her, still keeping her senses out for any kind of disturbance in the earth be it a slight wind change or anything small.
"Well the reason Steelica was first attracted to this place was it's rich iron reserves. This place could turn into a major industrial power-house in the next century, and having allies like that could help the Dragon-Human relations a lot." said Nidia.
"Seems like Steelica got a bit greedy with hunger, I can tell too just by putting my hands on the ground, there is many different minerals here that would be considered very valuable" She replied looking with an interested look, "How did you find out about her?"
"The Phoenixes always seem to know everything. They have a network of info that we Dragons are just to unorganized to maintain. Since I have connections to the Phoenixes, we learn a lot more about stuff other Dragons wouldn't dream of learning for another couple years," replied Nidia as she shined her eyes through a dark bush.
"I've met some Phoenixes at the time, though I never knew they were so organized, so how many more of our breathern are still in this world?" Terra asked as she moved to another patch of dirt.
"You'd get a better estimation from Jelong-sama, but I'd say somewhere in the low 100's. Of coarse there was a ton more before the Dragon war, but Jelong says that that war was basically a double-edged sword for everyone involved. That's why he didn't," said Nidia.
"In more ways than one..." Terra said with her eyes in the shadows, remembering that awful day, "So what's your story if you don't mind me asking, how did you get to be alongside Jelong in the first place?" She said looking up to her.
Nidia stopped, her eyes dimming a bit as the memories flooded back to her, "When I hatched, my parents were already dead because of the war. I was all alone. I had to teach myself how to hunt and speak and fly. I ended up flying out and finding this island a couple decades ago. That's where I met him..." Nidia said Him like it put a bad taste in her mouth.
"Him who?" She asked looking over to see the anger in Nidia's eyes.
"Zeref," she said through her clenched teeth, "HE'S the one who locked me in this body forever! HE'S the one that stole my real body from me. And HE'S the one who left me on that island to rot!" As she spoke a bright aura materialized around her and flared higher with each sentence. When she calmed down she continued, "If Master Boreana hadn't found me I don't know what I'd have done. But she ended up taking me back to the mainland and taught me how to use my powers. But then she just dissappeared one day. We meet up every once in a while but that's it."
"I see, well I know how you feel, but you should be thankful that you're still able to see some days, I know it was a sudden moment back then, but do you know how those humans captured me?" Terra said looking over to her.
"Oh man Terra, I didn't mean to bring up bad memories. I'm sorry... but, um... I wouldn't mind hearing about it if you really wanna," Nidia replied sheepishly.
"It's fine, well I guess it all started with the dragons wars, as you know from history, there were some who thought dragons and humans could live in peace, while there were some who believed themselves to be superior to humans, but there was a third group, those who wanted nothing to do with the war" Terra said as she digged her hands deeper into the dirt.
"I see, sounds like Jelong and Wott, and me if I'd been born," Nidia said, listening entently.
"Well I was one of them along with my mate and my egg, we had managed to seclude ourselves in a special hidden spot that not many knew about" She said looking up at the sky, trying not to show her tears, "Though I thought wrong when the humans came and took my egg, they threatened me with it, ,wanting me to tell them where the other dragons were. I tried to fight, but.... My egg and mate were killed" The tears came flowing down like a river as she let them drop naturally.
"Terra," Nidia said softly, putting her claw on Terra's shoulder, "I know that this sounds like an empty statement considering anyone would say it, but I truly am sorry. It's humans like that that caused the dragons to look down on them in the first place, but then was then and now is now, so let's try and do what we can, huh?" Nidia extended her open hand to her comrade, with a solemn smile on her face.
Terra nodded with a smile as she went back to her focus, suddenly feeling a small tremor on top of the earth, causing her to look back, "She's heading this way, the movement of the wings is definitely a dragon's" She said with a serious look and tone.
Nidia readied herself, summoning a sphere of light in each hand, ready to throw them at any threat that came her way. She was not by any means strong enough to take on another dragon alone in her current state, but she wasn't useless either, and besides, she had Terra too.
A second later something flew over their heads, casting a dark shadow over them as it passed. Whatever it was, it was headed in the direction of the village. Just as they lost sight of it in the trees, they heard Wottryon's roar, confirming that what they had just seen was the dragon Steelica making another attempt on the village.
"We need to cut her off now!" Terra said wiping her face as she and Nidia ran towards the village, trying to make it before she could do any kind of damage.
Despite running as hard as they could, human legs could only carry them so far. It wasn't long before they had been outpaced by the dragon's flight. The sounds of a fight could be heard in the distance, both humans and dragons, and the pair soon burst through the forest to a clearing across from the village. The first thing they noticed was Steelica hovering in place above a fields just outside of the village. Wottryon was standing in the fields below her, glairing up at her with his burning red eyes. Jelonghoul was standing at the villages edge, guarding it against any attack Steelica might make. No harm had come to the village as of yet, but tension was growing as the three dragons stared each other down.
With another roar, Steelica turned and flew off over the forest again. Though the toothy grin on her face denoted it to not be a retreat, simply a re-evaluation of her options. There was a collective sigh of relief, followed by the villagers talking amongst themselves about what had just transpired.
Nidia and Terra ran up to Jelonghoul as Steelica's wing beats gradually faded from audibility, "Was anyone hurt?" asked Nidia, scowering the village and field for any bodies.
"No, we're all okay" One of them said as Terra tried looking around for Jelonghoul, seeing that Steelica and him were talking. "Nidia, we need to go make sure that the old man has back-up" She said as Nidia nodded and ran with her over towards him.
"No need." They heard from behind them. Jelonghoul walked through the village towards them, keeping his wings held behind him to avoid damaging anything. "We certainly caught her off guard, but I doubt that she'll back down after just this."
Wottryon watched in the direction where Steelica had flown off to while listening to his masters words. He waited for a moment, then returned to his perch on the rock face overlooking the village.
"That gaudy little metal-mouth is gonna be the end of us if we don't think of something quick," exclaimed Nidia, a bit flustered, "How about you go out with Terra this time. Just stay right around the perimeter of the village, but still out of sight, and I'll stay here with Wott when she comes back?" she said to Jelonghoul.
"Well if you think that works, what do you think Jel?" Terra asked gripping her sword as she looked over to him.
"Sorry little ones, splitting up isn't an option. Especially now that we know Steelca isn't up for talking." The old dragon sighed. "Regularly, one dragon wouldn't stand much of a chance against four, but we're not exactly running on all fours here. Two dragons turned human, an old man far past his prime, and a whelp without on ounce of experience against a dragon in the peek of her strength. Saying we're in for an uphill battle would be understating it." As his words sunk in, many of the villagers had gone silent. What hope did they have if not even the elder of the dragons thought they had a chance? The only thing the four of them could do was hope that they had enough strength amongst themselves to fight on even terms with Steelca. Whether they where ready or not, they would clash with her tomorrow, and the fate of the whole village rested in the claws of 4 strangers.
Next Chapter: Battle: Dragon Vs Dragons