Both started their way to Truce Village, walking under the almost unbearable heat of the sun above them. The way wasn’t exactly hard to manage within one day, but the sun made it all the more difficult. Soon they had to take a break and sit down under a tree. Out of a bag, Kidd took out two tasty-looking, red apples she had bought earlier.
“Here, ya must be hungry.”, Kidd said and gave one of them to Harle.
“Merci.”, Harle replied and began to eat it.
It felt good to sit there in the shadow of a tree. It was still very warm, but at least the sun didn’t shine straight into their faces.
“Tastes bloody good, eh?”, Kidd asked to start a conversation.
“Oui, trés bien.” Harle bit another piece off it and just relaxed.
Kidd lay down beside Harle, closing her eyes while eating. A faint wind came up and stroked their hair and faces softly.
Harle had almost finished her apple when she noticed the sound of footsteps not too far away from them. She quickly laid her right hand onto her cards, ready to throw them anytime.
She couldn’t hear any sound for some time, so she continued eating her apple. Then she heard a rustle to her right. There was probably an animal hiding in the bush, and Harle remained cautious while trying to seem calm. When she finished eating, she threw the rest of her apple in a bush to her left.
Suddenly a komodo-like monster shot out of the bush, running towards Harle with great speed. Harle took three cards in her right hand and threw them at the monster, every one of them hitting their mark. The monster howled at the unexpected pain and fled. Soon Harle couldn’t hear its footsteps anymore and relaxed.
“You are clever, mon ami, but not az clever az moi.”, Harle said to herself, with a smile on her face. She giggled and looked to her side, finding Kidd asleep.
Kidd lay on her back, with her hands beside her and smiling as though having a really nice dream. Harle didn’t want to bother her, thinking that Kidd had to be tired from the previous night still. She guessed letting her sleep for a short while would do her good.
Harle moved behind Kidd, laying Kidd’s head onto her lap to make it a little more comfortable for her. She stroked Kidd’s face gently, admiring the beautiful sleeping features. By doing that, she couldn’t help but eventually fall asleep as well.
The wind began to blow a little stronger, but none of them noticed. Both slept, with a satisfied smile on their face, only watched by a few birds sitting in the trees.
One hour passed until Harle opened her eyes again, just to find Kidd watching her with a smile. She was startled at first because she was so close, but when she realized it was just Kidd she calmed down.
“Hello.”, Kidd said and smiled.
“Bonjour.”, Harle answered, smiling also.
Both watched each other’s eyes and Harle stroked Kidd’s cheeks gently.
“How long waz moi asleep?”, Harle asked.
“Not much longer than I was.”, Kidd answered and stood up.
She walked away from the tree to see the sun.
“We better get goin’, the sun’ll go down in a few hours, and we have plenty of way ahead of us.”, Kidd said.
Now Harle stood up as well and walked over to Kidd, stretching her arms. They nodded at each other and then continued their way to Truce Village. It was only slightly colder now, but enough to make the walking much easier for them.
Not more than an hour later, they walked past Fiona’s Villa. Harle made a comment on how beautiful the Villa was and Kidd told her the whole story about this Villa, which Lucca had told her many times when she was a child. She told her about Prometheus, who worked hard to even the land and change the future with that.
“Prometheus...ze one from Chronopoliz?”, Harle asked thoughtfully.
“Yes. He must’ve been incredible, Lucca told me a lot ‘bout him. He was just a robot, but I guess he was kinda kind-hearted, much more than a lot of humans.”, Kidd answered thoughtfully.
That sentence made Harle think for a while. If even a robot could be better than a human, it couldn’t be so hard for a demi- human, even if she was half a dragon, could it? Harle decided to do her best to be as good as a real human. As good as humans could be, if they wished. Harle regarded the Villa for a while, thinking about what Kidd had said.
“C’mon Harle, we don’t have time ta lose.”, Kidd said and both went away from the villa.
While walking, Kidd noticed Harle looking a bit worried.
“Anythin’ wrong? Whaddaya thinkin’ about?”, she asked.
Harle didn’t reply until Kidd touched her shoulder.
“Oh...it’z not’ing mon ami. Moi iz fine.”, she answered and smiled a bit.
Kidd nodded and decided not to bother her with questions. Probably it was just something she didn’t like talking about, after all.
After a while, both could see the great Zenan Bridge, where the legendary war between Guardia and Porre had been fought in the middle ages.
“Ya know, Lucca told me she was here when Porre fought against Guardia, over 400 years ago. Isn’t that amazin’?”, Kidd asked. She smiled while telling Harle the things Lucca had told her long ago. It felt good to her to remember Lucca as a great adventurer and storyteller. And of course, as a great inventor and scientist. And as a big sister, not to forget. Kidd was happy she couldn’t find enough words to describe Lucca. She had been something special, really.
Harle remembered she’d read about Lucca’s time-travel invention and their journey.
“Oui, zat iz really great.”, she answered. Harle was happy to see Kidd smile by thinking of Lucca, still watching and pointing at the bridge, which was about one mile away.
Harle and Kidd walked towards the huge Zenan Bridge. The closer they came, the more fog there was. When they reached the bridge, they were hardly able to see thirty metres ahead, there was too much fog.
They could hear the river far under the bridge, but they couldn’t see it at all. Harle was a bit scared walk over a bridge from where she couldn’t see the end or even how high it was. She quickly grabbed Kidd’s hand to feel a bit safer while walking over the bridge.
Kidd smiled at that gesture and accepted it thankfully. Somehow it made her feel important and brave. Kidd had to giggle when she realized just what she was thinking.
They walked quietly beside each other and Kidd was just about to say something when they heard a trample from the other end of the bridge, followed by a roar.
Harle knew who it was at once: the Earth Dragon. Definitely. There was no way she was wrong.
She panicked and clung to Kidd, who was holding her arms around her to defend her.
For a few seconds they only heard the footsteps, but then they could see the dragon emerging from the fog.
“Stay behind me, Harle.”, Kidd said, but her voice was trembling. Harle got even more frightened by the fact that Kidd was frightened, as well. But she did as she was told and went to stand behind Kidd.
“Oi! If it ain’t one of those filthy dragons! And the ugliest one as well, I have ta say. Ta give ya a piece of advice: Get yer bloody ass outta here as soon as ya can, otherwise I’ll kick it so hard, you’ll kiss the moons!”, Kidd shouted at the dragon as she was used to. She was glad her voice didn’t betray her. The dragon didn’t seem to notice how scared she was.
“Those are tough words. Too bad there is nothing behind it. To give you a piece of advice: Stay out of our business. I have no intention to kill you, this is a matter only concerning us dragons. I only want Harle. No more, no less.” The Earth Dragon was completely calm while saying this, which stunned Kidd. He seemed to underestimate them. That, or he had good reasons to believe he had the upper hand.
“Hah, don’t make me laugh! Do ya think I’ll just step aside and let ya kill Harle? You’ll have to get rid of me first, if ya wanna get Harle! But I won’t make it easy!”, Kidd shouted fiercely. She was a little surprised about herself, how brave she managed to sound even though she felt miserable. But she knew she couldn’t let the dragons take the most precious thing from her. Not now. She would never give Harle up without a fight.
Harle was standing behind Kidd, with tears running down her cheeks. Hearing those words from Kidd made her really happy, but also worried. The dragon was strong and serious about this, it wouldn’t be easy to beat him.
“So...I guess you aren’t the ones one can talk with. I will have to kill you both, then.” The dragon walked forward, preparing to kill them.
“Ha! Go ahead and try ya bastard!”, Kidd shouted and ran towards the earth dragon. She readied her dagger, prepared to attack first.
Kidd had almost reached the dragon when he attacked her with his giant paw. Kidd knew he would do this and dodged his attack by making a dive to the side. She quickly stood up again and ran forward. With all her might she leapt towards the dragon, ramming her dagger into his side, not far under his left arm.
The dragon howled and tried to hit her with his right paw again, but just before he reached Kidd, his paw was hit by a powerful GravityBlow element of Harle.
That was Kidd’s chance to get a bit distance from him, to prepare her next move.
Harle took out her cards now, placing five cards in each hand. She knew cards weren’t too helpful, because the skin of dragons were very resistant, but she threw them all into the already existing wound Kidd had just caused with her dagger. The cards buried themselves deep in the dragon’s flesh.
Harle didn’t expect it to hurt him too much, but the dragon suddenly winced in pain and howled with a quivering paw. It looked as though he couldn’t use it anymore, the cards having destroyed the nerves which made it move.
Kidd quickly discovered this as well and ran over to the left side of the dragon, where he couldn’t reach her. Kidd jumped onto his back and rammed her dagger into it. But when she was just about to jump off the dragon again, an enormous Thundasnake element struck her. Kidd fell onto the ground limply, not moving anymore.
“Non! Kidd!”, Harle yelled. She wanted to run over to her, but she had to deal with that dragon first. Nevertheless, when she saw that Kidd didn’t answer or move anymore, Harle felt a sudden surge of incredible anger. She knew this feeling.
“Now...it’z over! Die, Eart’ Dragon!”, Harle yelled fiercely.
She walked towards him with unexpected calm, but her eyes were glowing in a bright red. Then she took her cards again and broke into a run towards the dragon. Before he could hit her, she jumped into the air. She jumped higher than the dragon had expected, so he couldn’t reach her. Harle threw ten cards right into both of the dragon’s eyes, causing the dragon to howl again, a terrible sound Harle was sure never to forget.
Harle landed on the ground again and prepared her elements. She cast two elements in a row, at first a FreeFall element to hurt him and weaken his defence, and a powerful BlackHole element to finish him. She saw him dissolve into air with great satisfaction.
If the dragon hadn’t vanished with the BlackHole element, Harle was sure she would have smashed him to bits with her own fists.
When it was over, Harle felt a little frightened of herself. She hadn’t known she had this power inside her, and such disgusting feelings of hatred and anger.
But all her thoughts were unimportant. Only Kidd mattered, now.
Harle reached Kidd, breathing hard. Kidd lay on her back, her arms spread out. She almost looked as though she was sleeping, just as she had only a few hours earlier. But she didn’t move, and there was no peacefulness on her features.
“Kidd! Stand up, please! Kidd!”, Harle shouted to her, a sudden realization hitting her.
Harle got on top of Kidd, shaking her shoulders wildly and rubbing her face, in vain. She just didn’t move. Even after casting two Heal elements on her, Kidd didn’t react in the slightest.
Harle watched her for a few more seconds, then burst into tears. She couldn’t hold them back anymore.
“Pleaze! I beg you, come back to moi! What should moi do wit’out you?”, Harle shouted in between sobs.
She lifted Kidd up and took her into her arms, weeping onto Kidd’s shoulder. She pressed Kidd against herself, crying even more.
“S’il te plaît...mon amour...I don’t want you to die pour moi, not pour someone like moi...”, Harle whispered. Her voice was trembling too much to shout anymore.
Harle suddenly stopped crying when she heard Kidd breathing. It was weak, almost too faint to notice. Harle quickly lifted her head and looked into Kidd’s face. With both of her hands she held Kidd’s head, regarding it hopefully.
A few moments passed until Kidd slowly opened her eyes. Harle just stared at her, unable to say anything.
“H...Harle?”, Kidd asked, a bit confused about where she was and what had happened.
Tears of joy were flooding from Harle’s eyes as she regarded the newly awakened face. Kidd opened her mouth to say something when Harle closed it with her lips on hers. Kidd’s eyes went wide in surprised, but she didn’t push Harle back. One reason being her lack of strength to do so, and the other to simply enjoy it.
Harle’s kiss lasted more than a minute, and she put all her passion into it. It took Kidd’s breath away, and she had trouble to keep from falling unconscious again.
When Harle broke the kiss, both smiled at each other. Harle hugged her again, leaning her head against Kidd’s. After several minutes Kidd broke the silence.
“What...what happened ta me?”, Kidd asked, still confused about the situation.
“Ze...ze Eart’ Dragon hit you wit’ a T’undasnake elemente. It waz...so strong zat you fell unconzcious.”, Harle explained and wiped her tears off, “but it iz fine now, ze dragon iz gone.”
“Glad ta hear he’s dead. There are only two left now.”, Kidd said, a wave of relief washing over her.
Harle nodded. She was worried about the last two dragons. What if they were too strong for them? Harle decided to dismiss those thoughts at the moment, she should be happy that Kidd was alive and well. Both didn’t say anything for a while.
When Harle noticed she’d been sitting on Kidd all the time, she flushed a little and got off Kidd. She stretched herself and then exceeded her hand to Kidd, helping her stand up. Kidd was weak and swayed a bit, then lost her balance. Harle quickly caught her into her arms, looking at her worriedly.
“Are you okay? You should rest a bit, mon ami.”, Harle said gently, helping Kidd stand again.
“No, it’s alright. We have ta get ta Truce Village before it gets dark. Ain’t no fun sleeping out here, with so many bloody monsters around.”, Kidd said and smiled to calm Harle.
Kidd pushed Harle’s arms gently away and did a few steps without help. She walked about three metres, but then collapsed. Harle quickly ran over to her.
“Mon dieu, mon ami! Are you okay?”, Harle asked worriedly as she helped Kidd up again.
Kidd coughed and her face was all sweaty. She didn’t look good at all. She trembled all over her body.
“It’s...okay, just...just help me walkin’ a bit, will ya?”, Kidd asked, feeling uncomfortable to ask this.
“Naturellement, mon ami.”, Harle answered and pulled Kidd’s right arm over her shoulders. With her left arm she held Kidd’s side. She did a few steps and Kidd was able to do so as well. It was very difficult for her, though. She was breathing hard and coughing.
The way to Truce Village was about eight miles long, a very long way with Kidd in this in this state. They walked quite slowly and didn’t talk at all. Harle guessed Kidd was too weak to speak, so she didn’t say anything either.
It was already getting dark and Harle started to worry if they could make it before nightfall. After a while the silence between them started to annoy Harle, so she started humming. It distracted her a bit from her tiredness and cheered her up a bit.
“W...what a wonderful song.”, Kidd managed to say and smiled weakly.
Harle smiled as well and hummed all the way to Truce Village, almost forgetting about the pain in her legs and arms. When they finally reached it, it was about midnight. Harle didn’t really know where to go, but Kidd showed her they way to the tiny inn.
The door to the inn felt like it was made of stone, Harle could hardly open it. Both stumbled into the inn.
“We...need to rezt un peu...”, Harle said, fighting for breath.
“O-of course. Just go up the stairs. That makes 50 G.”, the man behind the desk said.
Harle dug into her pockets, taking out a few creased notes and handed them to the man. The man nodded and pointed to the wooden stairs.
Harle sighed when she saw the stairs, she didn’t really want to ascend them, but a soft, comfortable bed as a price was still worth the effort. Harle stood before the stairs, thinking of how she could get Kidd up there, the stairs were too narrow for both of them aside each other.
After a while she decided to take Kidd piggyback. That wasn’t exactly easy to do, but the only way she could think of at the moment. Kidd didn’t say anything at all, she just did her best to get onto Harle’s back.
With slow, steady steps Harle began to walk up. She thought she would break down soon, but somehow she managed to reach the top and get to the first bed. She sat down onto it and let Kidd lie down to rest. She pulled the cover over Kidd and as soon as she’d done that, Kidd was already asleep.
Harle smiled contently and bent down to give Kidd a short kiss on the cheek. With her very last strength she went over to the other bed and lay onto it. She looked over to Kidd, who probably wouldn’t wake up too soon. Her injuries weren’t that bad, just a few bruises here and there, just like Harle had. But this element almost took away all of her power, Kidd had almost died. Harle had to find another way to defeat the dragons, this one was too dangerous. Now they had to expect both physical and element attacks. Harle had to admit, she wouldn’t have thought of them using elements and because they weren’t aware of that, it was so dangerous. They had to be prepared for everything, Harle didn’t want to die, not when there were only two left. There could be such a nice life ahead of her if the dragons were gone, she didn’t want to waste this great chance.
She thought about that some time, and eventually fell asleep.
She had a weird dream. She was walking through the dark, with nobody to be seen, when a deep voice talked to her.
“Harle, my child. Do you still think defeating us is the right way?”
Harle quickly turned around, but all she saw was darkness. But she recognized that voice. It was the great Sky Dragon.
“Ha! Moi, your child? Non, moi waz a puppet, never your child. And oui, defeating you iz ze only way to save zis world!”, Harle shouted somewhat annoyed, but not scared at all. She wondered how she could be like that in front of her creator.
Suddenly the darkness vanished and Harle found herself on a destroyed planet, without any plants and only dirt and destruction everywhere. Harle seemed a bit shocked by seeing this.
“Where...iz moi?”, she asked.
“You don’t recognize it? It’s El Nido, but the rest of the planet looks like that as well. This is the future, Harle. The future you are going to bring upon us if you kill us. It starts with the extinction of animals like hydras, but it will end like this.”, the dragon’s voice was serious and almost touching.
“Liar. Moi doezn’t have anyt’ing to do wit’ it!”, Harle shouted, obviously not interested in listening to him.
“But you have, Harle. We, the dragons, were born to live in peace with the planet. But those humans aren’t grateful for anything and take everything from the planet. They destroy it. They hunt animals to extinction, destroy the places where animals live and don’t even feel sorry for it. Listen Harle, if we don’t stop them, this planet will die.”
“But there are good humanz az well. Moi will make humanz and demi- humanz underztand each odder, so zey live wit’ ze planet!”, Harle shouted. She was angry, because he talked about humans as though they were parasites. But she knew that he was right about some things. Humans were ugly and ungrateful in many regards.
Suddenly Harle didn’t know what she wanted at all. There were many humans who abused the planet, but there were humans like Kidd, travelling through El Nido, doing nothing wrong than stealing money from people. One could say she lived in peace with the planet. If Harle could just make every human live like that...
Harle woke up by a bright sunray shining directly into her face. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around. She looked over to Kidd’s bed and found her still sleeping. She smiled slightly and stood up. While stretching herself she walked to the window, looking outside. It was already about noon and Harle wondered how long Kidd would be asleep. Harle made her bed and walked downstairs. Her legs were still hurting a bit, but she didn’t care too much.
Harle went over to the man behind the desk. He was reading a book when he was interrupted by Harle.
“Excusez- moi monsieur. We will stay here until tomorrow. Iz zat ok?”, Harle asked friendly.
“Yeah sure, ain’t no problem. But it’ll cost you another 50 G then.”, he replied.
“Ah oui, of course. Merci beaucoup, monsieur.” Harle nodded at him. She took out the money and handed it over to him. Harle then left the hotel. She had to giggle when she tried to open the door and found it quite easy to do so.
The bright sun shone straight into her face, causing Harle to smile suddenly. She hoped it would be a nice day, but thinking of Kidd made her lose that hope. For her it was enough if Kidd would only wake up today. Just wake up and tell her she was fine, that would be enough.
Harle walked around the village, regarding everything and comparing it to the Truce she had seen years ago. It was a lot different now, with more shops and even a bar.
Harle decided to go into the element shop, taking a look on what it has to offer. She was surprised to see quite a lot of rare elements there. They were expensive though. She really didn’t want to spend all her money on elements, but thinking of the two remaining dragons made her do so. She bought two ThundaStorms and Earthquakes for both of them and two Black Holes for Kidd. Harle already had enough black elements with her.
Now with only 12 G left in her pockets, she headed back to the inn, more shopping wouldn’t make any sense without money and she didn’t want Kidd to be alone for too long.
On her way she spotted some kids playing hide and seek. She smiled at them contently and decided to sit down on a bench to watch them a little while. They ran around and laughed a lot. Harle sighed. How much she had wished to have a childhood like this. But why did she even pity herself? There were countless others who shared the same fate and she was just one among them. She wasn’t the only unlucky one.
Harle was taken off her thoughts when she noticed one of the kids lying on the ground in front of her, crying and sobbing.
“Mon dieu!”, Harle quickly stood up and walked over to the little boy.
Harle helped him stand up and wiped away his tears. The boy stopped crying but almost started all over again when he saw his hurt knee.
“Sshh, boyz don’t cry.”, Harle said gently and patted his head. He nodded and hurried back to his friends, but stopped to wave at Harle shortly. Harle just smiled and waved her hand as well.
Harle watched them a little longer, but when she realized the sun was already going down, she quickly returned to the inn.
When she entered the inn, she found the man the same way as she left. He was still sitting behind the desk, looking apparently bored, half sleeping and half reading a book.
She walked past him and upstairs to find Kidd still lying in bed. She went to her bed and sat down on a chair to face Kidd.
Kidd slowly turned her head to Harle, biting her bottom lip to prevent herself from crying out in pain. Harle could hardly bear watching her, she felt so sorry for her and hated herself for not being able to help her.
Kidd opened her mouth and out came a few words, hardly audible for Harle.
“Hello...my friend.” It was the first time Kidd really called her a friend in all seriousness. Harle was surprised about that, but a bit angry as well. Why did she waste her strength for those unimportant words?
“Don’t talk, mon ami.”, Harle said softly and laid her finger onto Kidd’s lips. She ran down her lips with her finger, staring into Kidd’s blue eyes.
Harle broke the gaze when she felt Kidd’s hand onto hers. Kidd managed a weak smile. Harle smiled too and pressed Kidd’s hand gently.
“Moi...waz trés worried about you, mon ami.”, Harle said slowly and a tear made its way down her cheek, but she was still smiling while caressing Kidd’s hand.
Kidd looked at Harle in a loving way, but fell asleep soon. Harle started to worry if one more night would be enough for Kidd to regain her strength, so they could move on. Nevertheless, Harle sat at Kidd’s bed the whole time, holding her hand.
Kidd slept calm and quiet and after about 4 hours, Harle fell asleep too, but never letting go of Kidd’s hand.
Harle woke up again in the middle of the night, the moons shining through the window. It was perfectly quiet, except of Kidd’s breathing. Harle found herself half- lying on Kidd. She moved away from Kidd carefully not to wake her up.
Harle walked over to the window, regarding the moons, especially the darker one. The dark moon was much smaller than the other one. Maybe too small?
Harle imagined herself fighting against the Sky Dragon. She could see his mighty wings which heaved him up into the air. He looked down on this tiny being that was Harle and laughed. He was so huge. It was impossible to beat him.
Harle didn’t want to think about her battle against him that way, but at the moment she couldn’t think of a way to win that fight. Sure, Kidd was there too, but it was no use. Maybe it would even be better if she didn’t come with her. Harle would never forgive herself if Kidd were to die by the dragons.
If she could just be a real dragon, strong and mighty and not such a little girl she was. A demi- human. Harle had to remember the Black Dragon’s words: “Did you really think we created a puppet stronger than us?” It was true. Harle started crying soundlessly.
The irony. Not too long ago she even wished for death, but now she wanted to live but wasn’t granted a life. Harle’s tears sparkled on her cheeks as they ran down.
“Why...why are ya cryin’ Harle?”
Harle quickly wiped her tears off, looking at Kidd.
“You are awake...” She glanced one last time at the moons, then returned to Kidd’s bed.
“How are you?”, she asked worried.
“I...I’m fine...”, Kidd replied and managed to sit up, but Harle could tell it cost her much strength.
“Why...were ya cryin’?”, Kidd asked again.
“Je...je ne sais pas...moi iz afraid, Kidd.”, Harle’s voice trembled and she was close to tears again.
“Don’t be afraid. Trust me Harle, we're gonna smash those bloody dragon’s ta bits.” Kidd’s voice didn’t have its usual power yet, but Harle was nevertheless encouraged by Kidd’s words.
“Merci beaucoup, mon ami.”, Harle said and leaned forward to give Kidd a kiss on the cheek. “Sleep well.”
Due to her lack of strength Kidd fell asleep again almost instantly and Harle went to bed as well. She lay down, watching Kidd for a moment.
“Je t’aime.”, she whispered. Her eyes closed.