The Last Dragon Battle

Mariana

The story you are about to read is not one of those well-tailored, mushy happily-ever-after tales. It is the raw truth, pure and undiluted. What happened was a great loss to the world, but was only a miniscule link in the chain of time. I tell you this story from my own point of view, so that you may better understand it.

My name is Flaregold. I am a golden matriarch dragon, the last of my ancient race. Now I grow old, for the Wild Magic that created me has faded from this world, taking the dragons with it. Soon I will die, and there will be none left to honor my name. No one left to continue the dragonkind, for I have no living children. And my name is not even honorable, because I hid. I hid while my brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and even my beloved Fireblaze died in battle. I live in a prison of my own guilt at having survived, to which death is the only door. But before I die, someone must learn the story of how the last remnant of dragons died, and pass it on to the rest of the world. And so I give the story to you.

* * *

"No," I pleaded, "no, you must not go. You cannot go. Don't leave me here." I trailed off. My words fell on deaf ears. My children, my family, my life were leaving. Leaving to what I knew would be slaughter. I had the power of prophecy, but they would not listen, not even my youngest daughter. She was only a mere sixty years old, just out of childhood. Too young to die such a horrible death. For her sake and the sake of my family I tried again. " You mustn't go. You'll die if you go. Please, listen to me!" I warned. Still they ignored my advice. Fireblaze turned to me. "We'll come back to you, love. We will win against the red dragons. Do not fear." He smiled in an easy-going, relaxed manner. How could he? How could he relax in the face of death? I grew angry, and yelled, "Don't you understand?! It will be slaughter out there! If you go, you won't ever come back alive!" as the other golden dragons looked at me, disbelieving, I said quietly, " Oh you'll win alright. But it won't be much of a victory. There'll be none of you left to see it."

My family took off from the rock ledge in a wave of golden scales, glistening in the sunlight. Right then, I knew it was the last time I would ever see them alive. "Come back!" I screamed at them, "come back! DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE!" I shrieked. Not one of them turned to heed my cries. "Don't leave." I whispered tearfully, "come back to me." But they were already just shining specks on the horizon.

I went back into the cave, hurrying into my private chambers. There, I picked up a round globe of clear crystal and whispered the incantation. The ball filled with smoke, then solidified into the forms of dragons. Dragons of red and gold, locked in battle.

I watched as my oldest daughter killed a red dragon in a burst of searing flame-breath. As she turned to face another, a huge red female, the matriarch, dived down from the clouds and struck the golden back. Blood spurted and gushed as my daughter fell, screaming in agony, to the rocky canyon below. Silent tears rolled down my face.

I saw my mate, bellowing in fury, attack the red matriarch in a flash of fiery gold. She turned too late, and her blood-red face was engulfed in deadly flame. Her death scream pierced the heavens as she followed my child to death. Fireblaze, roaring triumph, burned the wings off of a young red who fell, still alive, to the sharp rocks below. My golden mate turned around, to see five red dragons heading for him. There were only three other golden dragons left, and they rushed in to help their patriarch. Together the four golds defeated the five reds, but one of them, my youngest son, died in the struggle. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew what was coming next.

Fireblaze killed two of the three remaining red dragons before plummeting, mortally wounded, into the canyon far below.

The last gold, my elder sister, defeated the last red, but was entangled in the dead dragon's claws. She too plunged to her death in the bloodstained gorge, joining the corpses of her friends and enemies.

I closed my eyes and pushed the crystal ball away. The battle was over, and so were the lives of all I had ever known. Tears flowed, unchecked, down my golden snout.

I flew slowly to the distant canyon where my brethren had perished, and retrieved the corpses, one by one. I laid them out on crystal biers, as was proper, and honored their memories, as was traditional. My children were dead before their mother. They joined the Hall of the Dead, filled with the magically preserved bodies of their ancestors, before their time. Why? I wondered. Why did they have to die? Why so young?

As I left the Hall of the Dead, I felt the Wild Magic seeping out of the world, leaving my body, taking away my eternal youth. I tried to grasp it, pull it back with my own powerful magic. But the Wild Magic seeped through the tiny cracks in my rune-magic, and disappeared.

* * *

And so, as I draw my last breaths, I have given you the story, my story. I have told you how the dragons died, how my beloved died. Now I am free, free to die, free to end this tortured, lonely existence. The Age of Magic, the Age of Dragons will end with my death, and only stories will remain to tell of them.

I am dying now.

Dying.

Dying.

Free.




December 2000


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