Chapter 19: Agcro’s Final Carving
Tourajé traveled through the portal that Léruc created for him. He desperately hoped this portal would lead him to Saulstrance and Eig’nia. He was the only one who knew the truth behind these events and he had to put a stop to all this right away.
Suddenly, Tourajé heard a voice calling his name. This startled the dragon as he didn’t expect anybody else to be going through the portal with him. Looking behind him, Tourajé noticed Shashala who was flapping his wings to catch up with Tourajé.
“Shashala!” Said Tourajé, surprised to see his friend. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to speak with you three about Roasch.” Shashala said.
“Roasch? What about him? Is he okay?” Asked Tourajé frantically, worried that something had happened to Roasch.
Just before Shashala got the chance to answer Tourajé, a bright light appeared within the portal, signifying that the dragons were just inches away from their destination. They moved through the light and appeared upon a road surrounded by rows of trees on the left and right side. To the left lay a large lake which had a bright glow casting off of it.
“Roasch is okay, all things considering. He’s still pretty shaken up from what happened with Mayza.” Shashala explained.
“I would imagine so. This is now the second time Roasch has seen someone he cared about die before his eyes. That can’t be an easy thing to go through.” Tourajé said sympathetically.
“Indeed. Which is why I suggested to him that he not get involved any further.” Shashala said, feeling somewhat guilty for suggesting this to Roasch yet knowing in his heart that it was for the best.
Tourajé agreed with Shashala’s decision. With Roasch having lost his baby sister just mere moments after she was born and with Mayza’s recent death, the two dragons felt that if Roasch saw another one of his loved ones die, it would end up destroying him.
“…And besides, if something happens to us, someone needs to survive to tell the tale.” Tourajé concluded.
Shashala concurred. With Léruc’s true goals having been discovered by him and Tourajé, he was certain that things would only get more dangerous from there.
The two dragons looked towards the lake where they noticed the bright glow that was reflected upon it. They looked into the night sky where they saw smoke and flames rising. They immediately deduced that that must have been where Saulstrance and the others were. The two of them looked at each other and nodded knowingly.
As they made their way to the source of the fire and smoke, they encountered four bodies spread out on the ground, two to their left and right and the other two lying right in the middle of the road. The two of them recognized these bodies as being the corpses of some of Léruc’s guards. Tourajé and Shashala moved closer to inspect the bodies. As they had suspected, the four guards were indeed dead. Strangely enough, upon closer inspection, they found that their bodies hadn’t had their names carved into them. They asked themselves if this meant that Agcro wasn’t the one who killed them or if he just hadn’t gotten the chance to leave his mark. If this were the case, then they were even more worried for Saulstrance and Eig’nia’s safety. They continued along the path and hurried towards the source of the smoke and the fire. The two dragons hoped that they weren’t too late and that their friends were okay.
Upon arriving at the scene, they discovered a small town very nearly burnt down to the ground. Countless homes and businesses lay in ruin while some remained standing but slowly burned. Several bodies lay amongst the ruin bloodied, some even badly burnt.
“Oh my god…” Said Shashala horrified, feeling like he was going to be sick.
“This is awful…” Said Tourajé with a distraught look on his face, feeling deeply sorry for the people who lost their lives.
Suddenly, the dragons saw something crash through one of the houses. It was Saulstrance. He lay several hundred feet from where the two of them were standing. He stood up and leapt over the wreckage. Tourajé and Shashala followed after Saulstrance and saw him and Eig’nia fighting Agcro. Oddly enough, Tourajé and Shashala didn’t see the other guards with Saulstrance and Eig’nia. Their first thought was that the other guards had also been killed just like the four they came across but they couldn’t be sure. Although they had found some dead bodies, they were certain these weren’t all of the people from this town. Perhaps, they thought, the guards were helping to evacuate the surviving humans who lived there.
“SAULSTRANCE!! EIG’NIA!!!” Tourajé called to his friends.
Startled by their friend’s voice, the two dragons turned around to see Shashala and Tourajé standing behind them, the latter of whom ran over to them, thankful and relieved to see them safe.
“Tourajé, Shashala! What are you two doing here?” Asked Saulstrance, surprised to see his friends.
“Master told us that he was only going to send you if something happened to us. Is everything okay?” Eig’nia asked, feeling somewhat worried although she knew she should have been happy to see Tourajé and Shashala.
Neither Tourajé nor Shashala were eager to tell Saulstrance or Eig’nia the truth behind what had been happening. Tourajé was especially worried about how Saulstrance would take it if he found out that Léruc, the dragon he had looked up to and come to see as his adoptive father, was in fact the one responsible for the deaths of his parents and that it was through him that things had ended up the way they had. He worried that it might end up destroying Saulstrance once he learned the truth. Even then, however, Tourajé knew it was much too late to change things. Saulstrance would eventually discover what had really happened whether it be from him or from Léruc.
“Saulstrance…after we’re finished here, we have some things we need to discuss. And…they won’t be easy things for you to hear but you need to hear them.” Said Tourajé with a pained look in his eyes, showing that he truly didn’t want to have to reveal the truth to Saulstrance.
Just from looking at his friend, Saulstrance could tell that whatever Tourajé had to tell him must have been very bad. Saulstrance became troubled by this. What did Tourajé have to tell him that made him appear so distressed?
Suddenly, Agcro erupted into a fit of laughter. This startled the four dragons as they quickly turned to face the crazed dragon.
“After we’re finished here, the young dragon says, seemingly not realizing that last time we fought, there were six of them and now they’re down two. Do you earnestly believe that just the four of you will be able to defeat me when you barely managed to do so the first time?” Agcro asked amusedly, a somewhat shaky smile on his muzzle.
“We’ll have to see, won’t we?” Said Tourajé, smiling confidently.
Shashala and Eig’nia rushed towards Agcro while Saulstrance and Tourajé’s wings unfurled as the two of them took to the sky. The two dragons on the ground launched streams of fire at Agcro who countered with a fire stream of his own. The streams were caught together, locking the three dragons in place. With this, Saulstrance and Tourajé took the opportunity to launch their own assault against Agcro. Tourajé swooped down, smashing into Agcro’s side which knocked the latter off his feet. Once Saulstrance had landed, he swung his mighty tail at Agcro, knocking the dragon back which also caused the opposing dragon to get burnt somewhat by Shashala and Eig’nia’s fire.
Agcro jumped to his feet. With a flick of his tail, he swung it at Tourajé, hitting him against the side of his head. As Tourajé staggered, Agcro swung around and bit into Tourajé’s right leg. The younger dragon winced in pain as he felt Agcro’s teeth sink into his leg. To get Agcro’s teeth out of his leg, Tourajé jerked his leg forward, taking Agcro by surprise and forcing him to relinquish his hold on Tourajé’s leg.
“GAAH!!” Yelped Tourajé as he felt Agcro’s teeth get pulled out of his leg. He raised his front leg and observed the marks left by Agcro’s teeth.
The four dragons ran straight for Agcro, surrounding him from all sides. Before they could get too close, Agcro’s wings unfurled as he took to the sky. He flew high enough until he was obscured by the smoke and fire. The four dragons gathered together and pelted the sky with enormous balls of fire, all except for Saulstrance who instead combined his ability to breathe fire with his ability to consume earth and then launch it from his mouth. Although the four dragons couldn’t see where Agcro was, Agcro himself was likewise unable to see where their attacks would be coming from. He tried to avoid the attacks as best he could although he found himself getting hit by several fire blasts and two burning rocks. In return, Agcro rained down a barrage of long, pointed ice shards. Immediately the four dragons used their fire to melt the first set of large icicles, however, with more and more falling their way, they found it increasingly difficult to keep melting them one after another.
Suddenly, an idea formed in Shashala’s mind. He ordered the other three to get close to him as he formed a ring of fire around himself and his friends. Next, he told them to aim their fire towards the sky. He believed that this would be enough to protect them from Agcro’s assault.
Doing as Shashala suggested, Saulstrance, Tourajé, and Eig’nia, with Shashala’s assistance, used their fire breaths to form a protective dome made of fire around them. Any ice shards that would have gotten through quickly melted away thanks to their fire. However, they knew that they wouldn’t be able to keep this up forever. They would eventually begin to tire and if they tired before Agcro, they wouldn’t be able to defend themselves from his attacks. All they could do was hope that they held out longer than Agcro.
Agcro’s assault eventually ceased. Shortly after, Saulstrance and his friends’ fire also finished. Panting heavily, the four dragons used their wings to put out the ring of fire they had created to protect themselves. Likewise, Agcro, who had now returned to the ground, was also taking in deep breaths, trying to get oxygen into his lungs.
“Agcro.” Panted Tourajé. “We don’t have to do this. We aren’t your enemies.”
“Not my enemies? How do you figure that?” Agcro asked.
“First, why don’t you tell us who it was that released you?” Tourajé retorted with a question of his own.
Saulstrance, Eig’nia, and even Shashala turned to Tourajé with looks of surprise on their faces. What did he mean that someone released Agcro? Eig’nia asked Tourajé this and assured him that Léruc informed them that Agcro had found a way to escape and then made his way to the human realm. Tourajé, however, assured them this wasn’t the case and what Agcro said next confirmed it.
“Well if you hatchlings must know, it was dear ol’ Master Léruc who set me free.” Said Agcro with a smile.
“YOU LIE!!” Saulstrance roared, infuriated that this horrible dragon would accuse his own master of doing such a thing.
“He’s not lying.” Tourajé quickly contradicted, looking straight at Saulstrance with a very serious grim look on his face.
“But how can you be sure Tourajé? Just because Agcro said it doesn’t mean it actually was Lord Léruc.” Said Shashala. Just like Saulstrance, he was certain Agcro was lying.
Tourajé explained to his three friends that when he and Léruc were in the holding chambers, he inspected the cuffs that had been used to bind Agcro. They hadn’t been destroyed or pulled off their chains which could only have meant that Agcro had to have had help in escaping.
“But couldn’t one of the guards had let Agcro out? I thought we were certain they were the ones behind everything!” Exclaimed Eig’nia, finding herself confused and at the same time, a little uncertain.
Tourajé shook his head. The way Léruc talked about Saulstrance potentially killing Agcro cemented in his head the idea that Léruc was indeed the one who let Agcro go free.
“Léruc promised I could go free under one condition: I help him protect our world by taking care of a small township of humans who were looking to invade our world.” Agcro explained, a proud, confident smile on his muzzle.
“Agcro, listen to me. Léruc is using you. He used all of us. He wants Saulstrance to kill you. Even if you do survive, he’ll have you killed too.” Tourajé said, hoping desperately that what he was saying would get through to Agcro.
Unfortunately, Tourajé’s efforts were ultimately for nothing as Agcro suddenly burst out laughing. He didn’t believe a single word Tourajé had said to him. Saulstrance, however, was left speechless by what he had just heard. Léruc…wanted him to kill another dragon? Why? What Tourajé had said couldn’t possibly be true…could it? What was he supposed to believe? He didn’t want to believe that his own master and adoptive father would wish for him to do such a horrible thing like killing another dragon yet he also couldn’t bring himself to disbelieve everything Tourajé said.
“Is that correct? He believes that this dragon alone would be able to kill me?” Asked Agcro amusedly. “Well, I would truly enjoy seeing that. Come, little dragon! Let’s see if you can fulfill your master’s wish!”
Just as Saulstrance readied himself to attack, Tourajé dashed past him. He charged at Agcro like a raging bull, horns pointed at him. Agcro quickly took to the sky with. Tourajé stopped in the spot where Agcro had been standing. He opened his wings and chased after Agcro. The two dragons flew around each other for a bit, then proceeding to fly straight towards each other. They did this a couple times before Tourajé flew towards Agcro, swiping his claws at Agcro and slashing the side of his face. Four deep cuts were left by Tourajé’s claws, causing the dragon to cringe in pain as his wounds stung. Blood ran down the side of Agcro’s face, dripping off the side. Using the back of his paw, Agcro wiped off the blood, leaving behind small damp smudges on his face. Growling angrily, he flew after Tourajé, smashing into the dragon and then smacking the top of Tourajé’s head with his tail which sent Tourajé falling from the sky and crashing into one of the few houses that hadn’t been lit on fire. The building was split in half as Tourajé was almost completely covered by the rubble, dust being kicked into the air.
As Tourajé moved from amongst the rubble and returned to his feet, he saw Shashala launch himself into the night sky. Shashala slashed at Agcro several times only for each attempt to miss. He then proceeded to swing his tail at Agcro which was once more avoided as Agcro soared above Shashala. He flew over his enemy and used his ice breath to freeze Shashala’s wings. Shashala felt the ice begin to envelope his wings but was unable to free them as shortly after, he fell from the sky, flailing his limbs around as he screamed, eventually crashing into the ground.
“Shashala!!” Saulstrance exclaimed as he rushed to his friend’s aide.
Just as Shashala was getting back to his feet, Agcro, who was hovering overhead, stopped flapping his wings and fell through the sky, about to bodyslam into Shashala. By the time Shashala noticed this, Agcro was quickly closing in on him, leaving him without much time to counterattack or get out of the way. However, he was saved by Saulstrance who pushed Shashala out of the way, knocking both of them off their feet and causing Agcro to slam into the ground instead of Shashala.
“Thank you Saulstrance.” Said Shashala as he stood up and turned to face Agcro.
“Are you okay?” Saulstrance asked.
“I’ll be better once I can move my wings again. Replied Shashala, turning his head to look at his still frozen wings.
Before Shashala could begin unthawing his wings, Agcro charged at the two dragons, but was quickly stopped by Eig’nia who attacked him from behind. She pounced on Agcro, smashing his head into the ground. As Agcro stood up, Eig’nia jumped between him and her friends, eager to protect them.
“Eig’nia!!” Saulstrance exclaimed.
“Help Shashala unfreeze his wings! I can handle Agcro myself.” Said the dragoness, assuring her friend she would be okay.
Complying with Eig’nia’s suggestion, Saulstrance helped Shashala thaw out his wings. Meanwhile, Eig’nia flew after Agcro who had once more taken to the night sky. As she and Agcro fought, Tourajé, who had moved from amongst the rubble, launched himself into the air, and joined Eig’nia in battle. Although they had Agcro outnumbered two to one, Agcro was still able to hold his own against them.
As the two dragons attacked Agcro from both the left and the right, shooting two fireballs at him, Agcro quickly swooped down below them then launched himself towards Eig’nia, headbutting her directly in the stomach. The dragoness’s eyes widened in pain as Agcro flew above her and whipped his tail, smacking her with it and sent her plummeting out of the sky. Eig’nia crashed into one of the houses, knocking part of it down. She quickly stood up, some of the wreckage that had covered her falling to her feet.
While Eig’nia unfurled her wings and returned to helping Tourajé who was now struggling against Agcro, Saulstrance and Shashala had just finished unfreezing the latter’s wings. A cold, numb sensation still lingered in Shashala’s wings so to get rid of it, Shashala flapped his wings a few times to get rid of the numbness.
“Are you okay, Shashala?” Asked Saulstrance as he watched Shashala continue to flex his wings.
“I’ll be fine. I still don’t have much feeling in my wings but that’ll pass.” Answered Shashala as his wings ceased flapping.
The two dragons looked towards the sky. They saw Agcro bite into Eig’nia’s neck then swoop out of the sky, slamming the dragoness into another house. As she lay amongst the debris, Agcro slammed his paw down on Eig’nia’s muzzle. The dragoness struggled as hard as she could to get free but ultimately found her efforts fruitless. Agcro coiled his tail over the top of Eig’nia’s neck. He removed his paw from the top of her snout allowing the dragoness a brief moment of freedom. However, before Eig’nia could get the chance to land an attack, Agcro’s tail wrapped around her neck, tightening as the dragoness struggled to breathe, barely able to even move.
Tourajé descended to the ground and was about to try and help Eig’nia but was stopped by Agcro who assured Tourajé that should be try anything, he’ll snap Eig’nia’s neck. With this, Tourajé froze in place, growling, a fierce look on his face. Agcro snickered, knowing that he had the upper hand.
“Of course, I could always go ahead and break your pretty little neck regardless of what your friend does.” Agcro said with wicked gleams in his eyes.
Agcro’s tail became even tighter around Eig’nia’s neck. As she struggled to breathe, she gripped his tail and tried to pry it from her neck but found herself unsuccessful in doing so. Agcro simply laughed mockingly at her efforts as slowly, the dragoness’s grip on Agcro’s tail began to loosen but before she began to slip into unconsciousness, Shashala launched a fireball at Agcro, scorching his left eye and causing him to scream in agonizing pain. His hold on Eig’nia was released and Agcro staggered, groaning from the horrible burning pain in his eye. He roared in discomfort as he shut his eye and placed the back of his left paw over it in an attempt to stop the stinging.
Eig’nia ran back to her friends. She, along with Tourajé, Saulstrance, and Shashala watched, almost feeling slight pity for Agcro as he continued to cry out in pain, roaring and occasionally shooting streams of fire into the sky. Agcro kept staggering back and forth, his left eye closed, keeping the right one open as he focused on the dragons who may have caused him to lose his eye.
With an angry, ear shattering roar, Agcro lunged at Shashala in a blind rage. While he had always enjoyed tormenting his victims and making sure that their torture was as slow and agonizing as possible, to get back at Shashala, he was willing to make an exception. He was simply going to kill Shashala.
Before he could attempt anything, however, Saulstrance tackled Agcro, pinning him to the ground. He clenched his paw into a fist, driving it straight into the side of Agcro’s face. He then clenched his other fist and hit Agcro with that one as well.
Saulstrance hit Agcro over and over while his friends watched. They hoped that eventually, Saulstrance would cease but this never happened. For a solid minute he just rested on top of Agcro, hitting him over and over as the older dragon either made no effort or couldn’t to get free.
Unable to take anymore, Shashala stepped forward. Standing behind Saulstrance, he spoke.
“Saulstrance, that’s enough! He’s done…” Shashala said, somewhat sadly.
Regaining himself, Saulstrance stopped hitting Agcro whose face had been badly bruised and beaten. Blood dripped from his nostrils as he lay on the ground, breathing faintly. While Saulstrance hadn’t noticed, Agcro used his hind legs to kick Saulstrance off of him. He sent the dragon very nearly crashing into Shashala, the latter of whom leapt back just before both he and Saulstrance found themselves laying on the ground.
Weakly, Agcro proceeded to stand up. He coughed a little as he struggled to keep his footing. Panting heavily, he watched as Saulstrance stood up and moved in between him and his friends in order to protect them.
“Was that all you had, little dragon? I couldn’t feel a thing.” Agcro laughed, swaying side to side.
Slowly, Agcro proceeded towards Saulstrance but collapsed to the ground as his front legs gave out. He tried to stand up but found that he didn’t have the strength. Saulstrance walked closer to Agcro, being advised by Tourajé to be careful just in case he tries anything.
Saulstrance looked down at the beaten and broken dragon. Weakly, Agcro lifted his head, his usual creepy yet always triumphant smile now replaced with a scowl and his eyes filled with anger, hatred, and a hint of sadness.
“You finally got me, so what are you waiting for?” Agcro scoffed, sounding more annoyed that he was beaten than worried for his life.
“Even after you killed so many innocent dragons and now humans, I still can’t understand what would make someone want to do such a horrible thing.” Saulstrance said fiercely, glaring down at Agcro.
Agcro laughed weakly. “Does everything have to have some kind of deep meaning? Perhaps I killed just because it was fun to me. Maybe my family wasn’t so good to me. Or perhaps it was a bit of both.” He said.
Saulstrance closed his eyes and shook his head. With a sigh, he stood up and turned around, heading back to his friends. Agcro was surprised by this. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Saulstrance had the perfect opportunity to finish him and yet, he was just walking away.
“Where are you going? Get back here and finish this!” Demanded Agcro angrily.
Saulstrance looked back towards Agcro. With an angered look on his face, he said to Agcro…
“No. I won’t become a killer. What I will do is turn you over to one of the other Leaders once this is all over. Then they can decide what to do with you from there.” Saulstrance said, soon proceeding to turn around and continue towards his friends.
“Let’s go. We need to find the guards. They’re probably finishing helping the townspeople evacuate.” Saulstrance said to his friends.
“Was that where they’ve been this whole time?” Asked Tourajé, surprised but finding it understandable since he hadn’t seen any of the other guards.
Saulstrance nodded. “I was surprised that they were so eager to help out the humans who lived here. Maybe we were wrong about master’s guards. Even though they did kill Mayza, maybe there is some good in them.” The reddish orange dragon smiled hopefully.
Just as the dragons were about to take to flight, Eig’nia caught everyone’s attention when she turned around to see Agcro back on his feet. Growling and breathing heavily, he muttered under his breath, “I will NOT…be disgraced”.
Summoning what remained of his strength, he put everything he had left into rushing towards Saulstrance and his friends. He tried to attack Saulstrance several times but each attack missed. Finally, as Saulstrance leapt out of the way, Agcro grabbed hold of Saulstrance’s left paw. With Saulstrance’s claws extended out, Agcro stabbed himself with them. This act took everybody, Saulstrance especially by surprise.
Saulstrance pulled his paw back as he watched Agcro, who was coughing up blood, stagger backwards and eventually collapse once more to the ground. The crazed dragon laughed as blood trickled down his chin.
“So this…is what it feels like. I guess…I really am…a monster.” Agcro said, his voice growing softer and less audible.
With a smile on his muzzle, Agcro closed his eyes and took his final breath. Saulstrance stood horrified by what had just happened. He raised his paw and observed his claws which were damp with Agcro’s freshly spilled blood. His paw shook violently and Saulstrance let out a horrified, ear piercing shriek. Even if it wasn’t his choice to take Agcro’s life, his claws were still the instruments that performed the deed. Despite it being involuntarily, Saulstrance had just been turned into the one thing he wished never to become. He had become a killer.
Saulstrance’s whole body began to tremble as he tried desperately to get the blood off his claws. “Get off! GET OFF!!” He panicked, eyes widening and his voice growing more and more desperate. He was soon hyperventilating.
“Saulstrance.” Eig’nia said, placing a wing on her friend’s back. This helped to calm him down somewhat.
Turning to his friend with sad, apologetic eyes, Saulstrance rested his head on Eig’nia’s shoulder, his chin wobbling and eyes shut. Eig’nia wrapped her wings around Saulstrance as her way of hugging him and to try and calm her friend. Tourajé and Shashala approached Eig’nia and Saulstrance and both dragons nuzzled against Saulstrance, letting him know that they were there for him and would do everything they could to help him.
Once Saulstrance had managed to calm down, he had decided to go and find the remaining guards. By now they must have finished evacuating the citizens of the now destroyed town. Tourajé, however, suggested they don’t go seeking the guards just yet. While he knew now that the guards were just as innocent in everything that had occurred as they were, Tourajé had another reason for why he didn’t want to go looking for them right away. When Saulstrance asked what it was, Tourajé told his friends that he would tell them everything but that first they should discuss these matters someplace else. And so, the dragons took to flight and headed away from the destroyed township. As they flew, Tourajé hoped that Eig’nia and more so Saulstrance would be able to handle hearing the truth behind all the events that had occurred up until now.