Title: Matters of the Heart
Summary: How does one kill a god? By attempting to destroy the Dragon, the Wicked Ones created their own downfall, but all wars carry a cost. For the Dragon, that cost was its heart. Some things are lost forever; others... (Spoilers for #111-113 and #141-143)
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's; it is the property of Kazuki Takahashi and NAS. I'm merely exploring the nature of the Crimson Dragon, the Signers, and that whole thing about the heart…
Writhing, shrieking, unable to shake off the throes of agony, or ignore the great gaping wound in its essence.
Broken… laughter… heart, where is… heart…
A cry like a lamentation, restless wings battering against the elaborate webbed cage spun around it like a shoddily crafted basket with its lid fused into the weave. The mocking laughter peaked: Uru, skulking at the edge of the Dragon's vision; Aslla piscu, beak stained with life-force; Ccarayhua, peering through the web in glee; Ccapac Apu, mountainous hands ready to crush the now-weakened Dragon; Cusillu, awaiting some sign that the Dragon knew not.
Heart… heart… The Dragon could feel its strength slowly seeping away, away, power bleeding out in crimson streams like the fragile wingless creatures, whose prayers had given it form, did when wounded. Where is… heart… need heart… where…
The heart was gone, lost.
The Dragon cradled its front claw against the wound, trying to stop its strength from seeping away. Its wings continued to beat against its prison in an unending gesture of defiance – never surrender, never – and once more, its cry rang out over the Wicked Ones' laughter. Its tail lashed out, striking the web once, twice; the third time, the appendage struck Ccarayhua in the eye and sent the Lizard reeling back, hissing furiously.
Where is… heart… must find… heart! The Dragon bellowed, body twisting and contorting – and its rear claw slashed at the web. Under its frenzied attempts at freedom, the silken ropes finally split. Powerful wings tucked in close as it let itself fall… then, moments before the Wicked Ones could attempt to recapture it, the wings flared out and the Dragon banked, climbed, higher and higher until it was a crimson speck against the darkening sky.
Heart… where heart… find heart… find…
What would become of it, without the heart? The Dragon was immortal, yet so were the Wicked Ones. It knew what fate had befallen them, when they lost their own hearts to the darkness. They had been deities like the Dragon, once, but when the First Evil touched them and their hearts were forcibly taken, they lost their way to the stars. The First Evil, with its mask of hatred and its lust for destruction, the Dragon's most fearsome foe. It had barely prevailed, that first time…
Ah, but that wingless one! The wingless one capable of holding all the power of a god in his body, the one left with the Dragon's brand forever carved on his chest, the one his fellow creatures had called the Siq'u nana… that wingless one, the Siq'u nana… the Dragon felt certain that something should come from that but the pain from its wound was too great, and it collapsed into a state of slumber.
…Aslla piscu, beak stabbing through Uru's woven snares… shriek of pain… the heart the heart the heart…!
The Dragon awoke to an agonising wrench, and the slow coagulation of its essence into something static and unmoving. It was running out of time. But now it remembered – its first vessel, the Siq'u nana, was not as deities were. The wingless ones were mortal and, as all things affected by time, they would die. The Siq'u nana must have perished by now (what to humans had been centuries, even millennia, to one as timeless as the Dragon the time had passed as mere wing-beats) and every day, new wingless ones came forth. Yet the Siq'u nana and the Dragon had never fully merged. If it was to survive, the Dragon would have to fully merge its essence with another vessel. It had seen the Wicked Ones' attempts to take hosts in the past – the living ones never stayed living for long – but the Dragon had no desire to destroy the wingless ones, only to protect them. So, then, how to take a vessel without damaging the fragile creatures? Divide itself between them, protect them from its own strength. Not one host, but five. And the remainder of its essence to guide them? Yes, yes, indeed. The Dragon closed its eyes, and then—
Man of temple arm marked head
Man of steel arm marked wings
Woman of fields arm marked front claw
Woman of blood arm marked rear claw
Man of seas arm marked tail
—and then, thump-thump, an uneven trembling cacophony of hearts drumming through the remaining essence of what had been the Dragon, and it was good. And once again its form glowed bright and strong, and its crimson shifting body blazed bright against the darkened sky. The Wicked Ones would not triumph. They would fall, imprisoned in the earth as the First Evil had fallen before the Dragon and its Siq'u nana.
But the Dragon's heart was lost.
The wingless ones were fragile, so fragile, and as their tiny brave hearts faltered and came to rest, so too was the Dragon forced to rest, sometimes for seconds, sometimes for years (using the wingless ones as hosts had taught it a new appreciation of the wing-beats they called time). Always, no matter how long it took, its marks were passed on one by one, gracing the arms of the next generation of Siq'u nana, until the passage seemed as natural as existing. Their heartbeats were a comfort, a torture. For the Dragon had no heart, no matter how it searched for the part of its essence lost so long before.
Every so often the Dragon would find its original five again, and its essence and their souls would resonate together, hello, old friends, hello, but the heart, the heart was always lost.
Five thousand years passed, and with the advent of the wingless one whose hair shone like the rays of the sun, current bearer of the Dragon's head, disturbances began to trouble the weary soils of lands wingless ones knew as 'Nazca'. The Wicked Ones attempted their old mischief, but with the current front claw stood sentry over their prisons, there seemed no possibility of their escape.
Until the wingless one who carried the Dragon's head fell into the darkness and lost his human heart. Uru had found a weakness and exploited it, as the Spider always, always did, and now the age-old battle looked set to repeat itself. The Dragon's one consolation was that its original five were close at hand – indeed, three had already entered this world – but without the head, it could not bind them together as once it had.
Crimson wings to mark the golden child, welcome back, man of steel. A tail promised for the wandering child, welcome back, man of seas. Yet it had nothing for the man of temple, for his mark had been stolen away. Here again, the woman of blood, welcome back, dear one, welcome back; but she knew not what the Dragon's words meant and fled from her mark, from her destiny. When it came to the woman of fields – a child, such a little child, welcome back precious one, little dragon – the touch of a claw sent her heart (so weak, so fragile) into decline and caused her to sleep the death-sleep.
But the woman-child of fields had another, a twin, who stayed at her side and never gave up hope. His faith was strong, and his love ran deep – and at last! At last! The Dragon's heart slept within this child, this boy-child so young and so innocent, but to wake him now… too soon. It was too soon.
Slumber on, heart. It is too soon for you to wake.
He watched them, a witness to all that befell his chosen ones. The man of steel spiralled beyond his humble beginnings, forgot his true worth in a quest for false glory. The man of temples rose up, bearing the Dragon's tail – he was destined for greater honours, but until the head had been freed this path would have to do – and overthrew the false crown of the King, reclaimed the wings for the good of the whole. The woman of blood stopped running and fought, so bright she blazed into the cosmos like a flaming, ethereal rose. She too was approached by the man of the temple, and with one final battle, she opened her eyes to the truth and accepted her station – welcome, you are mine, you are mine. The man of seas grew and shed his former skin, ascending into the skies – welcome, dear one, welcome – and finally proving himself worthy of the tail that always had been his right.
The woman-child of fields, so young, so afraid, trembled in the face of her destiny. She was no coward, only young, and still innocent. The boy-child – man of faith slumber heart slumber – appointed himself her guardian, took on foes far stronger than he in the hopes she might be spared further pain. One time, he had almost died in his quest to protect her, so the Dragon used the hearts of its vessels, its Siq'u nana, to save him. The orb had originated from its front claw – always the front claw, always.
But now he was dead. Now the boy-child lay silent and still, and with him gone, so too did the woman-child of fields start to wither.
Always the front claw. Always had its heart been tied to that claw, from the moment the wounded Dragon had attempted to stem the tide of its weakening. The Dragon stirred once more, sought that one moment – man of faith arm marked heart! awaken! – and watched, as the whole of its power gathered on the boy-child's back. Head, wings, front claw, rear, tail. And there, clutched in the front claw, the heart. Crimson light spilled from the boy-child-turned-man's arm.
Nothing could stand in the way of the Dragon, not now it was whole once again.
Not now it had its heart.
The Dragon is, of course, our friend the Crimson Dragon (or Crimsy, as I affectionately call him). The Wicked Ones are the Earthbound Gods/Immortals in their pre-sealed state; the First Evil refers to Scar Red Nova. Crimsy's "wingless ones" are, of course, humans – which brings up mental images of him considering us humans as little dragons-of-sorts who have managed to lose our wings (which is kinda adorable when you think about it).
Siq'u nana, Quechua for "Driven by the Mark", is according to The Mad Poet pronounced roughly "siKu-nana; very hard k with a glottal 'g' roll" – consider that the Japanese version pronounces "Signer" as "shiguna", rather than something closer to "sa-ii-na" as the English word would be pronounced, and you have an explanation for why it is what it is. (And yes, I've borrowed from Poet's eljay meta-rants on 5D's again, particularly the first one with all its Peruvian zombie cults and explanations thereof.)