[A/N: Very mild spoiler for Disk 2. The first of several oneshots, trying to get inside the heads of the heroes once the soul of a dragon has taken up residence.]


THE JADE DRAGOON

To the spirit of the Jade Dragon, existence meant desire. Hunger and thirst it felt, so loudly that Albert had difficulty remembering he had only a human-sized stomach plagued with a draconic appetite. But there were other desires, too, which he had not predicted. It longed for treasure, for power, for things to possess and lives to command. It counted loaves of bread and blades of grass. It was insatiably curious.

Albert satisfied its ravening, for the most part. Lying awake at night, feeling the dragon collecting stars through his eyes, he understood Greham the traitor. Greham's lusts--for glory, for money, for his comrade the hero--must have been fodder for Feyrbrand's own needs. In the end he was killed by his wanting. But Albert did not only want, Albert had, and that kept the soul inside him quiet.

He wondered what Lavitz had desired.

Only occasionally did the Jade Dragon cause him trouble. Want, it would whisper (although of course it did not use words) as the Dragon passed a merchant's stall in Donau. Any shiny trinket could set it off. No, Albert reminded them both, I have--we have--better. He imagined the treasuries of Serdio to make it hush.

Want, it hissed as the old librarian's voice creaked over old legends, and Albert listened raptly until no more questions could be answered.

One time--it must have been in Kazas, with the dragon still settling into his slender frame--it murmured want so quietly that Albert did not notice. The dragon numbered the hairs on Shana's head, brows, eyelashes; traced the contours of her soft body in the breezes passing by, all without a single conscious thought from the king.

Even unaware, he must have given some sign, some shift in pulse or posture. He knew that only because Dart suddenly moved between them, possibly equally unaware that he did so. From his Dragoon spirit, though, came a lash of heat that said in no uncertain terms to the hungering spirit of the Jade Dragon, not yours. Albert felt terribly embarrassed for days.

Then the day came when Albert's heart and the dragon's soul converged on a single desire, strong as a hurricane. He looked across a warped pool of magic, bristling at the Wingly taint, at the first perfect creature he had ever seen: hair like silk, skin like velvet, dainty hands and feet and heartbeat slow and steady as the ocean tides. In that moment, treasure, kingdom, wisdom, and power all became trash. Want, said the dragon, and Albert agreed.


[A/N: The answer to the Lavitz question is "A world where people can smile," according to Kaiser, if you visit him after the raze of Deningrad.]