‘Finally back, it’s been like what? 14 years since I’ve stepped foot here?’ Shadow walked through the busy center street, taking in the environment he left behind over a decade ago. Not too much had changed he discovered, just some new faces here and there, but that was not his main focus. Instead, his attention was centered on a familiar 2-story building at the end of the road, his childhood home. He had already gotten in contact with his parents, so he wasn’t appearing unannounced. No, his hesitation was coming from the thought of his younger sibling, Perseus, and how he would react to his reappearance.
From what his mother and father told him, Perseus wasn’t too fond of him. Understandable, since technically speaking, it was Shadow’s fault that they lost their sister, Ophelia, to a sorcerer when they were kids. All he could ask for at this point was for some forgiveness from the younger Pandorian dragon; hopefully he understood his reasons for leaving town.
‘Gods please let him understand, I don’t know if I could take my own younger sibling resenting me…’ Shadow thought, as he approached the large wooden door.
He rapped his knuckles against the solid wood, and waited patiently for an answer. Luckily enough, his mother, Andromeda, opened the door. The older dragoness’ face split into a wide grin, tears appearing in her eyes, as she looked the son she hasn’t see in a decade up and down. She slowly reached out and cradled Shadow’s cheek in her hand, as if he would disappear if she weren’t careful.
“Shadow? Is it really… you?” she asked, her voice quiet and shaky.
“It’s me mom, I’m home,” Shadow answered, stepping closer to the doorway.
Andromeda suddenly stepped forward, embracing her eldest son for the first time in years. Shadow happily returned the hug, rubbing his head against hers so his still developing horns could nudge her fully grown ones.
“We should go inside, your father will definitely want to have a look at you as well,” Andromeda said as she broke the embrace.
She walked with Shadow inside, the interior looking almost exactly as he remembered it, with the exception of the picture of Ophelia hanging over a small shrine. There were incense sticks in a small, pale pink holder, sweet smelling smoke wafted through the air. It felt like the late middle child was there in spirit. Sitting in an armchair to the left of the shrine, an older draconian sat, his focus centered on the tome in his hands. Andromeda walked over and gently nudged his shoulder, leaning over she whispered into his ear.
“Leo, Shadow’s here,” she said, backing up as the dragon, now identified as Leo, stood up. Leo walked towards his son, taking in how much he has changed in all those years.
“You’re starting to look a lot like me,” Leo said, chuckling. He clapped Shadow on the shoulder. “How’s life been treating you since you left?”
“It’s been fine I guess, I mean, I found a place to stay and I ‘ve been living there since, y’know… I basically have a second family now,” Shadow explained, flinching a bit at the sudden force on his shoulder. “What about you two? What’s happened since I left?”
“Well, after the ambush, security around the perimeter of town was pretty tight, at least for those first few years, things have definitely settled down since then. Nice to know you found a place to live, and seeing how you made the trip here on your own I can assume that you can properly fend for yourself.” Leo said, slowly walking alongside Shadow, leading him to the stairway.
“Well, I ended up in Fiore, so, of course I went to the magic school that was established there and well, the rest is history.” The two draconians walked up the staircase and into a hallway. Doors lined the walls and one was open. The father-son duo walked towards the open door. Leo stopped just at the doorway, Shadow looked over his shoulder to find a younger draconian, sitting on the floor polishing a sword, a family heirloom.
“Perseus, look who’s here, it’s your older brother,” Leo said quietly, stepping out of the way to allow Shadow into the doorway.
“Hey Percy, uh, h-how’ve you been?” Shadow stuttered, nerves preventing proper speech.
“… My name is Perseus, not ‘Percy’, I refuse to be referred to in such a casual manner by a coward,” Perseus spat, not taking his eyes off of the sword in his hands.
“What? Percy what are you talking ab-“
“You know exactly what I’m talking about, you should, as if it weren’t for you, Ophelia would still be alive.” Perseus exclaimed, setting the sword down and facing the older draconian. “I lost my respect for you the moment I learned of your disappearance,”
“Perc, don’t you know why I left? If I didn’t, those sorcerers could've used a tracking spell and they would’ve found the rest of you.” Shadow explained, “ I left to protect-“
“Yeah? Is that it? Well good job, since they found us anyway!” Perseus growled, cutting Shadow off mid sentence, “If you were here, Dad wouldn’t have been blinded in his left eye! There’s no excuse for what you did!”
“Perseus please, how was I supposed to know that? Besides I would’ve been gone anyway, had I stayed I probably would’ve been taken!” Shadow exclaimed, his voice rising, “I’m no coward, I was only putting the rest of you first!”
“Not a coward eh? Prove it. Prove to me that you indeed are the ‘brave’ big brother Mom and Dad have talked about for years,” Perseus stood up quickly, extending the arm holding the ancestral sword.
“This is how you want to do this? Fine. Name the time and place,” Shadow said, standing his ground.
“BOYS!” Leo spoke out suddenly, having enough of the siblings arguing. “You two are family, there is no need to-“
“No dad, it’s fine, I should’ve seen this coming,” Shadow said, turning slightly to face the older draconian.
“We fight in an hour, in the Starfall Arena,” Perseus hissed, “There, the whole town can witness me defeating my coward of an older brother,”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself, I’ve been training in combat longer than you have, we may be related but I won’t hold back, especially since apparently I need to prove a point,” Shadow challenged, “See you in an hour,”
With that, Shadow left the room, leaving a steaming Perseus and a slightly annoyed Leo.
--- TIMESKIP: 1 HOUR LATER ---
“You don’t have to go through with this Shadow, we can always talk him out of it,” Andromeda cautioned, watching as her son readied himself for battle. They were currently in the Starfall Arena, a stadium that was surrounded by huge pillars of magical crystals that shined with multicolored lights. The brothers were in the locker rooms on opposite sides of the arena, both readying their magics and weapons for the fight.
“No mom, it’s fine, he wouldn’t listen to me anyway… if this’ll knock some sense into him then that’s what I gotta do,” Shadow replied, testing his spells at the same time.
Andromeda sighed before nodding her head. “Just be careful okay? I don’t want you two getting seriously hurt,”
“I’ll try not to rough him up too badly,” Shadow promised. Finally done with his preparations, he waved at the dragoness before walking through the door and into the stadium. The crowd of draconians that stood in the bleachers roared with excitement. The Erebos family was very well renowned and to witness two of its prized members in battle was a sight that no one wanted to miss. Perseus stood across from Shadow, arms crossed and wings flared. His tail flicked around behind him, irritated.They stared each other down, both looking for weakness within their gazes. Finally, the announcer’s voice rang out of the speakers, hushing everyone in the crowd.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are here to witness the battle of honor between children of the Erebos family,” As the announcer finished her sentence, the opposing brothers got into their battle stances. “In the red corner we have Shadow, the eldest child of Leo and Andromeda,” After hearing his name, Shadow quickly summoned his weapon, Mortem Orbisque, swinging the great scythe to rest on his shoulder. “And in the blue corner we have Perseus, their youngest,” Perseus unsheathed their family’s ancestral sword, pointing directly at his older brother.
“Begin at my signal, 1, 2, 3, begin!” The announcer shouted as the two draconians lunged at each other, weapons in hand. Perseus made the first move, swinging his sword with scary speed and accuracy at Shadow’s torso, the older dragon managed to block the attack with the handle of his scythe, pushing the younger away.
‘I don’t want to hurt him too badly, but he’s so dead set on fighting me… okay, I’ve just got to disarm him and end the fight, maybe then I’ll be able to actually talk to him,' Shadow thought. With a plan in mind, he lept into action, going after Perseus with a barrage of quick swings. Perseus frantically blocked each hit, moving backwards as Shadow continued his onslaught. The young draconian dove out of the way, taking to the air as he prepared a spell to launch.
‘Great, so he’s gonna stay out of range now… no worries, stay calm and get him out of the air, then I can knock that sword out of his hand when he’s off guard.’ Perseus pointed skywards, and array of runic circles appeared in the air above him. As he pointed downwards, a barrage of magic arrows cascaded to the ground below. Shadow quickly erected a shield to protect himself as he activated a spell of his own. Above Perseus, a smaller, less powerful version of the Celestial Fury spell rained down. Perseus flinched for a moment before hurriedly rushing to get to cover, obviously not expecting his brother to have already known how to use their family’s original spell.
‘There we go! Now to get him to stay on the ground,’ Shadow thought. He worked quickly, dispeling his shield and summoning a heavy lightning storm. Perseus, realizing that he was grounded, glared at his older brother and lunged, giving Shadow the opening he needed. In a great show of speed, Shadow met his brother partway, catching him off guard. Using the end of Mortem Orbisque, Shadow knocked the sword out of Perseus’ hand and pinned him to the ground, the blade of his scythe hovering over the younger’s head. “Yield,” Shadow ordered, voice hard and commanding.
Perseus growled, attempting to lift himself, but Shadow pressed the blunt edge of the blade against his neck. Finally, Perseus stopped, “... I yield,”
--- TIMESKIP: AT THE EREBOS RESIDENCE ---
The walk back home was tense, the meeting in the living room even more so. The two siblings faced each other, Perseus refused to meet Shadow’s eyes. It was Leo who broke the silence.
“Perseus, I would like an explanation on why you acted so rashly, you normally are so ready to compromise but, why not now?” Leo asked.
Perseus didn’t answer, choosing to stare at the ground instead.
“Perseus we only want to know what was on you mind, please speak to us,” Andromeda pleaded, hoping for her son to answer.
Once again, Perseus stayed silent, not making any eye contact with the others in the room.
Shadow had enough, “Perseus, if you have a problem than tell us dammit! We won’t know what to do for you if you don’t open your gods-damned mouth and speak already!” Andromeda and Leo look at him, a bit shocked from his outburst, but, it did its job in getting Perseus to finally talk.
“You want to know what my problem is? My problem is you!” Perseus yelled, pointing and Shadow accusedly. “You disappear for almost a decade, you don’t contact us at all, and them you just waltz in and expect me to welcome you with open arms? YOU LEFT US! YOU TURNED TAIL AND RAN INSTEAD OF STAYING HERE TO FIGHT! TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, YOU DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO STAY FOR OPHELIA’S FUNERAL, IS NOTHING SACRED TO YOU?! MOM AND DAD WERE SO PROUD OF YOU, I LOOKED UP TO YOU, AND THEN YOU JUST THREW THAT AWAY LIKE YOU DIDN’T EVEN CARE!” Perseus snarled, tears beginning to fall from his eyes. “MOM AND DAD WERE DEVASTATED WHEN YOU LEFT, DID NONE OF THAT MATTER?” Perseus broke down, words devolving into anguished sobs.
Shadow felt guilty, he knew that running overall was the best course of action to take in protecting everyone but, he didn’t think of the impact it would make on those closest to him. Losing Ophelia still haunts him, of course if would linger with his family as well. He said nothing as he inched closer to his sobbing younger brother. Shadow gently wrapped his arms around Perseus’ shoulders and held him tight to his chest, letting him cry into his jacket.
“I-I’m so sorry…” Shadow murmured as he gently rocked Perseus back and forth.