Not all hunts end well, even for the legends..
There had been that dragon that the villagers had hired him to kill, and he had gone into the mountain after it. What had been its name again..,
Stormblaze was is not?
Yes, that beast`s name was Stormblaze, he was certain of that.
Like any dragon, it hadn`t appreciated the intruder in its lair and the fight that followed had been long and hard.., he had to use every bit of what he had learned as a sorcerer and a fighter. Stormblaze was said to be one of the few really ancient dragons still alive, and the beast had certainly been a cunning opponent.
No doubt that there had been a few times during the battle where it had nearly gotten him.
Finally regaining enough control of his unresponsive body to manage such a simple task as opening his eyes, Seyin slowly did so, wincing at the pain when dust got into his eyes. But after a few blinks he managed to clear them enough to get a look around, before his eyes widened as he recalled the end of the battle.
The dragon had rushed at him from a corridor, and he had barely been able to cast the petrifying spell he had prepared in time. However, apparently the floor hadn`t been strong enough to carry them both when the dragons body became stone, and they had both fallen. Seyin could still remember the horrible feeling when the floor disappeared from under his feet, there had been no time to stop himself from falling.
What he did remember was too confusing for him to determine exactly how long the fall had been, but it had certainly been enough to knock him unconscious for quite a while. At least it was long enough for his body to have cooled down after the fight.
Trying to lift his arms to brush some of the dust away from his face, Seyin gasped in pain as he found that his right arm was useless, broken in many places. He could use his left arm, however, although he had to clench his teeth against the pain as he moved it.
Keeping his thoughts at other things than the pain, Seyin carefully examined what he could reach of his body without sitting up. Most likely there were spinal or neck injuries that could get worse if he did that.
No, there were no external wounds as far as he could tell, but he couldn`t be sure about internal injuries. As long as his body was in shock, he couldn`t really tell, and the healing gift was not among his talents.
Soon Seyin`s fingers located several broken ribs, and as he found that his legs wouldn`t move, he began to realize that his chances of surviving were now next to nonexistent.
No villager in his or her right mind would dare come looking for him within a dragon`s lair, and of-course his apprentices wouldn`t be expecting him back for at least a week. Cursing himself for his own stupidity, for not bringing along any of the older and more experienced apprentices as he went to take down Stormblaze for the villagers, Seyin gazed at the darkness above.
Then the sorcerer closed his eyes, briefly concentrating to conjure up a mage flame to light up his surroundings. It provided little heat, but at least he was able to see his surroundings and above he could just make out the underside of the floor he had fallen through.
It had to be at least 20 meters above him, probably more as it was hard to determine the exact distance from where he lay.
Rocks from the shattered floor lay all around him, but obviously his shields had deflected most, and the few that had gotten through was too small to do any serious damage. And to his left, most of it hidden by the shadows, laid the petrified hulk of the dragon he had fought. Well, at least he had managed to do what he had promised the villagers, Stormblaze wouldn`t pose a threat to them or their land anymore.
Seyin smiled wryly, trying to ignore the fear that was slowly worming its way into his mind. Within months there would probably be songs about him spreading all over the continent.
Both elves and humans had always had that strange facination for heroes; idiots like himself who went out to get themselves killed so the bards could compose ballads and poems about them afterwards.
"Damn!", he muttered to himself, his eyes suddenly widening slightly as he sensed movement nearby.
When the other dragon appeared, moving slowly out of the shadows, Seyin was unable to hold away the fear anymore. He did what he could to keep it from showing at his face, but he knew very well that the beast was fully capable of sensing his feelings.
At only ten meters, the dragon was obviously a youngling, much smaller than Stormblaze had been, the red frills at the sides of its head making it clear that it was a female.
His gaze never straying away from the creature, he waited for it to make its intentions clear. Dragons had a sense of honor, years as a dragon hunter had taught him that, but they were also unpredictable. If this one came to kill him, he could only hope that it would be done quickly.
"Why are you here?", Seyin asked as the dragon remained silent, gazing at him from where it stood just within the circle of light created by the mage flame.
"If you came to kill me, do so. But please let me know why you are here" he said, groaning quietly as he felt that his body was slowly recovering from the shock and the pain block slowly wore off. Soon the pain would probably be too great for him to speak, and shortly after that he would most likely pass out again.
The dragon's eyes glittered, muscles flexing under her steel-colored scales.
It pleases me to see you dying, Seyindrenas Kiiren, she finally said, you have killed many of us since you became a sorcerer five decades ago. However, we all agreed that even such a person who has brought us such pain as you should not die alone with your fear, but I will stay here with you until you pass away.
Surprised at what the dragon had just said, Seyin stared at her, trying to determine if there was anything more in what she was saying. But he got no feeling about ulterior motives, and the dragon regarded him calmly, her eyes glowing in the semi-darkness of the cave.
Of-course, despite having been a dragon hunter for a long time, there still had to be a lot of things that he didn`t know about them...
"Yes, I admit that the company will be appreciated," he said quietly, "although I doubt that you will have to endure being in my presence for long".
But as he spoke, he couldn`t help but letting some bitterness tinge his voice, he had never really expected that he would die in this way. And for a dragon to be the only one present as he passed away...
The dragon moved slightly, her talons clicking against the stone.
This is in fact the first time I have had the opportunity to see one of your kind this close. Those of my age are rarely allowed to venture close to the lands of man, elf, dwarf and faerie, but I have heard about and seen what you have done.
Keeping his face free of emotions, at least he hoped that he did, Seyin turned his head slightly to get a better view of the dragon. But even as he began to speak, he could feel the pain slowly increasing in intensity, soon his training wouldn`t be enough to help him keep it at bay.
"Perhaps you would have understood better if you had seen what some of your kind did to the people of many villages and cities I have seen," he said, well aware of that he was becoming pale.
"As a sorcerer and warrior, it is my duty to make sure that the lives of mundanes are as secure as possible, especially when our kings and queens fails to do so."
In the semi-darkness of the cave, the dragon`s eyes seemed almost luminous as she watched him. Then she suddenly lowered her head, the tip of her muzzle only inches from Seyin as she uttered a low rumble.
/Ah, so the Kings and Queens have indeed grown as neglectful as the rumors said. Do they even remember what their ancestors could do?/, she asked, a hint of slyness in her voice.
Seyin took a deep breath, realizing that he might have revealed a bit more than he should have. While he appreciated the dragons presence, he still couldn`t permit himself to forget that she and her kind were the enemies of elvenkind and their allies.
"That may be the case," he replied, "but the sorcerers have not forgotten. We still remember the old ways, as that is proof of."
Slowly raising a hand, Seyin smiled wryly as he indicated the petrified hulk of Stormblaze, and for a moment he thought that the female dragon was going to attack as he sensed her anger.
However, a moment later she blinked, and the burst of anger dissolved as if it had never been.
/So I see/, the dragon hissed, then she suddenly jerked her head backwards when Seyin gasped, his skin growing even paler than it had been as he let his hand fall back down at the floor of the cave. His body shuddering, the elven sorcerer's eyes rolled back in their sockets as he passed out.
Scales rustling as she sat back at her haunches, the young dragoness spread her wings slightly for balance as she watched the limp form of the elf-- unimpressive and spindly when compared to the durable body of a dragon. Certainly the elves and the other humanoid races were not weak when it came to magic and their societies, but their bodies was obviously so easily broken, the wounds she sensed within the elf would not have been so fatal to one of her kind.
As long as infection was not allowed to develop, the natural healing abilities of a dragon could have handled similar injuries quite easily.
So there you are, little sister. I see I guessed right when coming here to find you.
Flaring her neck frill in greeting, the dragoness watched quietly as another dragon emerged from the shadows by the exit she knew could be found only a few tens of meters away. Almost twice her lenght and with a bright blue frill that marked him as a male, the dragoness' older brother clacked his teeth together in anger as he paused for a moment to study the dead form of the ancient Mountain Lord.
/What I would like to know is why you are wasting time on a mere elf, he will die anyway, so why not hasten the process?/, the blue-frilled male asked, his eyes narrowing slightly as he turned his lionine head to study the unconscious Seyin.
The fact that he has killed others of our kind, along with gryphons and phoenixes, is another thing that would stand against him.
The dragoness snorted, moving slightly to be able to block her older brother in the case that he chose to end the elf's life right away.
True, he's dying, and he's not going to go anywhere-- sometimes even an enemy is worthy of compassion in the last minutes of his life. Besides, he may give us information that may be useful to our kind in the time that is coming.
Turning her gaze back to Seyin, the dragoness watched the elf for any signs of that he was about to regain consciousness-- but the sound of his mind assured her that it would be a while yet.
If he woke at all, that was.
/The adults may have given you permission to do this, but I'm not the only one among our siblings who does not agree with it. As the youngest one among us, you should not put yourself in danger by talking with sorcerers, even dying ones/, the male said.
I cannot forbid you from doing so, but I will remain close by whether you like it or not.
With that, the blue-frilled male folded his wings tightly-- giving Stormblaze's remains a last look before he moved back into the corridor he had came through, the quiet hiss of scales against stone reaching the dragoness' ears before everything became quiet again.
Curling her tail forwards around her forelegs, she turned her attention back to the elf, listening to his breathing. It was quite impressive that he still lived at all, after such a fall. Certainly she did not know much about how his kind was made, but as she had remarked on earlier, they were in fact not very durable.
There was also the fact that this one was well known among the dragons, not feared certainly, but still spoken about with a certain respect. Though she did snort at the idea out loud, the dragoness could not deny the part of her that wished that she could have learned more from him.
Not to the degree that she would descend to the level of actually helping the sorcerer however, of that there were no doubt in her. That one could never be allowed to live, if she had to make sure of it herself even.
Still, a few minutes later, she did get a bit of a startle as the sound of a low groan reached her sensitive ears. It was with no small amount of surprise that she lowered her head to take a closer look at the elf. His face pale, he looked at her without truly seeing, caught in the pain of his injuries.
Wings partly unfolded, the dragoness held back, listening to the pieces of thoughts and memories bleeding from the elf's mind. Of friends and family, of past happenings, all quite fascinating and possibly of great use to her own kind. Weakened by pain, it was quite so obvious that he was no longer able to keep his thoughts veiled.
Waking, Seyin quickly wished that he hadn't, his broken body making its state known instantly. Just the simple act of breathing was almost too painful, and screaming was certainly out of the question.
All he managed was a rather weak groan.
The dragon was still present, he heard it moving in response to the sound, though his vision was too blurred for him to see anything clearly. Seyin could still feel it, watching and listening from somewhere not far away.
"I'm surprised, that you are still here," he managed to say, the dry rustle of folding wings reaching his ears. In the next instant, he gasped-instinctively trying to move away as a cool claw touched the side of his face. Despite of his injuries, he tensed, a spell of protection starting to form in his mind, even if he didn't have the energy to release it.
Then, the pain vanished, as if it had never been...
For a moment, Seyin was left confused, uncertain if he dared believe it. There was not only no new burst of pain caused by his movements, but no pain at all. His body had not been healed, he could feel that. But for the first time since he had regained consciousness after the fight with Stormblaze, it was possible to breathe freely.
Even his vision cleared a bit, and with a slight frown he looked up at the dragon, allowing the surprise he felt to show on his face. Whatever her reasons, he guessed that he ought to be thankful that she had done that much at least.
An enemy you are certainly, but that does not mean that you ought to die in such pain. That I can grant you at least, the dragoness said.
"I'd rather live, that is not something that I can lie about. My situation being such as it is however, you have my gratitude."
Despite of his words, bitterness surged through Seyin, and he looked away from the dragoness. Part of it was his pride certainly, the mere thought of dying in such a remote place, where the chances of his body ever being found were so small.
And, even if he tried to force it to the back of his mind, there was regret. That he was not going to see his lady again, nor any of the students whom he had trained through the years.
He would have liked to speak with them again, if only to say farewell...
Autumn Flame, grand-daughter of the Mountain Lord, hardly dared to inhale another lung-full of air as she slowly rose to her feet.
Fixing both of her keen eyes at the still body of the elven sorcerer, she gave a soft sigh as a closer inspection confirmed what she had suspected. From one moment to the next, Seyin had died, the sudden absence of the sound of his breathing having alerted her.
Already the sorcerer's eyes were dimmed in death, open and unseeing. And in spite of herself, Autumn Flame couldn't help but shudder. Certainly she had seen death before, in the prey brought by her dam and sire, and the animals that she had later hunted herself.
This was different however, seeing another being dead like that-one she had just spoken to and helped, in a small way at least. An enemy no doubt, but she had found an amount of respect towards him during the time since she had first entered the grotto.
It is time to go, come now little sister.
Surprised by the lack of scorn in the voice of her elder brother, the dragoness slowly turned to look at him as he appeared out of a nearby corridor. After all that had happened, she just couldn't shake off the feeling that she ought to do something more. Who knew what the elves did with their dead, but was it right to just leave the sorcerer's body in such a cold place.
Caves like this were places for gryphons, not beings of the air like dragons. Nor, perhaps, a place for elves...
/I don't know../, she began, taking a few steps towards her brother, before pausing.
Blue frill rippling, the older male looked at the body even as she did. And after a long pause, he spoke- I will speak with those given the honor of taking Mountain Lord Storm Blaze to its resting place. They will find a place in the peaks for the elf sorcerer's body also. Nothing wrong in granting respect and honor to your enemies, just never forget what they are. In the war that is coming, all of our kind will be needed.
Nodding, Autumn Flame took one last, long look at the body of Seyindrenas Kiiren. Only when that was done, she followed her brother away from the grotto, her mind a turmoil of thoughts.
Soon the grotto was again quiet and cold, its tiny insect and arachnid inhabitants resuming their activity now when the threat of light and dragons were gone.