The Dragon and the Bird

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Oasis

Zhamar rolled side ways clearing what appeared to be a hyena lunging at him. He recovered, ending his evasive move on his knees and countered by launching himself forward into a crowd of Black guard. In one powerful swing of Sazodo, Zhamar tore through four enemies; their cries of pain and the scent of freshly spilled blood confirmed their dispatch. Zhamar began slowly retreating back to Eerikai’s side as the enemy continued to pace their assault… almost as if they were playing with him, measuring his capabilities. The Black guard circled Zhamar and Eerikai, growling and laughing at the meal to come. With the sun well hidden behind the horizon and the cruel desert night bringing in gusts of needling cold, fatigue began to set in as Zhamar could feel his blood cooling down.

In skin form he stood no chance against the Black guard, he would be too slow and weak to contend with trained warriors in beast form… much less one who is Shaad-rah. The only alternative was to allow himself to slip further into his beast form, but with no source of heat he would gradually become slower. Zhamar contemplated the decision as he stood over Eerikai like a statue in a ready battle stance. He would die either way.

“Roaaah!” The cry of an unseen assailant alerted Zhamar, but in the thick darkness of the desert his nose located the enemy before his eyes could even react. In the time it took an eye to blink Zhamar felt the moist breath of the attacker closing in on him, leapt up and spun in a complete circle whipping his monstrous blade around to meet with the enemies face with force. Shhhhhhing! The enemy fell next to his already dead comrades with a thud kicking up sand.

Eerikai had been silent for a while now…

“dead?” Thought Zhamar despairingly as his feet landed in the sand again. The thought of Eerikai dying at his feet while he pointlessly fended off the Black guard clawed at his will to fight. Exhaustion crept up his spine infecting his muscles, his blood cooled down a little more clouding his thought process. His grip loosened, as Sazodo seemed a little heavier with each passing second, Zhamar swayed on his feet shifting his weight lazily.

A multitude of roars and cries rang out from every direction as Zhamar tried to reclaim the focus and poise he had been taught all his life. But his enemy was on him before he could secure his defenses. Someone far bigger then Zhamar blasted him from his right, he went flying from over Eerikai, Sazodo slipped from his fingers into the darkness. Zhamar hit the sand hard, face flat in the sand; he whipped around quickly facing the direction from where he came. He could feel the throbbing pain from the blow he had taken, but adrenaline covered it as Zhamar ran foolishly back to where Eerikai was lying.

Another foe jumped him from behind, grabbing hold of his garb wrapped around his neck choking him to the ground as his dead sprint became a backwards dive. Zhamar rolled over and grabbed his garb at the neck tugging relentlessly. He was slammed back down into the sand from above as if he had been jumped on. Zhamar thrashed around frantically blinded by rage, anguish and panic. Zhamar could hear more enemies rushing in to join the takedown; their teeth and claws tore through his clothes with ease only to feel the cold hard protection of his armor.

“Aaaahhhck!” Eerikai’s unmistakable cry shot chills up Zhamar’s spine as his heart dropped to his stomach. “Aaaaaagh!” Zhamar howled in pain as teeth sank into is left forearm. Before Zhamar could attempt to rip his arm free the cat’s jaw locked and his piercing teeth met with Zhamar’s bones.

“Raaaaaagh!” Zhamar cried out again. The enemy began yanking and jerking around vigorously trying to rip Zhamar’s arm off. Another foe grabbed hold of his right leg and began tearing at his armor; more teeth and more claws joined the fray. Zhamar’s screams grew louder yet less audible and less human. Death stood over Zhamar and put his foot on his head pushing Zhamar’s face into the sand muffling his cries. Zhamar stopped fighting and began to let himself go, he let the sand fill his mouth as he felt his left arm being pulled out of it’s socket. Thoughts of that last night spent with Eerikai put his mind at rest slowly.

Their fingers entwined, the taste of her sweat on his lips as his tongue sliding over her stomach like a raindrop rolling off a flower pedal. The squeeze of her legs around his waist while her breasts were tightly pressed against his chest, her soft lips on his… The moon bathing their naked bodies in silver light.

“Aaaaaahhhck!!” Eerikai’s cry broke the deathly trance instantly. All thoughts of despair and vanished a bloody rage blinded Zhamar’s humane judgment. Zhamar’s body continued to transform despite the bloody mess it had become.

“Ooooooaaaaarrr!” Zhamar cried as he whipped his massive leathery tail around, slapping every enemy in range of it. With newfound strength Zhamar used his right arm to push himself up enough to throw the enemies off his back. Zhamar clawed and slashed his tail out in every direction wounding every Black guard that stepped close enough. The smell of blood intensified Zhamar’s rage but the loss of blood chewed away at his consciousness. His vision was nothing more then blurred shadows, his ears echoed with the sound of Eerikai’s last moment’s of life…

Zhamar’s vision played tricks on him as a huge feline leapt clean over him, Zhamar kept thrashing in every direction, fighting to save Eerikai. Darkness began to rest on Zhamar as he slowed down with every step toward Eerikai, every swing of his tail and every swipe of his arm. The only thing left to guide him was his nose but it had betrayed him with a scent that he didn’t know. Alone in darkness he fell back to the sands blindly crawling deeper into darkness. Toward Eerikai…

* * *

Zhamar awoke abruptly; his eyes were open but he could see nothing, his entire body was in throbbing pain, he felt constricted and weak. The ground where he seemed to be lying was hard and uncomfortable.

When have the Black guard been known for taking prisoners?” said Zhamar, his voices cracking as he spoke in his language. Zhamar sat up slowly, as to avoid any sharp pains, realizing that his right arm was free he reached for his eyes. He was blind folded; he tore the cover from his eyes immediately. Zhamar was sitting on the hard ground of some sort of dungeon or prison cell, the walls were old gray bricks covered in green and brown vines growing wildly. One barred window high above him channeled fresh moist air into the dank prison cell.

Zhamar scanned the room, the only light in the room poured in from the window, shining a warming light on him. His stomach groaned loudly, he was hungry and thirsty. At his side lay a large wooden bowl of fresh water and next to it a smaller bowl filled with grains of brown rice and several different types of vegetation that were foreign to Zhamar. He picked up the bowl cautiously, lifting it to his nose and sniffed it lightly. The water was fresh, had his captures poisoned it Zhamar’s nose would pick it up, and if he couldn’t it made no sense for the black guard to poison him when they could have killed him in his sleep.

Zhamar’s mouth watered as he analyzed the water and weighed the possibilities. He began gulping the water down greedily, quenching the thirst that the desert had put in him. He threw the empty bowl down and wiped his mouth and started at the bowl of food. Devouring the rice almost as fast as he could get the grains to his mouth, he picked

up one of the vegetables and allowed his nose to make the final judgment. The scent was sweet and fresh but like nothing he had smelled before. He gave it one more look around and took a huge bite. A burst of teal liquid shocked his taste buds, a sweet and sour flavor opened up his appetite more.

As he replenished his energy and began to come back to himself, thoughts took shape in his mind.

Why was he allowed to live? Where were his things? Why was he in Skin form when he was almost totally beast when he was last conscious? …where was Eerikai?

The recollection of Eerikai, being torn apart while he crawled to her helplessly brought sickness to his stomach. As he swallowed the last of the food, his own pride plagued his mind relentlessly. He had failed his mission, lost Ereikai and now he was a prisoner. Chosen to carry out a task that would redeem his entire clan, ultimately saving his clan from extinction. But he had failed miserably… Zhamar rose to his feet, no, he would not fail, he was a son of the Dragon clan, born of Komodo… a warrior with a purpose. There was no failing.

Zhamar sniffed out the room searching frantically for anything he could find. Bones of and decaying carcasses of the dungeon’s former occupants covered the ground outside of the area where he woke up. Nothing… a huge dark dungeon with nothing but old remains, two bowls and a bared window that Zhamar could not fit through. Zhamar dashed over to the wall and grabbed hold of two vines, if the window was all he had then he would use it. The window was high enough so that if Zhamar jumped he would still have to climb to reach it.

Ignoring his bodies’ aches he grabbed hold of another strong vine and pulled himself up.

“You’re only wasting your time… dragon”

Zhamar dropped back to the ground, turned on his heel, crouched low and grabbed the water bowl in his right hand in a low fighting stance.

“Who said that? Who is there?” Zhamar barked into the darkness of the dungeon.

The eerie voice chuckled softly,

“Lower your bowl, I mean you no harm”

Zhamar’s attention shot around the room searching for the source of this unsettling presence.

“Show your self!” Zhamar replied angrily. Frustration swept over Zhamar, his nose could not locate the intruder. The voice cried out in a sick high-pitched shriek of laughter, obviously aware of Zhamar’s panic and frustration.

“Coward’s hide in shadow and words are for politicians,” said Zhamar rising to his feet casting the bowl to the ground. The laughter died down as Zhamar calmly turned his back and started to climb the wall again. Zhamar counted in his head as he climbed slowly.

“Don’t turn your back on me!” grumbled the voice from the darkness

“Why shouldn’t I? Hide and seek is for children… I am no child,” replied Zhamar arrogantly. He smirked to himself as the voice cursed him under its breath.

“I must have been a fool to believe that you were dragon-kind. No TRUE dragon would turn his back on an enemy,” hissed the voice

“And no TRUE warrior would deceive another with lies” Zhamar spat.

“Your nothing more then a sneak thief, you dwell in shadow and cower behind words of deceit!” said Zhamar still facing the wall as he climbed to the window. He could hear the slight movements of his enemy behind him as he spoke… closer

“You slither like a worm and say that you are no threat and yet you speak of yourself as an enemy.” Continued Zhamar… closer

“You are no enemy and hardly a threat” …Closer!

KSSSSSAAAAAGH!!” roared the voice. Zhamar turned from the wall reached out and closer his hand around the neck of the serpent.

Zhamar’s eyes burned red reveling the nature of his beast form as he said

“But I assure you, I AM a Dragon!”

The snake whipped around wildly in Zhamar’s hand fighting for freedom.

“Your wasting your time… snake” Mocked Zhamar as he tighten his grip on the serpents neck, restricting his jaw.

“Release me!” the serpent hissed furiously

“No” retorted Zhamar holding the serpent close to his face.

In a split second Zhamar’s hand was forced open as the serpent shifted into a man-beast.

“Shaad-rah” Zhamar whispered to himself

He landed on the dungeon floor glaring up at Zhamar with pale green eyes with thin black slits. He stood taller then Zhamar, thin yet lengthy in build, his entire body was leathery and brown with black patches. His limbs were long and lightly muscled indicating his preference of speed over power. His fingers and toes were long and wiry,

extending his reach. His face seemed thin and sickly; two slits for nostrils and a wide horizontal grin covered his face. He wielded a long tail that seemed to be longer then his entire body. The merge of a fiendish glee and bestial hunger distorted the enemy’s face into a grisly smile that would haunt Zhamar’s dreams for days.

Zhamar exhaled, taking in the sight of the tall monster that threatened his life. Before he could inhale the monster had launched himself toward Zhamar. He dropped himself from the wall again narrowly dodging the crushing blow. The Monster was flat against the wall, both hands grasping vines and his head turned around staring at Zhamar with piercing eyes. Zhamar had been right about his speed, but was he right about his other assumption.

The enemy was as still as a statue focused on his prey, Zhamar allowed himself to shift from skin to beast form.

“rraaaaagh!” Zhamar screeched in agony, his entire body began to convulse violently as he began the change. The monster made a gruff hissing sound that substituted for laughter.

“Foolish dragon, there was no poison, only an herb that stops the transformation” shouted the monster in excitement at the easy meal. Zhamar dropped to the ground in main as the tremors in his body began to subside. The serpent kicked off the wall toward Zhamar to end him. In the last moment Zhamar rolled over evading the monster’s assault and countered with a leg sweep in one fluid motion. The monster fell with a huge thud crushing the old bones around him. Zhamar wasted no time in mounting the monster’s

back and securing his forearm on the monster’s throat and locking the choke hold with his other hand on his wrist.

The monster rolled and whipped his tail around desperately trying to release Zhamar’s hold.

“You must have been a fine warrior… when you were young” said Zhamar whispering in the monster’s ear. The monster thrashed harder and harder but was unable to shake free of Zhamar’s gorilla like grip.

“You might kill me but you will not survive this unscarred!” hissed the monster choking out sounds that were close enough to words. The monster melted into its small serpent form again in a blink and sunk his fangs into Zhamar’s forearm. Zhamar recoiled his arm in anger and disgust. The serpent shot toward the cover of darkness but Zhamar caught him by the tail and threw him against the wall with all his might. Then slammed his foot into the snake’s head splattering its blood everywhere before the body could touch the dungeon floor.

Zhamar instantly began sucking the poison from his arm and spitting it to the ground. He would die shortly if he didn’t do something quick and his had arm already began swelling. Zhamar sat down in the warmth of the sun and crossed his legs; his only chance at survival was to make the transformation. If he wanted to find Eerikai he had to fight through the pain. If he was going to salvage what was left of his mission he would have to endure… like the many who had come before him. Zhamar sat as still as stone with not a hair of his body making the slightest movement. He began whispering in the tongue of Komodo, channeling his focus on the transformation.

Howls of pain and agony echoed through the dungeon as Zhamar’s skin began to change color. His cries became monstrous roars as Zhamar fought through the transformation. Thoughts of Eerikai pushed his will and strengthened his writhing body.

It’s not over yet” Zhamar thought to himself, he would escape and find Eerikai… hopefully alive…


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