The Olden Stele - 4
The Half-complete Runedragon
Floor 1 Hello Solitude, My Old Friend
Shui Huan: Yan Pu, a dragon is born. Let’s go take a look!
Back in the time when the realm was Eldus-free, Shui Huan the blue Runedragon brought Yan Pu the crimson dragon, its Souliade, to the Dragon Marrow at the center of the peak. There was a tiny azure dragon wriggling inside a cracked egg.
Yan Pu: This...This little thing was born alone...It’s the first in our clan…
Runedragons were born in pairs. The dragons born together were destined to be each other’s soulmate for eternity, which was the meaning of “Souliade”. Shui Huan and Yan Pu were each other’s Souliade.
Shui Huan: This must be some kind of hint…
Yan Pu: Anyway, I’m afraid that this special one will never get to live an ordinary life...
The lone dragon was named Cang Bi. When it grew up, it received a lot of special perceptions from its peers. Some were sympathetic; some were cold; and some loathed Cang Bi——
Huang Cong: Cang Bi, you went to the eastern swamp yesterday again, didn’t you?
Cang Bi: ...Yes I did. So?
Huang Cong: So!? You were captured by the beasts there, and if Shui Huan hadn’t found you in time, you would’ve become their dinner!
Cang Bi: That...That was just because I underestimated them. And I didn’t ask for help! Mind your own business!
Huang Cong: Humph! Don’t drag the others into your mess, you lone freak!
Cang Bi: You——Dammit!
The provoked Cang Bi couldn’t help itself but charge at Huang Cong. Meanwhile, Huang Cong circulated its power to turn its scales into a tough shield.
Cang Bi: It can’t stop me!
As Cang Bi conjured the element, an extensive amount of water element was gathered in the blink of an eye, generating an immense momentum. Next second, the place became misty.
Huang Cong: Argh!
Cang Bi: Cough...Huang Cong…
The power of the blast had beyond Cang Bi’s expectation that it had wounded both of them. Cang Bi was shocked when it saw the bleeding Huang Cong.
Cang Bi: “I...hurt my own kind...I don’t deserve to be here…”
Huang Cong: Hey...You...Ah!
The guilty Cang Bi left the Runedragon’s habitat; Huang Cong tried to follow, but it fell off the mountain because of the injury…
Floor 2 Purpose of Living
Cang Bi: “I...What was I born for? Life has nothing but suffering…”
The injured Cang Bi had only one idea in its mind right now——running away from the Runedragon’s habitat, the place that reminded it of its solitude everyday. It kept flying without a destination until it was exhausted, crashing into a swamp.
The blood scent had attracted a crowd of beasts. Peeking through the bushes, the beasts observed Cang Bi with crave.
Cang Bi: “They are...waiting for my death...That’s not bad. If my death can extend their lives, then I’ll be doing a virtue…”
As Cang Bi gave up on holding on, the massive blood loss started making it faint. As for the beasts, they started approaching the unconscious bleeding prey. At this moment, a maroon figure appeared in Cang Bi’s blurred sight…
Finding itself in a void, Cang Bi couldn’t escape the dark no matter how far it had flown. Meanwhile, three dragons appeared and cornered it.
Yan Pu: This is...Such a destructive strength for a Runedragon…
Shui Huan: Will your existence bring us change, or annihilation?
Huang Cong: You’re just a powerful monster with no Souliade! Someday you’ll be consumed by that frenzied power!
Cang Bi: No! I’m not a monter! I’m not...Huh? Where is this place…
Waking up from the nightmare, the first thing Cang Bi saw was a strange place with a metallic ceiling and walls. In the meantime, a maroon figure leant close.
???: This is great! You’re finally awake, Runedragon.
Cang Bi: You’re...a Machina...Did you save me?
Cang Bi asked vigilantly as he found the bandages on its body. And the Machina nodded with a smile, reaching his hand at Cang Bi.
Pompeii: My name is Pompeii, and you?
Cang Bi: ...Cang Bi.
A pleasant music and praise caught Cang Bi’s attention.
Cang Bi: “This song...is lovely...No, it’s more than that...It sounds like a heavenly tune that sings the loneliness of the world...Who...Who’s singing…”
Pompeii: Looks like the celebration has begun. Would you like to join us?
Floor 3 Warmth for the First Time
Cang Bi followed Pompeii’s lead to the ritual land, where different races were gathering in front of a magnificent altar. Zana, a petite elf, was singing at the center, while everybody was listening with a smile.
Cang Bi: “This...They are from all different races. Why can they get along in harmony here? Is it because of him?”
As Cang stared at Pompeii’s figure, it remembered that it had heard of Machinas from Yan Pu. It knew that they had visited the Runedragon’s habitat for an alliance, but the antiforeign Runedragon clan rejected the request immediately.
As for Cang Bi, it had never had any contact with other creatures until now…
Cang Bi: “Maybe he has something that I’ve been longing for...the way to get rid of solitude…”
A red dragon flew over from the center of the altar. Its magnificent body and lucid eyes were exuded with a special charisma.
Bahamut: Pompeii, here you are. Everybody is waiting for you...Em? This dragon…
Pompeii: Its name is Cang Bi. I saw it lying wounded and unconscious on the ground on my way back, so I took it in.
Cang Bi felt uncomfortable when Bahamut scanned it, but this egoistic dragon refused to step back. It reluctantly stood straight and returned the glare at Bahamut; Instead of feeling provoked, Bahamut smiled at Cang Bi.
Bahamut: You’re a Runedragon...How come you’re injured? The fame of your tough defense is among the dragon clans.
Cang Bi: ...I’m different...I was born alone, and that makes me unable to control my strength...I’m a freak.
Cang Bi’s explanation amused Bahamut; Because of Bahamut’s straight-forward attitude, Cang Bi didn’t have any hard feelings, but a friendly vibe.
Bahamut: Kid, don’t be constrained by a narrow mindset. It’s not terrible to be one of a kind, but you should fear of the ignorance that keep you from understanding the uniqueness.
Cang Bi: I’m...not horrible…
Bahamut: Of course. You just don’t know how to utilize your gift. Come here. Let me teach you how to control your power.
Bahamut lighted up the hope inside Cang Bi, leading it to a brilliant future…
Floor 4 Interdependence of Lives
Above a lush grassfield, two dragons, one blue one red, were engaged in a fight. Bahamut the red dragon conjured its power to breathe fire at Cang Bi the blue dragon.
Bahamut: Come on. Show me your effort of practice.
Cang Bi: “Don’t panic...Don’t be emotional...Hold on to the power…”
Cang Bi circulated the power to fuse element into its scales, turning them into a hardened shield——Floom! The fireball hit Cang Bi precisely, covering it with flame. Later when the fire burnt out, Cang Bi remained unharmed.
Cang Bi: I-I did it! I can finally control my strength!
Bahamut: Excellent. Your effort has paid off.
Cang Bi: All thanks to your teaching...Now I can prove myself that I’m not a monster…
While Cang Bi was recuperating in Mech City, it received trainings from Bahamut. As time went by, not only did Cang Bi master its power but also met different creatures. Its loneliness was slightly soothed by social interactions.
This morning, Cang Bi soared into the sky to ingest some clouds. When it returned the ground, it saw Pompeii who was expecting it.
Cang Bi: Pompeii, shouldn’t you be revising the structure of Mech City with Schrödinger? Why are you here?
Pompeii: He was borrowed by Behemoth, and I have something to talk to you.
Cang Bi: What’s wrong? Is there any rock that needs to be moved again?
Pompeii shook his head woefully; When Cang Bi realized the matter he was about to bring up, the easy look on its face disappeared.
Pompeii: Cang Bi, you’ve fully recovered for quite a while. Why don’t you return to your home?
Cang Bi: I knew you were gonna bring that up again...Going back to the mountain...I never fit in there, and I’m much happier here...Or do you find me annoying?
Pompeii: No. You’re always welcomed here. Bahamut and Beta will be thrilled to have you, but I still think that you should go back.
Stepping forward, Pompeii held Cang Bi’s cheeks to press his forehead. This was a courtesy gesture from Machina to another creature.
Pompeii: Cang Bi, you might have been through a lot of hard times, but please don’t give up on the bonds.
Cang Bi: Bonds?
Pompeii: All lives are somehow interdependent, and the cycle of the world can only be maintained by these bonds. So please don’t give up on the bonds with your kind, for disconnection won’t help filling the void in you.
Cang Bi: “Pompeii knows me too well. Even if they take me in, this is never the thing I desired for.”
Cang Bi finally accepted Pompeii’s advice, returning to the Runedragon’s habitat. The closer it got, the more nervous it felt.
Cang Bi: “Will they banish me...or remove my Runedragon honour?”
When the pesimisstic Cang Bi arrived at the Dragon Marrow, a marine figure jumped on it.
Shui Huan: Cang Bi, I’m so happy that you’re fine! We’ve been searching for you these days.
Cang Bi: ...I thought I was better off on my own.
At this moment, a crimson and a golden figure came over——Yan Pu and Huang Cong.
Yan Pu: Stop that ridiculous thought! You’re still a Runedragon even without a Souliade. You’re still one of us! How will you be better off on your own!
Cang Bi: ...I’m sorry...Huang Cong, are you alright?
Huang Cong: Humph! Your attack is merely a scratch to me...And what I said back then was out of line too...We’re even now!
Cang Bi: “Pompeii, you’re right. I shouldn’t give up on the bondings.”
As the corners of its lips were raised, a genuine smile finally appeared on Cang Bi’s face.