This chapter does not correspond with any from WTWFTD.
Characters appearing in this chapter:
Frazer (angel) and Lutero (dragon Guardian) ~ Louise McBear
Frazer could not look away from the Guardian. Its eyes were wide, as though pleading him not to call for backup, almost as if it could feel anything real, as if it wasn't simply an object. But he was here on strict orders to return with a Guardian, and he couldn't afford to hesitate.
"GUARDIAN!" The cry left his lips before he could even think, and already Frazer could hear the beating of his comrades' wings as they left the nearby camp to fly to him. The Guardian started its transformation and instead of attacking it like he was supposed to, Frazer could only stare in awe. The creature's soft flesh hardened over with glossy scales as its body twisted into a more powerful form. Wings burst suddenly from its shoulder blades, and before Frazer could regain his ability to even move, the other angels were swarming towards the Guardian. Somehow, Frazer snapped himself from his daze and threw himself forwards to help them, grasping the corner of a net - crafted from heavy metal chains - and helping them throw it across the Guardian.
Its screams echoed through his ears as it was forced to stop transforming, the heavy nets pushing it down, forcing it to keep still as it tried desperately to break free. And then the weapons came in - spears, jabbing at its flanks, relentless as they drew open cuts across its half-formed dragon body. Frazer found his own sword joining the weapons, pushing another helpless cry from its jaws. Something in Frazer's heart collapsed as it screams echoed through his head, fighting at any self-control he might have had. He stopped, mid-air, and watched. The dragon Guardian was retreating away from the weapons into its smaller form, trying feebly to reduce its target size. Cheers exploded from the lips of its captors as they closed in for the final catch.
They would sell it, later. The team's first Guardian. Their first prize. The other angels, after securing it, clapped his shoulders, congratulated him for finding it.
He felt empty.
And as they dragged the Guardian away, its cries sounded almost angel.
He woke gasping for breath with the Guardian's screams still ringing through his head. Gods. Now he was having nightmares? About a Guardian? And yet it hadn't been the creature the stories had said it to be. Capturing it hadn't been ridding the world of a monster - it looked almost the same age as him. And it had screamed. It hadn't tried to kill him; it had screamed.
Frazer pushed himself up, the hammock swaying slightly from his movement. Just one look at the Guardian wouldn't hurt. He just needed to check that everything people had said was true. That it really was a monster.
Quietly, he crossed the angel camp, finally stopping before the darkened cage into which the Guardian had been pushed. An enchanted chain on its neck stopped it transforming.
He cleared his throat and the Guardian woke with a yelp. Slowly, the surprise turned into something else - pain, desperation, anger. And fear.
"What are you going to do to me?"
Frazer bit his lip. It looked so helpless. "Sell you."
It drew a shaky breath. In the pale moonlight, it looked broken - more like a terrified boy than a beast. "Please," it whispered, its slender arm reaching past the bars to try and clutch at his shirt. "Please, don't let somebody own me. I don't want to spend every living moment in pain. Let me go. I'm begging you."
"I can't." Frazer choked on the words, because deep inside he knew that he could. But he was the only one with the key, and they would know it had been him.
"You don't know what you're doing to me," the Guardian managed to choke out. "You don't know anything." There were tears gleaming in his eyes, and Frazer had to look away to save himself from succumbing. "They will kill me. Slowly. They will take away everything I am, and they will laugh." A silence. "But you don't care, because you're just a stupid angel, too oblivious to see past what you've been told-"
"Shut up," Frazer hissed, finally looking back to the Guardian. Its eyes swelled with both tears and anger now.
"Why? Because I'm right?"
Frazer ignored it.
"I'll do anything," the Guardian begged. "Anything. I don't care, as long as you- Do you hear that?"
Frazer froze. Wing beats - stronger than those of angels. Intruders. With a dragon? Before he could think any further, there was a piercing screech and the trees to his left were engulfed in flame.
"I can help you!" the Guardian screamed. "Let me out!"
And in that moment, he had to make a choice: run to his comrades as they darted from the fire with blackened feathers and scorched flesh, or trust the Guardian.
He chose the latter.
In a moment, the Guardian was loose, and it didn't even surprise him when it transformed so gracefully and took off. It was leaving. He had expected as much. But then it was turning back around, heading straight for him as though it was about to attack. Frazer couldn't move. The Guardian was huge - its wings were broad and powerful, its eyes blazing. But then the creature swept above him, and suddenly he realised that its scales were protecting him from the flames of the enemy fire dragon.
The flames stopped and the Guardian threw itself into the sky, jaws closing around the fire dragon's neck as its talons raked at its hide. Frazer shot one last look at the Guardian, fighting for him, protecting him, before he charged towards the inferno to help the others.
Above him, griffins swooped down to pick on those who ran confused from the flames. He launched himself upwards, targeting the nearest one. It wasn't difficult to swoop down upon the rider and cut the rope of the flying harness, sending them toppling from the saddle. The rider had been human - lighter than a dwarf, an easy companion for a griffin. Frazer grasped the creature's reins, flicking them as he sent it diving upwards, forcing the creature to ram into its ally. A human scream and a griffin screech. The two plummeted into the fire, but he didn't look back, didn't have time to look back. Around him, the other griffin riders had noticed the angel mounting one of their beasts - and he realised he'd just made himself into their biggest target.
Cursing, he threw himself from the saddle and tried to evade the swarm of enemies around him, but they cut him off, slowly closing in, slowly making a tighter cluster around him.
Frazer saw an opening and he went for it.
Wrong choice. The next moment, there was a blinding pain rippling through his stomach.