Where Dragons Have Gone

April 20, 2014 in moonrise31, oneshots by moonrise31

For the anon who dropped the request in my ask.fm. Also inspired by this performance during “The Boys” promotions; maybe give that a look first so you can get a better idea of what was going through my head when this “goddess” concept and the prompt “dragon tamers” crossed paths…

Jessica had resigned to her fate eons ago, but that didn’t mean that she had to like it. Then again, disliking something took much more effort than she cared to exert. So she hovered on the edge of vague disdain, only peering over occasionally if she was feeling more energetic than usual.

Because when it came to being a goddess, Jessica had quickly come to one conclusion: it didn’t matter at all who came first—the goddess, or the people she existed for. If the goddess had created the people, for example, she wouldn’t have limited her powers such that she existed only for the people. And if the people had created her, she doubted that they would’ve given her a personality that yearned for freedom outside of doing her godly duty.

Yes, her situation was an interesting one, to say the least: Jessica, a goddess of the wind, embodied the restless breezes coasting the countryside without pause, when the only thing she really wanted to do was stop moving, if only for a second.

But apparently, even a goddess couldn’t have it all.

She wasn’t as irked about it today as she had been others, however. Today, at least, she wasn’t wandering aimlessly, because she had an end destination for once. She drifted past tree branches above and rustled the fallen leaves below into swirls that flew towards the sky before breaking out of spiral and drifting to the ground once more. She ruffled bird feathers, kissed scruffy squirrel tails, and then skimmed lightly on the current of the small creek running through the forest.

“You’re here!”

Jessica looked up and smiled at the waving figure sitting on a rock by the creek. The bright—literally, since she was radiating enough light to pass as a small star—woman grinned and added, “Gonna take a rest today, Sica?”

“Very funny,” Jessica deadpanned as she floated onto the bank and continued to drift, blowing tendrils of soft brown hair from the other woman’s face as she passed.

“What Sunny means to say is that we’re quite impressed that you managed to beat everyone else for once.” Another glowing woman emerged from the greenery and proceeded to blind Jessica with a full-force grin.

Sunny laughed. “Yeah, that’s what I meant. Thanks, Fany.”

“I didn’t mean to be on time,” Jessica grumped, turning away from Tiffany and drifting back towards Sunny. “I even helped the creek part of the way, so I thought Soo and Seohyun would be here already.”

All three whipped around at the sound of a splash by Sunny’s feet. A column of water rose into the air and parted in the middle like a curtain, revealing the latest arrival.

“Speak of the devil,” Sunny cheered. “Hello Sooyoung!”

Sooyoung stepped onto the grass, the water returning to the creek only to shoot up again a moment later and deposit a second person.

“Seohyun!” Tiffany enveloped the newcomer in a bright hug.

“Are we all here?” Sooyoung asked, glancing around.

“Just a little over half,” Sunny replied. “But the others are only mutual friends through Sica. I don’t know them myself.”

“If you bothered to get out of this forest once in a while, maybe you’d have met them too,” Jessica teased as she floated by.

“Apologies, O Goddess.” Sunny dipped her head low in a mock bow. “We light faeries and water sprites can never hope to be as well-traveled as you.” Jessica smacked the back of her head lightly with a trailing hand.

“What’d you say they were again, Jessi?” Tiffany took Seohyun by the hand and pulled her closer to where Sunny and Sooyoung were standing. “Dragon…tamers?”

Jessica nodded.

“Do dragons really exist?” Seohyun asked quietly, eyes wide.

“I could say the same about sprites, faeries, and goddesses, now, couldn’t I?” A voice cheerfully sounded from behind them. Then a chuckle. “Oh my.”

Jessica turned and smiled. “Hello, Taeyeon.” She glided over to the group of four stepping out of the forest, nodding to each in turn. “Yuri. Hyoyeon. Yoona.”

“To be fair,” Yuri spoke up, directing their attention back to the conversation the dragon tamers had interrupted, “dragons are a lot harder to find nowadays.”

Tiffany beamed. “Will you show us one?”

Hyoyeon smirked and snapped her fingers. “Well, it depends.” A tendril of flame sparked and spiraled down her raised arm before shooting away from under her elbow.

Yoona, standing nearby, caught the ribbon of fire with ease and guided it along, behind her shoulders. “Sometimes you just gotta look harder, you know?” The flames snaked around her waist before diving towards the ground, sharply reversing direction at the last second to shoot upwards, barely singeing the tips of the grass blades below at the turn.

Yuri suddenly lifted both of her arms and then brought them down again, hard. The now column of fire dove mid-air and followed her lead. Her grin broadened, a wild look gleaming in her eyes. “And then you might realize…” she started, throwing her arms wide. The flames condensed into fiery ball that left Seohyun nervous for the tree leaves rustling happily above.

“…that one was right next to you all along,” Taeyeon finished, bringing her hands together with a loud clap. The fireball exploded, making even Sunny and Tiffany squint against the light. A blanket of warmth washed over their faces, and when the brightness faded, they saw the shadow of a dragon imprinted on the insides of their eyelids. The vegetation remained thankfully un-scorched.

Jessica’s measured applause rang softly across the space. “I don’t think I could ever get tired of a show like that.”

“Then we’ll continue to get paid for said show,” Taeyeon replied with a wink. But her expression quickly darkened. “I don’t think you asked us this far just for entertainment purposes, though.”

Sunny cleared her throat. “Ah, I was hoping Sica had already told you about our reason for gathering here today.” She raised her eyebrows at the wind goddess.

Jessica gave an airy shrug. “I told you I needed help, didn’t I?”

Taeyeon tilted her head.

“As a goddess,” Tiffany spoke up, “Jessica has duties. She hears the prayers of her people. And some of them are in trouble right now.”

“It’s something way too big for any one of us to handle,” Sooyoung added solemnly. “But I reckon we have a good team here, yeah?”

Jessica nodded. “Yeah.” She began to float upward, until the rest had to crane their necks to see the bottoms of her feet. “I appreciate the help.”

Hyoyeon laughed and jumped up, fist bumping lightly into Jessica’s bare heel. “No worries, Sica. That’s what friends are for. Even goddesses are allowed to have those, right?”

Jessica smiled, and though the others weren’t able to see, they heard it as clearly as if she was walking beside them. “So I’ve been told.”

Tiffany imagined that the village had once been more…whole.

Now, however, it lay in millions of pieces. Half-standing skeletons of houses, shingles scattered across yards amid a mess of crushed tables and bent stovepipes. She felt a small part of herself crack with each broken cupboard lying empty on the ground, every shattered chair leg rolling across a deserted center street.

Jessica wordlessly drifted at the head of the group, face a mask void of expression. But the others noticed her agitation in the way irregular gusts would kick dust up at their feet, or how the window shutters hanging by a hinge rattled against delicate frames as she blew past.

“Hey there.” Sunny had wandered into an abandoned yard, silent except for the cries of a sobbing boy. She knelt down in front of the child and gave him a gentle pat on the head. “What’s wrong?”

Her warmth soothed him slightly, leaving him only sniffling as he rubbed his eyes with the back of his arm. “The…the monster…it’s still here.”

“Where?” Yuri jogged over to the two crouched on the ground. She gave him a winning smile. “We’re here to fight that big bad monster for you.”

The boy gave one last sniff before standing up, taking Sunny’s finger in his tiny hand and wobbling off, pulling her closer to the center of the village.

Jessica watched him warily as he passed by her. Sunny glanced back to give a reassuring smile before returning her attention to not tripping over the child tugging her forward.

“We have to fight…that?” Yoona breathed when they stopped.

Hyoyeon cracked her knuckles. “Well, it’s not everyday we get to say that we tackled something that big.”

“I think I’m a bit afraid, unnie,” Seohyun whispered. Sooyoung wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer.

Sunny had brought the boy into the shelter of a mostly whole building. She smiled and patted his head. “Just stay here, okay? Your goddess will take care of everything.”

“Goddess?” The boy repeated, wide-eyed.

Sunny nodded, jerking a thumb over her shoulder. Behind her, Jessica floated in small, agitated circles. “She’ll get rid of that big bad monster for you. And we’re here to help her.”

After the boy promised to stay put and not come out until she told him to, Sunny straightened and looked towards their foe.

A giant maelstrom of black engulfed the center of the village, tossing and churning a mass of wreckage within. It towered above them, bits of fence posts and broken dishes and window glass swirling violently inside.

“It’s almost like an ocean,” Sooyoung commented softly. “Except…on land.”

“And that doesn’t sit right with us, does it?” Taeyeon flicked her wrist, and a sprawl of flames burst to life on her palm. She threw the fire out and jumped on. The ball expanded and lengthened into a blazing streak swerving towards the heart of the storm, Taeyeon riding on top.

The rest of the dragon tamers followed suit, and soon there were four fiery ribbons circling the dark chaos looming overhead. Jessica propelled herself upwards, higher and higher until she could actually make out the top of the black maelstrom. She frowned.

“So how do we get rid of this?” Sunny appeared beside her, body aglow with a light much softer than the hard darkness below them, but not lesser in strength. On the other side, Jessica caught a glimpse of a distant sparkle she assumed was Tiffany. Two streams of water had now joined the flames encircling the storm. Jessica winced when the sharp end of a broken lamppost suddenly burst free of the dark swirl, hurtling straight at Yoona. The latter deflected it with a burst of flame, free-falling for a few precious half-seconds before summoning another spiral of fire to land on.

Jessica narrowed her eyes, peering hard into the center of the darkness. “The eye of the storm,” she murmured, more to herself than to Sunny.

But the other heard her. “Right. So if you get there, you can stop it?”

Jessica nodded. “It’s the getting in that’ll be the hard part.”

“No worries.” Sunny threw her a salute. “That’s what we’re here for, Sica.” She disappeared in a blink, reappearing next to Taeyeon in a flash of light.

“Taeng—you don’t mind if I call you ‘Taeng’, right?” When Taeyeon laughed and shook her head, Sunny continued. “Sica needs to get into the middle of that. Think you can manage?”

One corner of Taeyeon’s mouth quirked upward in challenge. “Only one way to find out. Guys!” Three streaks of fire shot towards them and vanished in smoke, revealing the other three dragon tamers. After a hasty conference, peppered with periodic stabs of flame into the black gale, they decided to give a first attempt.

“One! Two! Three!” Taeyeon roared.

Four fiery spirals twisted into one giant flaming spearhead. The tip drove into the dark chaos, wavering as it was buffeted on all sides by the black wind and flying debris. Halfway inside, the fire suddenly disintegrated, blowing the dragon tamers back a couple of meters. The last red spark winked out shortly after, and the storm carried on uninterrupted.

“We’ll help,” Sooyoung offered, Seohyun in tow.

“Let us go first,” Tiffany suggested, coming up from the other side, Sunny behind. “We’ll light the way.”

“Nice pun, unnie,” Yoona snickered.

In the space of the next second, Sunny grabbed Tiffany’s left hand with her right, and pointed their joined fists at the center of the gale. A beam of white burst from their knuckles and punctured the blackness, shining through to the opposite side. Four licks of flame quickly layered on top, winding together and burning defiantly on top of the light beam, enlarging the disturbance at the heart of the black storm.

From behind, Sooyoung and Seohyun shot a large cylinder of water that encompassed the existing elements, cutting another layer of black chaos away from the tunnel that was now slowly forming. Light, fire, and water doggedly expanded until a pathway to the center of the storm was clear.

“Come on, Sica,” Sunny called.

She received a burst of wind blowing past in answer.

Jessica shot down the tunnel headfirst. She tumbled out a few seconds later, flipping once, twice before righting herself. The center of the storm was by no means an empty space. The wind still raged around her, but it was infinitely calmer than the fast, ominous swirl of debris circling outside the center, an arm’s length away.

She closed her eyes and inhaled. This storm might seem like an ocean on land, but at its core, it was just wind with a little too much power. She searched for the strongest currents propelling this seemingly endless cyclone; she settled them, soothing, tugging, dispelling each headstrong stream one by one. She could feel the amount of mass held displaced in the air, and felt a little more relaxed every time something fell to the ground once more: a wagon wheel with broken spokes, a sign that had once said “Welcome”, part of a tattered shack roof.

When Jessica opened her eyes again, the world around her was no longer dark. Meters away she had an unblocked view of her eight friends jumping in mid-air, their windswept expressions now exhilarated for a happier reason.

Sunny patted her on the back once she drifted close enough. “Good job, Sica. We did it!”

The boy didn’t say anything at first when he emerged from shelter and met the calmness now at the center of the village. He looked at the pile of wreckage, now unmoving, and then at Jessica.

His eyes grew rounder.

She smiled tentatively, unsure of how to react.

Then he raised a fist. “Why didn’t you come sooner?”

Jessica blinked, her shin smarting only slightly where he’d hit her. She stared at the boy’s back as he ran off, cries filling the village once more.

“A ‘thank you’ would’ve worked as well,” Hyoyeon snorted.

Yuri threw a friendly arm around the former’s shoulder. “Well, you can’t have everything, right?”

“As long as we have the things that matter,” Taeyeon agreed. She turned to face the rest, eyes bright. “So…anyone wanna see a real dragon?”

Yes, Jessica thought absentmindedly once the village with its strange black storm lay well behind them. Some things matter more than others.

“He lives…up there?” Seohyun peered at the mountaintop, incredulous. “Shouldn’t big things be kept nearer to the bottom so it’s more stable?”

“You’re a scientific one, aren’t you,” Hyoyeon commented with some amusement.

“Sone lives where he wants to,” Taeyeon explained, grinning, before propelling herself upwards on a burst of fire.

Seven waited at the cave mouth while Jessica floated back and forth behind them. When Taeyeon emerged from the darker depths, the friendly chin of a dragon resting on her fingertips, Tiffany couldn’t hold back a squeal.

Sone was too adorable.

His leathery wings rustled, the dryness echoing warmly off the cave walls as they gathered around to stroke his dull red scales. He opened his jaws in a wide grin when Sooyoung hit his favorite spot to scratch on his belly.

“He’s…not as big as I thought he would be,” Seohyun couldn’t resist commenting, bending slightly to meet Sone’s mild-mannered gaze.

“But he’s a lot more real than you thought he would be,” Taeyeon prodded.

Seohyun laughed. “Yes, that too.”

Weary of circling the dragon without being able to do more than an occasional stroke, Jessica drifted above Sone and then descended, settling comfortably on his back.

“Sica! You’re sitting?” Sunny stared, mouth hanging open in half-surprise, half-celebration.

Jessica hummed and leaned forward to hug Sone’s neck, resting her cheek on smooth scales. “I never dreamed that not moving could feel this nice.”

Jessica had resigned to her fate eons ago, but that didn’t mean that her fate couldn’t change.