The misty morning air coaxed open Norinth’s lids, revealing his amber slitted eyes that narrowed in response to the rays of light cascading through the cave. Disoriented, Norinth clambered out of the cave and into the forest ahead.
Since Norinth had last hibernated, the landscape had changed significantly. His swinging tail and massive body carved a path through the woods as a burning rumble filled his belly. His eyes squinted as he moved to pursue the deer fleeing his staggering form. I must have been asleep longer than I thought.
He halted as a cherubic girl emerged, petrified by his mighty stature. She was no more than a weanling. Curiosity yielded to a ravenous chase, the child swerving between trees to avoid him. The chase ended as Norinth paused to inspect a human camp. Strewn about were metal scales made into armor and a dragonmark painted on a purple rectangle filled with thin sheets that smelled like wood. Norinth snorted in disgust but was amused by their cleverness.
The fleeing morsel redrew his attention as two savages emerged from behind a tree wielding spears. “Get back ye beast er we’ll gut yer eyes! We’ve got no problem sacrificin’ our lives so our love and light can keep livin’. Not that ye’d know anythin’ about that!” The burly male said with eyes wide as his mate clung to his shoulders.
Norinth lowered his head to stare the savage in the face. “So you’ve learned to ssspeak savage creature, using tongue stolen from my kind it would seem!” he said in a deep raspy voice.
The male threatened with his meager weapon. “Ye shan’t touch me girls! I don’t care if I may die here! Get back, foul dragon!”
Norinth smiled, baring his teeth. “What a grand idea! I think I shall take your advice!” he shouted, snapping at the man.
The man lodged the weapon’s tip into Norinth’s palate and then fled. The dragon swung his head wildly to dislodge the weapon before charging his prey. Thrusting his jaws forward, he grabbed the man, swinging his screaming body into the air and swallowing him in one gulp.
His hunger still not satisfied, he charged after the female who had the child in her arms but watched as she stumbled over a trap laid by her own kind, impaling herself onto wooden spikes. The child fell to the ground beside her as she bled out with her eyes still open. Pitiful attempts to dissuade me, he thought.
The small girl scooted away from Norinth. Suddenly, small wooden arrows glanced off his scales. Norinth looked up to see a group of a dozen men with armor made of metal scales.
One larger man stepped forward with green scales of Norinth’s kin hanging around a necklace. Pointing his weapon straight ahead, he commanded his men to attack. “Charge the beast! We’ve been searching the countryside all this time men and we’ll not lose this chance! It’s the last of the vermin!”
Norinth squinted with haughtiness at the men. “I see you don’t have any original ideas, savages! Using metal shaped like our scales to protect yourselves. Hah! It will only take one of us to burn your entire kind to the ground, no matter how much you copy us!”
Norinth was surrounded on all sides by men with metal weapons. He recalled the names his kind had given some of them, arrows, bows, spears, but these long bladed weapons were new. He smiled as he grabbed the last of his hunt, the child, in one gulp. The shock and horror of the sight gave the men pause. Norinth leaped into the air, swooping a mighty gust of air below with his wings, knocking the savages to the ground.
As he flew off, Norinth pondered what they’d said. Had his kind really all fallen? Why was he the last to wake up? Another thought began to intrude on his mind as well. Why is this child still alive and kicking in my throat pouch? He tried to force the child down with a hard swallow, but a feeling welled up inside him that stayed his action, a feeling he had never felt before. It felt wrong somehow to swallow the child and Norinth found himself breathing a heavy sigh as his eyes relaxed.
Norinth landed gracefully near the mouth of his cave, depositing the child onto the ground. The little girl tumbled out before righting herself, scooting up against the wall inside. He stared at the quivering child. Why did I not eat this child? Am I losing my edge as the apex predator of the land? Have these mere savages demoralized me?
The ground pounded as Norinth paced amongst the stubble of the broken trees he had snapped earlier. There had to be a reason my hunger addled mind did this, he thought. He stared off into the rising sun in the distance, his raging mind focusing as his eyes closed.
In the distance, he could hear the metal clanking of the men approaching. Norinth’s dismay turned to a wry smile as his eyes darted over to the weanling. “I knew I had kept you around for a reason,” he said, retreating into the cave with the girl.
The men approached the cave, stopping at the signal of the Commander. “Alright men! The dragon must be in there! The mouth is big enough, and it’s the only cave we haven’t checked! Forward march, spears at the ready!” the Commander ordered.
The men no sooner marched forward than the dragon’s face emerged from the darkness like a whale surfacing from a deep, murky ocean. The child, hanging by her scruff from his teeth, gave the men pause. He dropped her into one of his free claws, clutching her tight.
The Knight Commander signaled a halt. “Do not move! The child must not be harmed!”
The other knights looked at each other hesitantly but held steady in their defensive stances. Norinth peered at them with a cautious eye. They were neither advancing nor retreating.
“Flee this place, savages, or I will devour this weanling!” Norinth said.
The Commander signaled a retreat. Norinth watched as they withdrew a safe distance before turning about to march away. He returned inside the cave, but caught a hint of the knights’ conversation in the distance.
Craning his long neck to bring his left ear to bear, one of the knights uttered: “But why is the little girl so important, Commander?”
Norinth plodded into the cave gently, setting the child down against the wall. She scurried away while Norinth slumped along the opposite wall inside the massive dark chamber. The only thing visible in the darkness was a ray of sunlight emanating from the ceiling and the dragon’s amber eyes. Norinth let loose a bellowing growl as he attempted to claw at the wound in, struggling with the broken tip of the spear still embedded in its mouth.
His mind pondered what he’d heard. Why was this child important? She wasn’t but a random savage’s weanling scampering through the forest when he found her. He’d assumed they might hesitate at the sight of one of their own to give him the opportunity to strike, but they issued a full retreat. This child bore more importance than normal.
The irritation of the pain grew in his mouth and he could not stand it. He stood up and took a deep breath, the very air in front of his mouth igniting as he exhaled a giant plume of flame into the cavern, briefly illuminating the glittering gold in the walls, and the blue eyes of the brown-haired girl that had crept up beside him.
The girl screamed in fright, but stood her ground. Norinth turned his head to hover down at her level as the remnants of the spear puffed out of his hot breath.
“You hurt. You need a hug?” The little girl said, her lip quivering.
Norinth’s brow furrowed in confusion. “You can speak, little one? Yes, I am hurt, or at least I WAS,” he resounded.
The girl shriveled back a moment. “Mommy gives me hugs when I hurt,” she said, putting her arms out wide.
Norinth’s eyes sized her up. What game was she up to? he thought. “Your mother is dead child,” he sighed coldly.
The girl’s lip quivered as tears streamed. “You mean! You just says it coz you hurt!”
“Of course! We’ve already said thi—” he began to bellow as the girl pattered forth to wrap her arms partially around his wide leg.
Something coursed through Norinth’s chest. A warmth, but he had not flexed his flame sac. Had she cast some meager, savage spell to cause an involuntary convulsion?
The warmth emanated throughout his entire body, and he relaxed. She curled up next to him, clinging tightly to his leg, and he felt almost compelled to coil his head and long neck up next to her. He felt still and his thoughts were no longer racing of his species’ endangerment. He felt at peace for a moment before he realized the pain in his mouth was gone.
Norinth awoke to the sounds of pattering feet, but there was a slight metallic clang that accompanied their steps. It would be imperceptible to human ears. These fools think my hearing is no better than theirs, Hah!
He thrust his body into an upright position, but gently caught the sleeping girl with his tail before she hit the ground, laying her beside a small rock that dwarfed her in size. His catlike movements contrasted to his plodding crash through the forest earlier. He was relaxed, alert, and fed.
Several human men dressed in black cloth and soft-soled shoes snuck into the cavern. Their camouflage might fool another creature, but dragon vision was superior to any in the land. Norinth could see the heat radiating from their bodies as well as their physical form. He delighted in their clever attempts at an ambush, but they underestimated his senses. Perhaps some of the younger dragons had fallen for this, but a mature dragon’s senses are above reproach!
The silence pervaded the cavern so still that the young girl continued to sleep. At the opportune moment, when the stealthy ambushers turned the corner into the massive chamber, the dragon sprung his trap. In an instant, he opened his eyes, and the ambushers were ambushed. He puckered his scaly lips and spit out fire in long strands like the arrows of the savages, another mimicry of dragonkin. The arrows shot across the room and into the throats of the men, cauterizing their vocal chords.
They all died in shock and silence as Norinth simply whispered. “Shhhhh, you’ll wake the child fools….”
Not one to look a gift human in the mouth, Norinth devoured them quietly. Man flesh was tasty but also easy to digest and he only chewed to savor. As he mulled the last morsel about, he stalked towards the mouth of the cave to spy for other attackers, spitting out the remnant clothes and mangled metal weaponry of his meal.
The late afternoon air was still and Norinth basked in the sun, its warmth causing a momentary distraction. Suddenly, a volley of arrows launched down the hill from the left. Most of the arrows shattered on his tough, scaly skin, but one or two wedged between the cracks of some worn scales he had yet to shed.
Norinth looked back at the arrows, scraping them from his flesh like splinters. “How dare you savages harm me! I will show you what pain truly is!”
The sounds of a fleet of bowstrings being drawn back were silenced by a gust of wind blowing towards the cave as the dragon drew in a magnificent breath.
“NOW! Show the beast the power of our arms! Unleash the dark storm clouds of our arrows upon him!” The Commander signaled, unwittingly revealing his position.
The arrows launched from the left tree line of Norinth’s carved path. They looked like a massive swarm of locusts flying through the air, their metal points glinting in the sunlight. An orange glare reflected off their collective mass as a vortex of fire ignited in front of Norinth. He expelled a geyser of fire that enveloped and disintegrated the arrows without stopping. The fire continued on toward the tree line where the arrows had originated from.
When the plume of fire had extinguished, all that remained were ash and blackened stumps and still red hot bits of armor. Trees continued to catch ablaze in a wave that threatened to catch the whole forest alight, but Norinth swooped up and gave a mighty gust of his wings that snuffed all the flames out. Even dragons didn’t desire reckless destruction, that would dwindle the food supply.
Norinth landed, looking for remnants of any survivors. A stone with a dragonmark caught his eye. He could barely make out its shape from the scorch marks, but it was clear he had been deceived.
Norinth snarled and snorted. “I grow weary of your mimicry of my species, Commander! Show yourself or I’ll burn this entire forest down!”
The sounds of another volley of arrows came from the right-hand tree lines where a second group lie in wait. “He’s onto us now, lads! He knows our real position. Let loose the second wave!”
Norinth leapt into the air to take flight, vaulting over the first volley of arrows. “You’ll have to do better than that, you feeble savag—”
The swift piercing of a second volley fired in rapid succession caught him off guard. Most of the arrows pierced the membrane of his wings, causing him to crash backwards into the trees behind him and slamming into a large boulder.
Norinth lay stunned on the ground, dazed but fighting to regain lucidity. He was enraged but momentarily helpless as dozens of knights surrounded him covered in metal scale armor and weaponry.
“Swords at the ready, men! Prepare your pikes and pole-arms! His limbs are long and even in his stupor, he is still a threat!” The Knight Commander ordered.
They approached the dragon as he lay twitching, but he could hear the sniffles of someone in the distance near the cave. As the men got within striking distance of his face and limbs, his eyelids jerked open at the continued sounds that had turned to sobbing.
The little girl shouted from the hillside near the mouth of the cave. “Stop please! Don’t hurt! Don’t be mean!”
Norinth sat up, rolling over and crushing some of the men underfoot while others attempted to pierce his scales.
“Don’t let him get up, men! Take out his legs!” The Commander shouted from the back ranks.
One of the knights charged with a long sword to pierce his scales. Norinth didn’t even bother to look his way and swatted the man across the tree tops with the tip of his tail like a mere toy before leaping over the ranks of men. He flapped his wings but couldn’t catch the air properly with all the arrows and came thundering down onto the hillside like an avalanche.
The little girl rushed to his leg. “You hurt again! Please be good! I sad if you die.” She said as her face turned into a frown.
Norinth paused, watching her grip his leg again. He could hear the men charging up the hillside towards them and he was confused by the child’s actions. Didn’t she know she was his food? I killed her mother and father right in front of her. How could she be acting this way?
The men closed the gap up the hillside and Norinth took the child into one of his claws and held her aloft. “Stop right now or I’ll pop her head off! You’ll not have your precious treasure!”
The Commander halted the charge. “Stop men! Do not let harm come to the child!”
Norinth snorted. “That’s right, I know how important she is to you! Your reasons for getting her are not some altruistic endeavor!”
The Commander marched through the ranks to the front, parting men like a ship parts the waves. “How dare you speak to us of altruism, you evil creature! Give us the girl and we will make your death quick!”
Norinth smiled at the savage taking his bait. He gripped the child tight and reared up on his hind legs, giving his wings a mighty flap as hard as he could, directing the winds towards the centerline of his body. Forceful gusts buffeted the soldiers, many toppling over into each other, followed by a volley of dislodged arrows from his wings. Norinth reveled in his self inflicted pain as their own instruments impaled the Commander. The Commander’s eyes took on a lifeless glare as his body slumped forward, unable to fall to the ground, propped up by the myriad arrows skewering him.
Norinth cackled as he stomped his front leg back down to the ground. “What will you do now, savages? I’ve cut the head off the snake, now slither away! You’ll make a good meal as I hunt you all down to bolster my fat reserves!”
The men stared in shock, unsure of what to do. During the pause, Norinth’s attention was distracted by the sobbing girl in his clutches. “Don’t be mean. You neither, mister!”
Norinth’s eyes faltered, his lids sulking. Who is this child? What is she doing to me? He shook his head to dismiss the sour feeling in his stomach and lump in his throat. He mustered more aggression towards the savages by baring his teeth and growling.
The rumbling vibrated the ground, causing the Commander’s skewered carcass to roll down the hill. The front line of men stepped back as if the corpse was cursed and didn’t want to touch it, but a purple robed figure walked through the parting wave of men to the front, stopping the Commander’s tumble with his foot. His robes were gilded in gold and bore dragonmark symbols embroidered into their fabric.
Norinth squinted in contempt. “A sorcerer! hah! A charlatan stealing from a superior species like a child playing with one of your adult’s weapons. He can stab, but doesn’t know how to properly wield it!”
The Sorcerer remained silent until the dragon’s speech had ended. Sticking his hand out, he began to mutter words no mere savage could form. His forked tongue poked out of his mouth as he removed his dark hood. He was bald and had dragonmarks tattooed down the center line of his head to his neck.
A sudden force began to tug at the child, equal in strength to Norinth’s. “Come to me young Hana!” The Sorcerer rasped.
The child squalled. “No! The bad man is here! Please don’t take me!”
As she slipped out of Norinth’s grasp, Hana wrapped her arms around one of his claws. Norinth grasped her with his other claw, scooping her up as he leaped into the air over the western treeline. His flight was shaky from the damage to his wings, but the pull of the Sorcerer’s magic ceased as he put distance between them.
Norinth landed a distance away in a canyon. He perched under the cliff’s overhang. He recalled ages ago when this canyon was a mighty river he would bathe in.
He released Hana, and she laid flat on his scaly chest while he rested his battered wings. “Be careful not to slip off the side weanling.”
Hana smiled. “I can hear you heart! Thanks for keeping me from the bad man! I love you.”
Norinth was again bewildered. “Child, I killed your mother and ate your father! Why are you being so—”
“Shhh. I know. I’m very mad, but we’re all we got. You sleep too long and hungry,” Hana said in a playful tone that belied the tears she was holding back.
Norinth felt something again he couldn’t explain. His vision began to cloud briefly as he blinked repeatedly and let out a heaving sigh that sent the child tumbling. She squealed as Norinth casually caught her with his wing.
Hana giggled. “Again, again!”
Norinth grunted. “No Hana, you’ll fall into the canyon below. Now get up here and be still while I think.”
The day waned to dusk and Norinth could hear a horn approaching. Hana’s head perked up. Tired of hiding, Norinth grasped the girl and took a staggering flight into the air, attempting to hover above the cliff. He could see the Sorcerer leading a refreshed group of armored men just a short distance away.
Norinth winced as he flapped his injured wings, cracking a smile. “I see you’ve marched to your death! Since you seem so intent on eliminating my species, then I have no qualms in eliminating yours, or the creatures that support it!”
Norinth began to draw in as deep a breath as he could and he spewed flame into the forest and clearing near the cliff. He planned to raze the entire area of all life until these savages were gone. Hana covered her eyes and gasped.
The Sorcerer smiled as his men threw up their shields. He quickly finished an incantation he had started earlier, tossing a sprig of something into the air moments before the wall of fire made contact. He stood at the face of the fire, basking in its searing radiance, and uttered his last word as he released the transformed sprig into the flames that seemed to pause midair.
The flames wilted like a flower, turning black and disintegrating. The wave of withering spread up the plume into the dragon’s mouth.
Norinth gasped as he plunged to the ground. “Whaaat have you done to me yo—.”
Norinth’s body went limp, and he coughed and gagged. His grip of Hana released.
Hana went to his aid to hug him again. “No don’t die! I love you! Please stay!”
But the Sorcerer grabbed her from behind, covering her mouth with a cloth until she fell asleep. “I’ll bid you farewell now. Your species has served its purpose in history, and now mine will take the mantle where yours had failed. Your folly was your arrogance, thinking yourselves untouchable because of your power. Now I will use the child to summon the power of your kind for my own use. My kingdom will reign and my species will be the new apex!”
Norinth gasped in pain and darkening vision as the men marched away with Hana. Gasping for breath, he passed out alone and forgotten.
Norinth awoke in the darkness. It was a moonless night, and his strength was ebbing away like a draining pond. He staggered back to the cave, wanting to curl up in his familiar surroundings before he died, at least.
Inside, the cave was quiet and still, how he enjoyed it on any other day, but today it was unsettling. He knew he was dying and wasn’t long for this world. He was the last, and his species would be talked about as foul evil creatures the savages had triumphed over. Well, at least some part of me will live on in legend, he thought.
He had always looked down on the savages. They were his prey after all, but he had to admit, finally, they had got the best of him and his species. Maybe the Sorcerer is right, maybe it’s time for me to pass on and the victor to take its rightful place.
Norinth resigned himself to his fate. The dragon’s legacy would live on in the human’s traditions and their mimicry of his kind, in their stories. What more can I ask for, I suppose, than to live on in such a manner? However, a nagging feeling surfaced in him.
These humans were still savages. Playing with powers they didn’t fully understand, and could not over such short time spans. They knew nothing of balance. As he pondered, Norinth caught a glimmer of something metallic in his cave. A necklace left behind by Hana.
Coughing and hacking, he limped over to pick it up. He stared at it, remembering the little girl’s first hug around his thick leg. It filled him with warmth.
“It is true that the wisest and oldest of us sought balance. We would only take what we had to, slumber for long periods to let life regrow and re awaken to eat, and purge the unruly and overgrown. But perhaps that too was just about our survival. These savages though don’t live long enough to learn such things. I’ve watched them consume at increasing rates with no regard for the very dwindling resources they need for their own survival, let alone anything else. They have the worst of our traits and the immaturity to handle any of it. Perhaps this is my kind’s failing, but this little girl was different,” he pondered aloud.
Staring at the necklace, Norinth recalled as Hana repeatedly saw past his monstrous form, even though it was in his nature to be so. She saw MORE. She showed faith and forgiveness in him beyond her years, or either species. I cannot let this child be used by the Sorcerer for yet more power for the exaltation of his own ego.
As he took deeper breaths, he felt ok again. A warmth pervaded him and the poisonous spell seemed to have worn off, but he knew, it was this child’s love that was a magic all its own that had cured him, touched his reptilian heart. The failings of my kind must not be repeated by such a brash young species.
With renewed vigor, the dragon grasped the necklace tight as he thundered out of the cave. He looked about in the dark from the hillside, until he spotted smoke in the distance, no doubt from a human encampment. Norinth took flight, flapping his wings with determination to stay aloft, though his wings seemed to have mended a bit.
Norinth crashed down into the middle of the human encampment. “Where is the Sorcerer? Tell me what he has done with the girl or I’ll raze this encampment to the ground!”
The men staggered to arms, surrounding the beast. Each small group rushed him in turn, but he swatted them away with his tail and the back of his claws. Another group snuck up behind him, skewering his tail to the ground with a spear made of obsidian.
Norinth roared. Turning around, he grabbed the man by the shoulders and swung him about to knock the other men down, before tossing him onto a pile of straw. His tail levered the spear from the ground with great pain and sent it flying to a distant part of the forest.
Norinth snarled. “Listen to me, you savage monkeys! I am only here for the Sorcerer and the girl! Your commander is a fool that means to use her in a ritual that he doesn’t understand! It will take her life and see him ruling over you like a tyrant!”
“Why should we listen to a foul beast such as you?” Several knights shouted in unison.
“Because if you don’t, you’ll just repeat the mistakes of the past, but worse! You’ll suck the life from this world and starve to death while the Sorcerer sits on his lofty throne at your expense!” Norinth said.
One of the knights emerged from the pack, holding his open palm in the air. “Stop. All of you! Can’t you see? This creature could have just wiped us all out by now. He could have flown over and spewed flame upon us, but he didn’t. Hell, he hasn’t even done anything here but injure our pride.”
“At last, a savage with some sense.”
“Careful beast, I’m not on your side, but I’ll listen to what you say if it’s the truth. My name is Milun, and this is my brother Mithran,” he said as he motioned for his blond haired brother to emerge from the crowd.
The other men stood in disbelief at discourse with a dragon. “I need to retrieve the girl, Hana. She has a gift, one beyond her years, and that is much needed by your kind and the future of life in this world,” Norinth said.
The brothers looked at each other before Milun spoke. “Yes, she is to the north in a Keep in the middle of the lake. That’s where he does his magic. To be fair, I never liked him using magic at all and have always been unsettled by it.”
Norinth smirked. “Then climb on my back and you shall direct me there. I will have need of your small stature.”
The trio flew off across the landscape, arriving at a circular stone keep on an island in the middle of a massive lake. An empty ship was docked beside it and he spotted archers in the towers.
The brothers anticipated the heaving breath of the dragon to interject. “Dragon, do take care not to harm our brothers in arms needlessly,” Milun said.
Norinth held back his breath and muttered through clenched teeth. “They’re zealots human. They won’t listen to reason, but as you wish, I’ll scatter them. I won’t make guarantees none will die, though.”
He swooped down, spewing flames in the gaps between the troops to corral them like a sheep dog into their towers. After grabbing the archers and tossing them into the lake, he deposited the brothers down to find a way in.
Milun pointed over to a large cargo grate. “We will try to find a way to open it from the inside if we can, but if not, we shall return shortly with the girl, I swear! I have a daughter back home, and I won’t let a child be sacrificed for one man’s power.”
Norinth continued spewing fire and ripped stone from the walls to blockade the doors while the brothers entered the keep’s main door. Several troops garbed in banners of the Sorcerer with their faces painted pushed the duo back out and surrounded them. Norinth swooped in to coerce them away with fire, but they didn’t move and instead stood burning in their convictions to form a wall around the two. A cranking noise caught the flying dragon’s attention as the cargo grate opened up and a ballista emerged.
A bolt flew past Norinth as he narrowly dodged it in a mid air roll. One of the brothers screamed in pain as he was stabbed.
Norinth swooped down to burn the men. “Milun! Get out of there now! Your brother is lost!”
Milun tried to retreat through the fiery path of corpses the dragon had laid for him, but more zealots spilled out of the central keep. Distracted by his defense of the young warrior, another ballista bolt caught Norinth in his right wing, tearing the membrane completely off. Norinth came crashing down but in a spiteful twist, steered his hulking body onto the ballista and its operators, crushing them.
Craning his neck about to muster more fire, Norinth sputtered out some blood that ignited on the back of the encroaching zealots like napalm, but it was too late. Mithran had been stabbed and fell to the ground atop his brother.
The zealots returned to the interior, as the crushed ballista lowered with Norinth still on it, the cargo grate swinging closed overtop him. Norinth tried to stand up, but his ribs felt broken. The platform lowered into a large ritual chamber bordered by many men. He slinked over, unable to catch a deep enough breath to spew flames into the room, and fearful that the girl, now tied to a stone altar in the center, would catch fire.
The Sorcerer was too busy with his incantation to mind the dragon’s appearance in the dark alcove, but some of the zealot soldiers walked in to inspect. He played dead, which wasn’t far from the truth until they went away. Norinth knew he had to save Hana, but he couldn’t kill all these men in his state without risking her life. It was never about stamping out these savages, was it? I’ve had this change of heart, because this little girl had faith in me, perhaps then I can save the girl and inspire some of these men to do the same, maybe they can do better than my species or this sect of zealots ever could.
Norinth stood up with conviction. He used the remnants of his own magic to transform himself into human form, forsaking his size, fire, and strength. He watched as the Sorcerer’s magic swirled about and he held a ritual dagger high about to stab. Norinth knew what he had to do and sprinted at the last minute through the room, throwing himself onto the girl as the knife plunged into his back.
The Sorcerer grimaced in disgust followed by outrage. “What have you done? Who are you? You’ve ruined this ritual and I’ll have to try again!”
Norinth cackled as he turned over, revealing parts of his face still speckled with scales. “You fool, this magic will return to my body and die with me now!”
“The dragons try to thwart us yet again! They don’t want us to have their power!” The Sorcerer stammered to the congregation.
Hana managed to use the knife to cut herself free, embraced Norinth’s human body. “I love you! Please don’t go! Dragons aren’t bad! They need love too!”
The congregation stood in confusion as a new face staggered down the stairs. The blond brother Mithran was still alive. “It’s true. Dragons have ruled for a while, and we could use their power to rule as well, but at what cost? The sacrifice of an innocent child? The sacrifice of her love? How many of you at home have children? If a dragon can change its ways, then maybe there is hope here for everyone! Let’s rule over this land with love and light instead of tyranny and power!”
Several men began to put down their arms, but a few, whom no doubt had children back home, grabbed the Sorcerer as Mithran approached. “You’ll stand trial before the King, you wretch.”
Norinth heaved his last breath, a smile across his face as Hana held him close. “No! Don’t go! Please!” She said, sobbing into his chest.
Time passed, and she awoke from her dream safe in her cozy bed. Her foster parents emerged into her warm bedroom as she told them about her dream of the day her dragon friend died in her arms, so they did what they always do and took her for a walk to get some fresh air. She watched down the cobblestone path as a man scrubbed the sorcerers emblem off a post, which was a disfigured dragonmark, and she held the dragon doll her new mom had made for her close, feeling like he was still there.
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