Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Twenty-three

Farloft started formulating a plan on how to deal with the sons of Thrax shortly after he heard of their involvement from Naza the Wise. He was determined there would be no more dragon blood shed – no more loss of life for Thrax’s family. However, he had not planned on the huge red dragon approaching from the east. He could only assume it was another of Thrax’s relatives. He looked older, and therefore Farloft hoped he could reason with him. This fight should not be between dragon clans.

Farloft hadn’t had time to tell Clearair of his plan. He didn’t want James or her to jump into the fray. He needed them to keep their distance. He glanced her direction before Graa and Kang reached him. He roared her a warning to stay put. He only hoped she would listen.

Farloft checked the ground below him. His focus had to be on dealing with the red dragons rather than the full battle itself. He spotted Rymit making his way behind the enemy’s line to the empty field below him. Farloft turned toward the dragon approaching him from the west. He was the closest. Gauging his arrival, he spread his wings and extended his paws. The young red dragon took the gesture as a challenge, just as Farloft planned. He flew right into the older dragon’s chest with fire blazing. Farloft grasped the snake like dragon with all four paws. He folded his wings around the youngling and they started to plummet toward the ground. Farloft took a full blast of the dragon’s fire to his face, but he did not release him.

He could see the ground undulating below him. Rymit was ready as they planned. At the last minute, before pulling out of the fall was not an option, Farloft released the red, roared as a signal to Rymit, and did a strong back-thrust with his wings to clear himself of the red youngling. Rymit shot out of the ground like a gigantic black waterspout. He grasped the red dragon and pulled him to the ground. Before the youngling knew what was happening Rymit had his coils tightly wrapped around him, pinning him to the ground. The plan was to stop the Thrax sons, not to harm them. Farloft turned toward the quickly approaching dragon from the east. Who was he? There was no time to think. He roared a warning at the dragon and then turned to engage the second youngling coming at him from the south.

*** 

There was no doubt in Clearair’s mind where her priorities stood. The humans battling it out below her were forgotten when she saw her mate was threatened. Even Farloft’s roar, ordering her to stay put, did not deter her.

She issued her own order to James. “Stay here and help the humans.” Without waiting for an acknowledgement, she thrust her wings down hard and headed toward the largest dragon approaching from the east.

*** 

Mokum heard Farloft’s roar. It was the signal he had been waiting for. He left off gassing the troops below him as they scrambled across the bridge toward the castle and headed toward the big green dragon.

His attention was on Farloft and Rymit as they dispatched the first red youngling when he found himself flying through a volley of arrows. He dipped and swerved allowing them all to pass by except one. That one lodged itself in his right hip. He growled in anger and pain. He was about to change his path and deal with his human assailants when he saw the huge red dragon on his tail. It had almost overtaken him from the east. Where did it come from? And who was he?

Mokum pumped his wings to put distance between him and the massive beast. It was at least three times as long as him, and though devoid of wings, it hurtled through the sky like a lightning bolt. Mokum exhaled a stream of his paralyzing gas over his shoulder just as Clearair appeared diving from above to drive the red to the ground.

Clearair’s focus was on the red dragon quickly approaching Farloft from behind. She saw the blue dragon before it, but had no idea of Mokum’s unusual talents. She flew right through the cloud of his gas. Because her contact was fleeting, it did not paralyze her it just disoriented her enough that the brother of Thrax, was able to grab her in his coils.

Mokum saw his opportunity to slip away and finish off Farloft’s plan. He picked up speed and dove for Farloft.

By now, the old green dragon had the second youngling in his grasp. This was more difficult, because the first witnessed what happened to his brother. He had avoided Farloft until distracted by his uncle’s encounter with Mokum. Then Farloft saw his chance and took it. He grabbed the youngling, and forced him to the ground too. Mokum followed.

The blue dragon gassed the second son of Thrax into submission. Now both younglings were captives of Farloft’s friends.

The large dragon was doing his best to fend off the gargoyles Theresa launched at him. They were small and would have been easily dispatched by the larger red dragon, except that he was at a disadvantage trying to hold onto Clearair.

He swatted at the gargoyles and sent them flying like a ball off the end of a stick. He bit at them and crushed them in the coils of his tail. One attacked his head so fiercely that he almost lost his grip on Clearair, but managed to shake it loose and skewer it between his long talons.

Luckily, all this delayed him long enough for Farloft to capture his two nephews. By the time he downed all the pesky gargoyles, Farloft was ready for him.

“I am Xinx, brother to Thrax.” The large red dragon announced as he came to land before Farloft and Mokum. “Release my nephews,” he threatened, presenting Clearair tightly wrapped in his long red coil.

“I do not wish to harm them,” Farloft explained. “We need to settle this peacefully. Dragons should not fight dragons. It is not the way of my clan, and has not been the way of dragonic history for centuries.”

“What do you Westerners know of history?” Xinx scoffed. “Our clan can trace its origin back for millennia.”

“If that is so, then you should have memories of disputes settled without war,” Clearair said from her place held fast in his coils. “Battles between dragons never have a happy ending.”

“Quiet!” Xinx ordered and squeezed Clearair until it took her breath away.

“Please…” Farloft cautioned. “All this is wrong in every way. Years ago, I saved Thrax. He was my friend and I acted quickly, only thinking of his safety. Another dragon was killed because of that. I am sorry. I was sorry then and I am sorry to this day, but I would not take it back. I loved Thrax like a brother.” Farloft ruffled his wings. The two red younglings lay behind him. One still in Rymit’s grasp, the other sleeping quietly under Mokum’s power. “I want it to stop here. I can kill Graa and Kang, and you can kill my mate and me, but what does that get any of us? It only leaves our world with fewer dragons, less magic and far less hope.”

Xinx huffed and smoke cleared his nostrils. He loosened his hold on Clearair, but did not release her. “You are wiser than you look,” he said. “For a Westerner, you speak well.”

“Do not listen to him, Uncle,” the youngling in Rymit’s grasp called.

“Shhh,” Xinx hissed.

Farloft could see the older dragon was listening. Really hearing what he was saying, unlike his brother before him. “I cannot see any future for dragons who will kill other dragons,” Farloft stated. He waved his wing toward the battlefield. “Look what it brings to the humans.”

The fighting was coming to an end, but only because darkness was overtaking the combatants. Tomorrow it would start again unless Farloft and his friends could stop it.

“Let us make peace,” Farloft offered. “Let us be wiser than the humans around us.”

The coils of the red dragon loosened until Clearair stood free.

“You will never be a friend, but it is a wise dragon who listens to reason,” Xinx stated.

Farloft motioned for Rymit to release his captive. The younger dragon went to his brother and took him in his paws.

“He’ll be fine in a couple of hours,” Mokum said. “Just a bit of a headache.” He grinned showing off his substantial set of teeth silently reminding the youngling there was a truce.

The red dragon bundled himself around his sleeping brother and lifted him into the air.

“I will see that this vendetta goes no further,” Xinx said, “but I warn you, you and yours are not welcome in our kingdom. The wound is still too new.”

Farloft templed his wings and bowed. “We will keep clear of your world and hope that time will heal what I inadvertently broke.”

***

Farloft wrapped a comforting wing around his mate.

“Do you think they are gone for good?” Clearair asked.

“I want to believe so,” Farloft said and tightening his hold on her.

They watched as the three red dragons left, headed east and away from the battlefield and Baldar. It was time to regroup and see if they could put an end to the human side of this war.

Clearair by Sarah Hyndshaw

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