Chapter 15: A Dragoness’s Farewell
Tourajé, Eig’nia, and Saulstrance’s recuperating had taken longer than the three dragons thought. Because of this, Roasch, Shashala, and Mayza decided to postpone the plan for the time being until their friends were up and ready to go. Saulstrance and the others, thankful for their friends’ thoughtfulness, agreed to put things on hold until they had fully recovered.
One week later, Saulstrance and his friends found themselves back and ready to set the plan into motion. They met with Mayza, Roasch, and Shashala near the same lake where they encountered Tomi.
“You look like you’re doing a lot better.” Smiled Roasch, glad to see his friends up and around.
“We’re feeling a lot better. And it’s about time too. If I had to just lay in that nest for one day longer I think I would have gone insane.” Tourajé said.
Eig’nia and Saulstrance agreed. “It was nice to get to rest a bit but the doctors would barely let us get up. They wouldn’t even let me rest in my room.” Saulstrance added to what his friend said.
Eig’nia chuckled a little. “You and Tourajé sure did argue with them a lot just to be allowed to get up for a bit. I never would have guessed that you would ever argue with anyone, Saulstrance. I mean, Tourajé I can see doing that but you??”
“I don’t argue that much! Besides, Saulstrance argued with the doctors more than I did!” Huffed Tourajé.
“I did not! I almost never argued with them!” Saulstrance retorted to his friend’s teasing with what was a half-truth.
“I’d say you were both about even. Of course, being the dainty dignified dragoness that I am, I saw fit not to engage in any form of uncivil discussion.” Eig’nia said in a sweet, ladylike voice.
Tourajé and Saulstrance couldn’t believe what they were hearing come from Eig’nia’s mouth. The two of them looked at her with faces that said “really”? Of course, while Eig’nia wouldn’t admit it, she too tried as best she could to be allowed to get up and simply walk. Even then, she hadn’t argued nearly as much as her friends did.
The six dragons all exchanged laughs together. Despite all that had happened, it felt good to the six of them, Tourajé, Saulstrance, and Eig’nia especially, to be able to just share in a good laugh. It felt refreshing, relaxing, as if a huge weight had just been removed from their shoulders.
As the friends’ laughter slowly subsided, their happy, joyful expressions changed into more serious looks. The six of them exchanged glances, knowing full well that it was time to begin their operation.
And so they discussed what they would be doing. Mayza informed Saulstrance, Eig’nia, and Tourajé of what she had told Roasch and Shashala last week: she planned to speak with either Lord Léruc or one of the guards in regards to the information they received pertaining to Raolef’s supposed plan to attack the human realm.
“If you’re going to speak with Lord Léruc or the guards, why don’t we just ask them together?” Asked Eig’nia.
“We asked her the exact same thing.” Shashala stated.
Mayza rolled her eyes and groaned. She thought it made perfect sense: if they all asked, the guards or Léruc himself might find it a bit suspicious if they were all there. She explained this again in an irritated voice to her friends, hoping that this time they would understand why she was opting to ask herself.
“Hmm…” Thought Saulstrance aloud. “She does have a good point.”
“Thank you!” Mayza exclaimed, thankful that at least one of her friends understood where she was coming from.
“Alright then, Mayza. We’ll leave this to you. When you find out what’s going on, be sure to let us know as soon as possible.” Roasch instructed.
Mayza nodded in understanding. “I will.” She smiled confidently.
With that, the six dragons prepared to part ways. But before they could, Mayza called to
Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia. The three of them turned towards their friend. Roasch and
Shashala also stopped, curious as to what Mayza had to say.
“Eig’nia… Tourajé… We are going to catch whosever behind all this. And when we’ve exposed him, you guys will get to go back home. I promise.” Mayza said with a determined yet sincere look in her eyes.
Tourajé and Eig’nia smiled at Mayza. It made them happy to know that they had someone else, not just each other watching their backs. Saulstrance also smiled. Even if he didn’t have a family to return to, he still felt happy knowing that he, along with Mayza and the others would be there trying to help Eig’nia and Tourajé.
The six went their separate ways, Mayza, Roasch, and Shashala returning to their caves while Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia returned to their master’s fortress. As Mayza made her way home, she thought of what she would ask the guards or Léruc. Of course she needed to know who provided them with the information on Raolef but she also had to know where this dragon was and when they told Léruc about Raolef’s plan to attack the human realm. She knew that if she was going to help clear Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia’s names, this was the place she had to start.
The following evening, Mayza departed from her family cave to speak with Lord Léruc. Along the way, she went over the questions she would ask and how she would ask them over and over again in her head until they had been firmly cemented in her mind.
Arriving at the fortress, she informed the two guards stationed before the entrance that she needed to speak with Lord Léruc. The guards opened the doors for Mayza, granting her access inside. They informed her that Lord Léruc would be in his chambers. With her destination set, Mayza made her way to Léruc’s chambers but when she arrived there, she found no sign of Lord Léruc. Had the guards been wrong? Perhaps, she thought, Lord Léruc had gone to another part of the fortress. Just as she was about to leave and look elsewhere, she noticed something peculiar in Léruc’s room: there was an opened path that had never been there before. This seemed mighty unusual to her. She had been in this room before and never seen this entryway even once. Curious, she approached the new section, finding that it led down somewhere. Cautiously, Mayza followed the stairway and when she entered the room it led to, her eyes grew wide at what she was seeing. She may not have found out who provided Léruc with the information regarding Raolef but what she stumbled upon could possibly have been even bigger. She had to let the others know of her discovery.
The next morning, Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia awoke slightly later than usual. The three of them slept together in Saulstrance’s room and one by one they awoke. Yawning, Saulstrance scratched an itchy area by his horns while Eig’nia used the claws on her right hind leg to scratch the left and Tourajé rubbed his belly with his claws.
Feeling groggy, the three friends stepped out of Saulstrance’s room and walked through the halls on their way to their master’s chambers to wish him a good morning just as they always did. There, they were met by their master who, as they could tell just by looking at his face, was not having a good start to the morning. Met by the troubled look on their master’s face, they could tell immediately that something bad had happened.
“Lord Léruc, is everything okay?” Saulstrance asked with concern.
Léruc shook his head. He bit his lip and paced around a little. This concerned the three friends even more. Whatever had happened must have been really bad indeed to rattle their master so much.
Finally, Léruc spoke and what he had to say brought a quick jolt and a look of surprise to the dragons’ faces.
“I don’t suppose you three have seen Mayza since yesterday, have you?” Asked Léruc with a look of worry in his eyes.
Mayza was missing?! They couldn’t believe it. They had just spoken to her yesterday when she said
she was going to ask Léruc or the guards. What could have happened?? Saulstrance and his friends wondered if maybe whoever it was that provided Léruc with that information had somehow found out about their plan and had done something to Mayza to keep her from talking.
“Her parents informed me that she hadn’t come home last night. As you can imagine, they’re deeply concerned. I want you three to go speak with them. They may possibly know something pertaining to Mayza’s whereabouts. And…give them our best wishes.” Léruc instructed.
“Yes sir!” The three dragons said in unison.
“One last thing: I’ve contacted Roasch and Shashala and informed them of what had happened. They’re going to assist you three in tracking down Mayza.” And with that, Léruc dismissed his students.
Outside their master’s fortress, Saulstrance and his friends were greeted by Roasch and Shashala.
The looks on the two dragons’ faces showed that they were just as concerned as Saulstrance and the others were.
“Is it true? Mayza is missing?” Shashala asked worriedly.
Saulstrance looked down at the ground and nodded. Shashala sighed and also looked away. Roasch paced around a little, a look of shame and dissatisfaction on his face.
“I knew we shouldn’t have allowed her to do this on her own.” Roasch sighed, frantic with worry for his friend’s safety. “I’m the oldest one here…I…I should have tried harder to talk her out of it.”
Saulstrance placed a wing on Roasch’s back. He assured his friend that it wasn’t his or anyone else’s fault. They were going to get Mayza back safe and sound and once they did, they would all go after whoever it was that took her and make them pay. Roasch smiled at Saulstrance and thanked him for the reassurance. Without wasting anymore time, the five dragons unfurled their wings and flew off towards Mayza’s family’s cave.
Arriving at Mayza’s cave, they were met by her parents and younger sister, all of whom were deeply troubled by their daughter and sister’s disappearance. The only thing that would be able to put the poor family’s minds at ease was the return of their oldest daughter.
“Hi…we’re going to try to find Mayza but first we were wondering if she might have said anything about where she was going. Did she say anything to one of you?” Saulstrance asked nervously, trying hard not to say anything that could potentially upset Mayza’s family further.
Mayza’s sister and parents tried their best to recall if she had said anything before she disappeared. Mayza’s father remembered her saying that she was going to go speak with Lord Léruc regarding the recent attack on Raolef but other than that, they couldn’t recall her saying anything else. Unfortunately for the five dragons, this information didn’t prove too useful as they already knew Mayza was going to speak with Léruc. Although they weren’t able to learn anything new, they did thank the family for speaking with them and promised that they would bring her back safe and sound.
The five of them debated what their next move should be. The only ones who could possibly have had new information regarding Mayza’s whereabouts, her parents, didn’t know anymore than they did. They couldn’t even be sure if Mayza’s captor still had her in Zalphonia. For all they knew, her captor could have taken her to Earth and if that were the case, they might never be able to find her. What were they to do? They couldn’t report back to Lord Léruc and tell him that they didn’t find any new information regarding Mayza and they had to find her and make sure she was okay. They eventually decided to search for Mayza on their own. If they weren’t able to find out where she was, then they figured they would search all over the dragon realm if they had to.
“For now, perhaps it might be best if the five of us split up.” Roasch suggested.
“Agreed. We’ll be able to cover more ground that way. Roasch will go with me and Eig’nia. We’ll cover our village and the village of Aanki. Saulstrance, you and Shashala search Sliwach and Itzem.” Tourajé instructed.
“Okay.” Saulstrance replied with a nod. “And guys?”
“Yes, Saulstrance?” Tourajé asked.
“If you’re going to Aanki, be careful for Tomi and everyone else there. I don’t think they’ll want to see us again.” Saulstrance said cautiously.
Tourajé nodded in understanding. “You and Shashala be careful too.”
With their plan set, the five dragons split into two groups, each one taking two different villages. Tourajé, Roasch, and Eig’nia’s first stop was Gildel, their own village while Saulstrance and Shashala made their first stop Sliwach. As they made their way to Sliwach, neither dragon could help but worry of their friend’s safety. They kept hoping over and over that they would find Mayza and she would be alright.
“Hey, Saulstrance?” Called out Shashala.
Before Saulstrance replied, he hoped to himself that Shashala wasn’t about to ask him when they would be able to have another fight. Much to Saulstrance’s surprise, ever since the attack on Raolef, Shashala hadn’t truly asked him for another rematch but now that it was just the two of them, Saulstrance feared that he might try and get him to fight against him after this was over.
“What is it, Shashala?” Saulstrance asked, pretending not to know what he was about to ask.
“Since it’s just the two of us now, there’s something I’ve wanted to say to you.” Shashala said.
“Shashala, if this is about another fight, I don’t—“
“It’s not that.” Shashala interjected. “When we were hatchlings, I hated that you got to be Lord
Léruc’s disciple and I didn’t. And…I guess that made me hate you too…”
“What?” Saulstrance asked, confused as to why Shashala was telling him all this so suddenly.
“But as we grew older, as we fought each other more and more, I think I really started to appreciate you. Not just because of your strength but because of who you are as a dragon. You grew up as an orphan but even then, you still believe that your parents are out there and that they’ll come back for you. It’s that kind of optimism that I wish I could have. I think that if I were in your place and my parents were missing for so long, I wouldn’t be able to hold hope for as long as you have. I think it takes a truly strong dragon to be able to keep hopeful in a bad situation like that.” Shashala explained.
Hearing this touched and surprised Saulstrance deeply. He and Shashala had always had something of a friendly rivalry growing up but to hear his own rival admit that deep down he had some admiration for him really made Saulstrance happy. Deep down, he too admired Shashala.
“You know, Shashala, I feel the same way about you actually. Even when we were little, I admired how persistent you always were and even if I was stronger than you, you never gave up. You always fought me with everything you had, always trying to get stronger. That determination was something
I always wish I could have.” Saulstrance said, feeling happy to be sharing this with his childhood rival and current day friend.
Shashala smiled. “What are you talking about, Saulstrance? You’ve always had determination. It may not be the same determination I have but you’ve always had it: the determination to see your parents. Am I right?”
Saulstrance realized that what Shashala was saying was true. Even if he didn’t have the same goals in mind as Shashala did, that didn’t make him any less determined. And hearing his rival and friend’s kind words made Saulstrance feel even more confident that the day would arrive where he would get to be with his mother and father.
Arriving at Sliwach, the two dragons swopped down and began their search for their missing friend.
In that same instant, Tourajé, Roasch, and Eig’nia had been searching around their own village for Mayza. As they passed through their village, they spotted Tourajé’s parents outside their cave playing with Utzie. The little dragon was bouncing up and down. His father crouched down as Utzie leapt onto his back and was launched into the air. Utzie opened his wings and flew around in the air, cheering and laughing the whole while. It made Tourajé happy to see his little brother laughing and just being happy but at the same time, he also couldn’t help but feel a little sad. He wanted to be there with his family, laughing and having fun alongside them. As much as it bothered him, Tourajé tried to push these thoughts out of his mind for the time being. They had a mission to finish and a friend to find. Tourajé led Rosach and Eig’nia away from where his parents were and continued their search.
Roasch was beginning to fall behind the two dragons. He kept looking back to see Tourajé’s family playing together. After a couple more steps, he eventually just stopped in place and watched the family. Eig’nia and Tourajé noticed this and headed back over to Roasch who, to their surprise, was watching with an even sadder look on his face than Tourajé had. Neither dragon could tell why this was making Roasch feel this way.
“Are you okay, Roasch?” Asked Tourajé in a soft voice.
Roasch nodded. “Yeah. I’m…I’m fine…” He said in a dull, almost toneless voice.
Reading the tone in his voice, Tourajé and Eig’nia knew right away that he wasn’t telling the truth. What they didn’t understand was why seeing this would make him feel upset. After all, this was Tourajé’s family they were watching and Roasch seemed more upset by this than Tourajé himself was.
“You don’t have to lie to us, Roasch. If something’s bothering you, then you can let us know.” Said Eig’nia as she placed a wing on Roasch’s back, trying to show him compassion and understanding.
Roasch sighed. He had never told anyone about this and it was something he never wanted to talk about. Anytime he thought about it was just too painful for him. However, with his friends so worried about him, he figured there would be no harm in letting them know what had happened.
“You know, Tourajé? You weren’t the only one of us who was going to be a big brother.” Roasch began, his face contorting, looking as though he was getting ready to cry.
Tourajé and Eig’nia didn’t understand what Roasch meant by that. Tourajé wasn’t the only one who was going to be a big brother? What was that supposed to mean?
“Two years after the exams, my mom told my dad and I that she was going to be having another hatchling. I couldn’t believe the news. I had always wanted a brother or sister so I was ecstatic.” Roasch smiled sadly.
He continued with his story. “Every day I would ask my mom when my new brother or sister was going to be born. She would always smile and assure me they’d be here soon. Then eventually, the big day came. The egg my newborn sister was in had been laid. However…after about ten minutes…she hadn’t hatched. Then suddenly, a small paw burst through the egg. The scales on my sister’s paw were unusually pale, even for a newborn dragon. She was struggling as hard as she could to get out of her egg. My mom had to help break the egg open so she could get out.”
Roasch stopped for a moment to take in a deep breath. He rubbed a paw over his eyes. Tourajé and Eig’nia could tell by the look on Roasch’s face that what he was telling them wasn’t easy. The poor dragon looked so pained and heartbroken. Eig’nia urged Roasch not to continue if it hurt that much to talk about it but the dragon insisted on continuing, feeling that they deserved to know.
“My hatchling sister’s body was too weak. After hatching, she only survived for five minutes. In those short five minutes, all I could do was let her rest on my back as she shortly left her new parents…and brother…”
At that moment, Roasch began to cry. His tears rained over his face as he lowered his head. Tourajé and Eig’nia felt horrible for their friend after hearing his story. Tourajé especially knew how it felt being a big brother himself. He remembered when he was little and how much he detested the idea of having a younger brother or sister. Yet, when Utzie was finally born, he couldn’t help but be proud to call himself his older brother. That little dragon ended up meaning everything to him and he couldn’t imagine how he would have felt if Utzie hadn’t survived his hatching.
“I would give anything…to have my sister here…” Roasch said through his tears. “…I miss her so much…”
Tourajé’s finned ears and wings flattened. He approached Roasch and nuzzled against him as a way to offer his condolences. Soon after, Eig’nia did the same too. Roasch was deeply thankful for his friends’ kindness and understanding. However, it still couldn’t mend the hurt in his heart. Losing his baby sister was a pain he would never be able to recover from.
Eig’nia and Tourajé wondered if it would be a good idea to have Roasch continue with them the way he was. Poor Roasch was a mess and if something bad did happen to Mayza, they weren’t sure if he should be there to possibly witness such a thing. Eig’nia asked Roasch if maybe he wanted to return home and let them take care of things but as Roasch dried his face, he raised his head and told them not to worry about him.
“I need to know that Mayza’s okay. I’ll be fine.” He promised.
“Are you sure? We won’t be mad if you don’t come with us.” Said Tourajé in a gentle voice.
But Roasch assured them again that everything was fine. Mayza was his friend too. He couldn’t leave without first knowing if she was okay. Until then, he was determined to stick with Eig’nia and Tourajé.
Some time passed as the five dragons searched high and low for Mayza. After a lot of searching, it was Saulstrance and Shashala who found her on top of a mountain twenty miles past their master’s fortress. However, upon finding Mayza, Saulstrance and Shashala’s eyes widened in shock at what had happened to her. Without so much as a word, Shashala and Saulstrance sent a message to their friends via tail control that they had found Mayza and to get to their location quick. They sent their friends the coordinates and immediately, the three dragons rushed to where Saulstrance and Shashala were.
Upon arriving, Tourajé, Roasch, and Eig’nia rushed over to Saulstrance and Shashala who were standing before a bloodied and badly beaten Mayza. The dragoness was panting heavily and whimpering in excruciating pain.
“Mayza! MAYZA!!!” Eig’nia screamed as she rushed to her friend’s side.
Eig’nia tried to lift Mayza onto her back so that she could try and get her some help somewhere, anywhere as long as they could make her better. But as she lifted Mayza, the dragoness shrieked in pain. Carefully she set Mayza back down and tried to figure out how to save her.
“Mayza, who did this to you?!” Shashala asked, his voice shaky from the shock.
Mayza coughed and spewed some blood. Weakly, she began to speak.
"Lé..ruc’s…guards…” She barely managed to say.
This came as a shock to the five of them. The guards did this to her?! But why?! The five of them couldn’t believe this. How could their master’s guards do something so cruel? And to Mayza of all dragons.
“It’s going to be all right, Mayza. We’re going to get you help, I swear!” Eig’nia exclaimed, her voice a mix between shaky and strained.
She tried one more time to lift Mayza onto her back, only to be met with the same result: a pained yell from Mayza followed by her being placed back on the ground. Saulstrance and the others watched, their hearts breaking as Eig’nia tried in vain to help her friend. Just as Eig’nia was about to try something else, Tourajé placed a wing on his friend’s back. He shook his head as a way to tell her to stop. Even if she didn’t mean it, all Eig’nia was doing was making Mayza suffer even more. Eig’nia squished her eyes. This couldn’t be happening. One of her best friends was going to die right before her eyes and she couldn’t do anything to stop it. At that moment however, Eig’nia realized something: if she couldn’t save Mayza, the least she could do for her was make sure she didn’t have to feel anymore pain.
Everybody watched as Eig’nia sat down before Mayza. The battered dragoness weakly raised her paw. Eig’nia gingerly held Mayza’s paw in her own as the latter slowly raised her head and nodded, knowing full well what Eig’nia was about to do. Mayza gave a weak smile as a means of thanking Eig’nia. Squishing her eyes shut again, Eig’nia lowered her head, her horns pointed right at Mayza’s head. In what seemed like an instant, Eig’nia made sure Mayza didn’t have to feel anymore pain.
The dragoness’s head dropped lifelessly to the ground as Eig’nia released her friend’s paw, that dropping as well. She sat before her friend’s corpse, her eyes still closed as she mourned Mayza. Saulstrance, Tourajé, Shashala, and Roasch gathered next to Eig’nia and paid their last respects to their fallen comrade.
As a last act of kindness before saying goodbye, they brought Mayza’s body to their world’s graveyard. The Dragon Graveyard, as it was dubbed by the denizens of Zalphonia, lay in between the four villages. Here, dragons from the four villages would bring their recently departed to be buried. While the graveyard existed as a place to bury and pay last respects to the dead, it also served as a sign that even if they all lived in different parts of their world, deep down the dragons of Zalphonia were all united together.
The five dragons brought Mayza’s body to the front of a cave where there sat two dragons. One of the dragons looked to be slightly younger than Saulstrance, Eig’nia, and Shashala and the other one they assumed must have been his dad. They presented Mayza’s body to the two of them. The two dragons were just as surprised to see Mayza as bloodied and as broken as Saulstrance and the others had been.
“My goodness, what happened to her?!” The older dragon asked in a horrified voice. He had helped take care of the graveyard since he himself was just a hatchling and in all those years, he had never seen anything so…horrible.
The five of them couldn’t be so sure themselves. Still, they told the graveyard keeper everything they had been told: that supposedly Léruc’s guards may have been the ones who did this to her. Both the caretaker and his son were skeptical but they both knew they didn’t have any time to be asking questions. They had to prepare a grave and a gravestone for the recently departed dragoness.
“Wait out here for just a moment. We’re going to prepare a gravestone for this young dragoness.
"What was her name?” Asked the caretaker.
“Mayza…” Eig’nia replied in a soft, barely audible tone.
“What was that?” The caretaker asked again, not hearing her.
“Her name was Mayza…” Answered Eig’nia in a slightly louder voice.
“Mayza…okay, just please give us a couple minutes.” They went back into their cave to prepare a tombstone for Mayza.
In that time, none of the dragons talked to each other. There was…just nothing to say. One of their closest friends was gone and the last thing they wanted was to talk about it. As badly as they had been taking it, Roasch may have taken it the worst out of all of them. A look of horror and sadness was apparent on his face as he realized that he was going through losing someone else he cared about. Squishing his eyes shut and proceeding to stand up, Roasch was about to turn and head off.
“I’m sorry…I just…I can’t take this. I’m so sorry guys.” He said in a breathless voice, looking as if he was going to cry again.
Roasch began to somberly leave the graveyard, not even stopping when Saulstrance called his name. The reddish orange dragon didn’t understand why his friend was leaving, not even wanting to stay to pay his last respects. Eig’nia decided to fill Saulstrance and Shashala in on what Roasch had told them about his deceased sister. Both dragons were surprised to learn this. They had known Roasch for pretty much their whole lives and never once did he mention his baby sister. They both figured that perhaps this was why he left: losing someone else he cared about was just too much for him.
Worried for his friend, Shashala began to follow after him. He stopped after three steps and looked back towards Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia. He wasn’t sure if he should go after Roasch or stay and say his goodbyes to Mayza. The three dragons knew what Shashala was about to do and smiled compassionately at him, letting him know that they understood and supported his decision.
“Go on. It’s okay.” Tourajé said gently.
Shashala smiled and nodded. He headed after Roasch, hoping he hadn’t fallen too far behind. Shortly after, the grave keeper, along with his son, emerged from their cave, bringing with them a stone which had Mayza’s name carved into it. He led them to an open spot in the graveyard where Mayza would be buried. He dug his claws into the ground, pulling up some earth. He continued to dig until the hole was big enough and deep enough to insert the tombstone into. After the rock had been placed, he began to dig another hole, this time for Mayza to be buried in. After a short time of digging, the grave keeper, along with Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia went to get Mayza’s body.
Working together, the four dragons brought the deceased dragoness’s body to her final resting place. Together, they gently laid Mayza to rest and refilled the hole. Once this task was completed, they stood before their friend’s grave, just staring down at it. Even after they had buried her, this whole experience still felt so surreal to them. They still couldn’t believe that Mayza was truly gone. The grave keeper noticed the pained, heartbroken looks on the young dragon’s faces. He placed a wing on Saulstrance’s back in an attempt to give the three his sympathy.
“I’m very sorry.” He said in a soft voice.
Saulstrance and his friends greatly appreciated the older dragon’s kind words. They thanked him for his kindness and for helping take care of Mayza.
“I suppose I should inform the dragoness’s parents of what happened. May I get their names?” Asked the caretaker.
“That’s okay. I’ll tell them myself.” Tourajé said.
The older dragon nodded in understanding. “If that’s what you wish to do. You three take care of yourselves.”
“You too.” Saulstrance smiled somewhat sadly.
The grave keeper and his son left the three dragons to say their goodbyes to Mayza. Saulstrance and the others closed their eyes and paid their final respects to Mayza. After a short time, Eig’nia too proceeded to go off on her own. She was headed in the direction of their village. Both Saulstrance and Tourajé didn’t try to stop her. After all that had happened, and after Eig’nia had been the one to put Mayza out of her misery, they figured that the best thing for her right now was to just let her be alone. They couldn’t even begin to imagine just how horrible Eig’nia must have been feeling. Even if what she did for Mayza was, in its own way, an act of kindness, it still couldn’t have made it any easier.
Tourajé released a melancholic sigh. He stared down at Mayza’s grave, feeling guilty and frustrated.
“We never should have let them get involved. This was never their fight to start with.” Tourajé grumbled out loud.
“Maybe not, but Mayza, Shashala, and Roasch, they still wanted to help us, knowing what could happen as a result.” Saulstrance rebutted, not wanting to let their choices and sacrifices be undermined.
“Besides…” Saulstrance continued. “If it wasn’t for Mayza, we wouldn’t have found out who was really behind this. She didn’t die for nothing, Tourajé. If our master’s guards really are behind this, now we can think of a way to stop them.”
Tourajé sighed again. He knew that Saulstrance was right. He knew that all too well. Even then, he still wished that this had never happened. Mayza didn’t deserve this and her family didn’t deserve to inevitably have to go through the pain of learning that their oldest daughter was killed.
The two dragons departed from the graveyard, taking one last look back and apologizing to Mayza for what had happened. They decided to head after Eig’nia and make sure she was okay. As they came back to their village, they found her sitting on top of one of the caves, staring down below blankly as she watched dragons coming in and out of their caves, even spotting her own family at one point. Despite this, she had no reaction to seeing them. After what had happened, there was just nothing she wanted to respond to at the moment.
Tourajé and Saulstrance landed several feet behind Eig’nia. They sat down next to her and looked to see if she was okay.
“Eig’nia…are you doing alright?” Saulstrance asked in a soft, delicate tone.
Eig’nia simply shook her head.
“Is there…anything we can say that might…make you feel better?” Tourajé asked.
At that moment, Eig’nia’s tears hit her full force. She lowered her head and began to sob.
“Just! Just tell me this is all a nightmare! Just tell me that soon I’ll wake up and I’ll be back in my cave with my mom and dad and my brother and sister!” Eig’nia exclaimed in a teary voice.
Tourajé and Saulstrance both looked away. They were hoping the same thing. They hoped that the past couple of weeks had all just been a bad dream. They hoped that Raolef hadn’t been killed by them and that Mayza was still alive and that, when they woke up, there she would be; her usual cheerful, energetic self. They hoped that when they were to arrive the next day to Léruc’s fortress, his guards would end up being the nice kind dragons they believed them to be. They also hoped that for their next mission, their master would simply send them back to the human realm to learn more about humans and not send them on missions that involved killing anyone.
As much as they wanted to reject it, they knew that this was reality. They truly had killed Raolef and Mayza wasn’t going to be coming back. There was nothing they could do to rewrite what had happened. The only thing they could do moving forward was find a way to stop their master’s guards from whatever it was they were planning. That way, they could begin to atone for taking Raolef’s life and Mayza would be able to rest in peace.
While Eig’nia continued to sob, Saulstrance and Tourajé both placed their wings over her and nuzzled against the dragoness in an attempt to help calm her down and to show her empathy.
The three of them sat there together, their wings placed over each others’ backs for what felt like the longest time. This was Saulstrance, Eig’nia, and Tourajé’s way of letting one another know that no matter what, they’d always do their best to protect each other and that they would always be there for each other when they needed support. And in this, their darkest moment, they needed all the support they could get from one another.