With tender fingers, I run my hand along your spine. Your scales grind against my feathery touch. ‘Oh sweet creature, what have you become?’ I sigh, my head resting upon your bloody muzzle. Flames crackle around us, thrumming the life out of the air. Smoke rises; a signal of despair. You whine and puff out an indulgent, cold breath. A warm, watery tear ripples down your soft cheek. I bit back a sob while caressing one of your burnt nostrils. What have I done to you?
I jump at the touch of a cold hand, a worn face peers down at me, and scars scratches tear across his nose. His beady eyes reflect your tattered wings.
'Sergeant!’ He yells over the howls of the dying, ‘You have to move!’ He flings his arm behind him, his hand stuck out as if he was pointing. But he could not be because there was no finger out stuck. Only a bloody, metallic stump. I stare at him, sweat beading down my brow. My eyes flitter to you, and I do not think as I shake my head. No. I cannot abandon you. I say that to the man with pointy ears and a missing finger, I will not I repeat. His eyes widen in disbelief as he takes us in.
‘You’re crazy,’ he says. I laugh in his face. As if I will leave you, my sweet creature, after all I have put you through. He shakes his head before turning away, leaving me with you in the blaze.
Following his fleeing steps, thousands of armoured men run in horror, their eyes looking through their helmets which are crammed onto their faces, at the enemy and their capes of red. I snort under my breath. ‘Cowards… abandoning us, like that. I will never abandon you.’ I murmur as I look to the sky of amber and ash. It had once been filled with the sea of blue. Running a finger down your wing, I hum a lullaby I used to hum in the meadow to you. Timidly, you lift up your head and nudge me in the arm.
No, don’t breathe on me like that, don’t look at me with those forgiving eyes, I scold you internally, guilt running through my icy veins. ’It is my fault you are like this.’ I whisper, my eyes flutter to your plumy arms, torn and worn, feathers lay on the floor. ‘You fought bravely to protect me. Your giant wings shading me from the deadly fire. Your teeth slashing through the enemy's swords. You were…are a loyal friend. I am not. I should have never made you come- I should have left you in the lilac meadow, where the petals would tickle your sides, not sharp blades that ripped your delicate flesh. But would you have stayed? In the empty meadow, which only seems alive when we are together, your wings cradling me as you whisper a smoky fire. Staring off into the blurry flames, I remember when I first met you...
I had been walking for hours in the tree crowded woods. Branches cracked beneath my feet. The cool shade of the forest faded into chilling air of the meadow. Smoke floated in the sea above my head. Taking a deep breath, I walked out of the woods. The grass was wet in between my toes. Stumbling along, I stopped. My eyes narrowed at the lump before me. Thoughtlessly, I prodded your scaly side. Almighty roar threw me to the ground. Slowly you lifted your head, the sun rising over the line of hazy trees. Swiping lilac scales, a long muzzle and narrow white eyes. A pair of feathery wings spouted out of your back. Fire blared from your nostrils, the flowers cowered away. But all I could feel was the warmth of your rough skin pressed against mine. Your teeth pulled back into a snarl. Lifting a trembling hand, I cooed softly to you, in hope you would yield. My fingers touched your snout. Your nostrils puffed. I inhaled, my heart thrumming in my chest. Gently, you relaxed.
Days pasted, and our friendship grew. I would lay on your stomach, your wings wrapped around my waist. We were like scales; we slotted right next to each other. Your heavy breathes would send shivers down my spine as I laughed at your outstretched, green tongue. We would fly in the air, my arms wrapped around a horn on the top of your head. Like a fairy, you would flutter along. The sun rays reflecting off your skin to create an atmosphere of harmony. A bird song in the breeze for all eternity.
Unfortunately, eternity did not last. My fingers played with a loose scale on your as I stared out into the woods, flames crackling a burning hood.
‘Oh sweet creature,’ I had murmured against the fur of your breast, ‘It is a horrid what is happening. A war between the fairies and the demon beast. I’ll have no choice but to fight,’ I prompted, lifting my head as I stared you dead in the eye, absurdly, getting ready for the question I was about to ask. ‘I am going to have leave the meadow and you,’ my fingers danced solemnly along your wing. You tilt your head as if you understand me. I stroked your nose with a sad smile before I repeated myself. ‘I am going to have to leave you my sweet creature,’ I whispered, I regretted how I was playing you but I had to for us. ‘But we will be fine,’ I promised, ‘if you come with me….’ Upon that word, I am sure you nodded.
The air was frosty when we finally arrived at the recruiting camp, trembling elves shuddered at the sound of your thundering footsteps, barely noticing my tiny stature that skipped happily by your feet. Arriving at the desk, I leant against your chest.
‘Next!’ The bearded gnome at the front screeched from behind the desk. He was wearing a cotton red jumper, which clashed with humid eyes. Nervously, I shifted a head, your nose pressed like a spear to my back. No pressure, I had said to myself. Even though I whispered it, I am sure that you heard what I had said as you snorted in agitation; as if you were saying it was your choice. You weren’t as stupid as I thought you were. Inhaling, I turned to face the gnome. He scribbled on a paper.
‘Name…’ I glanced at you over my shoulder before I decided to reply.
‘Lavender…Dragon.’ I lied, he did not need to know the truth, did he? You looked at me with fiery eyes, your tail thudded against the floor, and I sighed, ‘Wait. Its’ Esme Ray…’ On the sound of my name, the gnome’s head shoots up. News of crime had spread around fast. I probably should have told you but at the time it never came up. I had done something that had ruined the peace of the land. I gulped, my hand outstretched. ‘Believe me, Sir. I did not want this. This is why I came….’ The gnome growled at my words.
‘You have no right to be here!’ His fist slammed into the desk. You paw the ground, your claws upturning it as you blow an acidic snarl in his face. Trembling, the gnome lowered into his chair, his beard out stuck, like spikes on a hedgehog, and handed me the pen. After scribbling my name, I looked up to find him staring in horror at you. I asked him what was wrong. ‘Nothing…Is the creature going too?’
Fastening the final piece of armour against my chest, I turned to face you. Your grand stature was emphasised in a shining armour you had been force to adorn with pride. Your eyes tired as your feet pound the ground. Scanning the room, I took in my comrades, the soldiers I was to die by. I did not want you to be one. Inhaling through my nose, I slipped on my helmet and walked your side, blinkers covered vision, and you were now my guide. Once I was on your back, I reached for your scales but was met with a smooth, cold metal. I swallow bile as my ankles squeeze your sides on the horrific battle cry.
Failing around, we soared into the grave yard of the living. The screams echoing off the killing. I did not hesitate as I took my first swing, the demon fell to the floor and the burning flames. I released a victorious cry. Through a mist of arrows and swords, your wings flapped beneath the weight. You were dragged down. Sword by sword, arrow by arrow, the armour began to fall off your sweating form. Fire breathed from your lips in your hateful scorn. My helmet limited my vision, blocking my aim. With one sweep of my hand, it bounced off your side and down into the bonfire. Out of nowhere there was a flash of light, we crashed towards the earth, hitting the ashy turf.
Snapping back into the present, I shush you in a motherly tone. ‘We are going to get out of this. I brought you here and now I will get you out.’ Flames crackle around us, thrumming the life out of the air. Smoke rises; a signal of despair. ‘Don’t worry,’ I lie to you while looking to the skies.
Above us, Hell’s angels, white eyes ablaze, fly over a fiery maze. You lift your head, and even in pain you are able to release a malicious growl. The rays of orange vanish as a black, fluffy cape shades me from their poisonous flame. Even injured, you are willing to protect me. ‘No. Don't save me, just leave me behind.’ I beg you. But you don't listen to my distress pleas as your claws cradle me and you shake your wings. Beating black feathers, flap with the tenderness of Cupid's wings, are serenaded by the screams the tortured bring.
Soaring into the sky, you fail along like a shredded kite; I’m just a tattered, streaming ribbon on this ragged flight. Determination is shown in each tottering wing beat. The battle field is no more but a little rock in a burning lake. For hours, you fly in the black sea of the sky, your wings are weak and dangling by your scaly sides. With a thud, you skid onto a mountain ledge, your skin ripping until you finally stop. Limply, you lie in a heap on the icy mountain, snow adorning your dying wings.
Ripping off the metal plate enclosed around my chest, I bury myself in your freezing coat, which grazes my face. The icicles, that were once soft fur, burn and stab my wind lashed cheeks.
‘Oh sweet creature, what have you become?’ I sing mournfully. ‘I am so sorry for the pain I have caused you, my dear sweet creature. It is I, who has killed you, the magnificent beast; who tragically tried to protect me. I failed to protect you though and now have to watch you sink. Oh how I will miss you!’ I cry into your mane. Snow spirals down on your fur, melting into my tears.
From the corner of your eye, you peek at me with tearful, sad, toothy smile before whining a goodbye. Silently, you release one gentle, liberated breath as one final beat drums from your chest.