Disclaimer: I own none of this.
Author's note: Just so you know, I am not abandoning The Third Generation. This one has been bouncing around in my head for about a month now, and I needed a change of pace, so I decided to give it a try. Hope you like it.
Bale. Capital of Serdio, home of Albert the king, it was the most famous of the three great royal cities of Endiness: Bale, Fletz, and Deningrad. Since the end of the twenty-year war that had divided Serdio in two, the city had almost doubled in size, and grown richer by the day.
Now was a time of celebration, for a year ago to the day the cycle of the Moon Child had finally ended. King Albert, one of the key players in that struggle, had proclaimed that the anniversary of the defeat of Melbu Frahma would be a national holiday. This of course was a very popular move; everyone loves a good party.
Especially the king.
Albert had hosted a huge party, open to the public, in the great hall of Indels Castle earlier that day, culminating in one of the largest banquets in history. Now, though, he had discarded his royal finery in favor of the jade-green armor and cape he had worn during his travels, the Dragoon Spirit of the Jade Dragon hanging from a chain around his neck. He sat with his wife, Emille of Tiberoa, as they entertained a small group of friends.
Foremost among them was Dart Feld, Dragoon of the Divine Dragon. The onetime mercenary had become a sort of roving peacekeeper, traveling from place to place dealing with bandits and monsters, though the latter were growing increasingly rare following the Moon's destruction. His only real challenge had been a leftover Virage, which fell quickly to his Divine Dragon Cannon attack.
Dart's wife, Shana, sat next to him. Briefly a Dragoon herself, during the early stages of their adventure, she routinely accompanied him on his travels. Shana may have lost her powers, but there was nothing wrong with her aim, as numerous bandits and ruffians had found out the hard way.
An older man with black hair and a mustache sprawled in a chair in the corner: Haschel, Dragoon of the Violet Dragon. Despite the fact that he was in his sixties, the old Rouge Master showed few signs of age. Fit and fun-loving as ever, the old man in violet spent most of his time perfecting his art and passing it on.
The mighty Giganto, Kongol, Dragoon of the Golden Dragon, had an entire sofa to himself. The largest of the group by a wide margin, he had leathery skin and white eyes. What little hair he had was black and cut in a Mohawk style. A pair of red lines were tattooed on his face, going down past his eyes. He looked fierce, but was actually a very friendly sort, unless of course you were his enemy on the battlefield.
The group's youngest and smallest member bounded from person to person, unable to sit still. Meru the Wingly, Dragoon of the Blue Sea Dragon, was well known for her boundless energy. Someone, probably Shana, had finally convinced her that her dancer's outfit wasn't exactly a good thing to wear when out and about, so she wore a light blue shirt and shorts, giving her plenty of freedom of movement.
Miranda, First Sacred Sister of Mille Seseau and Dragoon of the White Silver Dragon, completed the gathering. Blond, with blue eyes, she shared some personality traits with a fallen comrade, Rose, who had sacrificed herself to stop Melbu a year earlier. Perhaps that was why they hadn't gotten along at first, though they had settled their differences before the end. In any event, Miranda revered the Dark Dragoon's memory, and could be counted on to react harshly to anyone who insulted the ancient warrior. Beautiful and dangerous, only a fool took liberties with her, and no one did so twice.
"Seriously, Al," Meru was saying, "you really ought to lighten up a little. You're way too serious."
Albert laughed. "Meru, you've been saying that ever since our trip to Illisa Bay. Just what is it about me that makes you think I'm too serious?"
"Well, you've always got your nose in a book, and you keep worrying about everything but the kitchen sink, and…"
A chuckle sounded from the corner armchair. "I think he worries about that, too," Haschel said. "You might say he's the king of worrying as well as the King of Serdio."
Albert mock-glared at the older man. "Thank you so much, Haschel," he said sarcastically. "And for your information, Meru," he went on, turning back to the Wingly, "a king needs to study, and he can't help worrying. A king who does not worry about his realm has no right to the crown."
She looked stubborn. "But…"
"Kongol thinks Meru fights losing battle." Speech patterns aside, Kongol was actually quite intelligent.
"Kongol's right, Meru," Dart put in, chuckling. "Telling Albert to lighten up is like telling the sun to stop shining." He ran a hand through his spiky blond hair. "It just won't happen."
"Not even if he lives for eleven millennia."
There was a dead silence. They all recognized the voice, even Emille, though she had only met its owner a handful of times. It was a voice they thought they'd never hear again, the voice of someone dear to them, whom they had thought dead in the ruin of the Moon a year ago. The voice of a warrior of legend.
Dart was the first to move, and he slowly turned towards the door. His eyes widened in disbelief as he recognized two of the three figures standing there. The first was a tall, blond-haired man in red, a red gem at his throat and a large sword at his waist: Zieg Feld, Dragoon of the Red-Eye Dragon and Dart's own father. Next to him stood the speaker: Rose, Dragoon of the Black Burst Dragon and close friend to them all.
The third figure was a mystery. Dressed in black and red, with a long, narrow sword slung from his belt and platinum-silver hair, he bore a certain resemblance to Lloyd, but it definitely wasn't him. A scar creased his forehead left to right, and his red eyes had the look of someone who has seen both joy and hardship over many years.
For the moment, however, he was ignored, as Shana let out a cry of joy. "Rose! You're alive!"
The next few minutes were a blur, as the Dragoons welcomed their old comrade, and Dart at last was reunited with his father. This was very nearly the happiest moment of his life, second only to his wedding. Strangely, Zieg looked much younger than he had when they last met, not that anyone was complaining.
When things were calm again, or at least as calm as was possible with Meru cheering at the top of her lungs, Albert spoke. "Rose, it's wonderful to see you again, but I have to ask: how is it that you're still alive? Not that I'm not glad to see you, as well," he added, glancing at Zieg, "but Dart and Rose are the only people in our group with any connection to you."
The other shrugged. "Don't worry about it; I quite understand. And as for how we survived, the credit goes to our friend here." He nodded to the mysterious newcomer, and for the first time, they noticed the Dragoon Spirit on his neck, black with a flame-red core.
Rose introduced him. "This is Elgar Frahma, Dragoon of the Black Fire Dragon, and, ironically, the son of Melbu Frahma himself."
Miranda's eyes widened, then narrowed. "Melbu had a son?"
"Two sons, actually." Elgar spoke for the first time. "My brother Andross and myself. Andross is two years younger than I."
"Why didn't Rose mention you?" Haschel asked.
The ancient Wingly shrugged. "It was at my request. As you have probably figured out by now, I fought alongside humans during the Dragon Campaign. What not many knew, indeed none save Rose, Zieg, Charle, and Emperor Diaz, was that I was tormented by guilt over my actions prior to the war. Zieg was once my slave, you see." Zieg smiled. "At any rate, I wanted to be forgotten, as not deserving of the name of hero that was given us."
"That is where you're wrong," Emille said. Elgar looked at her, and she smiled gently. "You are not responsible for your father's crimes. You say Zieg was once your slave, but he clearly considers you a friend."
"Rose said much the same thing after the war ended." He sighed. "Anyway, I retreated to a special preserve I had created in what was left of Saint Imperial Gloriano. It was a valley of sorts, about five miles northeast of Vellweb. The Valley of Dragons."
Dart shot to his feet. "The Valley of Dragons?"
"Precisely." Elgar smiled. "As the name suggests, I built it as a refuge for Dragons, of which more still live than even Rose realized. And if I may anticipate your next question, hiding it was a relatively simple for me. I was born with much stronger magical power than most, and since you destroyed both my father and Magician Faust, it is very likely that I am the most powerful Wingly still alive. I simply created a magic barrier, similar to the one used in the Forest of Winglies."
"One thing still puzzles me," Albert said. "Why did you side with humanity in the Dragon Campaign?"
Elgar sighed again and looked away. "When I was five years old, my father had my mother executed for 'being too close to the humans'." The last phrase was spat with a searing edge of contempt. "When I protested, my father said to me, and I quote, 'You are a Prince of the Winglies. Humans are our slaves, not our equals. We are the masters. We come first. If you get too close, you will forget that, and suffer your mother's fate.'" His fist clenched. "I never forgave him for that. When I turned seventeen, I struck down a dual-elemental Dragon, and received this Dragoon Spirit."
"What about your brother?" Shana asked.
Elgar laughed without humor. "Andross? He was too young to understand at that point; I myself was just barely old enough. And when he came of age, he took Father's part." The Wingly rubbed the scar on his forehead. "Andross gave me this, at our last meeting before war broke out. We were never very close to begin with, and it came to a head when I started training a slave, specifically Zieg, in the art of swordplay. Andross found out and challenged my to a duel. He managed to gash my forehead, but that was all he did. I had always been better with a blade, and my dear brother lost an eye in the battle." He laughed again. "Unlike me, he'd always bought into Father's 'master race' nonsense. Anyway, I knocked him unconscious, then took Zieg and fled to Charle in Ulara."
"Until then, I was suspicious of him," Zieg put in. "Even during training. Ulara changed that. The Winglies there treated my as an honored guest instead of a lower form of life."
"I made contact with Diaz, and we went on to Fort Magrad," Elgar continued. "We tracked down six more Dragoons, and the rest, as they say, is history."
Rose chuckled. "It was a near thing for me, as I recall. You and Zieg had to save me from Nomos in Zenebatos."
Meru frowned. "How could you stop Nomos if you'd knocked out your brother? Wouldn't Melbu have made sure nobody would listen to you?"
Elgar snorted. "My father made one of his greatest mistakes then. He covered up the duel, not wanting the embarrassment of having his sons violently at odds, so as far as Nomos was concerned I was still Crown Prince of the Wingly Empire. After I openly supported Diaz at Fort Magrad, of course, all that changed. I was officially declared a traitor, and Andross was named heir to the throne. Not that I minded; I never wanted to rule."
"So you helped win the war, and then vanished," Albert said. "Why did you emerge?"
The Wingly turned grim. "At first, it was because of the aftermath of your battle with my father. I may have been secluded, but there was no way I could have missed the Moon falling. Unfortunately, I was too far away to help with the fighting. I arrived just in time to get Rose and Zieg out of there before the explosion." He looked at Dart. "I'm sorry we didn't come sooner, but they were both badly hurt. It took almost a year for them to recover, and then we had trouble finding Bale. Rose wasn't exactly paying attention to directions on the way to the Divine Tree, and this is my first trip to the outside world in almost a thousand years."
Dart nodded. "I understand."
"The second reason is because of a new threat that is brewing." Elgar drew his sword and inspected it. "A group calling themselves the Cult of Chaos. Their goal is simple: revive my father, and bring about the destruction of the world. Apparently, they believe that he will spare them, and give them positions of power in the new world." He rolled his eyes. "With the exception of their leader, I think they're dreaming."
Miranda's eyes sank to sapphire crescents. "And who is this leader?"
"My younger brother, Andross Frahma." Elgar sheathed his blade. "I think Father would reward him, but no one else, since the cult is mostly human. Why said humans are going along with this is beyond me, since Andross has never been able to conceal his disdain for humanity." He reached into a pocket. "That however, is an academic concern. We have to stop them before they can revive my father, and bring about the disaster that would inevitably follow." His hand came out, holding a glowing gem. "Shana, this is for you."
She took it, gaping. "Dragoon Spirit!?"
"A Light-elemental Dragon went berserk just before we left, and I struck it down," Elgar explained. "Rose said she could think of no one who deserved it more."
Shana smiled at him, eyes shining. "Thank you."
"No thanks are needed. Besides which, I had an ulterior motive." The Wingly indicated his own Spirit. "If we are to succeed, we are going to need everyone who has experience at Dragoon warfare, excluding only those who used their powers for evil. You see, the Cultists are gathering the remaining Virages in preparation for an assault on the three nations." Seeing Albert's expression, he went on, "Oh, there's no need for immediate worry. They are far from ready, and they're based in the ruins of Zenebatos, so it would take them some time to reach an inhabited area anyway."
"So what do we do, then?" Dart asked.
"Tomorrow, we leave for the Death City Mayfil," Elgar responded. "As I said, we need everyone with experience at Dragoon warfare. Thus, we will need to revive five Dragoons from a bygone age: Belzac, Kanzas, Syuveil, Damia, and Shirley. Along with someone who was dear to you once: Lavitz Slambert."
Albert gaped. "Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Lavitz again, but how on earth can we do this in the first place!?"
"You may have noticed that Dragoons have a stronger connection to the world of the living than most," Elgar said. "It is due not simply to the fact of our being Dragoons, but for the same reasons that we were chosen. Even before they become Dragoons, bearers of Dragoon Spirits tend to be stronger of mind and body than most."
"He's right," Rose said. "That's why Shirley was able to anchor the others to Vellweb."
"We also have one major advantage," Elgar added.
Albert raised his eyebrows. "And that is?"
"Andross doesn't know that I still live." He waved a hand. "Again, we still have plenty of time, so enjoy what remains of the festivities." He smiled. "I certainly will."
They picked up the party where they left off. Zieg sat with Dart and Shana, getting caught up on his son's life, Haschel and Meru fell to talking about their travels, and Albert pumped Elgar for information about the Dragon Campaign. No one thought even for an instant that the ancient Wingly would betray them; the consensus was, "Rose trusts him, so we should, too".
"Rose, does he always talk like that?" Miranda asked.
The former Black Monster chuckled. "According to Zieg, Elgar doesn't know how to sound like a normal person. He would know, too; you tend to get to know someone when you're his slave." She glanced at the Sacred Sister sidelong. "You've certainly mellowed since our last meeting," she observed.
Miranda shrugged. "Comes from spending so much time with Dart, I guess." She glanced at Elgar. "He kind of reminds me of Lloyd."
"Not unexpected, since they're both Winglies, and they both wield immense power." Rose nodded. "Speaking of Lloyd, he actually survived the battle."
"I know; he showed up in Deningrad three months ago." Miranda laughed softly. "Wink almost keeled over."
"I can imagine." Rose raised her eyebrows. "How did the others take it?"
The other shrugged. "Lloyd was duped, and Albert said that Lavitz would want us to forgive, so we did. Besides, he did help us in the end."
The two fell silent, watching the others. Meru, in the midst of telling Haschel about an incident in Lohan, was gesticulating wildly when she slipped and fell with a loud crash. This elicited a burst of laughter from everyone, Kongol by far the loudest. Meru glared around the room, said, "That's it! I'm going to bed," and stomped off to her room. The others laughed harder, then decided to follow her example.
Note: I hope that started well. It will most likely be a while before the next chapter, because I have only the vaguest idea of where to go from here.
To anticipate one likely question, Rose is more relaxed for two reasons: one, she doesn't have to wreak havoc at regular intervals, and two, she and Zieg are back together.
Dragon and Sword Master, if I get enough interest, I'll sequel Twin Dragoons when I finish The Third Generation.
That's about it. Please let me know what you think.