Over the night before, he ordered the last hunters of his clan that he knew, to find and provide a massive amount of sustenance for his old friend that was visiting the country. That was very hard to do, but one of the few ice wizards gave the hunters them the luxury of their idea of teleportation. From their exploration farther north, they brought for the black dragon a meaty walrus. Ares was thrilled how so few people even now managed to find that kind of animal, especially for the friend of the Ice Dragon. He had forgotten how it tasted, which made the meal all the more reason to look forward to. He ran his forked tongue over the wound that killed the walrus, to taste its blood. The creature was very odd, for even though the tail and flippers said it was a sea creature, the whiskers, the teeth that the tusks were, and the nostrils were the tip that it was a mammal. Curious as that may be, Ares delightfully dug his fangs into the skin of the kill’s neck, and yanked a chunk off. The chilled blood dripped down his chin and dried up before it could touch the spines that resembled a goatee. Once Ares remembered the taste of this valuable meat, he started to take wider bites into the skin and pull at the pieces like the savage that animals truly are. Despite the civilisation that grew with the dragon clans, there was nothing to conceal the animal instincts that they all shared. Even solitary dragons were very territorial.
All the humans in ear shot refrained from watching Ares enjoy his meal, to avoid the disgust. They waited patiently to know what he wanted or needed the energy provision for. They were to know by the time that the black dragon stripped the walrus to the bone. The skeleton that remained was stained with dry blood, which could not be removed so easily. Ares had tasted the blood of all prey, including that of humans.
Minutes after finishing his meal, Ares approached the pale-blue dragon to whisper, “I am ready for phase two.” Viktor immediately grabbed a metal tub, which could be held with one paw of a dragon, and swiftly swiveled his head, to signal someone over.
Once again feeling nervous, Viktor asked, “Are you certain you are up to this?”
Ares gave no answer, but gave his friend a stern look, which was enough of an answer, and swiveled his head again, from the swordsman that approached, to the black dragon. The human, wearing his woolly white robe, approached Ares.
The black dragon held out his right foreleg and instructed, “Cut along here.” He ran a claw, showing an old wound. “Be precise. Copy the angle and length. Do not exceed. I will tell you when the blade is deep enough.”
The human pulled out his sword and had the point of the blade meet the end and slowly pushed the blade by the tip into the leathery hide. Ares could feel when the scales were penetrated, and when the metal got deeper. Now having the old wound reopened, Ares spoke, “Stop.” The human looked up, keeping the blade in place, and hesitated. Ares continued, “Now, run the blade along the line of the scar. Remember: do not exceed the length.” The human held the sword with both hands now, and needn’t have asked why the scar was on the side of the foreleg. What he wondered, was why Ares was willing to have this old wound reopen. This swordsman was but a hunter, and never knew how much he would take to even make a dragon draw blood. Before he could reach the other end of the scar, the black dragon’s blood was already seeping out, and dripping into the metal container. He paid close attention, to know how far to go. When seeing that he ran a line long enough, he asked, “How shall I halt?”
Ares answered, “Just pull the blade out.” The human reluctantly did so. The blade was decorated scarlet, of course. The swordsman quickly tapped the blade against the rim of the tub, and managed to have a few drops fall in. Even though the swordsman’s master told him of the task, he was still very awkward from doing this. The pale-blue dragon thanked him in their native language and dismissed him.
Viktor then focused on the black dragon, whose foreleg was over the metal tub, letting his own blood fill it. This was the first thing that Ares trusted him with: preserving the blood that he deliberately drew. He was concerned about his friend’s well-being as he was the first time Ares wanted Viktor for a task like this. While they were waiting, Viktor spoke, “If I may ask, Comrade… how many have you had…” He didn’t know how to place it, even in his native language.
Ares was thinking about it, too, for he had his maw open. What came out was, “I really cannot remember. I first attempted conducting this action for all clan members at once, but I nearly bled to death after filling three tubs in one day. I had to take a month to recover. Thankfully, I had already christened me best men.” He looked up, to continue, “Look, Viktor, I know that you mean well, but you need not worry so much.”
Viktor responded, “I feel compelled to tell you, Ares, that you are only dragon I have ever addressed as ‘Comrade’, and only dragon to be friend of mine. I cannot tell you how… somber I grew since knowing of your defeat.” The mere thought of it, made the pale-blue dragon lower his head with glassy eyes. Though Ares knew what was likely to happen, Viktor refused to do it. Because of how hard he made it, Viktor believed that he had no choice, and walked off to leave Ares to carry out his plan.
The young necromancer entered what appeared to be a church built entirely out of ice by Viktor’s wizards. He looked around, perceiving how much detail was captured by the carving of the ice. Ares spoke, “Viktor once told me that his father was the one to create this piece of shelter as a residence for those of the clan on this island. It was to symbolise his rise to power, how he managed to expand his clan’s population throughout the country, and to most of Siberia.”
Eyeing the few torches lit by black fire, Kuro asked, “What is this about?” He clung to his robe as much as he had been doing since he and his master arrived the island. It was terribly cold, but somehow the fire of the lit torches made it a little warmer inside the ice structure. The few torches surrounding the metal tub in the centre, were lit by black fire, the fire breathed by the dragon to represent darkness.
Ares spoke, “This is a ceremony that I held, which has been a tradition since long before my time. The oracle states: ‘By the blood meeting the vessel like a shadow, shall the entities entwine with only one another, master and servant, following the same path, and only that one path.’ I shall give you the honour of being the first for this ceremony in over a century.”
“I do not understand”, Kuro said. “We made a blood oath. What is the meaning of that container of blood?”
“The one to be bathed in the blood is the subject, and the blood is from me. The blood of the Dark Dragon has an enchantment. With the Dark Dragon’s blood bonded to the Dark Sorcerer, the two become connected, giving one another guidance and strength.”
Kuro, hesitant from his own surprise, stuttered, “H-how-how many… ha-have d-done this before?”
Ares answered plainly, “Enough for me to lose count. Now we must proceed.”
“What about my Sensei? Is he not the one to take your orders first?”
“It is because of your youth that I find you valuable, Kuro. That is why I called for you first.” He changed his tone before continuing, “Now approach the tub.”
Kuro, still hesitant, did so, but reluctantly. The surface was very crimson. He looked back at the dragon, hollering, “Wait, you said ‘bathe’. Do you really mean-“ He was too nervous to finish the question, but the dragon slowly nodded.
The dragon then stated, “If you can survive this cold, you can survive worse with me to aide thee.” He changed his tone to one with authority, to say, “Now, undress.” He had seen so many sorcerers remove their robes and tunics that there was nothing about a human’s body to disturb him anymore. He wanted to make sure that there was no fabric on his follower. Kuro was very reluctant from his own awkwardness. Ares was well aware that humans were naturally afraid to be seen without any fabric on them. Slowly, Kuro dropped his robe, and then his tunic and trousers, and then his underwear. His only worry was the frigid air making him freeze enough to stand perfectly still. He didn’t forget about removing his boots, and immediately his feet began to feel numb when he did.
Now seeing that Kuro was as naked as he was the day he was born, Ares spoke, “Climb into the tub.” It was a blatant command, by the tone. Kuro was happy to comply with that, and did it quickly. It is true, the saying: “Blood is thicker than water”. However, the necromancer managed to make a splash when getting in. It was not as cold as the air, the blood, but Kuro was still shivering hastily.
The black dragon then approached by a few paces, and blew two short streams of his black fire from his nostrils, and that fire immediately looked like smoke, which then dissolved into the atmosphere. Brief as the fire was, it was hot enough to warm the tub, and literally make the blood hotter and easier to smell. Ares instructed, “Inhale the fumes of the dragon’s blood, like you would embrace the darkness of the night.” Kuro did so, and somehow it made him feel stronger, feel like he was given energy. Ares then said, “Now permit me to entwine my aura with yours. My blood must fully enwrap so that I may create the bonds.” Knowing what that meant, Kuro lowered himself until his entire body including his head and hair was below the surface, which he was uncertain of. He could only hold himself down for a moment before quickly rising up for air. Ares felt accomplished with fulfilling his goal with the dark sorcerer, as he approached the young man breathing heavily, even though the air was frigid. “Well done, my friend”, he said joyfully. He patted Kuro’s head with his paw. However, Kuro was worried, and asked, “Do you think my Sensei would survive this trial?”
“Let us refrain from thinking about that”, Ares replied. “You may leave the tub and dry off.” He swiveled his head slightly, to show a towel on a short stool just next to the pile of the sorcerer’s garments. As Kuro dried himself, Ares continued, “My blood has bonded to you now, as my energy becoming yours. Your dark powers are greatly enhanced now, and that is my blessing to thee.”
Kuro looked back, to respond contently, “Arigato, Yami.” Ares nodded and walked off, leaving the ice church and leaving the sorcerer to his thoughts.
Instead of searching for the elder dark sorcerer, Ares walked without a course set. It was the same when he was airborne. He flew aimlessly. It was common that a dragon would do this. Ares was always a thinker. He wanted some time away from even his closest friend. He felt the same as he felt when learning about his duty during his training. To rebuild his clan was too hard for Ares already. Who would follow his element, when influenced by fear of the Light Dragon? Ares knew the common judgment of the Light Dragon. The one to represent light, was believed to be the good of the world. He never would have guessed that his mortal enemy would become a tyrant. It went against everything the Light Dragon was believed to stand for. Ares remembered himself that the Light Dragon stood for justice. It meant that he was to inspire courage, not fear. And what did Ares want to influence? Evil as he was believed to be, he wanted to give strength and willpower. He wanted to prove the judgment calls wrong, trying to distance himself from abuse. To him, only cowards abuse. How enraged he was that he some found him a follower or offspring of the devil himself, and served as his messenger on Earth. He managed to avoid getting his personal feelings in the way when causing bloodshed among countries, and found strength, which he also gave. Ares and his predecessors may have been evil in the view of many, but his clan was a necessary evil. Knowing of other past conflicts among humans, Ares thought, “What if war is what has societies evolve?”
It was later in the day when Kamadai arrived at the ice church where Ares held his blood ceremony. The tub was filled with the same blood of the black dragon, but it was sterilised now, and was still purely liquid. Ares had always explained the reason for this, and made Kuro remain silent, so Ares could give the lecture. Kuro looked the other way when Ares told the elder sorcerer, “Undress.” It was no surprise that the elder’s skin was dry and wrinkled. He was very bony, prompting Ares to wonder how long it would be before time was to catch up with the aging warlock. Ares helped Kamadai up to the rim of the cold metal tub. Kamadai needed no help when hopping down to the tub’s floor, making a very narrow splash when passing the surface. With a very light body, getting completely soaked in the dragon’s blood would be a challenge for Kamadai. Ares then breathed the two quick streams of black fire from his nostrils to the tub, which warmed quickly and had tendrils of steam rise from the surface. Kamadai inhaled the fumes, and felt suddenly felt very heavy. He closed his eyes and fell back as if he passed out, and then went under the surface. Looking in horror, Ares muttered, “What have I done?” He felt panic as he approached, and then shouted, “Kamadai! Kamadai can you hear me?!” He grabbed the tub with a single paw and shook the tub hastily, nearly making the blood spill. He then dug his paw into the tub of his own blood, trying to grab the elder sorcerer, but couldn’t feel anything. Then suddenly, something pushed his paw out. He instinctively and quickly examined his paw, but couldn’t tell what blood was his or Kamadai’s. He looked at the surface again, hearing what was possibly boiling, and then saw it boil even more strongly. Sensing a vast amount of energy, Ares looked back and shouted to Kuro, “Get down!” Without hesitation, the younger sorcerer did so. The sound was like that of an explosion. Ares saw the blood rise from the tub, but it evaporated before it could touch the ground. In the centre of the tub, stood a new man.
Ares and Kuro rose, showing surprise at the sight. Ares spoke, “Kamadai…? Is it you?”
It definitely resembled Kamadai, this new man, except his skin had no wrinkles at all, and his hair was black with an opalescent reflection. He looked at his hands and his arms, and said, “It is I. Your blood has done a wonder for me.” Kamadai looked only a little older than his former apprentice.
“Even I never guessed that the blood of a Dark Dragon would make a dark sorcerer younger.”
“Neither did I”, Kamadai replied. His voice was nowhere near as hoarse. He looked at the dragon and added, “You have my gratitude for the gift you have given me.”
Ares approached and looked into Kamadai’s dark eyes. He hissed, “I meant to give other dark sorcerers my blood, to know that we would follow the same path. It also generates the aura of a dragon, the very source of all magic. Perhaps, the energy that I have given you, has slowed the aging process even more.” He then let his eyes darken as he continued, “Kamadai… as much as you use magic to slow your aging, and as much as the aging reverses, even the most powerful sorcerer cannot live forever.”
The sorcerer stepped out of the tub and reached for a towel to dry off. As he did so, Kamadai responded, “I spent much of my life searching for a purpose, and found it when I joined Kage Shinja before the seventeenth century ended. I found it a sign when I found Kuro and took him in.”
Ares sighed, now feeling both envy and sadness. He never got to see his mate or hatchling again. How he wished that he could have saved them, but only wishing made him feel even worse.
(It was the time the Dark Kingsmen expanded. Ares was still young then. He had already fuelled his conflict with his opposite, bringing the Light Dragon and his wizards out of England and Scotland. He was soon to expand his connections to Ireland, the most common part of the United Kingdom where elves resided. Elves are known to be good with weapons, but are also known to be very cunning. They were to be a valuable addition to the Dark Dragon’s alliance. In the process of negotiating an alliance with the first band of elves that he found, he learned that they were protecting a fellow dragon, a female. She had been spending a lonely life as a chick. Before she could learn to fly, her family was exterminated by a band of pirates. She was fast enough to avoid her death. She swore to her parents that those pirates would pay. With the description that she gave Ares, he could lead her directly to where they were, China. Ares was already a friend to the dragon of China then. In the process, the two black dragons bonded. Vengeful as she was, she did the right thing in the end. Because his clan was expanding, Ares insisted that the female return to England with him. She could not refuse. It was during his affairs, political-wise, that they learned more about one another. In due time, Ares found himself a mate. He really loved her.)
“Yami?” Kuro spoke as he looked at the dragon, who was lost in his memories. Louder, the younger mage said, “Ares.” The black dragon raised his head and glanced at Kuro, and then Kamadai. Kuro then asked, “Are you okay?” The dragon looked around quietly before he approached the door, though hesitant, and walked off even faster until he started running. Kuro ran after him, but failed to keep up, and before he knew it, the dragon was out of his sight. Kuro looked back, seeing the new man. He needed a moment to remember it was the wizard who trained him. Kamadai, now wearing his robes, which didn’t fit as much, shared the younger sorcerer’s confusion.
The pale-blue dragon had finished a regular hunt of his own, and dragged a whale that he caught. Just when he was on the shore of the island, he hesitated upon hearing a sound that he knew was bad. He had a very good memory of voices, but this sound could have been of any individual of his kind. The possible sources were narrowed down to one, and Viktor hoped that he was wrong. He hurried to where he heard the sound, and he saw what he hoped to never find. He saw the black and grey dragon with his long-clawed paw over his eyes. Instead of feeling the urge to approach his dear friend, the Ice Dragon merely looked at the black dragon with disappointment. Ares was nothing like the dragon that Viktor once knew. He thought, “Why am I so disappointed? My friend has changed.” He shared the sadness that Ares was feeling, and not wanting to look at the site anymore, he turned and walked off.
The two dark sorcerers approached the pale-blue dragon, who was laying on the ice ground in silent contemplation. They found him by following his energy signature. It the most effective way to track a wizard or a creature with a magic aura. Viktor looked at the two cloaked men, and then solely on the older one, asking, “Who are you?”
“I am Kamadai”, the older man replied calmly.
“Ah, so Ares’s ritual did wonders for you. I am aware of use of magic making one age slower.”
Kuro blurted out, “Have you seen Ares? He departed very abruptly and we have not seen him for hours.” To show how many hours, the atmosphere was very dark.
Viktor spoke, sounding rude, “I did see him briefly, but did not speak to him.”
Growing impatient, Kuro then asked, “Where?”
“Like with my fellow wizards, I respect privacy of my comrade.” He was stern with that.
Kamadai then asked, “Are you sure he made it clear that he wanted to be alone?”
“I have been thinking upon what I saw”, Viktor responded. “Were I in his position, I would avoid letting any follower see me affected by anything.”
Kamadai looked at his pupil and stated, “Most dragons are solitary, even among their kind.”
Kuro said bitterly, “He could have said something.”
Viktor stated lowly, “He has been very elusive. Have patience, young man.” Obviously not convinced, Kuro swiftly turned away without a word coming from his mouth, mimicking what Ares did. Kamadai merely watched him raise his hood and leave his sight. Though as masterful at sorcery as his superior was, Kuro still had much learn.
The place to start was the obvious place, that being the first known church straight east of Palace Square. The sorcerer searched around and then inside the structure for the black dragon’s energy signature, and found no hint of such. Kuro didn’t want to believe that the dragon wasn’t there. Though very hard, concealing the energy signature was possible to do. The sorcerer then did the unthinkable. He climbed his way to the top of the church’s rooftop. Somehow the air felt even colder than it did on the ground, but that wasn’t important to him. He strove along the rooftop like it was the floor, searching for the dragon. It was then he remembered that the black dragon’s blood gave him a connection. Why didn’t he think of it until now? He needed to calm down, but how could he when he couldn’t concentrate? So, he hurried back inside the castle, and cleared his mind. He still paced, but could feel something inside. That feeling was of being lost. Ares knew of the connection that he made to the two dark sorcerers, and managed to block their thoughts from his for the time being. Knowing this, Kuro cursed in his language under his breath. He had no choice but to go back to the island, and made his way down the stairs and out the door. It was likely very late night now, knowing of the cold air.
Very unexpectedly his superior was standing before him, with his hood up. Kuro told him, “I thought you would not come here for the same reason.”
“I actually came for you, Kuro. Even after all these years of my teaching, you still think the same way.”
Kuro had to be reminded that he was reckless when it came to the use of magic and channelling of energy. Kamadai continued, “When someone wants me to not be involved with their problems, they need not tell me. I already knew that, the second I saw Ares depart. When he wants or needs us for something, he will find us.”
Kuro sighed, “You are right, Sensei. I was being reckless.”
“We need only wait for him. We shall head for Winter Palace and get as much rest as we can.”
“Of course, Sensei.” The two teleported to Palace Square and went inside.
The ice of the island was painted orange by the sunrise as day began. The first rays to reach the pale-blue dragon, made him shift in his sleep, which he slowly pulled himself out of. He raised his head and opened his eyes. Almost immediately, he knew that he had not seen Ares at all since the night before. He rose from the ground and stretched his body before he got back to his thoughts on Ares. He breathed heavily, feeling like something was wrong, but he could not place it. Just when he was at the shore of the island for his morning swim in the ocean to further wake him, he spotted the one dragon to stand out most among ice and snow. That dragon was wide awake now, and merely sat down with his paws folded, but his head up. Ares stated, “I assumed that this was the shore you would start from.”
Viktor breathed heavily again before approaching his friend. As an answer, Viktor said lowly, “And I wondered where you would be.”
Ares responded, “I have changed as much as the world has from my one defeat that was near fatal.”
“I do not comprehend.”
“Before those sorcerers found me, I was dying. My heart was likely to give out some time. Unconsciously, I managed to send out a call that only one with a magical aura could hear. It must have encircled the world, for my new and only current followers are from Tokyo of Japan. I do not even know that city.”
“It used to be called Edo”, Viktor interrupted.
Though Ares didn’t appreciate interruptions, he appreciated the clarification. He simply nodded before continuing, “I remember having it all. I had warriors, elves, and sorcerers. I had a mate and egg waiting to hatch.” He finally looked at Viktor, when adding, “You wanted to understand. Now I am willing to let you know what ran in my head.”
“Ares, I had been confused about myself as well. In my clan I do not tolerate failure. In fact, I am unforgiving. One can try to atone to an error, but I would not accept it. I was afraid that you have become weak.”
“My powers are strong, but it is my heart that is weak. That defeat and the century of imprisonment and dormancy took their toll on me. I realised another thing: I should be four hundred and fifteen years old, but I still feel as young as I was then. I finally remembered all my features, and I see that none of them have changed, inside or out. That spell was so powerful that it froze me in time, even though I could still dream. It makes no sense.”
“Well, I think you will comprehend the effects. You were full of determination then. You will find it again. You are good drakon, Ares. I trust you.”
“Sposibo, Viktor. All I need is a nudge, and I can permit gravity to do the rest.”
“So you are done here?”
“I am. I just wanted to know that you would be there for me when the time comes.”
“And where will you go?”
“To search for the Elementals. If what I hear is true, we need everyone to derail the Light Dragon’s monarchy.”
“Then, to start with me, I will seek out everyone who used to work for me, and inform them all, of the role Ledyanoy Drakon Olrot plays now.”
“For now, Viktor Kirillovsky, do svidanya.” With that, Ares rose to his feet and took flight. Viktor watched with a half-smile, hoping that his friend would find what he would be looking for. He looked then at the surface of the ice-cold water, seeing a rippled reflection of himself. After a moment of staring, he took a deep breath, and leaped into the freezing water, the sea that he considered his.
Thanks to the connection that he now had with the two dark sorcerers, the black dragon found them at the very place they waited for him when he let Viktor know that he was still breathing. Kamadai expected that Ares would come around. That was why he and Kuro waited just outside of Palace Square. The black dragon found them easily. The wizards stood out among the rest of the people going about their business. They sat on a bench, with grassland in front of them. Ares spoke plainly, “We are done here.” The sorcerers looked up at him before he added, “We are to depart immediately.”
No question was to be involved. Ares got to the ground, so Kamadai, and then Kuro, could get on his back. Before Ares rose to his feet, Kuro generated an energy chain that went around the dragon’s neck. All that was left to be said, was the one word from the dragon’s mouth: “Ready?”
The wizards affirmed, and the dragon flapped his leathery wings before leaping into the air and taking flight. While the wizards could still hear him as he climbed the air currents, Ares called without looking back, “Our next destination is further east. That is where I will search for my other friend.” He expected no question or response. He focused solely on the course that he set, hoping that he was not too late to reunite with his other known ally.