The dragon returned, “I think we can rest here for the night. Although if you do not require rest?”
Brother Aron looked around, “I'm a bit hungry. Is there a village nearby? One you haven't eaten?”
That evil-looking grin returned to the dragon, “There is a village a half-day's walk south. I can take you nearby, they won't see me if I don't want them to. I can cough up some gold for you...”
Aron waved a hand, “Never mind. I'm not hungry anymore. I'll just find a place to lie down.”
'You might be right about humans, they do seem to spread quite rapidly. Sort of like the rats that carry pestilence I into cities,' the dragon projected the words into his mind, 'If I peek far enough into the future, I think we might see the whole earth squirming with crowded humans who have no room to sit down. Like maggots on a day old carcas.'
“Enough already,” Aron said, lying next to a tree on a pile of long grass he had pulled from nearby, “I get it. I understand how much you hate humans.”
Aron closed his eyes. He wanted his mind to be as dragon-free as possible. He could still feel the dragons presence. “Don't you ever get tired?”
He started to nod off before he heard the dragon thinking toward him again. The tone was less angry and confrontational this time.
'Thousands of years ago, humans and dragons lived in relative harmony. We shared knowledge that humans found useful, things which have been lost to history. We dragons were gatherers and savers of knowledge, much like monks in your day.'
I remember living in what you might call a castle, with my scrolls and paintings. I remember hunting alongside humans for sea monsters and great whales. Humans had larger ships in those days, they sailed across oceans to new lands. That was before humans began thinking you'd fall off the edge.'
'One Captain named Faustus and I became friends on a long voyage around the southern tip of the new lands. It was quite cold there, it was there I met Asara. She was my mate. She loved her isolated kingdom on the southern ice cap, so few humans ever wandered there and it was not a long trip to the continent to feed on the animals there.'
'Human society changes one way and then another. Eventually the shift came, humans began treating us as if we were monsters. We had no part in their politics or their wars, but we were supposed to be the monsters. Some dragons returned to the old realm, I could not even try to describe it in terms you might understand, most had no desire to return. Certain that humans would come to their senses, we stayed and hid.'
'Many of my kind were sought out and hunted down. It's quite hard to kill a dragon the regular way, your swords and spears can't penetrate most of our outer skin, and we have more layers inside. They thought to burn us, smash us, blind us and poison us. Mostly to no avail.'
The dragon sighed, 'Eventually the humans began learning more effective ways. Not the silly ways of the fairy tales, instead they used sorcery. Emorald was petrified into stone, Aggus was exploded from the inside out. I won't tell you how to do these things, of course.'
'Asara, I found her encased in her icy castle that she had buried. They had injured her several times as she sought to feed, she stopped trying to hunt on the continents, for a while she survived on the seals of the ice caps and the occasional Orca. Then humans built camps that encircled her domain, she was wounded each time she approached.'
'We never attacked the humans in those days, we never ate them. Even as she slowly starved, Asara would have never thought to eat them. If she had, she would still be alive today. She was too weak to move much when I found her, I stayed with her for days until she breathed her last and her body went to the other realm.'
'You see, our bodies do not belong here and we vanish when we die. We can also never travel in time to save one of our own, because we live outside of normal time. When we die, we are dead to all time. I know it sounds strange. It is what drove me to vengeance. It is what drives me and what will drive me for all my remaining decades and centuries.'
Meanwhile Aron was lucid and able to understand the story. He was able to actually see this white dragon named Asara as she withered away. Somehow he had been brought into the mind of the dragon, he was seeing that beasts thoughts and memories. Many places, many people, many events were moving and taking place all around him. This dragon had lived a long time.
Then Aron started to pry a bit more. He wanted to learn a certain detail but didn't dare even think of what he was looking for. Then Brother Aron found himself on a large ship, larger than he'd ever seen. A deck busy with men furling sails, a man in a high post yelling about seeing a sea-monster ahead. Aron followed others to the bow of the ship and saw the great hump of the creature rise and fall before them, it must be almost as large as the ship.
“Thar she blows! Prepare the pinchers!” He heard someone yell. He looked behind him and then up to the top of the wooden island. That's where two men controlled a large wheel, another used some long device over his eye while a tall, balding man with gray beard yelled out, “Move the mainmast five degrees to port! Prepare for the beast to turn!”
Behind that man was the dragon. It was the same dragon that Aron had been traveling with, the hated creature who devoured humans. This dragon was laughing with the Captain, it must be Faustus, Aron realized.
The pinchers were double-pronged harpoons. The ropes were pulled taught and the whole ship was rocked as the sea creature moved left and right and then dived.
“This beast be a strong one!” Faustus laughed over the cacophony, “We are defeating the mighty king of this sea!”
Suddenly one of the ropes snapped, cutting a crew member in half. The ship shifted and one side was quickly being pulled under the frothy seas.
“My friend, I think we are in trouble!” Faustus said, “I'll have to cut the cable.”
“No!” The dragon declared, his wings unfurling, “I'll help!”
The dragon lifted up into the sky and then forward towards the sea creature. The dragon dived into the water after the monster. Then Captain and men were still and quiet, waiting for their friend to reappear.
Then the monster breached the surface, for the first time Aron could see its head. It looked like the head of a snapping turtle but with row after row of long white sharp teeth. The dragon had dug its claws deep into the sides of the monsters head and was ripping out its eyes. Trying to get to the brain, no doubt.
The struggled continued for another hour before the lifeless body was abandoned by the dragon, more pinchers carried cables to embed into its carcass. It sank under the waters as the ship sailed over it, then reappeared behind the massive ship being towed.
The dragon had been in the water again, to clean itself of the blood and landed atop the island where the Captain and the wheel were located.
“------ has saved us and our catch once more!” The Captain declared, but Aron hadn't quite heard the name and the crew cheered his name but it was muffled. Aron was confused.
“You are not permitted inside my head!” He heard a loud voice growl and then Aron felt as if he had been thrown bodily back to reality. He awoke with a start near the tree, on the other side of the dying fire he could see the great hulk that was the dragon. It opened one eye.
'Stay out.' it projected.
------ Chapter Six
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