Here I am, being odd again. I felt like rolling up the old writing sleeves again. I hope you enjoy my momentary lapse into fiction.
Gabriel gently urged Ezekiel on with a gentle kick to his flank. He grimaced as he did so, knowing the pain the creature was in. He hugged himself closer to the dragon. “Only a little farther, old friend.”
The blue-black creature looked back with one unfocused eye, crowing weakly. It slowly craned its head back around and down as it redoubled its effort to keep them in the air. Gabriel nervously rubbed Ezekiel’s neck, trying to reassure both of them.
The young man sat up in his saddle and surveyed the land below them. This was the final journey. He had wanted to give Ezekiel one last thrill, one last journey, together. A single tear slipped down his cheek. His lip trembled.
Ezekiel cried out quietly, flinching his head and wobbling dangerously. Gabriel clinched the pommel horn with white knuckles. “Easy, old one. Easy now.” Ezekiel mewled. A tear like a jewel pooled at the corner of one eye.
Gabriel stared off to the horizon, where the last rays of the sun stretched across the forest below. Lake Hanover came into view on their left. The gentle waves rippling on its surface twinkled like golden diamonds from up here.
The forest below gave way to arid grasslands beneath them. Ezekiel’s breathing became slower and more labored. Gabriel laid across the dragon’s neck and held him tight.
He watched the ground rush by below them. The grass faded and dispersed, replaced by lifeless sand and gravel. He squeezed his eyes shut and hugged the struggling dragon. They were nearly there.
He pulled in a hitching breath and blew it out forcefully. He sat himself back upright and reluctantly patted his friend on the back. “Alright, Ezekiel. Descend.”
The dragon weakly cried out at the sky and slowed its wing beats. Gabriel held on for all his worth as Ezekiel lowered them unsteadily towards the ground. He nearly pitched forward as they crumpled to the earth below.
Ezekiel roared in pain. Gabriel righted himself and massaged the dragon’s neck. “My poor beauty! My poor friend.” Tears rolled down his cheeks. Ezekiel looked back, mewling. Pain and fear burned in his eye.
Gabriel slid to the rocky ground, sniffling. He looked forward. There was Soulfire Point, just off in the distance. To the two companions, it appeared miles away.
“One more time, friend. Hup!” Ezekiel struggled to find his feet. His body trembled, ultimately collapsing. It cried out in pain, a brief burst of orange-blue flame licking from its mouth.
“Oh, Ezekiel!” The boy hugged the dragon’s neck. He caressed the side of Ezekiel’s face. “I know it hurts, friend. I know… but you must find a way.”
He stepped back. Ezekiel wearily raised its head and turned towards the boy. Gabriel nodded nervously. The dragon lowered its head and pushed with all its might. Its massive body slowly lifted from the ground.
“There’s the way. Come on, now.” Ezekiel lurched forward. His breathing came in sharp rasps. Gabriel placed a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder and walked beside him.
The cliff edge drew closer, an uncomfortable representation of the end that was coming. It all hardly felt real, and yet here it was. Gabriel felt a queer sense of relief, interspersed with a grieving that felt like icy death itself clutching at his heart.
Ezekiel squealed in pain and fell, shaking the ground below him. “No! Ezekiel…” Gabriel looked towards Soulfire Point. So close, and yet it may have been a mile away. He began to cry.
He pressed himself into the dragon and wept. “So close! You’re so close…” Ezekiel cried weakly. “I know. You’re too tired, old friend.” Gabriel stood and looked to the sky. “I don’t know what to do!”
Somewhere in the distance, a ground-shaking roar tore through the twilight sky. It was joined by a second, louder roar. Twin jets of blue-orange flame peeled across the sky, illuminating the dragons behind them.
“Look, Ezekiel! We are saved!” The weary dragon weakly turned its head skyward. Its one good eye sparkled. It clucked weakly.
The two dragons, one blood red, the other a blackish-green, touched down gracefully behind the weary travelers. Their immense wings pounded the air, sending dust and debris swirling into the darkening sky. The rider of the red dragon held up a solemn hand. “Hale, friend Gabriel!”
He patted and rubbed the dragon beneath him. “Darien caught Ezekiel’s cries on the winds.” He surveyed the broken dragon soberly. “So it is time.”
Gabriel nodded, tears in his eyes. “It is so. I fear he doesn’t have the energy to finish the journey.”
The rider held up his hand. “Speak no more.” He turned to the other rider and nodded. The other rider nodded back and nudged his dragon forward.
The dragons settled on either side of the fallen dragon and his companion. Gabriel stood before Ezekiel. “Spread your wings one last time, old friend.”
Ezekiel squeezed his eyes shut and raised his wings onto the other two dragons. Darien and his companion effortlessly stood, lifting their fallen comrade from the ground. Ezekiel’s feet gingerly pressed into the ground.
The three dragons slowly, solemnly made the short trip to the edge of Soulfire Point. Ezekiel lowered himself painfully to the ground. He breathed a sigh of relief. He rested his head on the ground and gazed at the last rays of the sun that were quickly slipping away.
The other dragons quietly retreated, heads bowed. Gabriel looked to the red rider uncertainly. He nodded back. “It’s time, son. Make your peace.”
Gabriel ran to Ezekiel and hugged him tightly. He whispered, tears falling from his tired eyes. “Goodbye, old friend. It’s time to go now.”
Ezekiel locked his gaze on Gabriel. The look was one of serenity, and gratefulness. Gabriel stood, then stepped back hesitantly. The darkness stole away the last of the sun’s warming light. Ezekiel’s eye closed for the last time.
“Hale! Ezekiel! Great dragon of the north!” The red rider cried. “Seek peace, and fly your way to eternity.”
A brilliant white light poured from beneath Ezekiel’s body. It licked up over his body, shimmering and flickering like flames. Its tendrils tracing over and enveloping the old dragon.
The light grew in intensity, blinding the others. It slowly faded, revealing a brilliant translucent blue dragon. It stood proudly, unfurling sparkling wings.
It turned its massive head, looking one last time upon its faithful companion of old. It turned to the rising moon and flapped its powerful wings, lifting into the night sky.
Glittering points of light like diamonds fell away from its wings as it flew into the night sky. With a mighty roar, it disappeared into the nether realm, leaving it’s companion for the last time.
The red rider looked to Gabriel. He placed his fist to his chest, and solemnly bowed his head. The two dragons took flight, returning the way they had come, leaving Gabriel to mourn.
The young man silently walked to where his friend had lain. He knelt, placing a hand on the still-warm earth. He closed his eyes and smiled, tears on his cheeks. “Goodbye, Ezekiel.”
He sat upon the edge of the cliff and watched the moon rise. He would leave here without his friend, but knew in his heart that he would never be alone again.