Dragons Part 2
The long arduous journey to the island had drained many of the men, but the sight of the foul dragon invigorated them. Ward had been preparing for that very moment and had formulated a strategy, which would hopefully get him the head of the enemy.
Blood stained talons could be seen as they drifted through the dark, rainy clouds. It was only a matter of moments before the beast would attack. The archers waited intently for the dragon to move into rang, they would shoot for the eyes and behind the ears, for the stomach of the beast was seen to be protected and would be invincible against the small arrows. Ward glanced up to the mast, his destination. The plan was to climb to the top, wait until the dragon was close enough, and then jump onto its back.
Some plan. Ward knew it was foolish, the risk was high and so was the chance of failure. But he had to kill it, and climbing the mast would be his best way to do so.
The cold of despair slowly swallowed Tark as his footsteps gradually led him toward the dark woods. Failure weighed down his progress, caused by the lack of success with the king. In turning down Tark, the greedy ruler had endangered the whole village, potentially sealing the fate of many innocent men and woman. A part of him wanted to hurt the king, but that action would not help the situation. Tark had inserted his efforts in the form of both harshness and peace, now it was over, evil would prevail.
Tark slowed at the sight of the trees starting to clear and thin, eventually forming a sparse clearing in the woods, illuminating the leaf strewn floor. The forest was silent, empty of the usual scampering and whispering of animal and wind. Nothing moved. Even the soft crunch of Tark’s stride on the ground seemed to lack an audible sound.
Entering the clearing, Tark noticed a disturbance in the silence, a presents he recognized. He instantly matched the presents to his apprentice, but the way in which he knew that it was Ward was not natural, the sense had nothing to do with the fact that Ward was often with Tark and was not caused by recognition, for even if Tark had never known him, he still would have been able distinguish him from a distance without even seeing Ward. Even Tark couldn’t fathom how it happened, but somehow, he knew there were similarities between the two of them, and very often some other individuals. He wondered if Ward sensed the same, until now, Tark never really thought about the subject in such depth, but was still quite aware of it.
Tark suddenly realized that he had stopped walking. The action confused him, he hadn’t intended to stay in the clearing, but now he was stuck, unable to move. Tark mentally struggled to break out of his immobility, trying to override the force that held him, when out of nowhere, Ward burst out of the trees and crashed head first into a pile of leaves on the ground. Tark wanted to call to him, but was unable to.
Ward wiped dead leaves from his face and looked up at Tark, for a moment, their eyes met. Before either one of the men could speak, a gust of wind threw Tark and Ward to the ground. The sudden break in silence caught Tark by surprise. Leaves whirled in the air and around the trees, pebbles clattered against each, some ricocheting painfully off Tark’s head. Then suddenly the chaos halted, revealing through falling leaves a monstrous, golden dragon. Next to the beast, lay the still body of Ward.
Golden shimmering lights shone around the clearing as the dragon bent to sniff the still body in the leaves. The beast lifted its head, realizing that Ward was not dead, but just asleep, although his eyes were still wide open. Tark stretched his wings for the first time, shifting his giant snake-like eyes to view the golden scales that covered his body. Tark understood now, the prediction, the senses… He stopped and curled into a pounce, peering toward the stars. And as he suspected, a streak of red ripped across the sky above him, screeching loudly as it passed. Tark sprung through the hole in the forest ceiling. Swells of blue glints outlined the dragon’s body as it sped across the night sky, followed by the larger beast that was Tark.
The red dragon seemed not to recognize Tark following it, but a growing suspicion told Tark otherwise. Constant screeching reverberated like a trail behind the creature, masking the sound of beating wings as the scaled, flying serpents raced toward their destination, which Tark knew would be the village. He had to try intercepting the dragon before it closed the rest of the distance.
A young farmer named Orkaw lay in his cot, concealed by the roof of his hut. A lone window shed moonlight upon his motionless form under a thin potato bag blanket. He reflected sleepily on the eventless day of work that had passed on his humble farm. Nothing was more satisfying to him than farm chores and a good diner, although, unlike many other nights this one was dead silent. No animal noises, no bird whistle, no wind, not even the usual sound of the shutters clattering on the wooden walls of the village’s huts. Orkaw felt a ping of anxiety as he listened, holding his breath unconsciously. If possible, as the moments passed the silence seemed to deepen, until noise itself had disappeared altogether. Orkaw touched his ears to make sure he hadn’t gone deaf, and was reassured by the soft, deep scrapping sound it made. He couldn’t stand it anymore. Orkaw burst out of his bed, throwing the rough blanket onto the ground, making as much noise as possible, but all he could hear was the fast beat of his heart. Breathing heavily, he stumbled to his single window. Fresh air was what he needed. And so Orkaw yanked his coat off of the rack and hastily pulled the sleeves over his shaking arms.
With eyes closed and teeth clenched, Orkaw pushed his door open and ran into the cool night air, only to notice the panic of his animals. The horses noisily stomped their hooves, whinnying ferociously. The chickens had somehow escaped their coop and were running around franticly, bumping into each other. The dog barked aimlessly into the sky, as if trying to scare away an unseen ghost. Other animals from the closely knit village join in with the chaos, to create what seem to Orkaw like hell.
All noise stopped, much to Orkaw’s relief. But only for a second did he enjoy the calm, as an ear piercing screech grew from the horizon. What emerged was the image of nightmares.
A blood red dragon, wings spread and talons drawn streaked across the stars on a path straight toward the village. Backed by lightning, the beast roared, showing its razor teeth extending from the top to the bottom of its mouth. The sound was horrific, a mix between a screaming child and thunder. As the dragon crested the horizon of trees, behind it, flew in pursuit another, golden dragon. This one was bigger, but somehow Orkaw knew it was a friend. Maybe it was its eyes, maybe it was the way it chased after the first, either way, he knew. Even so, the leading dragon had a considerably great distance between it and the second and it would definitely reach the village first.
Orkaw panicked, thinking of his options, the bell tower, screaming. He chose the latter.
“Dragon! There’s a dragon coming!” He ran through the village yelling franticly, warning the sleeping folk that lay unconscious in their beds. Many of them woke screaming themselves, for the nightmares they had experienced were very similar to what they woke to. Farmers bolted for their weapons, pitchforks, sickles, shovels, some even had swords, but it was far too late as blue fire rained down upon the village in torrents of blazing liquid. The next few moments resulted in the death of over ten men.
Orkaw stood in awe. Surely they would all die, melted into piles of nothing. The thought sickened him; an image of his own death ran through Orkaw’s mind. A horrible end and right in front of his eyes it was happening. He averted his eyes to avoid the carnage and sources of many desperate screams; unknowingly Orkaw’s display of cowardice would save the lives of numerous men, for as he looked away, there in the corner of an alley was a bucket, filled with water.
Energy coursed through Tark’s beastly veins, driving his flight to a new speed. His quarry had already been wreaking havoc upon the village with its deadly fire, but Tark still had hope of preventing more death. Regardless of his size advantage, he hadn’t been able to catch the younger dragon, but during the chase, Tark had used his new abilities and scorched the other dragon’s tail with his fire, creating a trail of smoke for Tark to follow if he lagged too far. This had come in handy when the red dragon dove into the woods to hide. If Tark had lost the dragon, then there would be no hope for those in the village, for the proportions of his body and the unusual location would have rendered him stumped on the direction to take.
Tark reached the village just in time before a villager was eaten, cornered by the beast. Their scale clad bodies crashed into a vacant building, its owner most likely already dead. A shower of splinters peppered the dirt ground as a gush of blue erupted from the wrestling mass of dragons, drenching Tark’s gold scales in scolding liquid fire. The flames lingered, but were slid off by the flailing claws of the red dragon. A horrible squealing sound emitted from the clash of claw and scale, much like that of a chalk board and nails. The remaining villagers slapped their hands over their ears, bent over in pain. Right when the sound was getting unbearable, Tark jerked free from the grasp of his enemy and lunged into the air, spreading his wings wide in flight. Air rushed under the extended leather as Tark maneuvered through the smoke saturated sky. The villagers ducked. Again, the two dragons clashed in a mix of scales and fire. Yelling men told their families to run as the brawl continued and others used the moment to gather projectiles, but no amount of stones could damage the thick layer of red scales.
As the fight progressed between beasts, the red dragon broke free. It raced straight toward the villagers that had stayed to fight, but Tark was still recovering from the struggle and couldn’t get up in time. The men starred at the blood colored body speeding toward them, with no escape. All that stood there knew that this would be the end.
Orkaw struggled against the shifting weight of the water filled bucket. He had seen the dragons battle and watched as the village was evacuated. Now that the dragons clashed again, Orkaw saw his chance and ran towards the flames.
He had taken about seven steps when out of the frames burst the red dragon, talons extended. Orkaw saw the men and knew what he had to do. He ran straight in front of the group of men and heaved the bucket upward. It wasn’t very much water, but it was enough. As if guided by an invisible force, the water exited the bucket, flew through the air in a mass of liquid and splashed right into the open jaws of the dragon. Steam gush out of its throat, enveloping its eyes and face. The red dragon reared, less than two feet away from the cowering group. Then it clumsily shot into the sky and disappeared through a pillar of smoke.
Orkaw’s shoulders hung from his arms as if not attached, as did his head. He fell to his knees and rolled to his side. The rush and exertion had drained him of a great deal of energy.
“N-no, no!” Ward was petrified, standing at the village boundaries.
The sight was grisly, with blood and gore everywhere. Ward was too late; the dragon had done its damage.
Where had Tark gone? He wondered with a slight anger.
Had no one had the power to stop this!? It was then that Ward noticed a dark presents behind him. Turning, Ward found himself eye to eye with a giant, crouching, red dragon. Yellow rimmed its iris with a circular frame of blood shot lines pointing toward the middle of the head sized gaze.
Ward’s heart sped to a breakneck speed, thumping wildly in his chest as it heaved with anger. No other time in his life had Ward been this infuriated. But the demonic stare prevented any further interaction before the beast spread its wings and shot up through the green forest roof.
Broken from the moment, Ward screamed wildly at the sky. Then he dropped exhausted to his knees without the smallest hint of tears, for his weeping was dry, a miserable lament that no other human should have to experience.
The scream rung in the ears of many surviving villagers, including the dragon named Tark. Tark’s ears pricked up and swiveled. From the direction of the sound, came another dragon, much like Tark except red, rather than gold.
This must stop! Now! He raced after the beast in a flurry of gold, lit by the setting moon. Although without fire, the red dragon turned to face Tark and fight. The battle that ensued was like a life threatening firework show, with fire streaming in great surges from the sky, dispersing before it reached the ground. Even was the skill of both combatants, for Tark was inexperienced in the task of dragon brawling, and the red dragon had no ability to produce flame. The battle continued with no legible end, when a sudden burst of light emitted from Tark, blinding his enemy.
The villagers yelled for their comrades to clear out of the way, as a strange form tumbled from the battle. It glowed with the same light that Tark had, except now, Tark was no longer visible in the night sky. Only the red dragon now flew where there had been two. It rushed away from the village, with numerous scratches in its armor.
Ward had seen the lights.
Was the dragon still rampaging? He wondered, but couldn’t see past the expanse of trees that blocked his view, along with the tall capital building.
Ward hurried through the rubble, averting his eyes from the carnage and blood. He dodged buildings and fallen stone, bodies and detached limbs. The dash was a horrible one, but was all worth it when he arrived at the battle. Before he could get close enough to distinguish what was happening, a sudden force knocked him to the cobble.
“Oh! I’m sorry; I was just trying t…” A voice came from the direction in which the men had crashed, but Ward interrupted, “It’s okay my friend, I too made the mistake. But can you tell me what has happened here?” Ward quickly resolved the incident.
“It was tragic, one moment we were asleep, the next we were mostly dead. Although there was a second dragon, as far as I can tell he is good. He is golden and helped by pinning the red dragon to the ground, which resulted in me pouring water down his throat. So now he can’t use fire, but still holds out against our dragon,” The man explained.
“Very good… uh, what is your name?”
“Very good Orkaw, you have saved many lives today. Although, there must be a way to further assist the golden dragon.”
“We have tried, bows, swords, stones, none of these can even dent its thick armor,” Orkaw stopped talking abruptly as if not finished with the sentence when a deep toned roar startled him. Both the men turned to see that there were no longer two dragons but one, the red dragon. Who now saw his chance and flew toward the blue plains or the ocean.
Ward noticed the group of villagers gathering under the space where the battle had occurred. Rays of light streamed from the gaps between villagers, seeming to be coming from within their circle, on the ground. Orkaw glanced at Ward and started toward the spectacle. Ward followed.