A single cloud drifted across the skies, lonely in its singularity. The gentle calls of geese echoed softly as they winged their way through the empty air, their v-shaped formation cutting easily through the air resistance. A cool breeze rippled the grass, ruffling the pool waters. Reeds rustled quietly to themselves, as if in silent conversation. A clawed foot came down onto the soft grass. The grey dragon stared silently at the small hillock that was Chardon's resting place. Around it grew a grove of weeping willows, their wispy leaves waving in the breeze. Forever untouched by time and age, it had remained that way ever since Chardon had given his life for the forest.
Reito sighed softly, his heart heavy yet light. He had known Chardon only for a short period and yet, in that short time, he had grown close to the green. He could still remember how Chardon had made him experience the fear, the immense terror.
The green just walked closer to him, his grin carrying forebodings of what the green could do. He backed away slowly, feeling the beginnings of panic starting to rise. His tail hit the impregnable wall of trees and he knew he was stuck. As soon as that knowledge struck him, his feeble grip on calm was lost and full-fledged panic and nervousness flooded him.
As Chardon came closer, panic escalated and merged with his nervousness to emerge as terror, paralyzing terror that kept him immobile. Chardon stood just in front of him, so close that he could feel the green's warmth. He could see with fear-enhanced senses every tensing and flexing of every muscle. As he looked into Chardon's pale green eyes, he saw the green's intentions and mentally cursed himself for falling for it.
As Chardon's grin grew wider and he turned, Reito let out his pent up emotions in a deep sigh.
"You're a nasty dragon, Chardon."
Chardon just gave him a dark stare, marred only by his self-satisfied smirk.
He could still see the green's smirk. How he missed that smug expression. Chardon's last few years were those of brooding and a gradual slide towards depression. When he had arrived, that was one of the few times Chardon had reflected some of his lighter side. Then, just as Reito grew close to Chardon, the green sacrificed himself for the forest and gave the forest over to Reito.
He looked around at the Everest glade. The forest had no few guardians but only for Chardon did the forest mourn, for Chardon was the only dragon that had been one with the Everest glade. Here, in the shadow of the trees, the feeling of reflective grief was in the air, in everything. Reito sighed softly and he turned to leave. Sometimes it was only through death did new hope arise. Chardon's death was a small price to pay for the forest's continual survival but to both the forest and Reito alike, it was almost too great to bear.
A soft whimper to one side alerted him to another's presence. Glancing around, the shadow dragon noticed a young green. The green looked at him with pale green eyes, eyes of another green. Chardon? Reito shook himself mentally and looked back to the young green. Dark green with the deceptive build hidden by his wings, the green was almost exactly like Chardon, if it were not for the age.
He stepped closer to the young green, curious about the dragon. He whimpered again and pulled back, closer to Chardon's resting place. Reito stopped and realised why. He himself was as impressive and awe-inspiring as Chardon was not. Broad shoulders, large wings, a lithe muscled body, Reito had lived so long within the forest, looking after Chardon's legacy, that he had forgotten his own self.
"Hi, I'm Reito."
He looked kindly upon the green and found himself staring back into Chardon's eyes. He could almost see the same brooding and depression within the young dragon's eyes. The green, still fearful of him, blinked at his sudden introduction.
"What's your name, youngling?"
The green shook his head.
"Well, I suppose I can't keep calling you youngling, so how 'bout this. You'll be Chloridon, fine with that?"
Chloridon nodded, feeling less cautious of Reito already.
As he winged his way around the forest, he almost laughed at his own young self. Reito was never actually threatening me. He just forgot himself. As he flew around, he let his mind wander. Being a guardian of Everest glade was relatively easy as there seemed to be little danger to the forest. Of course, he was not a guardian yet, but Reito let him take over sometimes.
He himself did not see the point in constantly keeping a watch out for danger as there seemed to be nothing that threatened the forest. However, Reito just did not understand his viewpoint and every time Chloridon brought up the topic, Reito would go quiet and stare at him in an absentminded way, as if thinking of someone else. Then, Reito would go to a small hillock where the single grove of dark weeping willows was.
In fact now, as he grew older, Reito would spend more time at the grove, sometimes even spending the entire day and night there. Chloridon himself felt very at peace there. However, every time he spent the night with Reito there, he always woke with vague impressions of being within this forest before. Chloridon never told Reito about his dreams, thinking that Reito would dismiss them as fanciful thinking. It just did not help that he would get the feeling of being around before in certain parts of the forest. The most confusing part was, within these vague impressions and feelings, he gathered the idea that he was much older than Reito.
Reito stood at the hillock, lost in thought. Chardon… He still remembered the older green, the nature-loving dragon. Half the time he looked at Chloridon, he saw Chardon. Chloridon just did not know the significance of Chardon's sacrifice. Who would protect this forest if not I? Who would nurture it if not me? Chardon, why? He really missed the green.
Chloridon winged his way around the forest and as he came upon a slight twist within the forest walls, he felt the compulsion to go to where Reito had always avoided. Reito had not expressively forbidden him from entering but wherever the grey did not go, Chloridon usually did not go. However, this time, he turned off his usual route, into the area.
It was a small clearing, a crystal pool to one side and a cavern mouth nearby. The forest grew unattended up but this clearing had been left alone. As he landed, feelings, clearer than the rest assaulted his mind.
The screeches of several wyverns filled the skies and he tensed. As they shot through the air, his claws were already finding blood. He hated to kill, but survival of the forest came first and without him, the forest would fall. He saw, out of the corner of his eye, Reito running up. He tore out the throat of the last of the wyverns as Reito came up.
He saw the wyrm rear up behind Reito and ignoring the grey, he shoved Reito aside, taking the poisonous bite full in the chest. The force of the wym's attack was larger than he had expected and he slammed to the ground, knocking his head against the hard ground. An explosion of pain played counter part to the acidic burn of the poison, knocking him out.
Chloridon shook his head, confused and afraid. As he took his claw away from his chest, he saw, with amazing clarity, the slow trickle of green blood falling from them. A name filled his mind.
Reito snapped out of his reflective mood. The forest itself was silent, no longer filled with the endless sounds of nature. He knew why now the forest had held him here.
He was airborne and heading to the clearing in a split second.
Chardon's clearing…Chloridon, what are you doing there?
Now the strange memories came in faster, as if in the need to finish before an interruption came.
Reito began to back away as he realised the green's intentions.
"No, no, no… please, Chardon?"
His grin grew larger. Reito backed up till he came up against the tight grove and himself. He could see, with mounting pleasure, Reito's visible panic and nervousness. He stepped closer and looked deep into Reito's eyes. He could see the silver eyes, the emotion of panic and fear changing into sudden realisation and shock as Reito realised his intentions. Grinning, he turned back.
"You're a nasty dragon, Chardon."
Scowling in mock anger, he gave Reito a dark look, marred only by his smirk.
He did not sleep that night. He watched the night sky, the stars as they danced across the velvet surface. How long have I looked at this sky? How long have I been here? He knew that without him, the forest would fall. A dragon guardian for the Everest glade, he alone had guarded it against the liches. However, while liches could grow in numbers, he did not. He watched the moon surrounded by its attendant clouds parade through the night.
He could feel the surge of energy through himself and for a moment, he felt almost immortal. At that moment, he knew the feelings of the forest itself. Joy and peace, the eternal growth of life.
Reito came into the clearing only to see Chloridon unconscious on the ground. Jus as Chardon had when he had been bitten by the wyrm…
He shook the green and found him still breathing. Relief poured through him. He shook the green and knew even before he tested that the green was dead. Chardon was not breathing. No, he could not afford to lose Chardon again. As he remembered Chardon, he heard the green groan softly and open his eyes.
He looked into the pale green and noticed a change. No longer did they posses the innocence of Chloridon, but the brooding and depression of Chardon.
The green smiled faintly, the grin of Chardon's.
The green slowly got to his feet. His bearing was not that of a young dragon, but that of one that had lived a long time. He turned to Reito, walking slowly towards the grey dragon. Reito stood as the green came closer and the memories of Chardon's punishment flashed back through his mind. The green stopped in front of him and Reito's heart began to beat faster. He could feel the warmth of the green's body. The green looked into Reito's silver eyes and grinned as Reito realised. The green turned, only to hear Reito.
"You're a nasty dragon, Chardon."
He gave Reito a dark stare, marred only by his self-satisfied smirk.
"I always was, Reito. And, I don't die so easily."
I once was the shadow dragon,
Unbound by anything or anyone.
Now, within a single moment,
I was bound,
Not by word of honour,
Not by physical means.
I was bound
By my own will
~Reito, Guardian of Everest glade