_Content Archived from the Original Vainglory forums - originally posted by “Sokolva” on the “9th of April 2015” archived by @ThePinkOtter _
Excerpt from the Journals of Adagio Darkwing;
Child of the Elder Dragons and Elves. The last of his kind.
Entry 1: First, a Summary of My History. Then, My Life as it is Now
Once, the trees were far taller than they are now. They were so tall that their tops were lost in the clouds above, and the mountains could not reach as high as the trees. I was born when the last of these trees began to die. My mother named me Adagio, but my father called me Darkwing after himself, in the tradition of the Elder Dragons. I had black wings and dark feathers like my father, and a long dark tail that I could move freely like a dragon. I was born with the knowledge of fire and magic in my veins, but I had my mother’s silver hair, her pale skin, her delicate, beautifully pointed face. The only difference between our faces were our eyes; hers were a lovely, deep shade of green, the color of the leaves of the Elder trees in spring, while mine were a the cold bright blue of my flame. Age did not matter for her kind, for unless they grew sick or died by the sword, they would live indefinitely and only grow more silver, more pale, and more beautiful. It is said that the very oldest elves became so old that they stopped moving, took root; it is said that they were the ones that became the first Elder trees.
I was not the only one of my kind, as it was not unheard of for Elder dragons to fall in love with fair silver maidens with green eyes, and take on humanoid forms with feathers for hair and long, graceful talons to court the objects of their affections. However, I believe I was one of the last of us strange mutts to be born, for my father was one of the last of the Elder dragons. His name was Dark Wing, and I inherited his name as my surname. He loved to fly, more than anything, only landing to walk when absolutely necessary. He always said that walking was a “mundane activity” reserved for those without wings. I suspect he must have loved my mother greatly to have taken to the ground in mortal form for so long.
No one knew why the trees were dying. Once, there were greater reserves of energy in the world. The Elder trees’ roots went deep, drank the power of the Vain Crystals beneath the earth, filled themselves with the power to grow so high and so strong. The Elder Dragons drank the sap of the Elder trees, biting through the silvery bark with their sharp teeth and lapping up the strange, deep purple sap that poured out. It gave them strength, lent power to their blue flames, and an Elder dragon that went too long without drinking the sap soon lost the ability to breathe the blue flames at all, and began to turn to stone.
There was a fading in the earth, already long begun before I was born. I have read of it in the stories, in the ancient writings of my mother’s kind and the stone etchings of the Elder Dragons. There was a time when the world was so full of Vain power that it flowed to bursting beneath the earth. When the rivers flooded, they were full of a glow, a kind of power humming through the very water, through the soil. Every blade of grass that sprouted was full of it, coursed with an energy that seemed to spill, sweet and full, into your mouth if you chewed it. When I was born, the grass no longer held such energy, and only the Elder trees with the deepest roots remained. My father’s full-blooded dragon children had all departed with many other Elder Dragons across the sea, through the forests, and over the mountains, each on a journey in search of a place where the Vain power had not run dry, where Elder trees bursting with sap could still be found. They never returned, and though my father always told me that my brothers would come back some day, would return and we could all fly together, I began to realize that they would never return. That they had already long fallen and turned to stone.
But how can I explain death to a creature that has lived millennia convinced of his immortality? Elder dragons never died, not until the Elder trees did, and my father is one of the most ancient dragons born in the misty, early formations of the world. My mother strokes his raven-feathered head when he takes humanoid form to hold her, but he ignores her soft words, her quiet sorrow. He insists on hope, clings to his optimism as though nothing is wrong. He flies further and further each day in search of the sap, but never returns with more than a few drops.
I am beginning to realize a strange thing about myself. I have been experimenting, going longer and longer without drinking the tiniest drop, and I am beginning to think that I do not need the sap at all. Even when I do not drink it for weeks, I feel no thirst. I do not grow desperate and weak like my father, or thin and pale like my mother, and my fire still flows brightly from my hands. I fly with my father, trying to help him find more sap from living Elder trees, soaring nimbly through small gaps in foliage and branches my father cannot manage. I use a knife I have crafted from one of Father’s long, black wingscales to open the trees and collect any drops of sap that I can in a bowl.
When I bring them to Mother, I lie to her, claiming I have already drank some so that she will take it all. And yet, still, I do not wither. I remain healthy on the dew that I drink from the rains, from the sweet flowers I pick in the meadows. They are sweet, and sate my appetite. I am still hiding this knowledge from my parents. I am not sure how to tell them. How could I be so different? Why do I not share their needs, their thirsts?
Still, I am glad when I watch my mother drink the little bowls of sap I bring to her. I am glad I can spare every bit of my portion for her. I think I would do it anyway, even if it did kill me.
Entry 2: The Scales Can be Forged!
As a child I always loved to collect the scales that fell from my father and the few other Elder dragons that remained. They shed them as constantly as a bird sheds its feathers, and though the soft downy scales close to their bodies are soft and silky, the feathers on their wings and cresting their heads are as thin and strong as blades and can cut through anything. I would collect these long, thin blades and use them in place of the talons and sharp teeth that I lacked.
But today, I discovered a new use for them! When I was using my usual long knife from Father’s wing scale to open a tree, I grew frustrated at not finding any sap beneath the bark. The tree was apparently already dead. I felt fire beginning to fill my hands, a cold blue manifestation of my anger. I flew backwards and hurled the flaming black knife into the tree, where it stuck, quivering. I was about to turn away, but something caught my eye. The knife continued to flame. Forgetting my anger, I picked it up, holding the flaming knife in my hands. It seemed to have lost the strength of its shape, and sagged in my hands as though in the process of melting. When the flame finally died away, it left the long wingscale with a strange bluish glow, which was not at all like the shining black color it had been before. My fire had stripped away the color of the scale and left behind only the essence beneath it; the color of an elder Dragon’s flame, and of his blood. A deep, cold blue that pulsed in the sun as though aflame.
I rushed home with the knife and began gathering a bunch of Father’s scales that I had collected all my life. I sent my fire through them, and began to shape them with my hands as they melted. The heat did not burn me, as I was resistant to the warmth of my own fire, and I was able to shape the scales as they simmered and shifted in form. I began to guide them all, that whole pile of them, into one long, thick blade. The beginnings of an idea was forming in my mind, and I worked excitedly. The pile of scales turned blue, glowed like the blood from an Elder dragon’s heart. I shaped the blade carefully, painstakingly. I carved a piece of dead Elder wood into a hilt and formed the glowing molten scales around it, creating a frame for the blade. I etched the wood with designs, and wrapped the hilt of the sword in leather. I worked on it all night long in our house in the trees, until Mother heard me working and peeked inside. She watched me work, and fell asleep beside me, the glow of the melting blades illuminating her pale face with a cold blue light. I worked feverishly. When the sun rose through the trees it illuminated the strange, long sword glowing at my feet, taking shape.
If I can make the blade long enough, perhaps I will be able to pierce into the center of even the driest dead Elder trees.
Perhaps I can collect the sap there with this long blade, and save Mother and Father both.
Entry 3: The Sword is Finished!
I must be quick. The sword is finally done. It glows with an unearthly blue light, as though there were a flame burning within it. It is huge, as tall as I am, and so heavy it is even difficult for me to lift. Mother is sick, sicker than I have ever seen her, and father is too weak to fly. I saw him raise his beautiful black wings to take to the sky, but no matter how hard he tried, he could only get a few feet off the ground. He is looking at me strangely now, as though wondering how I have so much strength when he and mother are so weak. There is accusation in his eyes, as though he imagines I have been hording away sap, stealing it from him and mother. I have a feeling that even if I told him the truth now–that I do not need to drink the sap and have not drank a drop of it in months–he would not believe me.
Mother, though, she just looks at me with such love in her eyes. She stayed with me the whole time I forged the sword, watching me silently with a faint smile that so tender…I find that I can no longer meet the fading green of her eyes. I have to look away.
I must hurry now. The sword is done. It is sharp, and huge, and burns always with the light of the fire I have poured through it, and yet it is always cold.
I will use it to get the sap deep inside the trees, the sap that has not yet been dried up. I will save them both, and Father will know I never stole a single drop of the sap. Can’t he see I’d rather die myself? Can’t he see I would take mother’s place in an instant, if only she would be strong again, and walk singing through the house, happy and full?
No matter, there will be time for explanations once I return. I will take the sword, and cut the Elder trees wide open. I will find the blood they horde at their very hearts.
Entry 4: …
Mother is dead.
The blade worked perfectly. It worked exactly the way it was supposed to.
I buried it deep in the bark of a dead Elder tree, and when I yanked it out again, sap came pouring out, sluggish and black, strangely thick, but still…sap! So much of it…I was happy.
What a fool I was.
She drank the sap, and Father drank it. They drank and drank, praising me, thanking me…
I was joyful, elated. But then, Mother began to tremble. She shook as though she were cold-- but her kind cannot get cold! And she laid down on the ground slowly, as though unsure of herself. Father ran to her, took humanoid form, lifted her in his arms. Kept calling her name.
I watched in confusion. I did not understand, not yet. I felt something cold spreading in me. The sword was strapped to my back, between my wings, resting there like a cold, burning weight. The bucketful of black, dead sap that I had taken from the Elder tree lay before me, almost empty, gleaming like thick, dark oil. It wasn’t the right color. How could I have brought it to them? How could I have been so stupid?
Father held mother, yelling her name over and over. Then he too began to tremble. He sank to the floor with her still in his arms. The last look in his eyes, the last look he ever gave me…was fear. Or no. Perhaps it was hatred. He didn’t say a single word to me. Just that look. Then he closed his eyes.
I stood there paralyzed for a moment, then I ran to them both and tried to rouse them, tried to shake them awake. I felt that Mother’s skin was already turning withered and dry, like the dead bark of Elder trees. The skin on her face was becoming splotchy and dark.
My father died in human form, but he turned to stone anyway. I watched his skin harden, become completely black like his feathers. I kept watch over them. I kept watch, hating myself, hoping this was a dream I would wake up from, hating myself. Hating myself. Hating myself…
I drank the dead sap myself. It slid darkly down my throat. I drank it, and I am writing this waiting to die. This is the last entry of Adagio Darkwing, unwitting murderer of the last Elder Dragon and Elven woman in the world, son of two poisoned parents. This will be my last entry. I can feel the sap moving through my stomach, creeping through my veins, filling me with darkness. I cannot use my fire anymore. I cannot move. I cannot stop shaking. So this is what I feels like to be cold. I am lying down beside the body of my mother, tucking my wings against me, curling into her arms. Father sits beside us like a stone idol, keeping watch with his cold black eyes, his obsidian face. I will die thinking of the hatred in his eyes that last time he looked at me. I will die in my mother’s arms.
One last thing. I take the huge blue sword from my back and throw it out the doorway of our treehouse. I do not want to die with that thing between my mother and myself.
I hear a thud as it hits the ground, but everything is going black before my eyes, and the sounds of my ears are muffled. I hate myself. I hate myself. I ha…
Entry 5: I woke up.
Why am I alive? I woke beside the bodies of my dead parents. My head was pounding and reeling, but I was alive, and they were dead. So the sap didn’t do its work on me. How cruel.
I stood staring at the bodies of my parents, my mother now completely withered so that she looked like a rotten flower, her skin the texture of a dried steam. Father is still stone, staring at me with his hateful black eyes, blaming me. But I did not know! How could I have known? I lifted the bucket and hurled it from the treehouse, then flew after it, my wings beating my rage. I landed on the ground, searching for the sword I had dropped, not really sure of my purpose in searching for it.
It was gone. Disappeared completely. Someone took it? Or…something? But whom, and who would want such a sword? I stood staring at the huge depression in the earth where the blade clearly fell and buried itself into the ground.
I am going to fly. I must leave this place. I cannot stay here.
I do not know where I am going. Perhaps I will look for the sword, and the one who stole it. Why? I don’t know. I suppose I’m just curious.
Nothing in this world matters. It is all a game, blur, a passing of the time. Everyone dies except for me. Everything and everyone in this world dies, and until I die, I guess I’ll have to find some way to fill the time. The world passes beneath me in a rapid blur as I fly. The trees give way to fields, and then to oceans. I pass over ruins, a city, towns. Some places I stop, and people stare at my dark wings, at my long, taloned hands. I ignore their glances. I hover over the ground, ignoring their stairs, their gasps. Why should I care? They will be gone, long before me.
Entry 6: I have found the sword.
It is in the chest of a man, a human. It has kept him from dying far beyond his lifetime. The flame I filled it with appears to be healing him even as it burns him, keeping his alive forever.
I don’t know how it got there. The one who stole the sword must have stabbed him, or perhaps it was an accident of some kind? I wonder if he remembers himself. I have been following him, watching the fear he inspires in others, the way that they stare at the huge sword protruding from his chest, at his withered, dry skin, his burning, cold blue eyes. The sword I forged appears to have created some kind of new creature. A man that is immortal, forever healed by my flame, forever kept from dying, and yet always in agony as well.
He is on a ship, traveling to an island called the Halcyon Fold. I follow high above, soaring over the sea, following his ship. The sword glows, blue and cold in his chest, burning with the same light that it did hundreds of years ago, when I forged it in my hands, with my own flame. When I used it to collect the dead sap from the tree.
Far in the distance, I see an island appearing. It is shrouded in mist. I sense a strange thing from it that I have not felt in a long time; Vain energy, that strange, wild power that pours from the Vain wells in the earth. It crackles in the air like invisible lightning, calling to me. The man with the sword in his chest paces the deck of his boat restlessly, staring at the island in the distance with tortured eyes.
I feel myself smiling. This is something interesting. Finally, I am excited to play this silly game called life once more.