The willful raven-haired
golden-eyed daughter of Kuroryu was on the loose again, and there wasn’t
a damn thing that the Royal Attendants could do about it.
Curious and precocious were two words that Aurin frequently used in correlation to his younger sister Lalli. No two siblings could have grown up so vastly different, even though only a year separated the two. He was careful, considerate. He was the Crown Prince, and he knew his place in the world. He knew that he had to consider carefully that which he said and did before taking thought into action. Lalli, on the other hand, tumbled head-first into life and viewed everything equally, god and demon alike.
It was enough to give him a headache.
Lalli was on the run again, ripping through the hills near the city in human form, reveling in the feel of the wind in her hair and the ground beneath her feet. Why didn’t the others understand? There was so much to be felt, so much to be known-
She ran headlong into someone, and landed hard on her rear. Looking up, she lifted a hand to shield the sun out of her eyes and see who it was that she’d run into.
He had violet hair and his eyes seemed to be closed, yet she knew better. Every instinct she had identified him as a Mazoku, and potentially dangerous, but she was completely intrigued. He didn’t look much older than her, and as she prepared to stand, a white-gloved hand was offered.
“My, my. Do excuse me. I suppose I should have been watching where I was going.”
She flushed, taking his hand and standing up, brushing off the pants that scandalized half the city. “No… it was my fault. I didn’t think anyone would be out here. You’re a Mazoku, so there’s no way that my brother sent you here to find me.”
He offered a half-smile and nodded. “No, your brother indeed did not send me. I was merely out here enjoying the fresh air.”
She blinked. “Really? Mazoku can do that? Everything I’ve ever been taught says that Mazoku can’t feel.” He was dressed as a priest, she decided, to help hide the fact that he was a Mazoku. If it wasn’t for her dragon blood, she’d have been fooled.
He wagged a finger and opened the most brilliant violet eyes that she had ever seen. “That is a secret.”
She laughed. “I like you, Mazoku. What is your name?” She was blunt, but didn’t expect a true answer. Mazoku seldom ever gave out truenames.
It caught her completely by surprise when he bowed to her. “I am Xellos Metallium. And you, my fleet-footed girl, are Lalli san Elena ul Kuroryu.”
He knew her full name. She tilted her head and smirked. “Well, I definitely give you credit for being a know-it-all. But why are you here? I mean, right here? Why are you outside the city of Kuroryu? Have you come for someone?”
For some strange reason that he’d come to regret later, Xellos found himself liking this headstrong and willful Ancient Dragon child. “Truly, I was bored. And I’ve been on a spree lately, visiting places and seeing what there is to see. Mazoku do have vacations, after all.”
Now he had her full undivided attention. “Tell me what there is to see, Xellos. You know who I am, and you surely must know that which I must live under. There is so much in the world, and yet, I am not allowed to see it. The risk of meeting the Golden Dragons is too great.”
“Hm… yes, I can see where that would be a problem. Should the Golden Dragons capture you, your brother would be forced to turn over…” Xellos’ voice trailed off as he contemplated. No sense in not having a little fun, neh? And after all… he’d be ultimately causing havoc… something that Mazoku enjoyed doing. He just had very little idea how the havoc would come back to him.
“Lalli!” A voice called from some distance away. Indeed, it was only her sharp senses and his Mazoku hearing that caught the echo in the wind. She looked up and grimaced.
“It’s my brother. I have to go. You shouldn’t be caught here. He won’t tolerate Mazoku… go on!” She urged, tugging at his cloak.
His eyes opened to look at her again, and she was dazzled by the depths that she saw within them. “And you will be in danger if he does see me.”
“Will I see you again? To hear your stories?” She asked as he faded from her sense and sight.
The reply was a whisper, echoing within the wind, and she couldn’t even be sure he had spoken it. “Tomorrow…”
“Lalli, for the Ancestor’s sake, didn’t you hear me calling you? Or were you lost in yet another one of your endless daydreams?” Aurin said as he landed nearby and shifted into human form, frowning at his sister.
She turned her most dazzling of I-don’t-want-to-get-in-trouble smiles on him. “I heard you. But don’t you think it’s beautiful here? Look, Aurin.” She pointed out across the distance to the setting sun and the brilliant shades of orange reflected in the clouds.
“Yes. Lovely. Now let’s go,” Aurin replied, extremely put out that once again, she was trying to side-step the issue at hand.
She snorted softly, shifting into dragon-form after him. “My brother, the romantic.”
The next day, she slipped
out as fast as she could manage to, running out of the city in human-form
on foot, arms outstretched as if they were wings. Her pulse racing along
with her thoughts, she ran towards where she had met him the day before,
wondering if he’d hold to his word. He was a Mazoku, after all, and they
didn’t always tell the truth-- there he was!
He turned as she ran up and came to a skidding halt beside him. “Ah… the exuberance of youth at its best, I see. Are you ready then, Lalli?”
She nodded eagerly, pushing her hair behind her ears, so that she could see. “Yes! What will you tell me to start, Xellos?”
“Today begins your new lessons. Consider me your teacher of life, Lalli.”
“Lessons? Teacher? What are you talking about, Xellos?” She looked confusedly to him. He hadn’t said anything about this before…
“Yes. You see… the best way to tell the stories…” Xellos waved a hand, and suddenly she was standing before a town bustling with humans. “Welcome to Saillune.”
The days flew by like dreams,
each day bringing somewhere new for Xellos and Lalli to visit. He took
her to the legendary Mipross Island, to the lost forest of Cephied, but
always remained wary for the Golden Dragons. They avoided the Fire Dragon
shrine, even though he taught her the truth behind the wars. When she learned
that it was he who had killed so many of her kind, she was saddened, but
accepted it stoically.
She was, after all, in love with him.
One wild and carefree day,
months after they had begun to travel the world, the adventure had run
late, and so Xellos had dared to return her to her very own rooms. Standing
there on the balcony, she grew bold, and tiptoed up to kiss him. Startled,
for a moment, he found himself responding. He shouldn’t, he couldn’t! He
was a Mazoku! He wasn’t allowed to feel. He wasn’t allowed to remember…
Her hands clasped behind his neck, golden eyes looking calmly into startled violet eyes. “So… Mazoku do feel…” And she kissed him again.
The door to her room flew open, Aurin darting inside, having sensed the Mazoku’s presence. “Lalli!!” he called, afraid that the Mazoku had come for her, then froze as he registered that his sister was locked in a most passionate embrace with the very Mazoku he had felt. “What is the meaning of this?” Aurin thundered.
Both Xellos and Lalli jumped, Lalli turning to protect Xellos as the very startled Mazoku vanished.
“Aurin! How dare you burst into my rooms like that!” She began, trying to redirect him.
She had no such luck, for he walked up to her and grabbed her by the arm. “That was a Mazoku! That was Xellos Metallium! What in the name of the Ancestors do you think you are doing?”
“He’s showing me things in this world! I’m learning the ways of the world so that I might be a better ruler!” She yanked herself free, stalking into her room proper with him following.
“You will not see him again!” He rounded on her, still recovering from the shock of finding her with that… Mazoku.
“But why, Aurin? I love him…!” She protested, clutching at her skirt to keep herself from picking something up and throwing it at him.
“Because you’re my sister! You’re the second heir of Kuroryu and how do you think it would look for the Crown Princess of Kuroryu to be involved with a Mazoku? The very Mazoku who destroyed so many Dragons?” He shouted at her, rage filling him at the thought of the two kissing.
She turned red, though not from embarrassment. “I don’t care about that! I’m in love with Xellos, and there’s nothing that you can do about it.”
“You’re wrong, little sister, there’s a great deal I can do about it. If you persist in seeing him, I will remove you from the family and reduce you to my servant. Do you understand me? I will not have my sister consorting with a Mazoku.”
“Go ahead! I don’t care. Do what you will!” And with that, she had stormed out of the room, leaving him to watch her in a blind rage.
“So be it, Lalli. So be it.”
She fled out to the fields again, collapsing in tears in the grass. She stayed there, alone, the entire night.
In the morning, she awoke
to a hand gently brushing her hair. Opening her eyes, she saw Xellos there
and clung tightly to him. “Please, Xellos… take me with you. Take me away
from all of this…”
“I can’t. My mistress won’t allow me to. I’m sorry, Lalli. I can’t stay, and I can’t take you with me. Go back to the city. Forget me.”
What was he saying to her? “Xellos… I can’t. I’m… I’m in love with you…”
He gently untangled her hands, teleporting them both to her balcony. “No, Lalli. I am a Mazoku. I cannot love. I must go now, and I can’t come back. My return would only herald disaster...” And he had vanished from her fingertips.
It was, perhaps, the noblest thing that Xellos had ever done. But it was in vain, for Aurin had already decreed that he had no sister, and reduced Lalli to his personal servant.
As for herself? She accepted the fate given to her by the Crown Prince of Kuroryu, choosing her own name from what had once been hers. No longer was she Lalli san Elena ul Kuroryu. She became Elena, handmaiden to the Crown Prince of Kuroryu. The weaver of tales to the dragon children. Tales of the world beyond Kuroryu. And no-one imagined any of the dreams of the purple-haired Mazoku that she had when she closed her eyes.
And she never expected to see him again.
But he came again, one night.
She was heading from the kitchens when she saw him, and the request that Aurin had sent her fled from her mind. Xellos was back! But… what had he said…? My return would only herald disaster… The pitcher of juice slipped from her fingers, shattering against the cold stone floor as she took to a dead run towards Aurin’s room. She didn’t bother to knock, nor did she pay attention to the guest.
“Lord Aurin! Lord Aurin! They come!”
Instantly Aurin was on his feet. “What, now? Are they here for battle, or peace?”
A rumble answered his question as a brilliant flame lanced out across the view from the window.
Elena turned, running back out of the room and down the stairs. Once outside, she shifted into her dragon form and took wing, instantly casting an attack on a Golden Dragon. It returned, striking her down.
She landed hard, knowing that she was about to die, but two small and gentle hands rested on her side and cast a healing spell unlike any that Elena had felt before. It tore through her, catching her Dragon’s Blood on fire and filling her with power that she didn’t understand, but knew how to use.
She felt herself pulled away from the healer, and suddenly, she was standing in the square in human form, hair wild around her. Her white skirts swirled in the power that surrounded her, and she drew hands together, casting a spell that she inexplicably knew, yet feared at the same time.
“Darkness beyond twilight, in crimson blood that flows, buried in the stream of time is where your power grows… I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand against this mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hand… Dragon Slave!”
The spell struck down a wave of the Golden Dragons, for no Dragon themselves were ever supposed to be able to cast the Dark Lord’s magic. It was wrong. But she did it anyway, to save her people.
But they weren’t finished… and neither was she. She turned to see more headed towards her, and another and more powerful spell came to her… this one not of Shabranigdo’s. She wasn’t sure who this called on. But she cast it.
“A mere component of the Lord of Nightmares could release understanding upon the world frozen into the dark knife of annihilation. With our power, with our essence together, we can destroy all who cross our path. Spirits of the gods, deliver your smiting blow... LAGUNA BLADE!”
It had the desired effect. A pillar of darkness sprang forth, slaying the Golden Dragons as they tried to react. A darkness of the soul fell upon her, and she released the spell, turning away from the destruction that she had brought forth and began to look for her brother, to tell him that it was time she find her own place in the world.
She never found him.
And the sweet soul of the daughter of Kuroryu became the willing reliquary for a fragment of Shabranigdo.
Reliquary – (n) – A receptacle, such as a coffer or shrine, for keeping or displaying sacred relics.