In a valley between two towering mountains, a green dragon was lying on his stomach, his eyes closed and limbs splayed in all directions. Beside him, a sky-blue dragon was sitting on her haunches, staring at him with her eyes narrowed. On top of the sky-blue dragon’s head, a shirtless, teenaged boy with shoulder-length brown hair and golden eyes with slit pupils sat next to a pale, teenaged girl with ten horns on her head, black hair coiling around them. The boy reached over and smoothed out the girl’s hair as the sky-blue dragon thumped her tail near the green dragon’s head.
“Your mom always flies so fast,” Tafel said as she exhaled. Her hair would always get tangled in her horns when she flew with Sera. It was even worse with Grimmy.
“But isn’t it nice?” Vur asked and smiled as he grabbed Tafel’s hand. He pulled her to his chest and jumped off of Sera’s head, landing on the ground without a sound by cushioning his fall with a pocket of air.
“I guess,” Tafel said. Her voice lowered. “She’s still so scary though.”
Sera snorted, causing Tafel’s body to stiffen. “What part of me is scary?” she asked Tafel with a smile, showing teeth that were longer than a human’s arm. “As Vur’s mate, you have to be just as fearless as him. You’re one of us now.”
Tafel straightened her back and nodded. “I’ll do my best,” she said. She added with a whisper, “But I think expecting anyone to be as fearless as Vur is asking for too much.”
Sera snorted again and raised her paw. She smacked the green dragon’s snout, creating a gust of wind that caused Tafel’s and Vur’s hair to flow horizontally for an instant. “Wake up,” Sera said. The green dragon sneezed out a stream of fire that washed over Sera’s body, but she didn’t seem to mind. When the green dragon was about to sneeze again, Sera placed her paw over his nostrils. The green dragon sneezed, but this time, the fire shot out of the inner corners of his closed eyes.
“Gah!” The green dragon shouted as he bolted upright and swiped his eyes with his paws. His tail thrashed, nearly knocking Vur and Tafel over, as he looked around. “Sera?” he asked as he rubbed his eyes one last time. “Didn’t I tell you never to wake me up like that?”
“Like what?” Sera asked as her eyes widened. She hung her head and gazed upwards at her father, using a common tactic of puppies to garner sympathy.
Her father sighed and shook his head. “Forget it,” he said and glanced at Tafel and Vur. “Oh, if it isn’t my … grandson and granddaughter-in-law. Don’t you two have a kingdom to rule or something?” He yawned and scratched his neck with his rear leg. His lips smacked a few times before he rested on his haunches, straightening his back as his wings folded against the sides of his body. “Or have you two finally seen my greatness and came to pay your respects?”
Sera rolled her eyes before looking at Vur. Vur looked back at Sera. “Grandpa’s really not as scary as you made him seem,” he said. The green dragon’s eyes narrowed, and Tafel shivered while taking a step back, positioning herself behind Vur’s shoulder. Vur stuck his chest out and stood akimbo, facing his grandpa. “Hit me with your best shot, Grandpa Green.”
“Huh? Who the hell is Grandpa Green!?” the green dragon roared. His chest expanded as he sucked in a mouthful of air and stood on his hind legs. Tafel let out a squeak as she disappeared and reappeared on Sera’s lower back, hiding behind the sky-blue dragon’s wing. Sera took off, and flew into the distance at breakneck speed, nearly losing Tafel on the way.
“I know you want Vur to learn the dragon patriarch’s skills, but isn’t this a bit too excessive?” Tafel asked as she climbed up Sera’s back to her head. Tafel bit her lower lip as Sera circled around the valley. “Won’t he die?”
“It’s okay,” Sera said. “Vur has the necklace the little cursed elf gave him. It should revive him without penalties if he dies.”
Tafel’s face paled. “You mean this one?” she asked as she reached into her shirt and pulled out a ring with a golden cord looped through it. It had three rubies engraved, each pulsing with a soft glow. “Vur gave it to me because he was afraid I’d get hurt.”
Sera turned her head and stared at the necklace in Tafel’s hand. She blinked and frowned. A booming sound drew the pair’s attention towards the valley. Vur’s grandpa had stomped his front legs against the ground, causing it to rupture while throwing Vur off balance. A jet of purple mist flew out of the dragon’s mouth, enveloping Vur’s body. Tafel screamed as the vegetation surrounding Vur withered and crumbled into dust in front of her eyes. Sera swore and dove downwards, but stopped and exhaled when she saw Vur was alright. A blue light came out of the rose tattoo on his chest as he coughed and waved off the smoke in front of his face. Unfortunately, his pants had corroded away.
Vur’s grandpa blinked twice before rubbing his eyes. His brow furrowed. The last time he was called Green was when he was being bullied as a child: Little Green Ding-a-ling, that’s what the bigger dragons used to call him. He had felt a rush of anger from all those years ago and vented it on Vur but panicked after he shot out his poison breath. Thankfully, his grandson was a lot sturdier than he expected; otherwise, Sera would’ve never let him sleep peacefully ever again. His eyes gleamed as Vur snorted and dusted purple dust off of his naked body.
“I said your best shot,” Vur said. “Don’t tell me that was it, Grandpa Green.”
His grandpa chuckled. “Call me Grandpa Nova,” he said. “I held back because I was afraid of hurting you, but it looks like you’re not as frail as other humans.” He grinned. “I want to see how you handle this, little brat. Let’s see if you’re truly fit to be my grandson or not!” His upper body rose into the air as he stood on his hind legs. He roared at the sky, causing a giant circle of runes to materialize in the air.
“What’s happening?” Tafel asked as her face blanched. A massive amount of mana surged through the skies, making her nauseous. Birds, wyverns, and even one phoenix flew into the air, scattering from the nearby area. The ground shook as all sorts of creatures felt fear in the deepest recesses of their bodies and attempted to run as far away as possible. Even Sera had a grimace on her face.
“He’s summoning a meteor,” Sera said as her eyes narrowed.
“Shouldn’t you stop him!?” Tafel shouted and slapped her palm on the sky-blue dragon’s forehead, forgetting her fear of Sera for an instant.
Sera blinked before furrowing her brow. Truthfully, she really wanted to, but she knew her dad was testing her son. Although she convinced him to accept Vur by a democratic vote, he didn’t accept him in his heart. If she interfered now, her dad might never give Vur another chance. “I believe in Vur,” she said with a strained voice. “He can make it. If he doesn’t, we can always get Leila to revive him even if he comes back weaker than before.”
Tafel squeezed her hands together.
“Don’t interfere,” Sera said as if sensing Tafel’s intentions of teleporting to Vur. The way Sera spoke caused Tafel to freeze. “This is his coming-of-age challenge.”
The runes in the sky spun around until they blurred and formed a silver circle of light in the sky. The clouds turned red as the end of a flaming meteor appeared at the center of the circle. It grew in size, and Sera was forced to back away due to the heat—not for herself, but for Tafel. The air cracked and rumbled as the meteor shot out of the circle like a cannonball, rushing towards the valley Vur and Grandpa Nova were in. The green dragon gazed at Vur before spreading his wings and flying into the air towards Sera.
Vur narrowed his eyes at the incoming meteor. He raised his arms as his eyes glowed golden. A rune appeared on his forehead, and webs of black light travelled down his body. His hands and feet grew translucent claws, and a tail made of mana shot out of his rear while mana-scales grew on his skin. Two pairs of black, translucent wings unfurled from his back as he let out a roar. A tornado of ice formed in front of his body and flew towards the incoming projectile. The two collided, but the meteor only slowed for a bit before it continued to fall. A series of lightning bolts, each with the width of a tree trunk, surged towards the meteor, smashing against it. Bits and pieces flaked off, and another tornado of ice flew towards it, followed by more lightning bolts.
“He’s strong,” Nova said to Sera as he watched the fireworks in the distance.
“Of course,” Sera said. “He’s my son.”
Nova sighed as Vur proceeded to destroy half the meteor with lightning and ice. “That’s a ridiculous amount of mana. I guess that Tree of Knowledge and Fountain of Youth really helped him,” he said. “I was a bit skeptical of your story at first.”
By the time the meteor reached the treetops, it was only a fourth of its original size. Vur stopped using magic and braced himself for the impact, ready to catch the meteor. A golden glow encased his body.
“Of course he has dragon force too,” Nova said and sent an accusing gaze towards Sera as the meteor collided against Vur. The surrounding trees were blown away as the earth was torn asunder. When the wind stopped, all that remained was a crater and a meteor. Slowly, the meteor tilted over to the side, and Tafel cheered as Vur crawled out from underneath.
The two dragons descended and landed next to Vur who was dusting himself off, the mana surrounding his body gone. Tafel’s brow furrowed as she checked out his naked body. There were only a few smudges, but other than that, he was completely unhurt. “My god, Vur,” Tafel said as she took off her coat and wrapped it around her husband’s waist. “I knew you were strong, but don’t you think you’re a little too strong?”
“No,” Vur said as he hugged Tafel and kissed her forehead. Even he could tell that she was worried from the tears in her eyes. “Dragons are the strongest. This was the only outcome.”
“But a dragon summoned that meteor,” Tafel said as she touched her forehead.
“But I’m the strongest,” Vur said and nodded.
Nova snorted—he had only used one spell while Vur used over a dozen. Well, it wouldn’t be right to ruin his grandson’s image in front of his mate. Nova sat on his haunches and looked at Sera.
“Did he pass?” Sera asked.
“He did,” Nova said with a nod. He poked Vur’s chest with his claw. “Welcome to the family, squirt. Now that you’re my grandson, you better not lose any fights. Ever. You’re representing my name after all.”
Vur nodded. Nova nodded back. “Good,” the green dragon said.
“So we can go to Fuselage now?” Vur asked Sera. Passing her father’s test was one of her conditions to let Vur leave the continent without a dragon to accompany him. Before, he was just a fledgling in her eyes.
“You can,” Sera said and smiled before glancing at Tafel. “Are you going now?”
“Yes,” Vur said as he grabbed Tafel’s hand. “Bye, Grandpa Nova. Bye, Mom. We’ll be back soon.”
“They’re going to fuse a what?” Nova asked Sera as Tafel prepared a calculation for her teleportation.
“Fuselage,” Sera said. “It’s what the humans named the last city in the northern continent.”
“What. No,” Nova said as a silver light enveloped Vur’s and Tafel’s bodies. “The northern continent’s lame. There’s no dragons there. How am I supposed to show off my new family?” He reached into the pillar of light and flicked Tafel’s shoulder, causing her to yelp and turn ninety degrees towards the east. She vanished along with Vur.
Sera stared blankly at the space they had just occupied. All that remained was the clothes they wore. “That was a super long-ranged teleportation! How could you just interfere like that!?” she roared.
“What?” Nova asked and chuckled. “Calm down. The eastern continent’s almost the same distance away. At most, they’ll fall into the ocean or something. He’s strong. He’ll manage.”