Part Twenty-Three - Victory?
Tom watched the life vanish from the black dragon’s eyes through the flames. Zawkane kept blowing fire until the dragon stopped moving. This time there was no doubt, he led this dragon to his death. He was responsible. But it couldn’t have been any other way. Tom knew that.
He wondered what was happening to the dragon at this moment. It was an animal, but it was intelligent. Did its essence just disappear or did it go somewhere? Did it even have anything inside that could go somewhere?
The answer probably lied in that quote that Chaphar had said earlier that day. It separated the mindless from the mindful animals and all animals from humans. Did that mean this dragon had a soul of some type? Where was that soul now?
“Well, that’s three more dragons down,” Chaphar said walking up. “Now we wait for the next batch to come looking for us.”
“No,” Zawkane answered weakly. “There won’t be anymore. …They let up a little…if two teams don’t return…from the same prey.”
“Zawkane, are you okay?” Tom asked running up to him.
“I am afraid not,” Zawkane said opening his eyes a tad. “I doubt I’ll see the stars again.”
“But we won, and you said there won’t be any more dragons, you’re safe,” Tom said rubbing his nose scales.
“I used the last of my strength…to fight death with that last…blast of fire. I can’t…hold myself here much…longer,” Zawkane said even weaker than before.
Tom let a tear slid down his cheek. “No! …None of that my man. …A warrior must never show tears,” Zawkane said diverting more energy to his voice.
“Your honor has reached my heart,” Tom said letting another tear fall. “But at this time I care not if I am a warrior or not. I am going to say goodbye my own way.”
“You are a man…after this dragon’s…heart, …for I find I…can’t hold back…my own tears…either,” Zawkane said as a tear the size of Tom’s fist splashed into the bloody grass. “I would…like to know…your father’s…name, my man Tom.”
“Well,” Tom said thinking back. “I was actually named after him. My name and his is Timothy. My Dad’s nickname is Tim so mine became Tom or Tommy when I was younger.”
“Oh!” Zawkane said opening his eyes fully. “I’ve known…a few dragons…who did that. …They all were…very honorable…even if they…didn’t value it…much.”
Zawkane took a deep breath and released it. He spoke again, “Come Timothy…you are growing…blurry, …come sit…by my eye…so I might…see you…clearly.”
Tom complied quickly. He gazed into the yellow eye that wouldn’t fit on his own forehead. “I will never forget you,” he said crying. “I don’t care how much others criticize me. I intend to tell my family and any future friends of you. All three of you,” he said looking over his shoulder.
“To have…my name…spoken of…in another…world is more…than I could…have wished…for. It…would be…a great…honor,” Zawkane said as his eye drooped shut. “What…is the…name…of your…leader?”
Shehleg stepped up, “Aetos.”
Zawkane’s head jerked slightly. “I…feared…you’d…say…that…name.” He sighed, “But…I…still…hope…to…see…him…be—” he stopped talking abruptly. His eyes shot open and his mouth dropped open a sliver. “I can’t see much else, but I do see him. Clear as day, even in the twilight of my days,” Zawkane said as if he were fully well.
Everyone turned but saw nothing. Zawkane spoke again, “It would be my honor to do so.” Another moment of silence. “Thank you,” Zawkane said yet again. He then added to them in his old weak state, “I…fear…my…end…no…more. …I…go…in…peace!”
Zawkane let his eyes fall shut and breathed in deep. As his breath gushed out his nostrils, they seemed to carry his life out too. The dragon breathed no more. Sadness filled the air and Tom wept. This was not the victory he expected.