Chapter 12: No Home to Return to
Tourajé, Saulstrance, and Eig’nia returned home just as the sun in their world was beginning to set. They couldn’t have been happier to be back. This had been the longest amount of time that they were gone from their homes let alone their world. Eig’nia and Tourajé couldn’t wait to see their families again. They wondered how they’d react once they heard that their children saved both worlds. Wouldn’t they be surprised!
Eig’nia and Tourajé chose to accompany Saulstrance to their master’s fortress to inform him that they had returned. As badly as they wanted to see their parents and siblings, they figured that it could wait just a little bit longer.
“We’ve been gone for so long. It feels a little weird being back.” Said Tourajé, looking up into the sky.
“It does, doesn’t it? It was only a week but it feels like I’ve been gone forever.” Eig’nia added.
“We’ve never been gone from home for so long. It’s going to feel great seeing everyone. You guys will get to see your family…and I’ll get to see Master Léruc.” Smiled Saulstrance.
Eig’nia nodded. “Well then, what do you say we go report in to Master Léruc and go see our families?” The dragoness smiled.
Tourajé smiled back at his friend. “I’ll race you.” He said with a confident smile on his muzzle.
Laughing together, the three friends raced to their master’s fortress. Once there, they were surprised to see their families were already there waiting for them. Did they come to welcome them home or was there another reason for them being there?
Feeling overjoyed to be seeing their families after so long away, Eig’nia and Tourajé hurried over to their parents and siblings.
“Tourajé!!” Utzie exclaimed happily. He was about to run up to his big brother when his father stretched his front leg in front of him, preventing him from doing so.
Tourajé’s smile quickly faded when he saw this, changing to a look of confusion and worry. He looked at his and Eig’nia’s parents. Neither set of parents seemed particularly happy to see their offspring. Nervously, the two dragons approached their parents.
“Mom…dad, is everything okay?” Asked Eig’nia worriedly.
Eig’nia’s father gave a rather melancholic sigh. He glanced at his daughter with shame in his eyes and turned away from her.
“We…heard…about what you three did.” He said.
Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia looked at each other puzzlingly. Could Eig’nia’s father have been talking about what happened with Raolef?
“Tourajé! Please, tell us what Lord Léruc said isn’t true! Please tell us you weren’t the ones who killed Lord Raolef!!” Tourajé’s mother pleaded desperately, sounding like she could start crying at any moment.
“Well…” Tourajé was unable to say anymore.
“So it’s true then…I…I cannot believe this.” Eig’nia’s mother said, horrified.
“Hang on!” Cried Saulstrance as he stepped forward. If his friends felt like they couldn’t explain themselves, then he would do it for them.
“We did what we had to because…because Lord Raolef was planning to launch an attack against the human world!” Saulstrance tried to explain.
“That’s preposterous!” Tourajé’s father exclaimed. “Of all the dragons, Lord Raolef would be the last one to want to attack the human realm!”
“But it’s true!” Saulstrance retorted. “Lord Léruc said he was going to attack the other world!”
The dragons’ parents and siblings couldn’t believe what they had just heard. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their own children had assassinated the Leader of a neighboring village, now they were pinning the blame on their own Leader and master.
Tourajé and Eig’nia’s families had nothing left to say to them. Distraught and filled with disbelief, Eig’nia’s parents and siblings brushed past her without so much as a look in her direction.
“Mom! Dad! Ruxie! Outol! Please wait!” Eig’nia begged desperately.
Her family stopped and she thought that maybe they would turn around and listen to what she had to say. Her father turned his head slightly. This brought a slight smile to Eig’nia’s muzzle. Perhaps they were going to listen after all.
“You have no right to call us that. You’re not our daughter anymore.” He said in the coldest voice Eig’nia had ever heard.
Her father’s words cut through the dragoness like butter. She felt a lump in her throat as though she was about to start crying any second. She lowered her head to the ground and began to silently sob to herself as her family walked away, not taking so much as a look back.
Tourajé’s family was the next to depart. His father walked over to him and unfurled his wings. Something fell to the ground. It was Tourajé’s sword. Tourajé’s father grabbed the sword and set it in front of his son. The two of them looked at each other for a moment before his father turned his back to him and said:
“Don’t come around our cave anymore.”
Tourajé watched as his family departed. Utzie looked back at his older brother with a sad, worried expression on his face. Tourajé looked away from his younger brother in shame. The dragon trembled as, just like his friend, tears streamed down his face.
“Tourajé…” Utzie said sadly. He had never seen his big brother cry before. Seeing this made Utzie feel sad too. He wanted desperately to stay with his brother but his father forbade him from going anywhere near Tourajé. Reluctantly, Utzie followed his father’s orders. He looked back one last time as he and his parents left Tourajé behind.
In all the time he had known them, Saulstrance never saw his friends this way. Seeing them so sad, so broken, made him feel horrible. He wished there was something he could do for them. The question was: what could he do?
As his friends continued to cry to themselves, Saulstrance slowly approached them. He thought carefully of what to say to them. Especially in a time like this, he couldn’t say the wrong thing.
“Eig’nia… Tourajé…it’s okay.” He said softly. “I’m here if you—“
“Sure! It’s so easy for you to say it’s ‘okay’, Saulstrance! You don’t even have a family! You have no idea what this is like!!” Tourajé screamed, his eyes filled with rage and sorrow.
Eig’nia and Saulstrance gasped at the same time. Tourajé let out a gasp of his own shortly after.
“Oh my god...” Said Tourajé with a shocked, horrified look on his face once he realized what he had just said. “Saulstrance, I’m—“
With tears beginning to fill his own eyes, Saulstrance ran from his friends. Just as his master stepped out of his fortress to see what was going on, he noticed Saulstrance run past him into the fortress.
“What is going on out here?” Asked Léruc sternly.
Tourajé explained to his master what had just happened and what he said to Saulstrance. Léruc was shocked and saddened by this news. He took pity on his pupils and nuzzled against them as a means of showing his concern.
“I understand how you two must feel. But Tourajé, think of how you’ve made Saulstrance feel. He only wanted to help. He’s worried about you and Eig’nia.” Léruc said softly and sadly.
“I realize that, sir. I don’t have any excuse for what I said…” Said Tourajé, feeling ashamed of himself.
“You need to go and apologize to him posthaste.” Léruc commanded.
Tourajé agreed and the three of them walked together back into the fortress. They guessed that Saulstrance would be in his room so they decided to head there first. Their guess was right as they noticed Saulstrance sitting on the ground, crying to himself, his back turned towards them. Seeing his friend like that made Tourajé feel even lower. He wondered how he could have even said what he did to Saulstrance. He had to make things right between the two of them. Slowly, he entered Saulstrance’s room.
“Saulstrance?” He asked.
Saulstrance didn’t answer him. He still sat there, sobbing to himself.
“Saulstrance.” Tourajé spoke a little louder.
Finally, Tourajé turned to him, tears still filling his eyes. He looked at his friend with an angry yet sad look in his eyes.
Tourajé sighed. Saulstrance was really angry at Tourajé yet he couldn’t blame him for being angry.
“Saulstrance…I just wanted to…”
“LEAVE ME ALONE!! I HATE YOU!!” Saulstrance screamed at Tourajé.
His words pierced through Tourajé like an arrow. Tourajé didn’t attempt to say anything else to Saulstrance. Right now, there was nothing he could say that would make up for it.
“You think this is any easier for me, Tourajé? Ever since I was a hatchling, I wished I had a mom or dad, or a brother or sister like you guys. I wished I could know what it was like to have parents be proud of you or disappointed. To have an older brother or sister be there to protect you or to have a younger brother or sister look up to you.” Saulstrance said through his tears.
“Saulstrance…” Tourajé said, almost speechless. He knew how much being an orphan affected Saulstrance but it still hurt him to hear regardless.
“Now please…just leave me alone…” Saulstrance said in a tearful, defeated voice.
Tourajé’s finned ears and wings flattened. He turned away from Saulstrance, looking back just one final time, and exited his room. The young dragon looked at his friend and master, a saddened and unsure look on his face. With the way he had treated Saulstrance, Tourajé wondered if Saulstrance would ever want to be his friend again.
“He’ll come around.” Promised Léruc. “But for right now, perhaps it would be best to give Saulstrance some space.”
Tourajé looked down and nodded. Together with Eig’nia and Léruc, Tourajé walked away from Saulstrance’s room but not before looking back one final time.
As they walked down the hallway, Tourajé asked Eig’nia and Léruc what they think they should do considering that neither Tourajé or Eig’nia any longer had homes to return to.
“Just like Saulstrance, your parents will come around, and you will be able to return home. However, it will take some time. When something contradicts someone’s perception, they have a hard time believing it or choose not to. Right now, your parents can’t bring themselves to believe Raolef would stage an attack on the human realm. But someday, they will open up to the truth. Until then, I’ll take care of you two just as I have with Saulstrance.” Léruc answered.
“Thank you sir.” Tourajé and Eig’nia said at the same time. The two of them were eternally grateful for their master’s kindness.
Léruc showed his pupils to their chambers. Here in these rooms they would stay until their families had come to accept the truth behind their actions. The two dragons thanked their master again. They felt slightly better knowing they still had someone looking out for them.
As night fell upon the dragon realm, Eig’nia and Tourajé were sitting in their rooms, thinking of everything that had happened. They wondered what they would do now. Raolef’s plans had been stopped but was everything really over? What if his apprentice or Champion planned to continue where their master left off? Tourajé buried his head in between his front legs and tried to think of something else, something more hopeful. He thought of the day when he would be able to return to his family. Though he knew that day would most likely not be coming anytime soon, he still hoped it would.
In the meantime, Eig’nia stood up, deciding to take a walk. She walked down the hall, passing two guards on the way who asked her if she was okay. Eig’nia nodded, letting out a small sigh. They promised her that if she needed anything, they’d be there for her. The dragoness thanked them and continued on her way.
Continuing to walk through the fortress with no specific destination in mind, Eig’nia suddenly came up with an unusual idea: she would go and visit Agcro in the master’s jails. She wasn’t even sure herself why she would contemplate doing such a thing. Perhaps she just wanted someone to talk to and for whatever insane reason Agcro seemed like a good idea.
She made her way to the cell room and there he was: Agcro, still bound by his legs, his tail, and his neck. Agcro was surprised to see her. Since being imprisoned, his only guests had been the guards.
“Hello there, young dragoness. To what do I owe this visit?” Agcro asked sarcastically.
“I guess…I just needed someone to talk to. I’m sure you heard about what happened.” Said Eig’nia, sitting down in front of Agcro’s cell.
“That you and your friends killed the Leader, Raolef? Yes, I heard. News spreads quickly around Zalphonia. By now, I wouldn’t be surprised if all the dragons knew of your actions.”
Agcro shifted his head so that he was looking at Eig’nia. He had a sinister, proud smile on his muzzle.
“So tell me: how does it feel for you three to have become even worse criminals than I am?” Agcro asked, the smile on his muzzle growing wider.
This question infuriated Eig’nia. She glared at Agcro, baring her fangs.
“We are NOTHING like you. We didn’t kill innocent dragons like you have.” Eig’nia said in a very angry voice.
“A predictable response. Still whether or not he was innocent is irrelevant. He was still a Zalphonian Leader. To the dragons of our world, that makes you bad enough to be considered worse than me.” Agcro said, still smiling wickedly.
Eig’nia scoffed. She tried to calm herself as she realized she was letting Agcro get to her. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths before continuing to speak with him.
“I do have to thank you and your friends however. Thanks to your little attack, my execution has been put on hold until further notice. So I get to enjoy being stuck in here, my limbs and neck bound, barely able to move.” Agcro said, his terrifying, toothy smile fading.
Eig’nia wasn’t sure if Agcro was truly thankful or was upset by it. At first he sounded like he truly was glad to have been left alive but his last words sounded as though he was either angry or annoyed at them. She couldn’t figure him out.
“Right now, you feel conflicted, don’t you? ‘Did I do the right thing? Will I ever get to see my family again? What will the rest of Zalphonia think of me’ the dragoness wonders.” Said Agcro.
As much as Eig’nia hated to admit it, Agcro was right. Those were exactly the things she was concerned about, especially the part about getting to see her family again. She knew they had to do it in order to protect both worlds but she just couldn’t help but feel as if there was another way.
“Our world might never forgive you or your friends. Even if they do come to terms with what Raolef had planned. Regardless, you and your friends ended his life and now you must live with that.”
Eig’nia thought it hypocritical of Agcro to be lecturing her on taking a life when he had taken so many other dragons’ lives without any sense of guilt or regret. Who was he to be telling her this? She felt that she was done talking to Agcro so without saying anything else, she stood up and began to make her way out.
“So you don’t wish to speak anymore? Very well. I’ll be here if you wish to talk with me again.” Said Agcro just as Eig’nia stepped out of the room.
Eig’nia made her way back to her room. She didn’t even know what possessed her to consider speaking with Agcro. Just thinking about some of the things he said and the way he seemed to be taking joy in tormenting her about what they did made her angry. Still, she had to admit to herself that he was right about one thing: the three of them did take Raolef’s life and whether or not he was good or evil, they would still have to live with what they had done. She just hoped that they would never have to resort to killing someone ever again.
Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia didn’t speak to or see each other for the rest of the night. They also ate their dinner by themselves in their rooms. With everything that had happened, they decided it might be best to just let each other be alone for awhile.
Some time later, just as daybreak was beginning to set on Zalphonia, Tourajé awoke. He peeked into the hallway to see if any guards were coming by. To his relief, he didn’t spot a single guard. Quietly he walked through the fortress. Once he was outside, he unfurled his wings and flew into the sky.
A couple hours passed before Saulstrance and everyone else awoke. As both Eig’nia and Saulstrance stepped out of their rooms, they were met with frantic guards who alerted them that Léruc needed to see them as soon as possible and that it was an emergency. They knew this couldn’t be good. They hurried as quickly as they could to their master’s chambers where he was waiting for them.
“Master Léruc, is everything okay?” Saulstrance asked worriedly.
Léruc shook his head.
“Wait a minute. Where is Tourajé?” Asked Eig’nia.
“That’s just it: none of the guards have reported seeing Tourajé since last night. They also claim he wasn’t in his room. All that was there was his sword.” Léruc exclaimed to his two pupils.
This deeply worried Saulstrance and Eig’nia. It wasn’t like Tourajé to just disappear without saying anything. Saulstrance thought back to everything that happened to Tourajé and Eig’nia and when he told Tourajé that he hated him. Could Tourajé have left on his own because he was planning to…
No! Saulstrance thought to himself. Tourajé would never consider something like that…would he? Saulstrance feared that what he said to Tourajé may have pushed him. He had to find Tourajé and quick. He just hoped that nothing bad had happened to him.
“Saulstrance and Eig’nia, I give you a new mission: locate Tourajé, and bring him back here. With the state of mind he was in yesterday, I don’t want to think about what he may be planning to do.” Léruc said with a saddened look on his face.
“Master, you don’t really believe that Tourajé would try and kill himself, do you?” Eig’nia asked, looking equally as sad at the prospect of such a thing.
“He might…” Saulstrance said, looking at the ground.
“Telling him I hate him last night didn’t help any. Maybe he feels like he doesn’t have anyone left.” Saulstrance guessed, feeling a tremendous wave of guilt wash over him.
Saulstrance told himself that this was no time to be feeling bad. He had no time to waste. He proceeded to rush out of the fortress as quickly as he could. All he could hope for right now was that Tourajé was okay.