Chapter 10: Dragon’s Creed
As the three dragons prepared to set off, Léruc stepped out from his fortress to wish them luck. Saulstrance smiled and promised his master that they’d make it back. As the three friends opened their wings and prepared to take off, Léruc stopped them once more.
“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this but the fate of both worlds rests with you three. Should you fall, both worlds will fall into disarray.” Léruc said gravely.
“We understand sir. We promise we won’t let that happen.” Eig’nia said with determination in her voice.
“Very good.” The old dragon smiled at his students. “And Tourajé?”
“Sir?” Asked Tourajé.
“You want humans and dragons to be able to live together, correct? I desire the same thing. However, as long as Raolef and his aspirations still live, our goals won’t be met. Explained Léruc with a glum look on his face.
“I understand sir.” Tourajé said.
Saulstrance and his friends lifted off the ground and into the sky. Tourajé predicted that it would most likely take them about two hours to reach Aanki. With that window of time he thought that it would be a good time to go over their master’s instructions once more before they reached the village.
“Understood? Remember, we can’t be seen once we’ve entered Raolef’s fortress. If we are, we won’t be able to fight against him, his guards, or his apprentice and Champion. Like Lord Léruc said: we need to be sneaky.” Tourajé instructed.
Saulstrance and Eig’nia nodded together, showing Tourajé that they understood. Eig’nia giggled a bit. Curious, Tourajé asked the dragoness what she found funny. Eig’nia explained to her friends that it wasn’t that she thought something was funny. She just thought that Tourajé, with how serious and mentorlike he could be, would make a pretty good Leader. Eig’nia also concluded by noting in a somewhat teasing fashion that Tourajé was kind of cute when he was like that. Her comment made Tourajé’s mouth drop open. He looked away, blushing in embarrassment. Eig’nia’s comment about Tourajé being “cute” didn’t sit too well with Saulstrance however.
“Hey! I can be cute too! AND I’d be just as good a Leader as Tourajé!” Protested Saulstrance jealously.
“Aww don’t worry Saulstrance! You don’t need to be jealous!” Teased Tourajé playfully.
“I—I’m not jealous! I just…I just think I’d be a good Leader too! That’s all!” Saulstrance stuttered.
“I think you would both make good Leaders.” Eig’nia smiled.
“But which one of us would be the better Leader?” Saulstrance asked, sounding as if he was starting to take it just a bit too personally.
Tourajé groaned. He told Saulstrance that he didn’t need to turn it into a contest. Eig’nia explained to the both of them that she believed they would both make good Leaders but for completely different reasons: Tourajé she believed would make a good Leader because of his strength and determination and Saulstrance because of his kindness and dedication towards his friends and others. Tourajé agreed with his friend. He believed that the features Eig’nia just described him and Saulstrance as having complimented each other very well. As she thought about it more, Eig’nia began to wonder out loud what traits she had that would be good for a Leader to have. She didn’t have to think about it for too long as her friends immediately told her what features they thought she had.
“You’ve always been very supportive.” Tourajé smiled.
Saulstrance agreed. “And you can be a pretty unconventional thinker. Remember how you beat Mayza during the exams ten years ago? I don’t think I would’ve thought of that.” The reddish orange scaled dragon laughed heartily.
Eig’nia smiled at her friends and thanked them. She was more than happy to have them in her life. No matter who became their master’s apprentice or became Leader, be it Saulstrance, Tourajé, or Eig’nia herself, she felt that she would be happy with the outcome no matter what.
After about an hour and a half, the three dragons arrived at the village of Aanki. There were a few dragons out and around, one flying overhead while two others drank from a small stream. There were also four hatchlings who were playing together, two of whom were rolling around together in a ball while the other two laughed and ran after their friends. Eig’nia smiled as she watched the four hatchlings playing. She thought they were pretty cute. Saulstrance looked around the small village. He noted that it didn’t seem all that different from his own village. It was just as peaceful and serene. Tourajé, in the meantime, looked around for Raolef’s fortress. He noticed what he deduced must have been the fortress poking over a plateau. He headed in that direction with Saulstrance and Eig’nia following behind him. As Eig’nia followed behind her friends, the two hatchlings that were rolling around crashed into her left front leg. They were broken out of their rolling around and lay spread out on the ground.
“Oww, oww…” The little dragon said to herself as she rubbed her front paw over her back leg, trying to soothe the pain.
“I’m so sorry!” Eig’nia said in a panic as she helped the little dragons up. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay now. That just hurt a little.” The young dragoness answered.
“I’m okay too!” The dragoness’ friend exclaimed.
“That’s good.” Eig’nia smiled.
“I’ve never seen you around here before. Are you from another village?” The young boy dragon asked.
Eig’nia nodded. She explained to them that she was from the village of Riotak as were her friends.
“We’ve never been to any of the other villages. Is yours far away?” The little dragoness asked.
Until now Eig’nia had never been to any of the other villages either. Considering how long it took them to get to Aanki, she would have had to say that it was pretty far.
While Eig’nia talked with the two hatchlings, their friends ran up next to them, asking them what they were doing. They explained that they were just talking with…and they paused. They realized they never asked the older dragoness her name.
“I’m Eig’nia.” Eig’nia introduced herself. “And what are your names?”
“My name is Minasha. This is Cerquil, Ontrix, and Angela.” Said the little dragoness, introducing herself and her friends.
Eig’nia was surprised when she heard the name of the last hatchling. Angela? That didn’t sound like a dragon’s name at all. Curious, Eig’nia asked Angela where her name came from. The small cerulean colored dragoness didn’t understand the older dragoness’ question. In a confused tone, she simply said that her name came from her parents. Eig’nia corrected her, explaining that she meant what made her parents choose to name her Angela. This was a story that Angela’s parents often told her: when they were younger, they used to journey to the human realm quite often. On one of their trips there, they met a kind old woman who was named Angela. This woman was the first and only human who Angela’s parents revealed their true selves to. With each consecutive visit to the human realm, they would teach Angela a bit about their world an in return, she taught the dragons about hers. One of the things she taught them was where her name came from. She explained that her parents followed what was known in their world as a religion and that a big part of this religion were beings called angels. Her parents named her Angela after these creatures because they wished for her to grow up to be as kind and as loving as the angels spoken of in stories. A few years after having met Angela, the old woman passed away. In remembrance of her, they gave their first child her name.
Eig’nia found it very touching that this little dragoness’ parents would do that. She complimented Angela on her name, telling her she thought it was a very pretty name. This made the little dragoness grin.
“Thanks! My mom and dad said they once thought of naming me something else but they couldn’t remember what the name was.” Angela said.
Looking back towards her friends who had been waiting for her, Eig’nia quickly remembered they had something to do. She had gotten so caught up in talking with the hatchlings that the mission had completely slipped away from her. She bid farewell to the dragon children and went over to her friends. They continued on their path to Raolef’s fortress.
“They seemed like cute little hatchlings.” Said Saulstrance.
“They were.” Eig’nia said back with a smile. She looked back at the hatchlings one last time, noticing that they had gone back to playing.
“They remind me a bit of Utzie.” Said Tourajé, stopping and turning to the hatchlings.
Saulstrance and Eig’nia also turned around. It made them happy to see hatchlings like those four so happy and innocent. They didn’t know about what their Leader was planning and they didn’t have to deal with the inevitability that they would have to be the ones to end his life. Saulstrance, Eig’nia, and Tourajé hoped that they’d never have to deal with the kind of things they were about to either.
“Hatchlings like them and my little brother are the major reasons why I want to see humans and dragons able to live together. So that they can learn and grow in two peaceful worlds.” Tourajé explained.
“And that’s why we’re going to stop Raolef and his plans. That way, we’ll be one step closer to helping you achieve your dream, Tourajé!” Smiled Saulstrance, a confident, determined look in his eyes.
“Thank you.” Tourajé smiled at his friend.
The three continued on their way to Raolef’s fortress. They walked for a short time, then flew into the sky high above the fortress so that Raolef’s guards wouldn’t see them. They circled over the fortress, observing the top. One guard stood atop the fortress, keeping a close eye out for any activity below. Getting past him was not going to be easy. They tried to think up a plan. Knocking him out probably was not the best option. What if one of the other guards were to come to speak with him and noticed him unconscious? That would raise alarm. They couldn’t just fight him either. The commotion would alert the others. Behind the guard on the ground there was a large wooden door with a round handle at the bottom. They wondered if they might be able to sneak past him and get in without him noticing. They quickly decided that that probably wouldn’t work either.
Just then, a blessing in disguise presented itself. The door opened as another guard emerged. The two guards talked for a second then together the two of them went back into the fortress. With the coast clear, the three friends descended. They landed in front of the door. Before opening, the three of them overheard the guards talking from inside. Their voices grew quieter and quieter until eventually, they couldn’t hear them anymore. This was their time to strike. Clenching the door handle in his mouth, Saulstrance pulled the door open. The three of them quickly hurried inside before the guards could take notice of anything suspicious.
It was pitch black inside. Saulstrance couldn’t even see his friends even though he knew they were right in front of him. Slowly, they crept down the steps, taking great care not to make the slightest wrong move. The stairway was long, it felt like it went on forever. What made it worse was that they still couldn’t see. They each kept a wing pressed against the wall to help guide them along.
As they continued on, a feint glow made itself known to the dragons. There were several lit torches ahead of them. They just barely lit up the way. It was at this point that they decided to continue the rest of the way by flying. Slowly, they flapped their wings and raised themselves all the way up to the ceiling where they were once more obscured by darkness. They continued to slowly flap their wings as they moved along the ceiling.
Continuing further on, they were met with a slightly greater glow than the ones given off by the torches that hung on the walls by the stairs. They had come to a room occupied by three guards. There were several torches lit in different corners of the room. The guards lay in front of these torches.
One of the guards stretched his wings, yawning as he did so. The other guards yawned as well with one of them chastising the others for yawning as it was making him yawn too.
Eig’nia and Tourajé kept an eye on the guards as Saulstrance quickly looked around, trying to find a path for them to take. His work was soon done for him as another dragon came into the room.
“Courkin, Lord Raolef needs to see you.” The dragon said.
“Right now, Zano? I was just about to relax.” The dragon now identified as Courkin whined.
“Let’s go, Courkin! If you don’t go see him right away, then that’s going to reflect badly on me!” Zano exclaimed.
Courkin sighed. He stood up and followed Zano. Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia tailed the two dragons, expecting to be led straight to Raolef.
“I must say, Zano, the life of a Champion sounds pretty rough if you gotta take the fall for us.” Courkin said.
“It’s a small price to pay. Besides, you know Lord Raolef can be stern with us but it’s just because he expects us to give our best for him. Deep down, he is kind.” Explained Zano.
“I know he is. I just believe he should take it a bit easier on us. Especially on his Champion and his apprentice. You two have it rougher than us guards and the captain combined.” Said Courkin, sounding concerned.
“Maybe so, but that’s because, when Lord Raolef’s time as Leader comes to an end, one of us will take his place.” Zano said.
With the kind of plan Raolef had, his end as Leader would be coming sooner than later Tourajé thought to himself. Although all three dragons were determined to stop Raolef, Tourajé was the most determined out of all of them. After all, if they failed, both worlds would fall into disaster and he couldn’t let that happen.
They continued to follow Zano and Courkin for a time. Eventually, the two of them entered into another room. This room had to have been where Raolef was they thought. Sure enough, their hunches were confirmed as Zano spoke his master’s name, letting him know that he brought Zano with him. Raolef thanked his Champion and dismissed him. Saulstrance and his friends watched as Zano left the room and headed back in the direction he came from.
Saulstrance and the others couldn’t make out what Courkin and Raolef were talking about but they knew it must have been important as they had been taking a rather long time. Eig’nia wondered aloud if perhaps they were discussing their plans for the attack on the human realm. Saulstrance wasn’t sure but replied with a “maybe”.
They kept an eye on the room, anxiously waiting for them to step out. They continued to grow antsy. How much of an evil plan did an evil dragon really need to go over? Saulstrance couldn’t take anymore waiting. He was ready to rush into Raolef’s room and just take him and Courkin out. Before he could even make the attempt however, both Raolef and Courkin stepped out of the room. Raolef dismissed his guard and ordered him to return to his post.
“Yes sir.” Courkin said with a small nod.
As Courkin hurried back to his post, Raolef returned to his room. Once they were sure the coast was clear, the three dragons made their move. They quickly swooped into Raolef’s room and lowered to the ground. Raolef stood with his back turned to them.
“And who might you be?” The dragon asked.
“We’re the protégés of Lord Léruc. He sent us to put a stop to your plans.” Announced Saulstrance.
“My plans? What are you talking about?” Raolef asked.
“You don’t need to play dumb, Raolef. Our master told us you planned to launch an attack against the human realm.” Tourajé said in a somewhat angry tone.
Nothing was said for a moment. Then suddenly, a loud sigh came from Raolef. He swung around so that he was facing the three intruders.
“Is that what he told you? That I was going to attack the human realm?” Asked Raolef somewhat defensively.
Saulstrance and his friends didn’t respond.
“Listen to me. I have no desire to attack the world of the humans. You’ve been lied to.” Raolef said with a serious look in his eyes.
What Raolef said greatly angered Saulstrance. Who was this dragon to call Léruc, the dragon who took care of Saulstrance his whole life and raised him like his own child a “liar”?
Enraged at Raolef’s words, Saulstrance pounced only for Raolef to step back. He smacked Saulstrance in the face with his tail, knocking him off his feet and crashing into the wall. Tourajé and Eig’nia knew that wasn’t a good sign. They had to end this right away. Any more commotion would surely attract the attention of the guards, Champion, and apprentice.
The two of them charged at Raolef. As they attacked, Tourajé was yelling at himself internally. Why didn’t he just attack Raolef when his guard was down, when he didn’t expect them? He felt incredibly stupid. Unfortunately for Tourajé he was a bit too focused on his messing up. This allowed Raolef the opportunity to attack. He smashed into Tourajé, sending the younger dragon colliding into the same wall that Saulstrance had crashed into.
“Oh no…” Tourajé groaned. They were making far too much noise.
Both Saulstrance and Tourajé got back on their feet. They watched as Raolef continued on the offensive as he fought Eig’nia. The dragoness was just barely able to avoid his attacks. Tourajé and Saulstrance knew they had to help her. The two of them both tried to quickly think up a plan. They had to put a stop to this. Everyone had surely been alerted by now. If Raolef’s guards as well as his Champion and apprentice got there before they completed what they were sent to do, then they would be done for. The three of them knew there was no way that they could take on so many dragons.
Just then, an idea came to Saulstrance. He whispered his plan into Tourajé’s finned ear.
“Hmm…” Tourajé thought to himself. “That might just work. Alright then. Let’s give it a try.”
Eig’nia was finding it harder and harder to avoid Raolef’s attacks. Eig’nia felt as though she was becoming more tired whereas Raolef didn’t seem as though he’d tire out anytime soon. The dragoness panted, trying to catch her breath. As she continuously slowed down, Raolef seized her neck in his jaws. He opened his wings, flew up, and crashed back down, smashing Eig’nia into the ground. The dragoness lay by his feet, beaten and battered.
“I truly am sorry. But I can’t be killed here. I still have something I need to do. I don’t blame you or your friends. You’re young. Had you not followed Léruc, you three may have had a bright future ahead. “ Said Raolef, sounding surprisingly melancholic.
Just as he was about to move in to finish Eig’nia off, he felt something sharp go through his body. He coughed up some blood. Looking back, he saw Tourajé behind him. The younger dragon’s tail had gone through Raolef’s body and pierced his heart.
“N…N…no!” Raolef barely managed to say in a weak, sad voice.
Tourajé removed his tail from Raolef’s body. As the dragon fell to the ground and lay in a growing puddle of his blood, Tourajé watched, unsure if what he did was truly right. He wondered if there truly was no other way. Could they not have just locked Raolef up like they did Agcro? Did it really have to be…this? It seemed like such an easy decision to make at the moment but now he wasn’t so sure.
Saulstrance and Eig’nia also approached the dying dragon. As Raolef coughed up more blood, they also couldn’t help but wonder if what they did was right. Raolef had offended Saulstrance with what he said about Léruc but even then, Saulstrance still knew that wasn’t a reason to kill someone.
“Well, you got what you wanted. Are you hatchlings…happy?” Raolef said as it became more and more difficult for him to breathe.
They couldn’t answer him. The truth was…they didn’t even know themselves if they were. They had stopped him from attacking the human realm but they just couldn’t help but feel that there might have been another way.
“In the end…I still don’t blame you three. You’re just…hatchlings. I lived a good life. I tried…to become smarter and stronger…I wanted…to devote…myself…to my village…no…my world.” Raolef said with tears in his eyes, yet sounding content…and at peace.
“I…leave the rest…to you…Zano…a…nd…To…” Before he could finish his sentence, Raolef passed.
The three dragons stood around Raolef’s body. Noticing that Raolef’s eyes were still open, Eig’nia put her paw over his eyes and closed them. They didn’t have anything to say about what had just happened. There was nothing they wanted to say about what happened.
Just then, they could hear commotion coming from out in the hallway. They couldn’t stick around any longer. They had to escape right away. Just as Eig’nia opened a portal for them and they were about to step through, the guards as well as Raolef’s Champion and his apprentice had come to see what was going on. None of them could believe what they were seeing. Their master, Lord Raolef…was gone…and they knew who it was that killed him.
“STOP THEM!!” The Champion cried. “THEY KILLED LORD RAOLEF!! DON”T LET THEM GET AWAY!!!”
As the guards charged at the assassins of their Leader, Saulstrance, Tourajé, and finally Eig’nia stepped through the portal. It closed before everyone in the room.
“Dammit! I’m sorry sirs, they got away!” The captain of Raolef’s guards said.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ll hunt them down myself. And I will make them pay for what they did.” Raolef’s Champion said, a terrifyingly angry look on his face.