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laurie's blog: "Stories"

created on 03/25/2008  |  http://fubar.com/stories/b201129
Tears of a Dragon [This short story was originally a part of my occasional series, Nancy of the Tenderheart, a fictional series telling of a war between Scotland and Britain and set in a fantasy setting where the heavily outnumbered Scots were able to enlist fantasy creatures as allies.] The squadron of black dragons had been caught in a well planned British ambush. Because of huge down drafts in the gorge they found themselves ambushed in they were unable to use their massive wings to lift them to safety over the towering cliff faces on either side. Night's Dark led the blacks, with her mate of many centuries, Moonlight, flanking her on the right; they had fought their way through a thousand battles successfully. But today was to be different. The British had carefully laid their trap, cannons hidden at either end of the gorge were revealed too late for the dragons to escape, and there were many hundreds of the red coated soldiers hidden on the crest of the gorge and at either end of the valley, and all were armed with the wickedly stinging muskets that their riders feared so much. Night's Dark own rider had succumbed to one such musket ball only scant minutes before. Rank after rank of cannons fired the solid iron cannon balls into the desperately cramped ranks of trapped dragons. The huge dragon, Silent, a good friend and companion for so many years, fell twisting to the ground, one massive wing torn from his body, the other trying desperately to slow his fall. Others were falling around her as they went on the attack. Their only chance of survival was to fight their way free. They flew into the very teeth of the trap, with dragons screaming and dying as they flew closer and closer to the ranks of cannons that were slaughtering her squadron. None of the riders had survived this far, and the ranks of dragons were thinning quickly as the murderous cannon balls tore through the tightly packed dragons, but soon, soon, they would be in reach. Small flames flickered from between her lips as she prepared for the second she could return a little of the punishment that her squadron was taking. The fire from her breath lanced out enwrapping and melting a cannon, and Moonlight, beside her as always, cheered before he tore through the ranks of cannon with his own fiery breath. The cannons to the rear of them had stopped firing, in fear of hitting their own men, and now they were too close to the cannons in front of them for the gunners to adjust the height. The British had only their muskets to use in their defense, and they found that it was now themselves who were trapped. Steam from the molten iron of melting cannons and exploding gunpowder filled the gorge with plumes of thick, acrid, rank smelling smoke. Another dragon fell to a musket ball through the eye, but she was unable to see who it was because of the lack of visibility. Finally the British soldiers surrendered. Brave little men she thought. Not many had ever faced the anger of a dragon with such courage. She looked around for Moonlight, wanting to ask if he knew who the last dragon to fall was, and then she found him, sprawled over a partially melted cannon, dead, and the surviving British saw something mortal men had hardly ever witnessed the tears of a dragon. As each large golden tear crept from her eyes and fell softly to the ground, there grew a rose bush, filled with exquisite black roses, their satiny texture and their sweet perfume a gift from her love for her dead mate. The remaining blacks from the squadron gathered around the fallen Moonlight, and together they cremated him with the fire from their own breaths. It was the final tribute for a hero. Night's Dark was surrounded by softly stirring black roses gently swaying in the breezes created by the cremating fires, when finally she spoke, "Goodbye my mate. We will meet again on the other side of the stars, and there we will fly together for all eternity." ***************** One by one the huge blacks lifted their torn and bleeding bodies into the darkening sky, and began the long flight home, until at last Night's Dark stood alone, still staring at the ashes of Moonlight. Finally, her own private goodbyes said, her massive wings started to flap, but, just as she started to lift from the ground, a familiar voice stopped her, and, turning around, she smiled at the sight that greeted her. Running awkwardly up the rocky floor of the gorge was Silent. He looked extremely awkward as his feet, unused to walking, tripped and stumbled over rocks, and his great body hung to the side, not used to the missing weight of his lost wing, that she had to laugh. "You can laugh" he said, with a frown "but I still have a long walk home in front of me." "Then you shall share that walk with a friend." Said Night's Dark, still smiling. "It will give us time to remember a dragon amongst dragons." Together the last two blacks walked from the gorge, and behind them the gentle breeze mixed the ashes of moonlight with the black roses.
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