Phoenix soared through the clouds, the cool breeze fanning his dragon wings. Heavy rain rolled off his obsidian scales, but he didn’t care. Flying was his guilty pleasure, his sanctuary, but even with the magic veil that hid his dragon form from the humans, he still had to be wary.
“Hey, Nix, slow down,” said Egan, circling him. “What’s up?”
With a downward thrust of his wings, Nix ignored his brother and flew above the clouds, towards the sun that shone low in the sky to the west. Egan meant well, but there was nothing he could say or do to lighten his mood today.
It sometimes happened if he allowed it, the soul-destroying despair that clawed incessantly at his heart, ripping it a little more with each passing year. Most of the time, he coped with the loss, got on with his life, such as it was, but today felt like it was all an act, a cruel waiting game doomed never to end.
He spread his powerful wings wider, purposely causing a shift in the airflow and breaking the aerodynamics of Egan’s flight path. His half-brother was no match for him, but it didn’t stop him from trying.
“Watch out, you idiot!” Egan’s laughter carried on the wind. His wings twisted against the downward draft, and he dropped several metres into the clouds.
Nix soared higher still, leaving Egan below.
The wind buffered against his scaly skin and horn-tipped wings. He breathed in deeply, filling his lungs with the sweet air, relishing the warmth of the sun on his face, but it wasn’t enough.
What’s the point of eternal life without her?
Last time their souls had crossed paths, he’d imagined there had been a glimmer of recognition. He’d seen nothing more than the hint of memory in her eyes, but it was enough to give him hope that her next reincarnation would be the one where she would finally recognise him. She would remember their simple, beautiful life together before that jealous bitch of a sorceress had cursed them.
His stomach cinched at the memory, and he caved to the anger and frustration. He needed to reach the air where it got thinner and made it difficult to breathe—the sweetest air. Just a taste to erase the memory, if only for the briefest time, then he’d come back down.
Extending his black, iridescent wings to their full span, he soared upwards.
“Phoenix, you’re going too high,” his brother warned.
“Leave me alone, Egan!” he snarled, his dragon voice similar to his human one but raspier and with an occasional wisp of smoke puffing from his lips.
Egan tried to match his tempo, but his smaller dragon wings were barely strong enough to carry his human body. “Come down. We’ll talk.”
Nix tore through the air, beating his wings harder, faster, as he continued his ascent. “There’s no point to any of this. It’s been almost a hundred years since her last reincarnation, and I still haven’t found her.” He’d come out of this dark abyss soon; he always did, but right now, he needed to forget everything.
“You will find her, Nix,” Egan shouted from below. “It’s just a matter of time. You have to be patient.”
“I’m done with being patient.” His very soul ached to see her beautiful face again, but he refused to let the hope diminish because hope was all he had.
The air thinned. He closed his eyes, retracted his wings and let them fold onto his back, then succumbed to the thrill of freefall.
Out of nowhere, something smashed into his shoulder. Pain forced his eyes open. Wind thundered in his ears as he nose-dived through the clouds and towards the woods that loomed below.
With a flex of his muscles, he spread his wings again. Excruciating pain shot through his shoulder. Both wings extended, but as he thrust them downwards to slow his fall, his left wing refused to move the way it should. Instead, it hung limply by his flank.
He plummeted towards Egan. “Look out!”