Dragon Fire: Episode 53

As Razham and Cerros made their way out of the woods, the trees once withered and dead burst into full bloom, and the sunlight broke through the clouds. When the first rays of the morning light settled around them, Cerros stopped and looked back at the cursed remains of the Kingdom of Browell.

“Will you ever see them again?” Razham asked.

For just a moment, Cerros peered into the woods, his jaw stiffening. When a lone tear trickled down his cheek, he turned around and headed out of the trees with no answer for Razham.

“We need to keep moving. The village cannot wait much longer.”

Razham kept silent while the steeds slowly worked their way through the tall lush grass. Like slivers of white topaz, dewdrops on the tender blades glistened in the sunlight.

“What do you know of the woods outside the village Yavasadir?”

“A peaceful place out of the way. Large game and few outlaws,” Cerros said. “A good place for hunting or hiding from authorities.”

“In many ways like my homeland,” Razham observed.

As they broke the current and slowly made their way across a clear stream, suddenly a crane lifted into the air, its morning feeding disturbed. Razham watched as it flew over the trees, its long dark legs trailing behind and neck held straight. With a wide wingspan and body the size of a small wolf, it soared through the air with an occasional flap of its wings. Razham watched in wonder and praise until the brightness of the sun made it difficult to follow.

“What majestic creatures,” he remarked.

“You have much to say,” Cerros finally said.

“Does this trouble you, my friend?” Razham asked.

“I have been on many journeys with you, Razham, and have found you to be a silent man. Today you speak much about nothing. You struggle to express your heart. I ask what troubles you. Tell me so that we may travel in peace.”

Razham found himself ill at ease.

“I fear that your loss drives you to risk your life. Those who live need your comradeship, your counsel. Those who have gone before are at rest and have no need of you. I fear your sorrow may cause your judgment to suffer, ” Razham explained.

“How old are you, Razham?” Cerros asked.

Surprised by the question, Razham paused to consider his answer then said,

“My people do not measure the passing of time as do your people, but forty-five of your generations have passed since I was first put into my mother’s arms.”

Cerros was taken aback by the answer but was careful to show no surprise.

“Then you have been in this world long enough to know that life is a mistress who listens only to her own voice. When she decides it is my time to die, it will not matter what I do or how I plead for more time.”

When they neared an umbrella of trees up ahead just off the road, Cerros turned his horse and said,

“We rest here for the night.”

As he removed the saddle and blankets from the horse and began to set up camp, Cerros asked,

“You said your people do not measure time as others. Where is home, Razham?”

Razham stopped building the fire and got a faraway look as he said,

“There is a great island far south of here where the air is warm and the sun is close. The land is mostly woods and desert. Like two great warriors, they fight for control of the land, but the forest is far more powerful. I have heard an old legend that one day the gods will curse the sun and she will fall from the sky, crashing into the island and turning it into a large desert where man can no longer live.”

“Is everyone there like you?” Cerros asked.

“Like me?” Razham asked.

“In this land, we have elves, dwarves, and men in the farthest reaches outside civilization. You may even find hybrids.”

“Hybrids?” Razham asked.

“Men who are half elf, half human. Human-animal hybrids. I once heard of a tiger that walked on its feet and whose hands could grasp a sword. A religious man,” Cerros said.

“A tiger who is a man,” Razham repeated with surprise.

“There are no hybrids in my homeland, but the animals and plants have become so wild that both pose a threat to those who are unaware of their danger. I have seen a wolf large enough to lift a man your size, carrying him in its jaws without any part touching the ground. But the plants there have killed more people than the animals.”

Cerros shook his head as he poked the burning twigs of the fire then settled himself down to sleep.

“We should reach the village just after dawn. For now, let us put aside all thoughts of hybrids and wildlife and dream of peace.  Once we arrive, there will be little time for rest.”

Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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