Pain racked his whole body as he tried to crawl out from underneath the overturned carriage, which was in the process of sinking into the mud. The freezing torrent of rain helped numb his broken body but it did not make moving any easier and Lysander found himself going the way of the carriage and sinking further into the water soaked earth. The smell of copper filled his nose as he took note of the fact that rain was not the only thing soaking the ground he struggled against. Blood seeped into the soil, the blood of Knights, the blood of Sundian’s.
The blood of his friend’s.
Lysander lifted his head to witness the carnage that had befallen his band of twenty fellow Knights of Sunde through his one good eye, his left being caked in blood from a gash above his eyebrow,. A giant monster was attacking them but not in the manner of a ravening beast, but with an enormous blade. The monster stood on two legs, not unlike a man, towering over the shorter Knights, a full chest and head taller than the tallest of them. Scales covered the creatures body, akin to that of a lizards but when a sword blade manage to strike the body, it bounced off as though it had struck a wall of iron. A long tail whipped in and out of the fray; long, scaly and absolutely bulging with muscle as one unfortunate Knight discovered when the appendage smashed into his head. Lysander grimaced as he watch the Knight, his friend Gars, fall to the ground; his head cracked open like a ripe melon, blood and brain mixing into the soil.
The death of another friend only motivated Lysander more; little by little his legs began freeing themselves. The soft mud had prevented them from being crushed completely under the weight of the carriage, but he was moving too slowly. By the time he was free, the battle would be over and he alone would be left to face the beast. He would have no chance and the monster would be free to abscond with his prize. In the its large, clawed free hand it held the Lady Reeala. It was she whom Lysander and the rest of the Knights had been charged with protecting. She was the youngest child of one the most influential noble family’s in the kingdom and more importantly, a dear friend of his. He watched as Reeala reached out her hand to the attacking Knights, desperately trying to escape her captor. The creature turned it’s serpentine head to the attackers, opening its large maw, revealing large, dagger-like teeth.
Fire spewed from the dragon’s mouth, enveloping three of Lysander’s fellow Knights. He could only watch helplessly as more of his friend’s died, the flames melting their armor, clothes and skin, leaving only charred bones. He watched Reeala stare in horror at what the dragon had done to her escort, he wanted to turn her head away, press her face into his shoulder, let her cry her sorrows away but he could not. He was helpless. He was impotent to stop her pain.
He felt the dragon’s eyes upon and he could help but stare. He did not see the crazed madness he would’ve expected such a visage to have, no bloodlust, no hunger. All he felt as he looked into the golden orbs of the monster was a cruel intelligence. Lysander felt his blood boil, this was no random attack by a starving animal, this was an ambush with a purpose. His friend’s had died due to the machinations of the creature. Summoning the last of his strength, the young knight finally freed his legs. Ignoring the pain they were in, he picked up a fallen sword and charged the monster head on. With a unbelievable speed the monster lifted its leg and firmly kicked him in the chest.
He felt as if he had by struck by a flying log. The wind rushed out of his body and Lysander flew back, landing in the mud with his face to the sky, unable to keep his head from spinning. The dragon was upon him in seconds, its clawed foot slammed onto his left shoulder. Pain ran along the left side of his body as his bones cracked under the weight of the massive beast. Fighting the urge to black out, he swung his sword at the monsters leg. The blade bounced off uselessly, flying free from his hand as his grip finally failed. He looked up at the monster, expecting the end come swiftly and painfully.
Lysander’s eye flung from side to side, trying to locate the source of the voice.
“Look upward, mortal.”
Lysander looked up to meet the golden orbs of the dragon, his own widening at the realization that the beast could speak.
“Why? Why did you charge?” It asked. “I have slaughtered a score of your fellow warrior’s. You are injured, fatigued…you stood no chance…no hope…yet you still charged.”
“I won’t let you take her!” Lysander screamed. “On the blood of my friend’s! On my honor as a Knight of Sunde! I will not let you take Lady Reeala!”
A scream escaped his lips as the dragon pressed down on his injured shoulder.
“You are in no position to stop me, mortal…however…” The dragon paused, a look of amusement filling his eyes. “Your lack of fear has impressed me. I thus issue a challenge.”
Lysander breath in large amount of air as the monster removed his foot from his body and his lung was no longer compressed. He coughed and sputtered for a while before rising to his feet. He looked the dragon square in the eyes.
“I shall take your Lady, I will retreat to my lair. Upon the Summer Solstice, our contest will begin. You must find me. You must beat me in single combat. All within one year’s time, if you cannot, I will rip her head from her shoulders. What say you?”
“Lysander, NO!” cried Reeala. “You can’t beat him! Don’t risk your life for me!”
“Silence, worm!” The Dragon growled.
“Lysander, please. So many died this night, all to protect me. I would not be able to live with myself if I was the reason you died as well.”
“I accept.” Lysander said quietly.
Reeala’s eyes widened in fear and she reached out for him, tears streaming down her face. The dragon just laughed and kicked off into the air, a pair of enormous wings suddenly sprouting from his back.
“Let it be heard by the spirits of this place! This Sundian has accepted my challenge and so I am bound to its rules! Now, Lysander, Knight of Sunde, climb the spiral world, find me at its peak!”
Without warning, Lysanders head began to spin and he felt himself fall backwards into the mud. The only sound he heard as he sank into the ground was the dragon’s laughter.
Lysander shot up from his laying position in his bedroll, breathing heavily as sweat rolled down his body. It was that nightmare again.The cool morning air made him shiver as he stood up and walked over to the stream he and his traveling companion camped near. He splashed cold water in his face and let it run down his naked upper body. Groaning and rubbing the scar above his eyebrow he walked over to his camp and looked down at his partner. The Volkerian was sprawled awkwardly on the ground, his blanket only covering his chest.
Lysander sighed and poked his friend in with head with his booted foot.
“Hey, it’s dawn. Time to get up.”
Avatar by me. Coloring by Crimmy.