Fictober Day 5 (Late): “Unacceptable, Try Again” (Omniverse/Elementum Dragons)

Another original fic! Featuring Drohen Noctis and an old OC I’m in the process of redesigning! Yay!

I’m in the process of catching up. Stuff just keeps coming up and it never stops getting in the way.

To say that Echo was frustrated would be an understatement. And though Noctis hadn’t shown any signs, no doubt Echo’s performance frustrated her too.

The move sounded easy on paper, or at least Echo thought it did. This training session said otherwise, and she’d been trying to do it successfully for what seemed like hours.

The blue dragon’s tail twitched irritably. She felt Noctis’ eyes on her, silently judging her performance without saying anything just yet.

Echo hadn’t been born with the Element of Shadow. She’d earned it, but she never had a proper teacher before. Shadow and Water had no similarities for her to cling to and learn from. When she managed to convince Noctis to teach her, she was thrilled. And things went well… at first. Until this.

Echo lowered her head, smoky strands of purplish black magic swirling around her talons, her horns, and her tail, gradually surrounding her entire body until she looked like she was made of shadow. She concentrated, trying to make herself intangible. She felt herself become weightless, and took her first step forward.

The shadows faded, leaving her a solid, flesh dragon again and not the ghostly strands of shadow dragon she needed to be for this to work.

“Unacceptable,” Noctis finally said, yet her tone held no hint of the disappoint she must have felt. “Try again.”

Echo knew better than to grumble in response. She looked ahead and closed her eyes again, trying to imagine the way that Noctis herself shifted into the strands of shadow and moved across the room. She could do the same. She knew she could.

The swirls surrounded her body again, but the weightlessness didn’t come. She lost her concentration, the swirls dissipating soon after. She gritted her teeth, letting out a low growl.

“Perhaps you need more instruction than I thought,” Noctis mused, and Echo couldn’t tell if that was meant to sound insulting or if Noctis just lacked tact. “Oh well, best to get on with it.”

“What am I missing?” Echo asked, keeping her tone civil. She was mad at herself, not Noctis, but she didn’t want any misunderstandings.

“Shadow is more of a subtle Element than others,” Noctis explained, reaching out and holding a shadow flame in the palm of her hand. “Creepy to some. You need to think like Shadow, not like Water.”

“How… would I do that?” Echo looked up at her. The control over Water came naturally to Echo. She didn’t have to think about it.

“Don’t think that you need to become the shadows,” Noctis answered, “think that you already are.”

That doesn’t make any sense, Echo kept that thought to herself. “So, I just need to… think it.”

“But don’t overthink it,” Noctis said, “now, try it again.”

Noctis sat down, watching Echo with the same scrutiny she started with. She didn’t move, but Echo felt like she was urging her on all the same.

Shadow and Water weren’t the same, yet neither were they opposites. Water danced between soft and gentle, to harsh and destructive. Shadow had no such duality, but perhaps she could still make it work for her in a way only she could.

Echo looked forward again, at the obstacles Noctis put up. She ran towards them, weaving a path around them without worrying about any of her Elements for the time being. Noctis said nothing, the roar of the wind filling Echo’s ears as she picked up speed and ran through the obstacle course from beginning to end.

She leapt over the final obstacle, turning around and running through the course again. She tried not to think about anything except the feel of the wind against rushing against her scales, while staying ever mindful of the obstacles in her way. She did it again, and again, until she allowed herself to imagine the shadowy swirls again.

She felt the Shadow within her wake up again, the smoke swirling around her body as it felt lighter. She focused on the wooden wall obstacle, short enough that she could leap over it if she needed to. She didn’t think about it, maintaining eye contact with it as she came ever closer.

A flicker of doubt entered her mind, gone as quickly as it came.

She leapt forward, claws outstretched towards the wall, feeling a rush of colder air as she saw only the lilac wood until-

The stone floor on the other side, another wall ahead. Smoky tendrils of shadow swirled in her vision, the weightlessness still present. She kept running, jumping through the wall, and the next, and the next. Noctis met her at the end, with what Echo guessed was her impressed face.

“You did well,” Noctis said, Echo stopping in front of her, the shadows fading from the smaller blue dragon. Noctis looked at her with a subtle nod. “Not quite what I had in mind, but do you understand now?”

“I think I understand a bit better,” Echo answered, a chill going down her spine as she became solid again. “Is… is there anything else you can teach me?”

“Of course,” Noctis replied, “now then…”

Slowly catching up.

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