So. This story ranges from "decent" to "good". I wouldn't say it represents my current quality of writing, but I wouldn't say it's bad either, unlike some of my older stories. It's an alright read, so I hope you enjoy it.
Status quo: This story is on hiatus due to lack of inspiration, coming up with better ideas I'm more interested in, etc. I do want to continue someday, but no promises on when. Probably not for a long time. If you're not satisfied with the lack of an ending, many elements of this story inspired my other fic, The Impossible Sky. Consider it somewhat of a spiritual successor.
I was so foolish. So stupid. A stupid little girl. I should have seen it coming and stopped it before it began. But... how could I have understood? I didn't know what I possessed... just how powerful I could be. I could have ended it, but I didn't, and somebody else had to bear the burden. So many people died because of me.
I failed. That's all that matters now.
I can hear them calling my name, screaming it to the skies in furious howls. It tugs at my mind, pulling me, and though I resist, it won't fade. They want me back. But they can't have me. I won't let them take me away again!
Slowly, I came into consciousness, taking careful steps down the dark tunnel. I felt colder than I ever had before, and my head throbbed painfully. Something began to grow before me as I walked ever slowly onwards. A light, so dark that it gave off no illumination and no colour. Warmth rushed towards me, as well as air. As I hobbled forward, suddenly feeling weaker than ever, the dark-light growing and growing until it consumed me and I was... I...
I was alive.
My tingling paw closed around something soft that was the only thing between me and the hard ground. A blanket? I had little time to focus, though, as I detected another presence in the room.
"H-hello?" I stuttered. My hoarse voice was unrecognizable.
"Are you okay?" It was a boy who had spoken. I heard his claws click on the ground as he stepped towards me.
Unable to articulate an answer to that, I only said, "I can't remember a thing."
My memory was blank, only occasional flashes of colour in the eternal darkness. And why was it so dark anyway? Confused, I managed to raise my head and touch my face with my paw, trying to ignore the ache that shot through me. But instead of eyes, there was only a rough strip of cloth.
It hit me then; a remembrance without a memory to hold it. I was blind. A shudder ran through me, and my only thought was... how could this have happened?
The boy who had been standing near me turned and ran, his light footsteps indicating that he was young. Definitely a dragon, I thought, judging by the way he ran.
"She's awake! She's awake!" the boy cried and the sound of his steps faded.
I sat there for a minute in silence, trying to grasp my memories. Failing at this, my thoughts turned to the present. Where was I? Who was taking care of me? That boy was yelling for somebody, so there was obviously another person here. What if he was mean, or had even been the cause of my amnesia? Perhaps it was better if I just left. With this thought in mind, I tried to stand up, but I quickly realized this was not an option as I dropped right back down again. I was just too weak to support myself, not to mention moving, even slightly, hurt. Well, I definitely wasn't going anywhere.
Who tried to kill me? I thought, running the side of a claw along a gash on my chest. The wound had been deep, but it was scabbed over now.
With a sigh, I inhaled and managed to pull myself into a sitting position without crying out in pain. As I waited for the sting to subside and did my best not to fall back down again, I tsked and felt the steps of the boy returning. A larger, older dragon followed behind him and I could hear their faint voices.
It took me a few seconds to realize that I wasn't hearing the footsteps. But then how...? I concentrated, grabbing onto this somehow-familiar feeling that allowed me to pinpoint where they were walking. Was it... echolocation? But the feeling was gone now.
I tsked again. The feelings returned, faint at first but growing more intense the more I clicked. Judging by the position of the steps and the faint vibrations coming from what I perceived to be walls, the dragons were just about to round the corner.
"Who am I?" I demanded the moment the two walked into the room. This time, I could clearly see a picture of them in my mind, as well as the room I was in, small and completely empty. There was little detail in the picture; only blurry outlines and noise, but I could still see the dragons.
The only answer to my question was a wave of silence for several seconds, but then the water retreated back into the ocean and the older dragon spoke. "That is something we are still trying to figure out." The one who had spoken was male as well, and he sounded very wise, the person behind the voice having learnt much throughout his years.
"Then where am I?" I asked tensely. "What happened to me?"
"You're in the Temple," the young dragon said. "When we found you, you were pretty badly hurt, so we brought you back here so you could heal."
"But... why can't I remember anything?"
"Perhaps you suffered an injury to your head," the older dragon said. I sighed. Maybe that was it, but it still gave rise to the main question: who was trying to kill me?
"You need to rest," the older dragon continued. "It will take some time for you to heal." With that, he and the young boy retreated.
Sighing again, I lowered my head. So many questions, and no answers. Perhaps if I slept, everything would come back to me in the morning...
As I drifted off to sleep, a part of me that had been buried deep for a long time didn't want it to.
I snapped awake suddenly, but I stayed completely still. At first I wasn't sure where I was, what had happened. I strained to hear something, careful not to move a single inch. It took me a few moments more to remember what had happened and relax. I was in no danger, at least not at the moment. Sensing a presence, I tsked. It was the boy, who stood over me and stared down.
"Yes?" I asked.
He jumped. "How did you know I was there? Ignitus told me you were blind."
"I just... know," I said, not sure how to explain it. "Who's Ignitus?"
"He's the dragon you were talking to earlier," the boy explained. Nodding, I sat up. It didn't hurt anymore, so I carefully climbed to my feet and took a few cautious steps forward, as if I were a hatchling learning to walk.
"Hey! You're doing it!" the boy exclaimed. "Do you think you'll be alright?"
"Yes, I'll be fine. What's your name?" I inquired, finishing my journey to the other side of the room and coming back. It felt good to stretch my legs.
"I'm Rukas. What's your name?" Rukas asked.
I remained silent, not knowing the answer. My memory was only a blank blur; colours and noises blended together like a painting left out in the rain, with the occasional lapse of undying silence. I tried in vain to grasp for a name, but every time I did it slipped through my paws like sand.
Rukas nodded as his form began to fade in my mind before returning when he spoke. "I understand."
There was a long silence, during which Rukas regarded me with what might have been curiosity—or at least, that's what he was doing before he faded into the blackness. I took this time to contemplate the little dragon. He seemed... nice.
Not a lot of people have been nice to me, I thought, pausing a few moments later. How did I know that? Well, no matter. Maybe Rukas and I could be friends... A friend was what I needed right now.
"Do you want to go outside?" Rukas asked, the silence around him shattering like glass.
"Alright," I said. It would be nice to get a breath of fresh air.
"There's a balcony nearby. It's nicer up there. Follow me, it's not far." Rukas stood and turned, leading me out the door.
I followed him, easily keeping pace. I liked how he didn't assume I was helpless and couldn't get around myself just because I was blind.
The Temple was quiet, the only sound our light footsteps as we silently walked through the halls. Curiously, the doors slid open at our approach then softly closed again once we walked away. This place was clearly magical. Eventually, we came to a circular room too large for me to be able to detect all but the area nearest to us. In the middle of the room stood some sort of large pedestal. Confused, I walked over to it and stamped the ground with much force. The sound was just loud enough to send the whole thing bouncing back to me. It was some sort of statue, a dragon sitting and staring down at me.
"They didn't tell me who it is," Rukas said quietly, stepping up behind me. "But I think I know."
I walked up closer to the pedestal, not replying, and slowly brought my paw up to the circular carvings in the middle. Though I didn't even seem to notice them, so engrossed was I, whispers began to fill my ears. Some were loud, some were quiet, but only one could be just barely heard.
Te... Tem... The grains are draining (can't stop it), the hourglass is waiting (can't flip it over). It won't stop until you're swallowed (glass won't break), and all the ones you love have followed (they can't escape). Te... Tem...
I hesitated, shook my head, and backed away. "Come on, Rukas, let's find the balcony," I said, trying to forget about the statue.
"It's right over here," Rukas said, not giving me a second glance.
We walked towards the door on the other side of the room that slid open quietly on approach, allowing us exit. Onto the balcony we headed, me absorbed in examining the place. There was a slight incline here leading down onto a large circular area. A short wall surrounded the area, and a few arches were attached to the walls that ran down the hill. I felt their shadows pass over me. Rukas and I sat down near the wall at the bottom. The wind bit into my scales, but I didn't mind, as the air was so crisp and fresh... It just smelled perfectly like autumn. I had a sudden hunger to know what it looked like; though my memories were held just out of reach, I could almost picture vivid colours from fall.
"What does it look like? This place?" I asked Rukas, who was staring off into the sky.
Rukas spent a moment contemplating before saying, "The trees in the swamp have changed their leaves from green to yellow and red and orange. It really pretty. The mushrooms don't change, though, and they're everywhere so trees are scarce. If you lean over the wall, you can see the ground, covered with leaves from the tree near us. And if you look really hard, you can spot the Toadweeds down there."
"What are Toadweeds?" I interrupted.
"They're like giant toads, but they disguise themselves as mushrooms. You can tell the difference, though, 'cause you can see them breathing. Anyway, to the west you can just see the edge of the forest, and it's bright out there too. A small cliff is blocking part of the view, but it's not close to us. The sun's still rising, so it's kind of dark, but I like it at this time of day." With that, Rukas went silent.
The peaceful silence resumed, so I spent the time picturing the scene Rukas had given me. The colours were so dull that they were almost gone, but it was still beautiful.
"The sun will be up in no time," Rukas said suddenly.
"W-what did you say?" I asked dazedly, an odd feeling coming over me.
"There's no time left until the sun rises," Rukas repeated, looking at me strangely.
His first sentence was enough to throw me into a trance that couldn't be escaped, and the second one blinded me completely and shrouded my mind in darkness. My "vision" began to glow a blinding white, sucking me in and taking me somewhere else... somewhere in my mind.
The static that had surrounded me cleared and I was in a room. A female dragon stood before me, and I felt that perhaps I was dreaming. Everything in my sight was black and white, only highlighted by occasional greys.
"Tempo... Tempo! Get up, quickly!" the dragon said, voice quivering with badly disguised fear. She sounded like a rabbit, helpless and cornered by the predator that had been chasing her for so long. I quickly complied with her request, though my movements occurred automatically.
There was a loud crash and glass skittered across the ground before me. I didn't turn to look, though, and my spirit wasn't in control. I crouched lower to the ground as the dragon left me.
"Oh, ancestors help us," she whispered. "There's no time for this..."
With that, the static returned and after a moment I was thrust back into the unending blackness. The singing of birds that had just begun to wake up and the soft rustle of leaves returned, and I was back again.
"Are you okay?!" Rukas, who was standing over me, demanded. A paw rested on my shoulder, which he quickly retracted as I stood up shakily.
"Tempo... That's it! My name is Tempo!" I exclaimed. The dragon had called me that... but who was she? Perhaps my mother? No time to think, for Rukas spoke.
"What was that you did?" Rukas asked.
"What do you mean?"
"You just fainted, and while you were lying there you started to glow this bright blue. I'm not sure what happened."
"I was... glowing?" I asked slowly, pausing to consider this. It was all so strange. That was certainly a memory coming back to me; it was so familiar... but the contents unnerved me. But why did I faint, and why was I glowing, of all things?
"Maybe we should tell the Guardians about this. They might be able to help," Rukas said.
"The Guardians?" I asked, tilting my head.
"Yeah, there's four, each a master of an element. Ignitus is one of them." Rukas began to lead me forward. "Come on, they can't be far."
I nodded and followed him. Though I tried not to, I began to think about that memory. What was going on there? Was that dragon my mother, and if not, who is she? Why did she sound so frightened, and who broke the window? My first memory was not a good one, with too many questions, and I was afraid to learn the answer to every last one of them.
What am I? I wondered.