Between wind and fire
As the sun set behind a faraway mountain, a man rose from the roots of the giant oak where he had passed the day. It started to rain, but he didn't seem to care. He pulled the cap of his dark blue cloak over his eyes and put his sack on his back. With his other hand he picked up the staff that had been lying beside him. For a moment he looked at the red skies in the west, then he turned his back to them and started walking. He preferred the night. The darkness of the forest didn't bother him, he was used to it. With steady steps he found his way through the blackness, stopping occasionally at open spots to check his direction by the stars. In this dense forest he could not see his goal, the top of the mountain he had started climbing three days ago. He knew it wasn't far anymore, and he wanted to reach it before the moon rose.
If there had been any other people in the forest, they would probably not have seen him. His step was light and fast, and his dark cloak blended into the shadows. If he made any sounds at all, they were indistinguishable from the normal noise of a living forest.
Suddenly his attention was drawn to some sounds far off. They were out of place with the balance of the forest. He stopped and listened carefully. Obviously humans. He wondered what people would come to a forest in the night, this far from villages. What normal people, that is. It didn't matter much as he didn't want to meet them. He didn't want to meet anybody right now. With a sigh he realized he probably had no choice, the noises were coming his way. With his keen eyes he could see them coming, running as they were. Quickly he hid behind a tree. If it could be avoided he would rather not be seen. He could see them clearly now, as they were running up the hill. One in front, dressed in white and several others with torches following some fifteen meters behind. It looked suspiciously like a chase. They were not far now. The one in front was obviously a girl. Maybe some virgin trying to escape kidnappers. These were civilized lands though. In either way, it was obvious that the men were gaining on the girl rapidly now and it seemed that, given the circumstances, he'd better help the girl.
The men had caught up with her. From where he was hiding, not twenty meters away, he could see one of the men bringing her down with a jump. Quickly he left his hiding place and ran towards the scene. When he reached them, he halted one brief moment to look around. He was standing on higher ground and had thus a slight advantage. He took a deep breath and shouted: "Stop!"
The men immediately stopped and looked up at him with surprise. The girl slipped away from under them and hid behind a nearby tree.
"I am called Imr, the moonstar. Leave now." He said to the men that had attacked the girl. He didn't feel there was much more to be said. The men did not make any move to indicate they would obey. Imr looked up at the sky. It had stopped raining and the clouds were breaking open. There was no moon yet, but those stars would do. He looked around at the men, then rested his daunting gaze on what appeared to be their leader, drawing strength from the stars. For a moment there was a battle of wills, then the leader frowned and turned around, ordering his men to follow him. His voice was stronger than Imr had expected. He showed no sign of tiredness from the unseen battle they had just fought. His victory seemed hollow. This was a strong man.
When the men had left, the girl reappeared from behind the tree. She was pretty, very pretty. Her beauty had something unnatural and this warned Imr. A quick glance at her eyes confirmed his suspicion that she was a witch. For a moment he wondered whether perhaps he should not have interfered. Witches were dangerous, as you could never tell their intentions. Not the pretty ones anyway. If you met an old and ugly witch, you could be pretty sure her intentions were good. But, as everybody knew, witches were usually magnificent to behold, the very essence of earthly beauty. This one was no different.
He wondered what she was doing here in the forest, so far from civilization. He decided the best way to find out was to ask, but she beat him to it.
"What brings you here, lord wizard?" she asked. There was something of a hesitation in her voice, as if he wasn't supposed to be there, or as if she was trying to figure out whether he was a friend or another enemy.
"A tale." Imr said, deciding to remain
vague and mysterious. These were so called "civilized"
lands. They barely believed in magic. The last few times he had
revealed his true reasons, people had thought him a lunatic. Some
had laughed, others had just stared blankly at him. Even the old
people didn't believe in magic anymore, and they more than anybody
should know better. On the other hand, he was talking to a witch
now, maybe she knew more. A witch
what was a witch doing
in these magic-forsaken lands?
"I see. You are looking for old Nema." the witch said and she looked up at the mountain. "The dragon sleeps."
She knows, Imr thought. She was the first one in
this land who he'd met that actually knew of the dragon's existence.
So Nema slept? That was inconvenient. Dragons lived long lives,
as Imr knew. If they were asleep, there was no telling when they
might wake up. It could be as little as a few minutes or as much
as several thousand years. Imr started to understand why nobody
had heard of it here.
"How long has Lord Nema been asleep?" he asked the witch. She seemed to know more about the dragon than he did. She didn't bother to respond. "You can help me, lord wizard." she said, and Imr noted that she had not explicitly asked for help. Just pointed out that he could help. It was an important difference he knew. He was intrigued though, and since he wasn't planning on waking a dragon - after all it was not advisable to do so - he didn't have anything better to do. He stayed alert though, until he knew more about what was happening, he could not be sure of what this witch wanted. He realized he knew very little about her.
"Who are you?"
To Imr's surprise, the witch bowed. "I am called Zephyr, lord." Imr nodded. That didn't tell him much. Or did it? The word seemed familiar.
"Why do you need my help?" he asked, "and who were those men."
"The leader is called Kiln, the others I know only from sight. He is a warlock." It seemed to Imr that the witch was hesitant to tell him too much. She chose her words with great care. Presumably she had guessed his truthsense and was making sure she did not lie. He wasn't really surprised to find out that that man had been a warlock. It explained how he recovered from the mental battle so quickly. Still the question remained, what was this all about. Until he knew this he could not choose side. When he first got involved, his heart had taken the side of the lonely maiden that was ambushed by three brute men. The situation, now he understood it, was far more complicated. He had to reconsider the side he was on, if he was to take any side at all. Years ago in the temple he had vowed he would protect the innocents from misuse of magic. Now he somehow ended up in the fight between a witch and a warlock, without knowing which one, if any, was on the side of the people. The people wouldn't be able to tell him either, since they did not believe in all this hocus-pocus. Promptly Imr put himself down in a meditation position. The witch Zephyr stopped him "There is no time for that now, milord."
"Then tell me more, Zephyr, for I cannot decide now. I know too little."
Zephyr stretched herself and looked down the mountain in the direction Kiln and his men had disappeared. When she was convinced there were no distant fires visible, she put herself down beside Imr, and started talking, swiftly and softly.
"The dragon Nema went to sleep several months ago. Now nobody guards the realm. The people have dwelled in a magical peace for so long that they have forgotten the magic that caused it. Everything was calm, and Nema felt weakened by his guard. He is very old. He fell asleep, and we could not wake him."
"Who is 'we'?"
"The sisterhood," Zephyr answered, "we have served Lord Nema for dozens of generations. He used us as sentries and messengers. The lands were peaceful, none but us practiced magic and the old dragon was tired, so he fell asleep, believing all to be well. And it was, but not for long. Two months ago, Kiln and his men arrived. We think - or I think rather as I'm the only sister left alive - that he knew the dragon had gone to sleep."
"What did he do?" Imr hung to Zephyr's lips by now. His truthsense told her that everything she had said was true, or rather that she believed it. He quietly reminded himself not to rely on his truthsense too much, a witch might still deceive him he knew.
"One of his men came up to the mountain, pretending to be a wizard that wanted to talk to the dragon, like yourself, but his words were treacherous. When he found out the dragon was asleep, he asked for our hospitality for the night, so he could leave the morning after. We of course granted his request, and gave him a room. That night however, Kiln and the rest of his men came to our gates, and our guest let them in. They murdered most of my sisters. The few that escaped, like me, he hunted in the weeks to follow. I am the last one left alive, and am only so thanks to your intervention."
Imr stood up and looked up. He could feel that the moon had risen, but he could not see it yet. Consumed by thoughts, he asked, "How did you know he was a wizard."
"He would not have found the cave if he were an ordinary man."
"Then we must presume his men have power too."
"You will help me then?" she asked. Imr just nodded. It could be that she was deceiving him, but he had to take the risk. This situation was too grave not to get involved.
"Then follow me, lord Moonstar," she said, while getting up. Imr looked at her as she departed up the mountain, then he followed. He wondered how she knew his nickname. He had forgotten he had introduced himself with it. After about half an hour of walking, they left the forest. Zephyr lead Imr to a rocky path. On their way up Imr had asked Zephyr some questions and he now knew that she and her late sisters had practiced herb-lore and the magic of plants and trees.
Finally they reached the cave. A great bronze gate blocked the entrance, and there was something else, something magical. Imr could sense the magic that shielded the gate from ordinary eyes. He started walking towards the gate, but was stopped by Zephyr.
"No," she said, "not that way. The gate can only be opened from the inside. Follow me, there is a secret entrance." Imr followed her as she went down and around the entrance of the cave. After a few dozen steps, she walked up to the wall and pushed it. A bit farther the secret entrance opened. It seemed strange to Imr that a place so magical relied on a mechanical system to open a secret entrance. He didn't know that long before the dragon Nema took up residence in the cavern fortress, it had been a hideout of the king of the realm.
"Know this, lord wizard," Zephyr said, "according to the laws of the sisterhood, I should have gone inside alone and then opened the main gate for you. Nobody is supposed to know of this entrance's existence but the sisters. You will understand the trust I have given you, I bid you do likewise."
Imr nodded. She had sensed he didn't fully trust her. She was right of course, as long as he mistrusted her, they would be weaker, but he could not shake the feeling that was urging him to be careful. Something inside him told him he should not have gotten involved, but it seemed to him that if he did nothing at all, he could not prevent any harm to come over the land either. For now though, he put his doubts aside, for he knew she was right. They did weaken him.
He followed Zephyr into a large hall of the cave
that was unusually dark. Even his night-accustomed eyes could not
penetrate the blackness. His senses immediately adapted to the new
environment and his hearing and touch sense both improved. He could
hear the dripping of water and feel that the air was slightly colder
as he progressed. Presumably there was a lake nearby, most likely
in this very room. His sub consciousness noted it as knowledge that
might prove useful later on. He followed the sound of Zephyr's footsteps
towards a tunnel. She stopped briefly at a door in the left side
of the tunnel.
"In this room we keep our stock. Mostly food but weapons too. Remember this, we may need them. She took a few steps, then turned back and went into the room. She came out carrying two bows and a quiver of arrows for each. "On second thought, we might not have the time to arm ourselves later. Are you skilled in archery Moonstar?" Imr shook his head. As a protector of life, he did not hunt and he was no warrior. Zephyr first looked worried then smiled. "So be it, peace be you. But I reckon we might need to fight."
Imr looked at the bow Zephyr had intended for him, it was a weapon for a strong man. It seemed strange to find such a weapon in a place where only women lived. He decided not to ask about it. "I am unskilled in weapons of war, but I know enough spells to protect us from most attacks."
Zephyr was silent for a while, apparently in deep thought. Finally she started moving again, saying "Follow me now, but don't rely on your power too much. I fear this may not be a battle of magic." What she meant with that Imr could not then guess, but her words made him uneasy. They walked silently for a while until they turned around a corner, and Zephyr pushed Imr against the wall. This tunnel was open at the end, the moon casting a dim, pale light, casting strangely sharp shadows. What had startled Zephyr, was not the light, but one of the shadows, the clear silhouette of a man, standing on a ledge at the exit of the tunnel. So Kiln has left a guard. Imr thought. Of course, he needs somebody to open the gate from the inside. He turned his head to Zephyr, and was startled to see her standing in the middle of the tunnel, putting an arrow to her bow. Half jumping, half trying to be quiet, he snatched the arrow away from her and gave her a warning look. She looked amazed and a bit angry, but to Imr's relieve she didn't make a sound, or any other sign but the question in her eyes. He gently pulled her into the shadows of the tunnel. They had barely made it to the edge or a distant shout shook Zephyr. Kiln's voice coming from the large port. She nearly started to run away, but Imr held her back and put a hand over her mouth so she wouldn't shout.
"Hey! Open the port." The shout came again. At the end of the tunnel, the man was looking over the edge, down to where the port was, looking for something. "We lost our torches, come open the port. One of those witches has escaped and may be close." The man shrugged and started walking down the tunnel, towards where Imr and Zephyr were hiding. Imr could feel Zephyr tremble under his hands, and wondered what frightened her more, the man coming ever closer that might find them, or Kiln standing outside. Part of him was amazed she could be afraid, so far she had seemed very much in control. Maybe that was what frightened her, she was no longer in control. He couldn't tell her anything though, the man would surely find them if he spoke. Every step of the man brought the danger of being discovered closer and in spite of himself Imr could not help trembling. He hoped Zephyr would not notice. He could not sense the gift of magic in the man, but did not dare take the chance of making Zephyr and himself invisible. He had never been very good at sensing the gift in others. The man walked past them and Imr pressed himself against the wall, holding his breath. The man walked past them without noticing them and Imr had to suppress a sigh of relieve. When the man was far enough ahead, Imr estimated it as some fifteen passes, Imr took his hand from Zephyr. She was breathing heavily. He signaled her to remain silent and follow, and started after the man. They followed him from a distance, down the tunnels and halls to where the great port was. There the man stopped and turned around. Imr and Zephyr had only just enough time to hide in the shadows. The man was listening for something, and looking at where Imr and Zephyr had been. Fear filled Imr when the man took a step in their direction, but they were saved by an angry shout from outside. "What's keeping you? Open the port." The man stopped instantly and turned around to unlock the mechanism for the giant bronze port. When it opened, he was startled, because there was nobody outside. The scream of a woman cut through the silence. "We got her, come help us!" shouted Kiln's voice again. The man didn't hesitate and ran outside. Immediately Imr jumped up and ran towards the port. Closing it as fast as he could. He breathed heavily when the port banged shut, almost collapsing now that the danger was gone. Zephyr was standing before the heavy port.
"Why did you do that? We must help the sister outside! I thought I was alone but somebody else must have survived. Open the port!"
"There is nobody there." Imr said, still breathing heavily but trying to mask it. "No sister and no Kiln."
"But we heard them, it was his voice, I would know it everywhere."
"It was his voice, or how I remembered it." Imr agreed, "But it was not spoken by him. It's a simple feat of magic." He sighed. "Well, maybe not so simple in a dark cave."
Zephyr slowly walked away from the port, picking up the bow she had dropped. When she reached Imr she nodded and she was once again as calm as when he had first met her. He wondered how she did it. "He will warn Kiln." Was all she said.
Imr looked at her, then at the port, and frowned. He wondered whether she would have preferred making sure he could not talk. No doubt she wanted revenge for her sisters. He shrugged. "Perhaps. I do not know. I don't think he was a warlock, I could not sense magic in him. He seemed afraid of Kiln. I do not think he will dare to face him with his failure. More likely he will run away." But can we take that chance?
"Perhaps." Zephyr agreed and Imr was glad there was little reluctance in her voice. She did not want to kill either.
Together they walked back to where the man had been standing when they first saw him.
Imr looked outside to see they had climbed some twenty meters and were now right above the main gate. They were standing on an outcrop of the mountain and could keep an eye on the gate and the lands around without being seen themselves. There was something manmade about the ledge and Imr presumed that this ledge had been made especially for the purpose of guarding the sole entrance to his mountain fortress. Zephyr put herself down and gestured Imr to do the same, saying : "We're safe for now. From here we should see them coming from afar."
Before he sat down, Imr looked around carefully. The man was gone. When he was absolutely sure he didn't see light anywhere below, he put himself down beside Zephyr and leaned back against the rock wall. He was not entirely at ease yet, since Kiln and his accomplishes might well have gotten rid of their torches, but he saw no use in getting paranoid. They sat there silently for a while, listening to the sounds of the wild. The wind blowing outside and the water trickling deep inside the cave. Imr was impressed by his surroundings, as he always was when faced with the greatness of nature. There was something more though, something he could not define. Something very relaxing. After a while he realized it was the sleeping dragon he felt. So peaceful and pure, yet so strong in the arts of the arcane. As they sat there silently in the moonlight, Imr felt drowsy and even though he was a creature of the night, and could spend days without closing his eyes if needed, he fell asleep. He was awoken by a sound he immediately recognized. A sound no mortal soul could ever forget if they'd heard it once.
"The dragon" he shouted, and opened his eyes. The light of the sun blinded him and he had to close his eyes almost as soon as he'd opened them. In the short flash he had seen the silhouette of Zephyr, standing on the ledge and staring in the distance. "No." She said, and imr could hear the anxiety in the sound of her voice. "That was not the dragon."
Slowly Imr opened his eyes again, using his hands to shield them from the bright sunlight. He wasn't used to this light, living a mostly nocturnal life like most magicians. Of course it wasn't so that he was never active during the daylight, since even magicians needed to buy things and interact with other people. But on the whole it was not his natural time.
He got up to stand next to Zephyr, silently condemning himself for falling asleep.
"Look over there." Zephyr said, and she pointed into the distance. When his eyes got used to the light, he could see the terrain around him. But he could not see anything unusual and wondered what Zephyr had seen. "Over there, in the air." she said, seeing he was looking at the ground. Imr looked and now he saw what she meant. A few dark spots in the air. Too far away to see clearly, but without a doubt coming this way. Every now and then, the spots became bright orange and a faraway cry could be heard. They looked at the horizon together for a while, then Zephyr calmly put herself down on the floor and prepared herself for battle. Imr could not take his eyes of the spots in the distance. They were now close enough to see that they were large creatures with large, bat-like wings. Imr had little doubt that these were dragons and was captivated by the sight. He thought himself lucky, for he knew very few living people had ever seen a dragon fly. Still not entirely used to the bright sunlight he was looking in, he rested his eyes on the land below him for a while. On the ground he could now see the shadows of the dragons. He didn't realize it first, but after a few seconds it sunk to him. Startled he took a step back and looked at Zephyr. "That can't be" he said, "they can't be that close yet." Imr had thought the dragons looked so small because they were far away still, but the shadows told him they were fairly close and thus had to be much smaller than ordinary dragons. "Are they baby dragons?" he asked Zephyr, who shook her head and said: "As I said, they are not dragons. Look again." Imr did and now he could see silhouettes of men seated on the backs of the dragons. He was thoroughly unnerved now, the thought of humans riding dragons was something he could not grasp. But then, Zephyr had said they were not dragons. Confused he looked at Zephyr, who was testing the tension of her bow. His eyes begged for an explanation. "I told you before I didn't think this battle would be fought with magic. Not your magic anyway lord Moonstar." She said without looking up from her work. "They are firedrakes. You will find the first most ridden by Kiln, the two others would most likely be his companions of yester eve." Imr noted that she didn't seem very surprised by all this. Obviously she knew more than she had told him. It didn't seem the right time to question her, with their enemies approaching, but when all this was done, he would seek the bottom of it. Meanwhile he did what he could to prepare for the upcoming fight. His hand touched the crescent moon amulet he wore around his neck. He was happy knowing he would not be entirely powerless, though he saw no reason to tell this to Zephyr. The fact she had obviously foreseen this daytime battle made him trust her more. After all he was of no real use to her now, or at least so she thought. The firedrakes and their riders were close now. Close enough for Imr to see that Kiln was indeed the leader. Imr could not sense any magical strength from the drakes. He wondered what and wherefrom they were. His thoughts were disturbed by Zephyr, who laid a hand on his shoulder and gently pulled him away, whispering more than saying that they should not stand here in open sight. Imr followed reluctantly, realizing their position on the ledge was now to their disadvantage. It was an ideal position to repel any attacks from below, but it was not protected against an attack from the air. Why should it be? They took position in the darkness of the cave, where they were at least shielded from sight. Imr wondered whether that would be enough. The firedrakes had no obvious magical powers, but now that they were closer it was clear the orange flashes he had seen were actually giant flames, weaker forms of the fire-breath of some dragons. Their speed was great and even though their size was no match for dragons, they were still the size of 6 horses. On their backs were seated men wearing now mail coats and splendid battle gear that stood in sharp contrast with the lightweight clothes they had worn the day before. Kiln was in front, with his two comrades besides him. It seemed to Imr that at least one was new, as he didn't recognize him. At that moment, an arrow that missed his head by only a few inches startled Kiln. Imr looked at Zephyr by his side, she was standing straight and held her bow in one hand. "Halt" she shouted. Her figure as she stood there, barely visible in the shadows of the cave, reminded Imr of the statues of huntress goddesses he'd seen in his youth. Her features were both stern and serene. Both hard as rock and fluid as water. Imr was amazed, as he had never suspected such strength in her as he saw here. Outside the cave, the drake reared it's head and burning flames came crashing into the cave. Imr and Zephyr could only escape them by quickly pressing themselves against the walls.
"Be ye gone." screamed Zephyr. The dust and smoke made her voice sound screechy, but there still was a lot of strength in it. To Imr's surprise, Kiln responded.
"Nay, I will not be gone." he said, "I am here to talk with Lord Moonstar."
Imr glanced at his witchfriend, whose eyes told him not to answer. Imr chose to ignore this and to Zephyr's horror, he got up and walked onto the ridge, facing Kiln in full sunlight. She didn't try to stop him though, and Imr understood she trusted him or at least didn't want Kiln to think they had an argument.
"What do you want." Imr asked. He tried to look angrily at Kiln, but the sun shining in his eyes made this impossible.
"I want you to listen to me, so you know both sides and make a better judgment, Lord. It seems only fair, from one magician to another." Imr nodded. It sounded reasonable. "Then listen. I have asked around about Imr, the Moonstar, for I sensed immediately you possessed great power. I have heard some of your tales and I think I know why you would chose the witch's side."
"Go on." Imr said, wanting very much to know more about everything that was happening.
"The witch has probably told you I have killed her sisters, and it's true. I do not deny it. Regrettably, it was necessary." In his shining armor, Kiln looked much like a liberator of the land, a king of old, but Imr remained careful.
"Why?" he asked. "Why was it necessarily for the witches to die?"
It was a dangerous game they were playing. Tense and concentrated Imr had noted the presence of Zephyr, who was now standing on the ridge next to him, by the movement of the air around him. His piercing eyes had seen that Kiln had taken a quick stare at her, but now focused back on him. As if he tried to hide the fact he'd noticed her. Sweat drops on both Imr's as Kiln's foreheads reflected the sunlight. Imr realized that Kiln's drake could blast the ridge they were standing on into forgetfulness with his flames. For some reason though, Kiln didn't move. There was something else he wanted.
"To protect the land from their mischief. To bring back magic to this world." Kiln finally answered. It seemed to Imr that several minutes had passed between the question and the answer, though it could have been only seconds.
He started laughing. "Don't lie to me Kiln. I can tell not even you believe those words, so why should I? You try and use my love for magic into a weapon against the ones that escaped your slaughter, but I do not like the magic that you practice."
Kiln's face turned into a mask of anger. He grumbled and said "Then join me. When the dragon is dead, we can rule this land. You and me, with my men as army. This land belonged to my ancestors before Nema came. I am here to reclaim it!"
Imr, stared sternly at Kiln, who had dropped his disguise and shown himself as the warlock he was. So that's what he wants, Imr thought. He needs us to open the gate so he can destroy the dragon. "You insult me. I will never use my power for such a purpose. Be gone before my wrath strikes you down!" Apart from a slight tremble, nothing in his monotonous voice exposed the anger that raged through him. He now knew he had chosen the right side and there was no more doubt in him.
Now it was Kiln who laughed. "Idle threats Lord, your power is useless in the sunlight. If you will not join us, you will die. Your power cannot protect you now!" As he spoke, the drake reared its head for a second time and would have torched the besieged if not a clear voice had shouted.
"But my power can." Zephyr yelled, making use of the moments that neither Kiln nor any of his accomplishes paid any attention to her. She raised her hands towards the sky and without saying a word, closed her eyes and made several gestures. Immediately a strong wind came up and with every movement of Zephyr's hand its strength rose. Kiln and his comrades were taken by surprise and had trouble keeping their beasts under control. Imr had to hold tightly onto the wall to stay on the ridge. Still the wind increased. Zephyr was standing in trance upon the ledge. The wind didn't as much as move a single hair on her head. The drakes started clapping their wings faster and faster as they were taken by the storm, their riders too occupied with merely holding on to keep them in control.
Now. Imr thought and he put his hand to the medallion around his neck. He shouted a single word and from a cloudless sky a bolt of lightning came crashing down and hit the head of Kiln's drake. The beast was killed instantly and fell out of the sky, taking its rider to his doom. The other drakes panicked and threw off their riders before fleeing in separate directions.
The wind stopped as suddenly as it had started and everything bade in an unreal silence. On the ledge, Zephyr was lying motionless. Imr jumped towards her but in his heart knew he was too late. She breathed with difficulty, and her eyes were still closed. She sensed Imr was near and whispered to him: "I used the dragon's power. A privilege he gives to those that serve him." Her voice was very weak. Imr knew how much of the body and the mind the strongest spells could take, having only barely survived his own encounter with the limits of his strength. He could only imagine the power of a Dragon though. Even if she only used the magic that flowed in the air that surrounded it, its power must have been overwhelming so close to where the dragon slept.
"Now do you trust me, Lord Wizard?" Imr nodded slowly. he realized she could not see it, but that didn't matter. his eyes burnt with dry tears. Her breathing got slower and slower, until finally it ceased. She had given her life for the land she lived in. Died for the people that did not know her. The mountain she protected became the tombstone for an unknown heroine, and none of the people below would ever know how she had saved them from slavery.
And the dragon slept.