After the fight with Armin, Tythel had no interest in trying to seek out further companionship. Eupheme was likely wondering where she was, and Tythel did want to see Ossman again after so long, but right now…right now she just couldn’t bring herself to face anyone else.
“I’m not sure what’s worse, Tythel. That dragons will go extinct when you die…or that you’ll be the last memory fo them.”
Armin’s parting words were ringing in her ears still. She knew, on one level, that Armin had said that because he was angry, because he was trying to hurt her. But as she wandered through the halls of the Keep, doing her best to avoid everyone that she could, her enhanced hearing warning her if someone was coming her way or, worse, actively seeking her out, that didn’t change the fact that he had at least one point.
Tythel would be the last of the dragons. Fairly or not, justly or not, she was the last of a dying species, and people would remember dragons by her actions.
That…was a weight she’d never even considered before. She knew she’d be the last dragon, of course, but the implications of that had escaped her up until this moment. Now that she was aware of it though, she couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Which was how she found herself on a balcony, overlooking the land surrounding the keep, and pondering the nature of legacy.
This keep, forlorn and long abandoned as it was, at least was in a very beautiful part of the world. From here she could see the mountain range in the distance that housed her father’s lair, their peaks barely creeping over the top of the horizon. The forest around them had not been touched by human, Sylvani, or Alohym hands in so long it looked almost primeval.
She traced her finger along one of the weather worn stones, amazed the keep had held together so long.
That was the legacy of Gix, last of the great Necromancers. So deadly and dangerous that he had inspired gods, dragons, lumcasters, and heroes alike to work together to tear him from his stolen throne, some two hundred years prior. Gix was, among humans, a figure used to scare their children. “You better eat your greens, or Gix will come for you in the night and add you to his army of the damned!” “You can’t stay up late, or Gix will find you if you’re awake.” That was his legacy. Terror. There had been Necromancers since then, of course, but after Gix the entire art of Necromancy was so reviled that any that attempted to achieve any real power were hunted down.
What humans had forgotten, but Karjon had taught Tythel, was that it was not always so.
Hundreds of years ago, when Karjon was young and did battle with Gix, necromancers were not reviled figures of terror. Many these days thought their name meant “Sorcerer who wields the power of the dead,” but in those times Necromancer had meant something different. Wielding light and shadow together, necromancers could heal while minimizing the mutagenic properties of Light.
Humans had mostly forgotten that. Not just because of Gix, but he was the last and he cemented the idea in the minds of people. Tythel’s own ancestor had been the first of the terrible necromancers, the great dragon who’s horde had been raided by Armin.
A raid that had cost the lives of Clarcia and Guiart.
“It’s not my fault,” Tythel said to the open air. She considered the words. They felt right and true, but the statement felt incomplete. It wasn’t her fault. She couldn’t have predicted the presence of Theognis. So why did Armin’s words weigh on her so heavily?
“What’s not your fault?”
If not for the beating heart announcing her arrival just moment’s before she spoke, appearing in the shadow of the doorway, Eupheme’s voice would have startled Tythel half to death. As it was, Tythel just shook her head. “Two of Armin’s team were lost in the raid,” Tythel said. “He blames me.” She laid out the explanation for Eupheme, both Armin’s reasoning and her own.
“Well, you’re right.” Eupheme said. “It’s not your fault.”
Tythel’s nictitating membranes flashed. “I…do believe that. I’m not even sure it’s guilt that I’m feeling. I’m definitely feeling something, but guilt? That’s not the word. It’s…something deeper, and different.”
Eupheme nodded. “Let me get at your back. We need to change your bandage.”
Tythel spread her wings. The shirts that had been designed for her gave her a unique ability to expose her back without losing any modesty, and Tythel was grateful for that. Eupheme’s hands gently worked on Tythel’s scales. “It’s healing nicely,” Eupheme said. “Better than I expected. Do dragons have accelerated healing?”
Tythel shook her head, but her forehead furrowed at the same time. “It might be because the transformation was so new,” Tythel said. “That whole area was undergoing rapid changes – maybe it’s accelerating the healing temporarily.”
“That makes sense,” Eupheme said, applying some salve to the injury. Tythel hissed at the sting, but it wasn’t as bad as she’d feared. “At least, in a logical sense. I can’t begin to understand what’s going on with your body.”
“Just like Ghostflame is a dragon’s normal flame mixed with Shadow, Heartflame is the same but with Light,” Tythel said. “It’s…a mutation, like what happens when too much exposure to unrefined Light happens, but when filtered through dragonflame, it produces stable and predictable results.”
Eupheme pressed the new bandage against the wound. The pressure got another hiss of pain from Tythel, but like the salve, it was less of a pain than expected. “You might be able to have a healer check this sooner than we thought,” Eupheme said, gently running her hands on Tythel’s back to make sure the adhesive sap that held the bandage is place was firmly stuck.
“Really?” Tythel didn’t even try to keep the excitement out of her voice. Gaining her wings only to have the sky denied ot her had been…difficult.
“Don’t go hopping off his balcony and testing it out,” Eupheme said, with a light slap to Tythel’s shoulder. “But maybe in a week have them check. You never mentioned the connection between Ghostflame and Shadow, or Heartflame and Light, before.”
It was a transparent attempt to distract her, and Tythel took the opportunity. “From my father’s notebooks,” Tythel said as Eupheme buttoned back up the flap of cloth that ran between her wings. “Since we were able to get more while we were there…”
“That’s why you’ve had your nose buried in the book so intensely this entire time,” Eupheme murmured. “I thought it was odd that you were giving it so much more attention.”
Tythel smiled for Eupheme’s benefit, since they were talking about a subject that should be sad but wasn’t. “It’s nice every time I find a new section,” Tythel said. “Like part of him is still here. I just wish I could ask him questions.”
“About Heartflame, or about Armin?”
“Both,” Tythel said. “Heartflame first, because we need that. Armin…I don’t know why I feel like there’s something I’m missing.”
“Well, it’ll come to you or it won’t,” Eupheme said. “You’ve got a lot on your mind, and a lot you’re responsible for, so it’s understandable if it takes awhile for you to…why are you making that face.”
“Responsible,” Tythel said. “It’s not my fault, but I am responsible.”
Eupheme shook her head firmly. “No, Tythel, you’re not.”
“Yes.” Tythel actually was starting to feel better. “Even if we put aside that I couldn’t have known…Eupheme, I am to be their queen one day. Responsibility has to stop with me. Fault isn’t what’s important, it’s…owning that I do have a responsibility for what happens to everyone under my orders. Even things that I couldn’t predict. Even things that aren’t my fault, I’m still responsible for.”
“I’m not sure I understand the distinction,” Eupheme said, “But I like the way you’re thinking.”
Tythel’s nictitating membranes flashed with excitement. “It’s…fault or blame or whatever, that’s who must be punished for wrongdoing. Responsibility, though? That’s who must try to fix it, and prevent it from happening again. Sometimes they’re the same. Sometimes, they’re not. This time, I’m not at fault…but I need to try to fix it.”
“I like that way of looking at it,” Eupheme said with a smile.
Tythel was about to speak about how she could try to fix this particular problem when the sound of footsteps started to come up the stairs. “Your highness!” a voice said, panting between words as the soldier spotted her. “Lumcaster Armin sent for you. There is an Underfolk.”
“Breathe, man,” Tythel said. The man was red in the face, and Tythel immediately reached for her hammer. She hadn’t seen anything, or heard any sounds of battle, but…
“Your highness. The Lumcaster wanted me to say…the Underfolk. He found something of your father’s. Something you thought lost and-”
Eupheme moved to block the balcony before Tythel could try, in sheer excitement, to test her wings before they were healed. Instead, Tythel started running, shouting a thanks to the man as she went.
This was going to be a one post week for Dragon’s Scion as I update all other serials, but due to the missed update Saturday, you get this today and part 200, when Tythel meets Poz, tomorrow! Dying to see what happens next? Why not pass the time with The Trains of Keldora? It just came out today! There’s a sample here.