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A man with shaggy hair and torn clothes, all of it stained with blood, slumped down next to a woman.
Her golden hair and tattered dress were equally blood stained, and the hems of her garment completely singed.
"We did it," the man sighed, leaning his head back against the stone wall behind them.
"We finally won."
The woman nodded and sighed, clutching a trinket to her chest.
"I wish the others were here to see this," she whispered.
"Kel.." the man trailed off.
"Your Majesties!" A man called, running toward them.
He paused to catch his breath once he reached them.
"We've finished tallying the death count," he reported, extending a scroll toward the man.
".. Already?" The man reluctantly took the scroll, his arm struggling under its weight as if he was grasping a heavy iron rather than a light parchment.
"Er.. it was easier to just count the living and subtract that from the total," the man explained.
He wore a chipper smile, but his entire body sagged with exhaustion.
"M-may I be excused, Sire?" he asked after several more minutes had passed. " I have some.. personal things to take care of."
"Of course," the man he had given the scroll to immediately granted his request. "Tell everyone to take as much time as they need."
"Yes, Your Majesty!" the man saluted before skittering back the way he had come.
"What will we do, Kel?" for the first time since he'd sat down, the blood-covered man's voice cracked. "We don't have enough able-bodied men to send the dead back to their families."
"We will bury them here," the woman insisted. "And provide compensation to their families."
She clenched the trinket she was holding even tighter and pressed her lips together to keep them from trembling.
"Even Lucy and Thane. We will bury them here."
The man nodded absently, his mind still filled with the cries of anguish that would fill the streets of his Empire when he returned.
There would be no cheering.
Because in a war that destroys both sides almost completely, there is no victor.
"Will you be ok, Calix?" the woman prodded the man, her eyes filled with concern. "You are the last of the Subterrans now. The rest perished in battle."
"All of them."
The man's eyes were distant. He had never held any love for those people--the people who once treated him so cruelly, but in the end, they had all sacrificed their lives for his Empire.
When the dragon riders with brilliant golden hair attacked from the skies, demanding their savior be returned to them, only the Subterrans had the power to fend them off. Though the dragon riders' fire was weaker than Kel's, it was still more powerful than any weapon.
Only the people who could absorb that fire and use it to make themselves stronger were able to fight the dragon riders.
"They all burned to death from the inside," the man grimaced, clenching his fist. "Even the children."
"I.. I'm sorry," the woman whispered, her strong face finally breaking as sobs escaped.
When they visited the White Mountains over a year ago, she had been filled with hope and excitement. The people she met there--people just like her--were beyond her wildest dreams. She even met her only remaining family member, an older sister.
Her bliss only lasted for a small time, however, as the people soon revealed their true sinister intentions.
She discovered that the reason she, the strongest fire-wielder born to the Felion Kingdom in generations, ended up orphaned in a mid-continent kingdom was because her parents had escaped there to hide from the Felion people.
When the Elders of the White Mountains saw the powerful child, they knew she was a gift to preserve their people. By sacrificing her and using her powers to feed themselves and their dragons, their weakening powers would be revived once again.
Her parents had been killed, but they managed to hide away their precious child.
That is, until many years later when she walked into the Felion Kingdom again of her own free will.
Fortunately, her old guardian, a man named Itzae who had been living among the Felion people for some time, helped her escape. But the people were willing to risk everything not to lose their savior a second time.
Even a bitter war with the rest of the continent.
"This isn't your fault, Kel!" the man cried, hugging the sobbing woman. "How could you have known? How could any of us have known?"
Together they cried in each other's arms until another messenger came to fetch them.
"It's time to return to the Capital," he reported. "The Empire's throne has missed its Emperor for far too long."
Though the Emperor returned confidently to his throne and soon held a lavish wedding in which he married a golden-haired woman with the power of fire, the Serin Empire had been dealt a severe blow. freewebnovel .com
Decades passed and still, the scars of war were etched deep into the land.
The princes and princess of the Empire, who should have grown up alongside the children of their parents' most trusted friends, learned to play by themselves.
Street festivals, which had once been so popular in Serin, became stories of the glorious past. An air of melancholy settled over the continent, and only after generations had passed, did health and good humor return once again to the Empire.
The graves of the Empire's founders and saviors, Calix and Keliyah, were cold. History books praised them, but their sepulchers reeked of pain, as if their unsettled ghosts still sat together holding each other and sobbing over the loss of their friends.
It was said that on black nights, when the wind was quiet, one could hear the cries echoing.
Kel awoke with a start, her body drenched in sweat, Calix looming over her.
"Are you alright?" he demanded. "You looked like you were having a terrible nightmare."
Kel's lips trembled as she reached for him.
"I'm here," he soothed, wrapping her in his arms.
Outside their tent, horses winnied and two hawks squawked at each other.
"Let's go," Kel whispered, hugging Calix tightly. "Let's go now."
"It's still a bit early to get on the road," he chuckled. "We have plenty of time to reach the White Mountains-"
"No," Kel interrupted. "Vitocia. Let's go join Lucy and Thane and everyone else."
"What?" Calix pulled back, his face twisted in confusion. "Are you sure you're alright? What about your family? What about Itzae?"
"I already have everyone I need," Kel replied, already shoving things into a duffel bag.
"My family is here."
-The Dragon's Kiss End-
The "dream" Kel had in this chapter is a darker version of the events I had planned for the rest of TDK.
Unfortunately, I must end it here.
I really anguished over this decision, but the time has come for me to move on from Webnovel. I will still be writing, so follow my Instagram for more updates of when and where you can find my novels.
As always, much love <3