The Free City experienced quite a lot of panic following the fight between Ira and Thessia, but everything seemed to settle down after a few days. The leaders of each country and nation had departed a few days before the rest of their respective followers. Since Ira still had a few days in the Free City, he spent it leisurely, or at least that’s how it appeared on the outside. The appearance of the Higher Races caused him to become more serious when dealing with them. If he took them lightly he would end up on the losing end.
At the moment, he and Avery were engaging in a light sparring session.
“Now that I think about it, you really shouldn’t have threatened them,” Avery said as she raised her saber to block an incoming attack.
“Yeah, but I couldn’t really help it,” Ira responded to Avery’s block by swinging his sword again, but her blade found its way against his neck.
“Again.” He smiled before they took a few steps back and reset their stances. Since it was only a light sparring session, Ira chose to restrain a huge portion of his strength and only fight with his sword.
They began exchanging attacks, but it was clear that Avery was more skilled in swordsmanship which was understandable considering Valkyries excelled in wielding all forms of weapons.
“When do you plan on eating the dragon’s flesh?” She asked while parrying one of his strikes.
“After this,” Ira said as he dodged her saber.
“What do you plan on doing about the Dark Elves?” Avery continued her questioning. It was clear that she wanted to make sure Ira was thoroughly prepared for anything that might occur.
“Nothing really. I’ll visit the Underground City at some point, but I don’t know if I want to be the center of their religion,” Ira said honestly.
“I think you should invest your time with them.” Avery’s strikes became more offensive as she forced Ira on the defensive.
“That’s a bit odd coming from you,” Ira responded.
“I mean it, Ira. I know you don’t have any positive feelings toward matters of status, but you’ll come to see them the same way you see Harper.” Avery paused her assault as she spoke her mind. If the Valkyries interfered in the matters of the Kingdom, they would be treated like the Dark Elves treated Ira.
“I get it...I’ll be more open in my approach then, but I don’t really want to be something I’m not,” Ira stated.
“They’ll essentially be your people, if you don’t want them to act in a certain manner I’m sure they would follow your words.” Avery resumed her attack.
The two traded blows for a while before stopping a few hours later. Since the two both held an inhuman endurance, neither one was very tired. They made their way back to their room in the diplomatic quarter and began preparing for Ira to eat some of the dragon’s flesh he stole from Thessia.
“Are there any special preparations that need to be made?” Avery asked as she recalled the ritual of accepting the Phoenix heart into her body. It was quite a painful ordeal for her and unlike Ira, she couldn’t remain unresponsive to extreme pain.
“I tried it out once before with a Chimera and nothing bad happened to me,” Ira shrugged before he sat at the table in the main room.
He waved his hand a produced a chunk of scaled flesh that was still warm. Without any hesitation, he plucked off a few of the scales and began to eat it. Within a few moments, it was all gone and Ira looked to be unphased.
“See all...good...” Ira’s body temperature began to heat up as his vision became blurred. Black scales appeared on his skin very briefly before they faded.
“Are you alright?” Avery asked calmly.
“I’m...fine…” Ira tried to stand up but fell to the floor as blood emerged from his pores.
“Come on.” Avery supported Ira as she helped him toward the bedroom.
“Really...I uh...It’s nothing…” Ira’s chest began to tighten as he spoke in between heavy breaths.
Ira’s condition wasn’t surprising when Thessia’s lineage was considered. She was a descendant of the First-Flame, a dragon which appeared shortly after the creation of the Mortal Realm which made it the most powerful dragon in the entire history of the world.
Due to the First-Flame being near its peak state at its birth, it stayed on Ulth for a relatively short period of time, leaving a descendant via blood replication before ascending to the Divine Realm. As more species and variants of dragons appeared, the potency of the bloodline became less than what it once was, but it still had the potential to reach levels near the First-Flame. Ira’s reaction stemmed from the bloodline of the First-Flame fighting the bloodline of the Avarus Lupum. The Avarus Lupum were a divine species, so there was no comparison, but that didn’t stop the bloodline of the First-Flame from attempting to resist Ira’s forced assimilation.
Ira’s genetic mutation would try to integrate as many traits as it could from the foreign bloodline, and so it wouldn’t forcefully suppress Thessia’s blood in order to prevent destroying it. Ira’s body showed some obvious changes, such as scales, reptilian eyes, and a few strands of his hair changing to a fiery red, but it all reverted back to normal just as soon as it appeared.
“This isn’t as easy...as I thought…” Ira’s body showed no sign of settling down and he struggled to maintain consciousness.
“Don’t fight it then,” Avery began to remove Ira’s clothes as to avoid them being soaked in blood.
Ira took Avery’s advice and let his consciousness slip away. His skin took on a reddish hue as his blood literally boiled. Avery looked at Ira’s spasming body before she sighed. She reprimanded herself for not realizing that those Higher Races weren’t simple at all.
“I’ll have to find Rhys,” Avery said to herself as she stood up. She had no idea how long it would be before Ira settled down, but it was clear that it wouldn’t be soon.
Elsewhere, the Higher Races sat together on their small island. Discussing no one other than Ira, ever since they found out the time of his growth, they took him as seriously as he took them.
“Gicae, I need to know why you didn’t tell Ira that we all were involved with the decision to look into his mind?” Lyra asked.
“You saw how he reacted, right? It’s best if his hostility is directed at less of us if you want him to open the Storm Wall. In addition, you weren’t the one who suggested it so I didn’t see the need to include you.” Gicae explained.
“That hardly did anything seeing as he still wants to kill us,” Myr said uncaringly. She was cautious of Ira’s abilities, but she hardly feared death.
“But he said he won’t, not until we do something he cannot tolerate and from what I’ve seen that something is Avery Thynne,” Ustia commented.
“What about the other one? The masked girl who’s naturally attuned to lightning?” Kesver asked.
“He didn’t mention her, so I’m guessing she isn’t as important to him, but she appears to be quite close to him nonetheless. If it’s possible we can try to get her to monitor his movements.” Lua suggested.
“After what we’ve seen that probably isn’t a good idea,” Lyra recalled Ira’s mind and slightly shuddered.
“After what you’ve seen it’s the best idea. It’s idiotic to let him press on without closely watching him, he’s far too dangerous to be unmonitored.” Lua countered.
Lyra couldn’t find anything to refute her and looking around the table it looked as if everyone else was in agreement. “Fine, as long as you take responsibility for anything that comes after and you make sure he doesn’t view her the same way he does Avery before speaking to her.”
“Onto the next point. Gicae, what have you learned from him about the Black Forest?” Kesver changed the subject.
“As you know locating Ira’s exact presence is incredibly hard and that also applies to the Black Forest. This time I chose not to forcefully look as I do not have confidence I would survive. The minds of the lesser races offer some sort of explanation, a huge black pillar appeared around a decade ago...I recalled what Ira said about his age and found it strange, but for now, I haven’t figured out how everything connects.” Gicae showed a contemplative look as he tried to envision how Ira related to the Black Pillar.
If one were to look closer, they would see an obsessive glint in Gicae’s eyes. Without the approval of anyone else he decided he needed to find a way to kill Ira if the situation became unsalvageable. The reason he didn’t discuss it with the other was due to his willingness to sacrifice the chance of opening the Storm Wall. He knew it was selfish, but if the Higher Races were alive on the other side he wouldn’t want Ira to threaten their continued existence.
“We’ll have a chance to find out more about what happened soon and without the possibility of gaining anyone’s notice,” Ustia interjected.
“What do you mean?” Lyra inquired with a confused expression.
“There is going to be a war and if Gicae was to use his clairvoyance he’d would most likely see traces of it.” Ustia said plainly.
“You’ve felt it?” Gicae narrowed his eyes at Ustia. When Valkyries were at the height of their power they had the ability to sense war and death seeing as they were born from such events in the first place. It was similar to clairvoyance, but instead of seeing specific events they could feel where conflict would take place. It was said that some could even cause wars and that others held direct control over death, instantly killing anyone who wasn’t strong enough to resist them.
“I have and it's not very far off. The Kingdom Ira is currently in and the desert east of it. There are two separate concentrations of aggression. The one in the east is especially prominent I might add.” Ustia spoke calmly, but whatever was to occur in the east gave her the feeling of danger. Though it wasn’t on the level she received from looking at the Black Forest.
“When it occurs, I’ll find a few people and look through their minds. I shouldn’t be noticed if such events come to pass,” Gicae nodded.
Lyra was about to speak, but she noticed that Thessia had been preoccupied and was busy staring in a certain direction. “Is something wrong, Thessia?”
“I feel...something,” Thessia spoke cryptically as she looked toward the direction of the continent of the lower races. Much like Ira, Thessia had bloodline resonance. It was something all dragons had and allowed them to know the specific lineage of one another instinctively. At that moment, she could sense a bloodline similar to her own from hundreds of miles away.
“That can’t be possible!” Thessia suddenly stood up and spoke in anger as her features became more dragon-like.
“What is it?” Ustia asked.
“I can feel faint traces of the First-Flame,” Thessia said with a bloodthirsty growl. It took all of her concentration to control herself and prevent her body from reverting to its dragon form.
The instinctive response in her blood was to challenge and subjugate the source. After that, she would perform a mating ritual known as the Dragon’s Blood Rite before killing it. Instead of the standard act of mating, descendants of the First-Flame performed a ritual that was closer to cloning rather than reproduction. It bore some similarities to Ira genetic mutation but the inherited traits would only manifest themselves with the next generation while Ira could literally alter parts of his bloodline at a moments notice.
“I understand why that would make you upset, but you need to calm down,” Lyra said with concern.
“It’s not that I don’t want to!...As dignified as dragons are thought to be, we still have uncontrollable impulses in our blood...We have the ability to inherit memories through our blood and the one that is ingrained into all descendants of the First-Flame is the one that forces us to prevent more than two living inheritors at a time...There can only be one parent and one offspring…” Thessia continued to growl as her scales appeared.
“Could it be a mistake?” Kesver asked. “As far as I know, we are the only ones who were around before the Collapse.” He added.
“No! It’s no mistake!” Thessia roared as she slammed her fist on the table. Thessia’s bloodline hadn’t even fully matured due to the Collapse which meant the urge to stomp out any competition was even stronger.
“Thessia, you need to enter one of the Coffins of Time,” Lyra said as she gave a meaningful nod to Gicae and the others.
“Then get it!” Thessia’s horns appeared as the temperature in the room quickly grew to a burning hot temperature.
Kesver conjured water and made a bubble around Thessia to prevent any damage, but the water began to evaporate just as quickly as he brought it over.
Gicae came back, using his psychic energy to carry a large coffin-like container made of crystal that he placed on the ground before stepping away.
“Alright, Kesver.” Gicae said as his third eye began to glow.
Kesver released the water barrier and Thessia entered the crystal container. Gicae hurriedly shut it before using his Psychic energy to calm Thessia’s emotional state. Thessia slowly regained calm as her body was forced into a state of hibernation.
“We’ll keep on her in for a week before waking her up. During that time you should look into any appearances of dragons, Gicae,” Lyra said before exhaling a breath of relief.
“I understand.” Gicae nodded before looking at Thessia who began to return to its normal humanoid state.