Every dragon has its madness. The single emotion that it fixates on, amplifies in its host until there is nothing else. The Jade has greed – for trinkets, for knowledge, for whatever the dragoon desires. The Red-Eyed has passion, fierce and burning. The White-Silver has self-sacrifice, calm and unwavering. The Violet brings unstoppable, unbridled rage. The Blue Sea spirit inspires loneliness, and the Golden? Unyielding loyalty, to the exclusion of all else. I will not ask Dart what the Divine spirit desires, though I suspect it is something akin to vengeance.

I have seen all of these in my fellow Dragoons. The Jade dragon's desire turned Syuveil's quest for the truth into an obsession, strong enough to keep him anchored to this world. It twisted Greham's lust for power and glory, enough that he betrayed all he loved. It made Lavitz singeleminded in his devotion to king and country, and fueled Albert's love of knowledge – and love of his queen.

Zieg and Dart shared the same passion, but they had different outlets – Zieg's was the war. Dart's was Shana.

Shirley died when she could have lived. The brightness inside her blinded her to everything but what she thought was best for everyone else – her own death. Shana was drawn to danger as much as it was drawn to her. Even Miranda, always angry, found peace in the comfort of the dragon's light – and never more so than when she used herself as a shield on the front lines.

Kanzas was always unhinged, always mad. But then he learned to strike, swift as lightning, and the handful of dolls in his room became hundreds. Doel's resentment over being passed over for the throne made him start a war that ravaged Serdio for decades. And Haschel, too, though disciplined and wise, lost himself in the grip of the storm's fury.

Damia was destined to be lonely, for she was too young, too different. But the sea drowned out our efforts to include her, and she was always just off to the side, silent and alone. One day she strayed too far, and she didn't come back. Lenus fought the loneliness by clinging, hopelessly, to a man who did not love her, and when he abandoned her, she lost all her will to survive. Meru fills her world with the sound of her own voice, and thinks that we do not see the desperation in her eyes when all falls silent.

Belzac died for Shirley. He would not have done that for me, or for Kanzas, or even Syuveil – his loyalty lay with Zieg, his dearest friend, with Damia and all the children she represented, and with Shirley, the woman he loved most. Kongol tried to die for his emperor. When that failed, he shielded us to the best of his ability.

Dart's flesh and bones warped and stretched, and all seven of his eyes glowed with the fury of the righteous.

And what of the Black Burst spirit, that darkness that I have bound to my own soul? The Black dragon wallows in sorrow, in grief, in guilt, in loss. I have had eleven thousand years to get over the loss of my friends, the man I loved, but the pain has not lessened a fraction from the moment that Zieg's hand slipped from my own.

As the God of Destruction rises from the ashes of its womb, I know I cannot survive losing everything again. And as the flame and darkness take me, I feel only release.