Sometimes I write stuff. It just comes out. I’m not really sure what to do with these stories, so here is one.
The sunrise was always a wonder. The way the deep black of the night slowly gave way to the grey sky and the black ocean… and then the riot of colors: at first dark reds, oranges, until the sun appeared turning the cold, black water into blue again. He loved the sunrise, even though he has watched it every morning for millennia. The sun’s fire was his fire; this is when he felt some tiny sliver of it burning in him again.
This sunrise was even more special than all the others. It was the last one he would ever see. That small sliver of fire was turning ember… it was time.
He lazily turned into the southern wind, and slowly spiralled upwards, always upwards. Below him the endless ocean became a featureless blue surface; no land was in sight. He has spotted two of the giant albatrosses whose lives very much mirrored his own, but even they could not hope to ascend where he was. He was alone; even his kind did not come this east, preferring to stay closer to the islands where the earth’s fire is close to the surface. Only the very old or the injured come to the east. His long wings lazily flapped twice; it felt good to be on the move.
He always found it amusing: a creature of air and fire living over the cold, dark ocean… He was not afraid of the water; eons ago, when his kind waged war against mankind, he had plunged in the ocean, taking a wooden ship with him. The cold water suffocated him, it threatened to extinguish his fire, but he could endure it for a limited time. In fact, he endured longer than the humans he dragged down with their boats. That war was savage and unnecessary; hundreds of his kind died, as did tens of thousands of the Men of the West on their boats, in their villages and towns.It took centuries and an exceptional man to end the conflict. The reasons for the war were simple and yet tragic. Mankind learned to fare the oceans. They finally left their continents, and started exploring the endless oceans. They got close to the islands where the his kind reared their young. They upset the balance of power. How dare these creatures whose lives can be barely measured in decades challenge the ancient race? How dare they threaten their most sacred islands?
They threatened the them by simply existing. They upset the balance of things, and this lead to war. First, only the boats were burned, but when the armada of men came to avenge their dead and dragons died, too. His kind moved west, to deal with the threat at its source. Dragons appeared in the mountains, destroyed villages, burned up fields and livestock; things were spiralling out of control. Dragonkind had fire and the air; mankind had their war machines spitting out long rods of true steel, and people who could use magic against the dragons. Now mankind was eager to bring the war to their islands as well; countless eggs and youngsters were murdered by men. He grew up in this conflict; and he grew old during this conflict. He knew bitterness, he knew anger, he knew murder. And then the small, lone boat appeared.
The boat was painted black: black hull, black sails, even the ropes were painted black. The sail bore a sigil of a red dragon. Only one man came on this boat: a tall, young man with a red ruby on his forehead. He came as an emissary of people who were just as hateful and bitter as his own kind.
They did not kill him. He, as one of the oldest surviving member of his flock, talked to him in the common tongue. They talked, and they started the long and difficult process of making peace. An uneasy peace; a peace pregnant with resentment and hate, but it was a peace. And this peace held. The east remained for the dragons, while they left the west with its continents and mountain ranges for mankind. They departed not to return – ever. He felt the emissary die years later – betrayed and murdered; a victim of petty power struggles between the petty kingdoms of the short-lived humans. He felt sadness and he felt rage, but he kept the peace; he did not fly west to avenge him. Dragons don’t have friends; yet his human was the closest he could call one. He still wore the ruby as a sign of the contract between the two races and of the newfound respect.
The second human came centuries later. This time he came for help. Something evil appeared in the west. Some corruption spread, turning and twisting everything in its path. Plants, animals, humans; even corrupted and twisted parodies of dragons were marauding the western continents, spreading the contagion to the east. The purity of life was no more. Dragons believed of themselves to be the First in Creation. They were creatures of freedom; they saw themselves as the guardians of this world. And something has threatened it. Something had dared to corrupt even dragons, who lived far in the west. Dragons, who were long lost cousins of their race, who became only legends even in the memories of his people… This was unacceptable. Some argued to leave the west to its fate, but there are always cowards in every society; even amongst dragons. So they went to war again. He and this emissary became leaders of this joint army. The human became “the Dragon Rider” in the legends of his people centuries later, which amused him immensely; these fables made him out a little more than a flying horse, after all. He cared not how the tale was span in the west after the war ended. They went west, they found the source of corruption, and with great sacrifice they have destroyed it.
This war changed things. The previous separation disappeared; dragons started to inhabit desolate mountain ranges, deserts; some even settled close to seats of power. Some were lured by the new, the novel; some were lured by power, some were asked by the humans to stay, and some were lured by treasure. A dragon needs no gold or precious stones; yet some pillaged, robbed and murdered for these things. Most of them were dealt with by either their own kind, or by human armies and mages. Some saw this mingling as signs of corruption in itself, but change always scared some people; even dragons. He himself lived in the court of the man he befriended, giving him counsel, helping him keep the hard-won peace, making sure the Chaos cannot return. But once the king died, he felt the call of the east; the open ocean called him. He became a legend again; this time a legend of the wise sage, and not the all-destroying Worm, as people knew him in the previous war.
He turned into the Sun… the fire in his throat hissed in the icy wind.
He looked down at the surface of the ocean. He thought of the gigantic creatures he saw before. Giants, larger than even he, singing their strange songs, and wandering the endless blue ocean; their thoughts were too alien for his mind to interpret. Yet their lives mirrored his in a strange way… always swimming, yet always needing to come up to the surface for air -they too were beings living on the edge of life and death. He imagined what happened to the ones who grew too old, or suffered too grave injuries by the monsters of the deep to keep swimming. He imagined them slowly sinking into the dark coldness one last time, knowing that this time there is no ascent. They descend to the very bottom of the ocean, all the way down to the crushing depths, their bodies providing food for the denizens of the deepest ocean. They shared this fate, his kind and their kind; it was a fate he has chosen. He felt strangely at peace of the thought. He has seen his kind die before; a lot of them died violent deaths, and in some cases he himself was the cause. They just burned up, as their own fire consumed them.The ones who died peacefully simply flew east to disappear -at least, most of them.
Like he did now. He left his flock, and came here, where there is only air and water, like many has done before him. For centuries now he felt his body grow heavier, his fire weaker; as if he was slowly turning stone…. which was, in a way, was exactly what was happening. Once the fire went out, dragons became immovable stone, like the earth’s bone. He has seen what happened to his kind when they became too tired, too lazy, too heavy to fly. So it was time. One last choice to make.
He closed his amber eyes, and started to fly… to really fly. Loops and rolls, dives. Once a thing of effortless joy, now something that left burning pain in his body; yet he felt happy. He knew of tales of majestic birds singing one last song before their deaths; his song was of roaring fire and the savage joy of flight. One last loop, and he turned towards the water. The ocean waited for him.