Within three hours, Marle managed to position her soldiers all around the castle. They were even on top of the towers, so they could see the dragon as early as possible. They all grew more and more worried with every passing minute.
Inside the castle, Marle was walking up and down the hall, almost impatiently waiting for the dragon to arrive. Not that she wished for the dragon to attack, but she wanted this whole thing to be over soon. Kidd and Harle sat at the table at the far end of the hall, holding hands. Kidd tried to encourage Harle a bit, stroking her hands and whispering soothing words, but all her efforts were in vain, although Harle truly appreciated Kidd's doing.
Harle felt so tired. It wasn't because of lack of sleep or physical strain, she was just...tired, of all of this. She wished for this all to end, but at the same time she felt like she didn’t have the power to kill the dragon. She knew the soldiers couldn't do much against him, it was all up to her and Kidd now.
Harle wasn't sure why she was thinking things like that, she hadn't been that afraid of the other dragons. Then why was there cold fear in her heart when she thought about the Sky Dragon? Somehow she had the feeling she would lose control.
"...Harle?" Kidd looked at her worriedly. Harle blinked several times, trying to clear her vision and mind and concentrate on Kidd in front of her.
"Oui?" Harle voice wasn't more than a whisper. Looking at Kidd and seeing her genuine concern for her almost made Harle cry.
"It...it hurts to see ya like that...don't be so afraid, Harle. Just look forward. Tell me...what do ya wanna do when it's over? One thing you really want to do?" Kidd hoped to make Harle feel better with talking about the future.
Harle thought for a while...she didn't have many plans for the future, she always thought being with Kidd was all she wanted, but now she realized there was more, so much more. Harle blinked again and noticed Kidd staring at her, as though she was asking her if everything was alright. Sometimes, Kidd had such a childlike face, so innocent. Totally different from the face she had when she was angry.
Then she suddenly had an idea on how she could make up for everything, to finally lead a normal life. Harle was surprised of herself, she should have thought of that much earlier. Finally Harle smiled, surprising Kidd even more than herself.
"Oui, zere iz somet'ing moi wantz to do...", she finally answered. Kidd waited for her to continue but when no answer came, she decided to ask.
"What is it ya wanna do?", seeing Harle smile had made Kidd even more curious. It had to be something very special.
"It'z too early to tell zat...", Harle answered and gave Kidd a quick kiss, startling her. Harle smiled at Kidd and stood up, walking over to Marle, who had just spoken to one of her soldiers. Marle turned to Harle, an obviously worried look on her face.
"The dragon is coming our way. The soldiers on the top floor saw a giant thing flying above the ocean. The estimated time it reaches us is in two hours."
Harle's eyes grew wide and she turned to Kidd, giving her a sign. Immediately Kidd ran over to them.
"Now what do we do?", Marle asked them.
"When ze dragon arrives, ze soldierz try to diztract him until we reach ze forest clearing. Zis will take trois minutes. Ze soldierz may be able to weaken ze dragon un peu, mais if it getz dangerous, zey should hide in ze castle. Ze Sky Dragon will not attack here, for he knowz where moi iz. He iz juzt after moi, so he won't kill anyone...yet."
"Yet? You mean if he kills you, he comes back and kills us as well?", Marle was more than a little worried now.
"The dragons hate us humans...for destroyin' the planet...for discriminatin’ the demi- humans...I get the feelin' it wasn't such a good idea to wake the dragons...back then on our journey with Serge. If we hadn't woken them, they probably would have slept for another two hundred years." Kidd obviously suffered while saying this. It was all because of Lynx. If he hadn't stolen Serge's body, none of this would have happened.
"Oui, mais it iz too late, mon ami. We will kill..." Harle was interrupted by a soldier storming into the hall, panting for breath. He looked around wildly until he finally saw the queen.
"The Porre army! They're coming! Oh my god, they're coming our way!", the soldier cried with fear in his eyes.
"Is that true? What do they want from us?" Marle looked desperate. There wasn't any worse moment the Porre army could have shown up.
When Kidd suddenly started laughing out loud, Marle looked at her as if she was crazy.
"Why are you laughing?", she yelled, now utterly confused.
However, she didn't get an answer. Instead, Kidd ran out of the castle, towards the Porre army. Harle followed her instantly, leaving Marle behind. Not knowing what to do, Marle followed as well.
Outside, Kidd was already dashing down the stairs, waving wildly. After a few minutes, a woman running towards Kidd could be seen.
"Dana! You're here!", Kidd shouted and embraced the woman. Behind her, the soldiers of Porre got in position, waiting for new orders from their captain.
Marle walked down the stairs, still suspicious about what was going on. Finally, Kidd let go of Dana and both turned to Marle. Dana bowed deeply in front of the queen and the soldiers behind her saluted. Marle was stunned, to say the least. She had never seen the Porre army without their weapons drawn to fight.
"...Welcome...", was all she managed to say. Dana smiled friendly and stepped closer to Marle.
Marle backed away slightly, but Kidd held her in place.
"Don't be scared, they're here ta help us. Right, Dana?"
"That's right. While I was on the ship to El Nido four days ago, a giant dragon flew above us. Knowing the story about my friends here", Dana pointed to Harle and Kidd, "I thought we'd better come here and help out. That thing really looked scary. Besides, I wanted to talk to you for quite some time now, queen Marle.", Dana explained and offered her hand. Marle took it warily and forced herself to smile.
"Please come in...and..uh...your men as well.", she said. Kidd nodded in approval and waved the soldiers over.
Soon the Porre soldiers, about a hundred and fifty men, were lead downstairs to the spare dormitories, while Marle, Dana, Kidd and Harle went to the hall to discuss things.
"So...you want to help us in defeating this dragon?", Marle asked, still a bit suspicious about this situation.
"Yes, after all Porre has done in the past, I guessed it was the least we could do to help you. Besides...I figured my friends would be here as well.", Dana answered and smiled to Harle and Kidd.
"Well...I truly appreciate the help and I guess the others do as well.", the queen said and shook Dana's hand. Harle and Kidd did so as well.
"So...we have a nouveau situation, mais we stick to ze old plan?", Harle asked after she sat down again.
"Yeah, I guess it's the best thing ta do. The plan'll work even better now."
"The plan? Would you mind explaining it to me?", Dana asked and smirked.
Kidd nodded and sat down next to Dana, explaining the plan to distract the dragon, while she and Harle would run to the forest clearing. There would be enough space there, so most of the damage or casualties could be avoided.
After that, they sat in silence, each of them deeply sunken within their own thoughts. They were all nervous and worried, but there was nothing to say or do about it at the moment. Suddenly, a loud sound from a trumpet-like instrument could be heard all over the castle. It was the sign of the soldiers on top of the towers, which meant that the dragon was close. Very close.
Kidd and Harle jumped from their seats and ran to the door, not even turning around once. Without saying goodbye, good luck, or even waving, they were out of the castle in no time. Outside, they could see the dragon clearly, so they hurried to the forest, where the dragon couldn't see them as easily as he probably could now.
Just an instant after them, countless soldiers, both Guardian and Porre ones, came rushing out of the castle, looking up to the sky, awaiting the dragon with their weapons drawn.
Upon the sight of the army of soldiers, the dragon howled fiercely. Shortly after that, he came to a stop right in front of them, causing the ground to tremble under his weight. Even though the dragon was well about five or more metres high, the soldiers didn't show any fear. The queen had told them the dragon wouldn't kill them, and they all tried to believe her, at least for now.
Soon the first wave of arrows flew into direction of the dragon, but they all just bounced off without doing any harm to the dragon. The dragon didn't move, he simply watched those tiny humans and laughed.
After a few more waves of arrows, the soldiers grew more and more frustrated, and even the soldiers with swords couldn't hurt the dragon one little bit. Some of them were already going to give up when one of the soldiers shouted to use fire arrows. The others did so and soon almost two hundred burning arrows were flying towards the dragon, but sadly, even those couldn't hurt him much.
Finally Dana came rushing over to them. "Idiots! Aim for the head, you can't hurt the body!" Dana herself took a bow with a burning arrow and shot it in direction of the dragons head, but the dragon, still unimpressed, blocked it with his paw, with send the arrow falling to the ground.
"Foolish humans! You could never beat me. I should teach you what happens if someone tries to hurt me, but you're not even worth dying right now. Tell me where the seventh dragon is and I will let you live for a few minutes more. Otherwise, you all shall die now."
The soldiers didn't budge nor did they answer the dragon, instead Dana raised her sword high into the air. "Spread out to a circle around the dragon and aim for the head! NOW!" The soldiers immediately reacted and sent another wave of burning arrows towards the head of the dragon. This time, it was impossible for the dragon to block all of the arrows, so quite a few hit the head. Dana watched this and waited for her chance. When the dragon was distracted, she shot one arrow with all her might in direction of the dragon. Catching the dragon completely by surprise, the burning arrow pierced right through his left eye, causing the dragon to howl and tremble in pain. It took him a while to recover from this, but he wasn't dead. Far from it.
"Foolish girl!", he yelled and struck his paw at Dana, hitting her hard. Dana flew about twenty metres until she crashed to the ground. When the dragon lifted his paw for another strike, the soldiers ran away, inside the castle.
The dragon watched them with an evil smile.
"Serves you right girl. I told you I'd let you live if you had just told me where the seventh dragon is. Why fighting me and die instead of just showing the direction they took?"
Dana didn't move for a while, but eventually she was able to stand up, facing the dragon. She trembled and blood dripped from her mouth, but her eyes were still full of hate for the dragon, not a single sign of fear was to be seen. "It's called friendship you bastard. Something you will never understand nor feel. I wonder what it is like, living without friendship and love...", Dana coughed and spilled blood all over her hand, but she didn't care. "I’m sure it’s pretty ugly and-" Before she could finish she was silenced by another hit of the dragons paw. This time, she didn't manage to stand up again.
"It was your own choice.", the dragon simply said. He tried to concentrate and after a while, he was able to locate Harle in the forest. He could smell her, he could smell her sweat, her fear. He heaved himself into the sky again and flew above the forest, searching for her.
By that time, Kidd and Harle had just reached the clearing and it was just a matter of time until they would be found. Harle was still panting for breath after they ran so fast while Kidd had already recovered her breath.
"I hope the others are okay...", Kidd said, looking up to the sky.
"Moi...moi iz sure zey are, mon ami.", Harle answered and laid her hand onto Kidd's shoulder to reassure her.
Harle wanted to say more, but was interrupted by the dragon's angry howl, which meant he had found them. Kidd and Harle parted, one standing left and the other one right to the dragon, which came down to the ground heavily.
"There you are...Harle, my child. Did you think you could run from me?", the dragon asked calmly, although he couldn't hide the piercing pain his eye caused him.
Kidd smirked at the sight of his left eye, which was struck by an arrow. In her mind she thanked the soldiers for doing that, it would make the battle a lot easier now.
"Moi iz not your child. You are un monster, mais moi iz not.", Harle answered to the dragon.
"I see...so you are running away from the truth. You think your sins will be gone once you killed your...family."
Kidd knew the dragon was trying to make her uncertain, and she really hoped Harle wouldn't fall for it.
"Non! Ze sins moi did will not go away wit' killing you. Mais you leave moi no choice. You should have never awakened." Harle already had enough of talking to the dragon, she feared he would somehow manipulate her.
"Enough of that! Why don't ya explain a few things ta us? We already know why ya wanna kill us and all, but...how come you're here in the first place? Serge and his friends killed ya some time ago, didn't they?"
The dragon laughed at that, but it sounded like a deep howl.
"Indeed, they did kill the dragons.", he simply answered. Kidd was getting seriously impatient, talking to someone she would have to kill soon was unnerving. But the thought that it would worsen the pain in the dragon’s eye made her continue.
"They killed all of you. So? Why and how did you get back?"
"We didn't get back at all. The dragons Serge and the others killed are still dead, and they will not come back to this world. However, we don't come from this world. One day, not too long ago, we found ourselves here. We soon realized what had happened, since all of the dragons except for Harle were dead. And also, we figured out why and how we got here. It was Fate.", the dragon explained.
"Fate? Don't make me laugh! We destroyed Fate!", Kidd shouted, not yet believing what the dragon had said.
"That is true, but the end of the dragons by the hand of Serge was destined before Fate was destroyed. Serge didn't follow Fate's plans, so you could say, the dragons weren't meant to die, according to Fate."
Slowly, Kidd began to understand what the Sky Dragon God was talking about. Which didn’t make it easier to accept, however.
"Maybe you know what kind of effect that caused. The great inventor Lucca figured out this phenomenon. The death of the dragons, which were not meant to die yet, created a hole in the time-space continua. That hole brought us from out alternate world to yours, to replace the dragons here. The same thing happened to Serge, back then. But now I am here, ready to kill you, Harle, for betraying your family like that."
Kidd was quite stunned by the dragon's explanation. Not meant to die? How could she know these dragons were meant to die now?
"You'll never kill us. Why would we lose ta ya after we got rid of the others?"
"Foolish girl. Even if you killed me, that won't change your fate. Other dragons will come here to kill you, over and over again, until Harle is dead. You won't change anything by killing me.", the dragon answered.
"Non! Zat'z not true!", Harle shouted, unable to believe it. All this wasn't for nothing, was it?
"Even if they came back, we'll kill them again. Just like that." Kidd didn't believe the dragon, she knew of Lucca's theory about this phenomenon. Things like that weren't likely to happen twice within such a short time-span.
"Why don't you run away girl? You don't have anything to do with that. Don't be as foolish as the other girl.", the dragon snorted.
"The other girl? Who?", Kidd yelled, suddenly very angry.
"She was very brave, ordering her soldiers to strike me with burning arrows, and she even hit me once. Too bad she is dead now. And you will receive the same fate if you stay here any longer. But at least you can be happy to know the truth about us before you die, girl.", the dragon finished and lifted his paw.
"Bastard!", Kidd screamed and charged him.
She could dodge the dragon’s first attack and threw her dagger in direction of the dragon's right eye, but it missed. Now that her dagger was temporarily gone, Kidd cast a BlackHole element, which was more than a little effective on the dragon.
So Harle had been right after all. The element was very strong, even though Kidd wasn't good with any spells except red ones.
The dragon cringed in pain, and Kidd took this change to retrieve her dagger from behind the dragon. Harle, who hadn't done much until now because of her shock of hearing the truth from the dragon, now started to move as well.
She threw her cards into his direction, directly followed by a GravityBall element. But this time, it didn't hurt the dragon as much, for he saw it coming and was prepared. He hit Harle with his paw and sent her directly to the ground.
Harle coughed and breathed heavily, but was able to stand up again. Any more hits like that and Harle wouldn't stand up again that easily.
"That's enough!", Kidd screamed and cast BlackHole once again. She knew it was her last black element, but she also knew she couldn't do much any other way, standing behind the dragon.
Focusing completely on Harle, the Sky Dragon God was caught by surprise, again. The element struck him hard and obviously weakened the dragon a great deal.
It was now or never. Kidd ran around the dragon until she faced him and threw her dagger in direction of his right eye again, and this time, it hit.
The dragon roared in pain and Kidd was sure that even her friends at the castle could hear it, it was incredibly loud.
Kidd already prepared for her next move, since the dragon still wasn't dead, but Harle simply stood there and stared in disbelief. With her eyes wide open she stared at the blood running down from the dragon's eyes, this incredible amount of blood. She was so deep in her thoughts; she didn't even hear the dragon's roar anymore. It was all completely shut out, in front of her was just the image of the Sky Dragon being in terrible pain.
"Harle...my Harle...help me...these humans...don't you see? I may be not the Sky Dragon you knew, but even I know of the way the humans treat this world. Harle, they destroy it...they'll hurt you Harle..."
Harle could hardly stand this voice in her head. She shouldn't listen to him, but there was no way to avoid it. Harle pressed her hands against her ears and shook her head, but of course, that didn't make the voice go away. Harle wasn't sure if she would ever live without these voices haunting her.
Suddenly Harle's vision blurred, she couldn't see the Sky Dragon anymore. Instead, images of the past appeared before her eyes. She saw humans fighting each other in useless wars. She saw countless innocent people die, but especially demi-humans as well. She saw humans hunting animals to extinction, she even saw Serge killing the hydra.
Harle shook her head wildly, she didn't want to see this, but even though her eyes were closed, she was forced to see it. Other images appeared. Harle could see several people standing in a circle all around her. Except of those people everything was dark. Harle looked down at herself and saw she was wearing her old clothes again. Harle looked around in confusion and saw all these people laughing and pointing their fingers at her. She could hear everything they were saying...
"Look at her, what's a demi- human doing here? Go back to Marbule where you scum belong!"
"Yeah, and look at her stupid clothes! Did she think she could hide underneath this harlequin outfit? Did she really think she could fool us? Everyone sees you're a demi-human!"
"And this accent! Those demi- humans can't even speak proper English! They're so stupid, thank goodness we don't have to live with them. May they stay in Marbule forever!"
"Right. Leave, demi- human, and tell your friends they should never come here!"
Harle could hardly bear it. She looked around helplessly, but she only saw these people laughing at her. Harle remembered those days...she remembered them too well. This had been her everyday life. Whenever she was out to do errands for Lynx she was faced with this. She hated it and she was glad when she got order to punish some humans who dared insulting her all the time. Back then, she really hated humans. But now that she lived so happily with Kidd, she didn't want those memories to reappear...it had taken so long to forget them.
When Harle looked around again, the people had come closer. Although she knew it was just an image of her past, she couldn't help this fear inside her growing bigger with every second.
Suddenly she saw her. It was Kidd. She was standing among the others, laughing and pointing at her as well. Harle could see an evil grin on her face and it made her heart stop. It was too much for her. Harle wanted to shout, but no sound came out. Crying and sobbing, she fell down to her knees.
"That stupid jester. Can't just someone get rid of her? She's annoyin’."
It was Kidd's voice. Harle could hardly believe it but there was no mistake. It really was Kidd, looking right down at Harle. The other people laughed even more now. This was no image of the past anymore...was it...the future?
Suddenly Harle's eyes flashed brightly. She stood up again and looked around angrily. Suddenly the people stopped laughing. One after another, they vanished. Eventually, Harle found herself back in the forest, her heart racing and an incredible anger building up inside of her.
She could see Kidd a few metres in front of her. She slowly walked to the place where the dragon had vanished, making sure he really was dead. After that, she retrieved her dagger.
"Harle! We did it! We- ", Kidd turned around, smiling brightly, but she stopped abruptly when she saw Harle's eerily glowing eyes. She had never seen those eyes so brightly...ever since the orphanage.
"Harle? What is it?" Kidd slowly walked towards Harle, but suddenly Harle took out her cards and prepared to attack her.
"Wh...What?", Kidd shouted in surprise and took a few steps back.
"You...killed him...", Harle said with a blank expression devoid of any emotions other than hatred.
"Harle, what is it? Calm down!", Kidd shouted in fear. She could already imagine what Harle was up to, but at the same time, she couldn't believe it. How could she do that to her?
"Foolish humans. All you can do iz kill. It iz time to put zis to un end. Humans do not deserve to live on zis planet." With these words, Harle ran towards Kidd and attacked with her cards. Kidd couldn't evade this storm of cards, so many of them hit her, cutting into her flesh. Kidd screamed in pain and tried to get away from her.
"Harle! What are you doing! It's me, Kidd! Why are you doing this to me?" Kidd couldn’t remember the last time she had been so afraid. The one she loved the most, the one she would give up everything for had turned against her. And she had no idea why.
With trembling hands Kidd dropped her dagger to the ground. She couldn't bring herself to fight Harle.
"Please, Harle! Stop it...", Kidd said and tears ran down her cheeks. They mixed with the blood from Kidd's wounds and turned entirely red before they fell to the ground.
Harle didn't listen to her, nor did she care about the dagger or the tears. She charged forward again and hit her with her right fist directly into the face. She could see Kidd's eyes widen before the girl fell backwards.
Kidd just couldn't believe this was actually happening. She had to fight hard to stay conscious. Lying on the ground, she could see Harle approaching. She could feel those red eyes burning directly into her mind.
Slowly, Harle took out an element, turning it between her fingers for some time, to make sure Kidd could see it as well. Kidd blinked a few times, her vision blurred because of the blood dripping into her eyes. However, she could see which element it was: It was an Iceberg element. If Harle used this, Kidd was sure she was going to die.
Suddenly her fear was stronger than her disbelief and Kidd got up as quickly as possible. She ran away, but she could hardly focus on the direction for she was dizzy and her vision was blurred. After a few steps she stopped and turned around. She saw Harle still standing in the same place. Just in the moment Harle attempted to cast the Iceberg spell, Kidd ran towards Harle and hit her into the face, just like Harle had shortly before. However, Kidd's punch wasn't as strong as Harle's, but it was still enough to send her to the ground.
Kidd quickly got onto her and pressed Harle's arms to the ground beside her face.
"Now listen ta me! What's gotten inta ya?", she demanded.
Harle didn't respond. She tried to get free from Kidd but found she wasn't able to.
"I hate you! I hate you humans!", Harle shouted in tears, her voice clearly giving away how frustrated she was. The glow in her eyes was getting weaker, but it didn't disappear completely.
"The dragon was it, right? The bloody dragon did this ta ya! C'mon, Harle. They're dead, all of 'em. Get back ta normal, Harle!" Now Kidd was crying as well, sad about the fact that Harle's will had been too weak to withstand the dragon.
"I hate you!", was the only answer Kidd received from Harle, but that was enough. Kidd slapped Harle in anger.
Suddenly, Harle's expression turned entirely sad and the glow in her eyes vanished completely. Kidd noticed Harle's shocked expression as her blood dropped onto her face.
Kidd noticed this and stood up, letting go of Harle, who got up as well.
"Everything alright?", Kidd asked and tried to sound as normal as possible, even though she was still a bit frightened of Harle. With the back of her hand, she tried to wipe away the blood in her face which dripped from a wound above her right eye
"...K...Kidd?" Harle's voice wasn't more than a whisper. She stepped forward, regarding Kidd. She noticed all the cuts on Kidd's body and stepped back again. Although the cuts were just superficial, they looked pretty bad. Kidd just smiled at Harle to reassure her, knowing that everything was alright again.
"Kidd!", Harle shouted. For a short moment Kidd was a little afraid again, but when Harle embraced Kidd tightly and cried at her shoulder, she knew Harle was back to normal.
"What happened?", Kidd asked softly, stroking Harle's hair gently.
"Moi...saw zem...zey were laughing at moi and you...you..." Harle couldn't finish the sentence, she was crying too hard to speak. But it was enough to know for Kidd. She could imagine what had happened.
"It's alright now...the dragons are gone...they won't hurt ya anymore. Nobody will hurt ya anymore, Harle. Now...it's just you and me.", she said, holding the smaller girl tightly to herself.
Harle could only manage to nod. Kidd held her for a while, thinking about this new situation both of them fought so hard for.
"Are ya happy, Harle?", Kidd asked, smiling at Harle. Harle slowly raised her head and looked into Kidd's eyes. She hesitantly moved her head towards Kidd's and kissed her deeply.