The Dark Empire, Page 171-175 by Wolfenshire ()
The Dark Empire, Page 171-175
Rotathian stepped forward and bowed his head slightly to the Dragon. “I am Lord Rotathian, Protectorate of the Aomo Kingdom. I assure you, Sir Dragon, such display is unnecessary.”
The Dragon man lifted his head and laughed a deep rich clear laugh. “Ah, there it is. Greetings Creator. The achievements of your ancestors are forgotten, but you still possess the arrogance and courage of the species that dominated the universe for countless eons.”
“I assure you, Sir, we have no designs to dominate anyone,” replied Lord Rotathian.
“And yet that very thing is occurring on your world even at this moment,” said the Dragon.
“You are referring to the Geoggs,” Rotathian answered slowly. “Yes, it is true that not all of our people have grown beyond their destructive nature.”
The bright light around the Dragon dimmed until its features became defined and clear. “Much more than you know, Sir Knight, the Destroyers still exist within you and even now the weapons your ancestors left behind are marching across the universe destroying worlds.”
Rotathian’s face clouded with anger and embarrassment for what his ancestors had done. “If I could stop those weapons, I would. Take me there now and I will fight the evil of what we created until there is no longer breath in my body.”
The Dragon searched Rotathian’s face for a long moment, then turned his gaze to Madious. “And what of you, great King, what would you do?”
King Madious took a step forward. “Put a ship beneath my feet and I will set sail and also fight until Poseidon pulls me to a watery sleep beneath the waves.”
The Dragon nodded and turned his head to Governor Santi. The Governor gave the Dragon no opportunity to ask the question. “I would fight this moment until my Crawlers are broken heaps of rusted metal, and even then I would continue to fight with rock and fist against what my ancestors unleased upon the innocent.”
“I believe that is what you desire,” said the Dragon, then looked to Jasai. “Ah, the Darai, favored children of the Queen Dragon, you have no need to answer for your actions. We saw through the eyes of the Queen Dragon as the Darai fell by the millions fighting the very spawn of the Destroyers – the Cettise. And even as your world was spent, you, little bird, with nothing in your hand but that dagger you wear led the charge of the children of Darai against that unstoppable foe.”
The three Aiden rulers turned to Jasai with a new found awe. “You led a charge of children against such an enemy?” asked Rotathian.
Jasai blushed and shrugged. “Our armies were destroyed, there was none but us left behind in the rubble to stand between the Cettise and the fall of our world. How could I do anything less than what our fathers and mothers had already done?”
King Madious nodded. “It’s often the innocent left behind that have to pay the butcher’s bill for the price of war.”
The Dragon man spoke again. “Neither the Creators, nor the Dragons, nor any other species has been able to stand against the Destroyers; even the Mathor fell. It was only the Darai that have stood so far, and though they are a Dark Empire, they have given hope to many that the Destroyers can be defeated.”
“I live in the shadows so others may live in the light,” said Jasai.
The Dragon man nodded once to Jasai. “You are ready to receive our help, little bird.” The Dragon turned his head to the three Aidens. “You three, not so much. From the moment you met the Ravens, they have done nothing but offer you the hand of friendship, and yet all you’ve done is plot against them. You are not ready, you may leave now. A ship will guide you back to the course you were on.”
The Dragon man turned away.
“Wait,” shouted Santi. “It was me, I’m the one that plotted. I accepted my guilt, if the Mathor sentence is not severe enough, then imprison me in the dark, but I beg you, do not turn your back on my people, if for no other reason than we once gave you life.”
The Dragon man stopped and turned his head slightly. “That debt has long since been paid, but I see in you the thing the Creators have never before been able to achieve – accepting the consequences of your actions and self-sacrifice for the good of others. Very good, come with me, all of you.”
Rotathian laid his hand on Santi’s shoulder and nodded. “Well done, you may have just saved our people, I think these Dragons are the key to our future.”
“I agree,” said Madious. “Though the Ravens are willing to try and help, their mental abilities are not equal to ours, we would end up abusing them, and the Mathors are the same. I didn’t get the sense they could contain are natural tendency to want to conquer everything around us.”
“You don’t want a Mathor Body Protector?” asked Rotathian.
“No, don’t get me wrong, I think the Mathors will be able to guide us, but not contain us. Our ancestors created the Dragons and I think they have become our equals in mind and speed of thought. I got the sense we won’t be throwing any tantrums to get our own way with them around.”
Rotathian nodded. “Good, I agree. Aestar is an original Creator, and though the Mathor’s have tempered him, he still possess all the power of our ancestors, and their anger. Aestar is our equal, but he won’t give us another chance to get this right. I think we need these Dragons.”
“Are you accusing me of throwing tantrums?” asked Santi.
“If we are speaking truth, it is me that throws the tantrums,” said Madious.
The group followed the Dragon man to a round platform. The Dragon stepped onto the platform and motioned for them to follow. When each of them had taken a position around the Dragon, the platform lifted into the air and sped towards the city. Rotathian and Santi dropped to a knee, but Madious alone walked to the edge of the platform and spread his hands.
“Now this ship I could grow very fond of,” said Madious.
Jasai joined Madious at the edge. Her wing-blades quivered with delight and she ached for wings to join the wind in flight. “Zil, you’ve got to see this, it’s wonderful.”
Zil was crouched in the center with Rotathian and Santi. “I’m okay here.”
The platform approached the city and flew between the crystal spiraled buildings. Jasai could see silver people, and more, on the ground. “There’s other Dragons here,” Jasai called out. “Oh, look, I see real dragons. I mean, you know, Dragons like we thought Dragons would look like.”
“Those are our young,” said the Dragon man. “The young always prefer that form, until they realize that having fingers are useful.”
“Where are the orbs?” asked Jasai. “The Wyverns I saw on Darai were orbs that could assume the shape of people, but they often returned to their orb form.”
“Only the older Dragon ships use orb technology,” explained the Dragon man. “We advanced beyond that early technology long ago. We are now only made of living metal.”
“I didn’t know living metal could do that,” said Jasai. “I thought living metal was for weapons and to replace body parts, like Sern’s leg.”
The Dragon man kept his position in the center of the platform, probably to provide a sense of balance and security for the two Aidens and Zil crouched next to him. “When living metal was first discovered, it was not known how to make it hold a consciousness. We have solved that problem and orb technology is no longer needed.”
“What about all the Dragon Ships that are still orbs?” asked Jasai.
“We are not going to recall millions of Dragon Ships just to update them for a simple vanity that is not needed, though, the older Dragons that have reached the point they can no longer repair do return, and then they are given the newest technologies,” said the Dragon man.
“That makes sense,” said Jasai.
“You know more about Dragons than I would have imagined,” said the Dragon man.
Jasai shrugged. “We stole a tablet from a Third Year student and Huror hacked into the Restricted Library. We learned a little before they shut down the connection to the stolen tablet.”
“And were you not punished for that theft? Asked the Dragon man.
“Of course not, I was commended by the High Priestess for my initiative and creativity,” said Jasai.
“Don’t you feel shame for the theft? Asked the Dragon man.
Jasai tipped her head to the side and leaned over the edge of the platform to look at the ground far below. She had a feeling the Dragon already knew the answer. “No, why would I feel shame for using my gifts and increasing my knowledge to become a better Raven. For each thing I learn, another Cettise will fall beneath my wings when they come next.”
“And yet in all the thousands of years the Darai have traveled the universe, your people have never sought to conquer or dominate another species?” said the Dragon.
“It’s hard enough ruling ourselves, why would we want to rule someone else,” said Jasai. “We don’t get involved until someone breaks the peace and affects our profits.”
Madious listened closely to the conversation and tried to understand how a species as powerful as the Raven Jinn could not want to conquer the weak.
“Profit?” asked the Dragon man.
“Profit isn’t just money,” explained Jasai. “Profit is the value given to something gained, such as freedom, choice, love, family, or the peace to pursue knowledge to advance your people.”
“It is clear why Aestar chose a Raven to become the Shadow Justice,” said the Dragon man.
Jasai shrugged. “I live in the shadows so others may live in the light.”
The Dragon man looked at Madious. King Madious nodded. “I’ll admit it is a concept I am having a difficult time understanding how these dark Ravens that kill without thought can equally be so pure of heart.”
“We don’t kill without thought,” said Jasai. “When we kill, we’ve thought it through very carefully and it is the only option left to prevent the peace from being broken again. If we killed without thought, the Geoggs would already be dead, we are searching for an alternate solution before we unleash the horror of the night upon them.”
“How much further do we have to go?” asked Rotathian, interested in the conversation, but more interested in their height above the ground. “Perhaps we could just land and walk there.”
“There is a safety barrier, you can’t fall off,” the Dragon man assured the large knight.
“Oh, I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t have wings on,” said Jasai. “I would have tried to leap off.”
“Do you miss your wings?” asked the Dragon man.
“So very very much,” said Jasai, wistfully. “I feel incomplete without them, but the Darai will have their wings back someday. I’m giving my first egg to Bobby, his line will bring back our wings.”
Santi, still crouching next to Rotathian, looked up at Jasai. “I thought you were betrothed to Prince Zil?”
“I am, what does that got to do with anything?” asked Jasai.
Rotathian held a hand up to stop Santi from saying anything further and whispered. “Don’t, my friend, leave it alone. I made the mistake of asking the same question. I assure you that whatever physical appearances they share with us ends entirely at the surface, their procreation method is so alien it would cause you days of anxiety to learn of it.”
“I’ll heed your wisdom on that,” whispered Santi.
Rotathian glanced up at the Dragon man and was fairly certain he had an amused expression on his face. Perhaps the Dragons were used to such things, but the New Aidens were not, some things were better left unlearned for now.
The platform descended and landed on a busy street full of Dragons in the shape of people, but also in the shape of small little dragons darting about. Two of the tiny dragons ran on to the platform and went straight for Lord Rotathian.
Rotathian was so startled by the dragons he only froze in amazement. One of the little dragons looked up at the Dragon man. “Are these the Creators?” asked the small dragon. “He smells funny, did someone throw up on him?”
Rotathian glared at Santi. Santi shrugged. “Sorry.”
“He has skin like a dragon, but it’s dead metal,” said the other small dragon. “Why is he wearing dead metal?”
“He is a knight, and that is his armor,” replied the Dragon man.
“Oh, he’s a pretend dragon,” said the small dragon. “He wants to be like us.”
“Do you want to play with us?” asked the other small dragon.
Rotathian was at a loss for what to say and looked up at the Dragon man while the two small dragons vied with each other for a position in Rotathian’s arms. “You may go with them, but have a care, they do play somewhat rough.”
Rotathian stood with both dragons in his arms. “I will be very gentle, I assure you.”
“You misunderstand,” said the Dragon man. “It is not for them I have a concern, it is for you.” The Dragon man took both the small dragons by the chin. “Take him to the arena and show him around, but do not damage him.”
“Yes, Uncle Dreggo,” both small dragons intoned with a roll of their eyes.
Another Dragon man stepped onto the platform as Rotathian left with the small dragons. “Ah, Trekus, you are just in time,” said Dreggo, motioning with a hand towards Santi. “This is Governor Santi of the Santi Nation. I believe he is interested in machines, particularly engines and robotics. Perhaps you could provide a tour of one of our manufacturing facilities?”
“Governor Santi, if you would come with me,” said Dragon Trekus.
Governor Santi nodded and left the platform with Dragon Trekus. Another Dragon man stepped onto the platform next and approached King Madious. “Greetings, I am Dragon Ciparo,” said the Dragon man. “It is an honor to meet a fellow sailor. I’m afraid we only have pleasure sailing craft these days, though, there is a Galleon in the water at the Maritime Museum, if you are interested.”
King Madious held his hand out. “I would very much be interested.”
Dragon Ciparo shook Madious’ hand vigorously and the two headed off together and talking of sailing as if they were lifelong friends. Jasai walked over to the first Dragon man and gave him a wry grin. “You had this all planned out,” she said.
The Dragon man feigned an innocent expression. “I have not forgotten you,” he said. “We have a special gift prepared for you.”
“Gift! I like gifts,” said Jasai. “Hey, Zil, they have a… hey, where’s Zil?”
“Zil? Who is Zil?” asked the Dragon Dreggo. “You arrived only with the three Aidens.”
Jasai narrowed her eyes. “No I… wait, my memory of Zil being here is gone, but I know he was here.”
The Dragon man raised a brow. “Interesting, you have been around a Time Walker long enough now that you can sense when he has altered the timeline and created a paradox.”
“Where is he?” Jasai growled.
“I assure you, he left of his own accord. The Mathor are not permitted on this world, it is an ancient dispute. Though, I would not be able to force a Time Walker to leave without his consent. The Time Walkers are the strongest of the Body Protectors, Aestar must have cherished you a great deal to give you one.”
“What do you mean, Time Walker?” asked Jasai. “I know Zil can do some things with time, but are you saying Zil is like the Jon Blacks?”
The Dragon man laughed. “You can hardly compare a Mathor Time Walker to the Jon Blacks. The Jon Blacks are frauds and errant irresponsible children causing constant damage to the timeline. A Time Walker could drop all the Jon Blacks into the void and be done with their nonsense, but for a reason we do not know, they won’t do it.”
Jasai’s hand went to her dagger. “You’re trying to distract me, so I’m only going to ask you one more time, where is Zil?”
“There it is,” said the Dragon man. “The famous cold anger of the Darai. Your love for Zil is without question, I can see that, but Zil saw that we intend you no harm and he left of his own free will. We would have made an exception and allowed him to stay, but it was his choice. He is waiting for you on the Mathor home world.”
“If you are enemies with the Mathor, then you are my enemy,” said Jasai.
“We are not their enemy, nor them ours,” replied the Dragon man. “It is only an ancient and bitter dispute. At each of Aestar’s rebirth cycles we have requested the return of the boy Aestar, but they refuse. They state that we are not organic and have no business raising a living child, despite that we have raised countless organic species, yours included.”
“A custody dispute?” asked Jasai.
“Yes, a custody dispute, and that is the only dispute we have with the Mathor, but it has been a bitter custody dispute and driven a wedge between our two worlds.”
Jasai dropped her hand from her dagger. “I want my gift,” said Jasai.
The Dragon man laughed. “Spoken as a true Raven. I don’t believe there has been a Raven of such courage as yourself since Kasi the Great.”
Jasai immediately forgot her anger. “You knew Kasi the Great?”
“It was the Queen Dragon that sang the first song to Kasi and showed her where the River of Consciousness was so that later Kasi could lead all of Darai into the collective mind.”
“Okay, fine. Where is my gift?” said Jasai.
The Dragon man laughed again. “Have you ever heard the story of the raven that got her head caught in a jar and couldn’t get out because she wouldn’t let go of the shiny pebble?”
“I’ve heard the story, but it was a crow that got stuck, not a raven,” said Jasai. “A raven would have just taken the whole jar.”
The Dragon man grinned and turned away. “Come along, your jar with a shiny pebble is waiting.”
Jasai glared at the Dragon as he walked away. She wasn’t sure if she liked Dragons.