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A Dragon Lives Forever (Kingdom Rush)

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Beresead drifted over the top of the mountains of the Frozen North, squinting through the flurries of snow. He swept his eyes across the icy landscape, grunting in frustration. The cold mountains offered no signs of life, except for the occasional grove of ice-covered trees. The burning fir in his gut kept him warm, as well as his scaly and thick skin 

He muttered to himself under his breath, “You’d better be right, Vez'nan, for your sake.” The dark wizard had received a report of a dragon sighting in the northern mountains of Linirea. Beresad had a suspicion of who that dragon might be. Memories flashed through his mind. Years spent alone and hunted by elves, hiding in the barren mountains while wind bit at his tender young scales. Then there was Elynie, his savior. She took him in, embraced him, gave him a family. Whistling air snapped Beresad's mind to attention, and he whipped his head in the direction of the sound. His eyes widened at the sight of several spikes of bone whizzing through the air towards him. He tucked his wings and spun to the side, the spikes hissing past him. One of them grazed his belly, slicing a gash across his body. He roared in agony, the wound inflicting more pain than he would expect. The gash burned like dragon’s fire. He peered at the wound, which glistened with a green liquid. 

He recovered from the wound and narrowed his eyes, searching for the source of the attack. The freezing wind whipped at his face and the fire in his belly began to churn. A flash of green light flared up from the ground. He locked his eyes onto the source of the light as a fireball hurtled towards him. Beresad tucked his wings in again and dove towards the ground as the ball of green fire whooshed over his head. He opened his mouth and launched a fireball of his own. It sped towards the ground, trailing green fire. He followed its trajectory to where he’d seen the green flash. The fireball imploded against the ground, scorching the earth around it. He spread his wings and circled the area, searching for a threat. Slowly and gracefully he floated to the ground. Beresad landed, flaring his wings and whipping around to search for his opponent. He growled, feeling the fire within his stomach churning violently. The icy landscape was silent.

Something moved in the corner of his eye. Beresad whirled around, exhaling a funnel of green flame and bathing the area in fire. A silhouette burst through the wall of fire, a skeletal dragon with its maw open wide. The dragon collided with Beresad, tackling him to the ground. The two rolled through the charred earth as Beresad roared with anger. He pushed the creature off of him and jumped to his feet. He stared at the creature in front of him, a dragon without flesh. Fierce green fire burned in the dragon’s chest, corrupted fire. Its wings were rotted and its eyes glowed with corrupt magic. Beresad had found him.

Beresad smirked, “So Vez’nan didn’t lie, you are alive.” The skeletal dragon growled,  its teeth bared. Beresad frowned, “Do you not recognize me, brother?” The skeleton of a dragon in front of him was his brother, Faustus.

Faustus hesitated, Beresad could see the gears turning in his head. “Beresad?” His voice was deep, and it had lost its wise aura.

Beresad nodded, “That is correct, brother, How are you faring?”

Faustus snarled, “Traitor!” He leapt forward and lashed out at Beresad. Beresad dodged to the side, evading Faustus’ bony claws. He spun around to face his brother, whose eyes flared with corruption.

“Faustus, cease this!”

Faustus reared his head, “I do not go by that name. It is the title of an old form, and an old age.”

“Then what do you call yourself?”

Faustus flared his wings and reared up onto his back legs, causing Beresad to tense. “I am Bonehart, the Eternal Plague and Elynie’s forgotten. I have rotted in corruption since the death of Elynie over forty years ago and slaved to protect this world from evil.” Bonehart dropped to all fours and crept towards Beresad. “Where were you while I rotted, brother? Lurking in your cave amongst your piles of treasure?” Beresad growled threateningly, but Bonehart crept closer. “While I fought for our mother, you were spoiling over your precious gold!”

Beresad huffed indignantly, “Elynie is not our mother, and I am not your kin.”

Bonehart released a hiss that sent a shiver down Beresad’s spine. “Be careful to not let those be the last words across your tongue, Beresad.”

Beresad chuckled, “You still mourn the death of Elynie? I thought you would have moved on by now. I’m quite thankful the old witch is gone.”

Bonehart roared and took a step forward, but Beresad didn’t flinch. His voice took a sinister tone, “After everything she did for us and everything we lived through, what did you do? You hid. You hid from your grief, and you cowered in your cave. She loved us.”

Beresad snorted, “Elynie loved you, but never me. Why do you think she gave her precious heart to you? Ashbite was too foolish to ever see, always chasing your approval and never stopping to see the real picture.” Memories of Faustus being put first time and time again rushed through Beresad's head. She always loved him more. That cursed heart, her precious crystal, the tear of a goddess. Of course she would give it to Faustus, why not?

A low rumble sounded from Bonehart’s exposed throat, “The Tear of Elynie is why I appear to you this way. Mactan, Malicia, Vez’nan, and Malagar corrupted her heart, which has in turn corrupted me.” Bonehart hesitated, then looked at the ground as a high-pitched whine escaped him. He met eyes with Beresad, and the corrupted flame calmed for a moment. “It hurts, brother. The corruption, eating away my soul.”

Beresad recoiled, shocked by the sudden change of tone. Sadness poured from Bonehart’s eyes and washed over Beresad, moving him to pity. “I- I’m sorry, brother, I cannot help you. The Tear of Elynie was lost after Malagar’s defeat.”

Bonehart whimpered, “It won’t let me die, Beresad. Her heart, her last memory, and it’s tearing me apart.”

Beresad hesitated, “Perhaps Vez’nan could fix you.”

Bonehart growled, “I refuse to become a tool of Vez’nan, I will not bargain with him.”

Beresad nodded, “Then I will leave you to rot.” He turned his back to his undead brother then, after hesitating for just a moment, took to the sky. Beresad’s heart panged slightly. He’d come all this way to mend their relationship, but discovered that it could never be mended. Faustus was gone, replaced by Bonehart, the Eternal Plague, the Unliving Flame, Elynie’s forgotten, Beresad’s brother.