The rain had stopped. Gremoff opened his eyes, but saw only a blur. He blinked, then opened his eyes again, and saw that the treetops surrounded him; the ones of which, previously, he was flying over.
His left leg was numb and buckled underneath him. He tried to move it, but when he felt a sharp stabbing pain, throbbing from his thigh all the way down to his foot; he stopped right away, and groaned in pain.
After five seconds of lying still, he tried lifting his head up. But when his head wasn’t rising, he realized, a heavy branch had his neck pinned down.
Gremoff felt sore all over his body, and his left leg, ached terribly. Thoughts raced through his mind, as he laid still, once more, and struggled to ignore the pain. He wondered how long he had been unconscious… and whether if Tesmorlah and Astrid, noticed he wasn’t with them? His thoughts wandered on and on, and then, he pulled himself together with all his might, and decided to try to get to his feet, no matter how bad it hurt!
He brought his sore arms, in closer to him, and pushed his chest up from off the ground! As he started to pull his right leg in, most of his weight had been supported on his lower left side, and an excruciating strain, almost made him collapse; but he endured it, and quickly held all his weight with his left side, as he dragged his right foot up, and stood on it! His left leg bone, snapped, and tore out through his flesh! He threw up his head, and wailed, and growled, for he was in so much pain!
Gremoff now stood on three of his limbs, with his left leg severally injured. He dare not look back at his leg, for the sight of it would pale him to a new horror, of a kind he had never experienced before! He whimpered and grunted, then, seized his mouth shut and clenched his teeth together, in hopes to gain enough strength and courage, to attempt to walk; take a step.
Gremoff lifted up his left front limb and stepped forward, letting all his weight rest, braced on it, and then, drew his right foot forward. Unable to lift his hind left leg up, it dragged in the dirt clumsily! He growled, as his protruding bone, shifted forward! He stood still, breathed heavily, then, whimpered a tear from his eye.
His breathing narrowed, and his muscles tensed, to overcome the pain. There was a horrible stench in the air…
He slowly looked up, gaining an awareness in his dizziness, and off state of extreme injury, to understand exactly, where it was that he had been. His interpretations of his surroundings were god-awful; nothing, but death... bodies all around him! Though all of the Creatures, were mostly decayed… by the large, their skeletons were visible; but their decomposing odor, was still terrible, regardless the progression of the visual side of it.
Gremoff scanned the area all around him, confused about what direction Tesmorlah, Astrid, and him, were headed? Everything around him, looked exactly the same, and he hadn’t known where to start.... what to do.... where to go from here.
Thunder rolled with the clouds in the sky. He looked up, into their great vanquishing of the heavens, and it occurred to him; the clouds moved in the opposite direction, when flying with Tesmorlah and Astrid! Gremoff took his gaze from upon the sky, and looked behind him, in the way unpredicted, the path unknown; where the clouds rolled away.
Once again, he picked up his left paw and stepped forward; then, his rear right limb, followed by his right paw, while at the same time, his left leg dragged in the mud.
The pain in his left leg, was more of a feeling of pressure, after the bone had shifted forward. He limped, as he turned in a complete circle, to meet the mouth of the desolate Forest.
He stopped to look up at the clouds for a second time, and watched them float passed for a mere moment. Then he brought his head down, and peered straight ahead, and took his first limp into hell.
A faint whistling breeze, carrying small bits of crumbled leaves, blew over the dead Creatures, lying in a wide-open space, as if they were forever to be lying there.
He followed the gust with his eyes, while still limping onward, and watched it race off through the trees; then, he returned his gaze to the distant sea of corpses beyond him.
Gremoff discovered, as he moved farther and farther away from where he was lying, the dead Creatures had become fresher and fresher in kill; the smell of the decomposing bodies, became stronger and stronger... then, almost unbearable.
It was ironically mordant, that so many different kinds of Creatures, that would never come together in life, had come together in death.
It started to rain in a mild drizzle. The small falling drops of water, ran down Gremoff’s scales, and mixed with the blood from his dragging leg; then, slowly streamed down his foot, leaving a trail of blood and water behind, on the ground.
With shallow breaths, he hoped the stench would fade, as he moved further on. But then, he saw something that had ripped the hope right out of him!
Corpses everywhere; a sight far more intensified, seen from on the ground, than from above in the sky; piled onto each other, and covering the ground completely! This would mean he would have to walk atop of them; he was sickened with even the idea! The very threshold of all hell he knew to be, had been surpassed by this unholy visual. There was no way he would take another step! Thoughts of breaking open their flesh, and sinking into their bodies, was already too much horror for him to have dealt with.
Gremoff churned over in his mind, all that was disturbingly frightful, dreadfully revolting. He looked off into the distance, and then, drew his eyes up to the far away clouds.
Hope returned to him, and he spoke out loud, in eagerness. “That’s it! If only”— Gremoff examined at his wing, as he strained to lift it! He could barely, but, halfway stretch it out; a terrible pain, jolted forth from his wing, into his shoulder-blade. All in an instant of dismay, he turned his head away; he drew it down, close to the ground, closed his eyes, and grunted, while he held his teeth tight together, breathing heavily regardless of the awful smell. His nostrils flared, and blew away a small fragment of a dried up leaf. He opened his eyes and stared blatantly upon the wet ground.
Something had changed in the atmosphere! What was there. Someone or something, had been watching him! Gremoff hesitated on what to do, but then, was curious as to why, whatever on earth it was, it was not attacking him? He decided to remain in his position, and pretend to be unaware of it, aloof to his surroundings.
He waited for a while for something more to happen... but nothing happened! He then, alertly raised his head, and peered straightforward, yet still nothing happened.
The sense of it watching him, made him uneasy. Was it harmless? Was it afraid of him? Or was it a Dark Creature, preying upon him? He wasn’t sure what it was!
Staring off into the distance, he decide to take a limp forward, hoping that it would see how helpless he was, and leave him be.
But suddenly, while he picked up his left paw, he heard a pitter-pattering sound of tiny bare feet, rapidly beating on the hard wet ground. The sound grew louder and louder, and had him frightened!
Whatever it had been, it was coming from behind him! He turned his head in a panic, and found the ugliest little Creature he had ever seen! The little demon, whacked him hard on his injured leg, and Gremoff roared loudly in agony! The sound of his roar, echoed thunderously through the trees!
Far off, Tesmorlah heard his cry! She sensed something had been terribly wrong, and that she should hurry to him! She jumped up into the air, over a mound of carcasses, and planned to land on the other side; but when she saw that the ground was entirely covered with these rotting Creatures, she drew out her wings, at the last minute, and glided on over them!
She heard another roar. It came from straight ahead! She kept a sharp eye out for Gremoff, or any movement, for that matter!
Gremoff frantically search the trees around him for the little devil! His limbs trembled, for he strained from collapsing to the ground!
The sound of the clattering feet came back again! Gremoff quickly swung his head to his left side, and attempted to catch the mischievous demon in his teeth, but the little devil was too quick! It jumped up onto Gremoff’s head, and grabbed, and pulled on his ears; so severely, they began to tear and bleed!
Tesmorlah heard another roar, but this time it was a bit more shaky, raspy; atrociously horrifying! She realized she had lost altitude, and was lowering to the massive sea of dead Creatures! She flapped her wings hard twice, and lifted higher into the air. It was not an easy task to locate where he was, considering all the Creatures of his kind scattered abroad. So many in number; the most horrifying slaughter, throughout all, of Tesmorlah’s years; and the history of the Forest.
She saw him! A Dargrath held onto him by the ears, biting his head, and upper neck; ripping giant chunks of flesh off, and spitting them out, to roll down Gremoff’s back one after another.
Tesmorlah became enraged, as she saw Gremoff collapse! She dove down as fast as she could, straight for the little demon!
The Dargrath zipped his head up, and stared at her, as she roared at him angrily, glaring down upon him. Just before she reached him, he sped off at a tremendous rate, and faded into the distance! Tesmorlah clasped her open mouth shut, right over Gremoff’s head, in her failed attempt to snag the demon, then, glided on over him and landed.
She found the scent of the Dargrath fresh in the air, and followed it. She came to a tree and looked up, and on a high branch; there he was, sitting there, staring at her, with his soulless devil eyes.
Astrid searched and searched, but found no sign of Gremoff! She stopped, in a skid of her heel, and looked off to each chaotic extreme, of what was to both sides of her; then her eyes turned violet, and she had adjusted her vision; enhanced, as if she were looking through binoculars. She carefully scanned the area, turning around on her feet, slowly, and then! She saw Tesmorlah! Once again, she was being attacked, but this time, by some sort of small, fast moving, and some kind of, Dark Creature; but not one she had seen before. The agility of this little thing, was incredible, she couldn’t quite make out what it was, but it’s not like she was going to wait around, to try to do so!
She immediately took off running, wasting no time, and also, performed a spell; whispering, while on the move. Now she began to run at an unreal speed; she had been a blur, moving through the massacre.
The Dargrath came out of nowhere, and stabbed its three long and blackened dirty claws, into Tesmorlah’s shoulder! Tesmorlah cried out, in pain, while turning her head to face the Dargrath! As he ran away, she blew a Solar Blast, chasing after him, but missed; he was just too quick!
After the light from the blast disappeared, he was gone, like something ghostly! Tesmorlah searched the trees, and sniffed the air. The little demon did not make a sound, and she hadn’t realized at all, his movement, as he jumped off a branch behind her, and flew at her, with his mouth wide open, ready to take a huge chunk out of her! But, Astrid, moving towards the little devil with great speed and velocity, grabbed him by the neck, seizing the little parasite, just as he was about to have his claws in the Dragon Queen’s flesh! Astrid stopped abruptly, but still, with elegance and composure! When Tesmorlah turned to look at her, Astrid had debilitated and broken the devil’s neck; this mischievous thing… dark little twisted pest.
Her hand, opened, and its lifeless body, dropped from her grasp, to the ground, to join the vast collection of all the other dead Creatures.
Astrid swiftly moved towards Gremoff, to observe his condition! Gremoff coughed, as she came over, knelt down, and gently stroked his cheek. While she did, she looked at the gashes in his neck, and the back of his head; and then, checked over the rest of his body; down to his fractured leg!
Gremoff coughed again. “I know what you are thinking, but don’t! Go with Tesmorlah, and defeat the evil before it’s too late!”
“No! I won’t leave you here”
Gremoff lifted his head, and cut her off from saying anything more. He gave out a loud roar, with all that remained of his strength. “Go!”
His head collapsed to the ground, and his body relaxed; then, he ceased to breathe…
Astrid was in disbelief, unaccepting of the obvious signs, that Gremoff had been gone now. She hurriedly, and desperately, moved to Gremoff, and put out her hand to heal him; but her magic failed. She tried yet again, and Tesmorlah came by her side, and had looked down upon him. A tear, rolled down Tesmorlah’s snout, and landed on Gremoff’s left bicep. Astrid tried her magic once more, but still, failed to restore his blood, or heal his flesh…
Tesmorlah tapped Astrid on the shoulder, with her index claw. “Astrid... he’s gone… let him be now.” Astrid stopped her idle attempts, of doing anything about this. She drew her hand down, and stared at his dead body for a moment. “Gremoff! We will avenge you!”
Astrid turned away from the lifeless view of Gremoff, to look up at Tesmorlah. She found tears in her eyes; was this harder for her to accept, than it was for Astrid. She glanced at the blood, streaming from Tesmorlah’s wounds, and climbed up onto her back, placing her hand over the area.
The three punctures healed shut with new flesh; Astrid stood up on her back. “Does it hurt anywhere?” Tesmorlah bowed her head down, and shut her eyes. “Only in my heart…”
There wasn’t much to say to this. Astrid just hoped that she could find the courage, to see their quest through, to the very end; but before she could think of something appropriate to say, something unexpected had happened.
Tesmorlah changed her mood! Overtaken with determination, to settle old scores, that had been put off for far too long; she alertly seized open her eyes, and peered into the calling abyss of destiny, in front of her; throwing out her wings, she jumped up into the air!
Astrid held on tightly, and a true leader, a Dragon Queen was reborn, soared up into the sky courageously; she took off with great speed, towards the evil that lied ahead!
Astrid shouted. “What was that all about?”
Tesmorlah didn’t answer; she declared in a roar. “From this day forward, let it be known: The day Gremoff died, was the day all evil dies along with him!”
Tesmorlah and Astrid, had lost their beloved friend Gremoff, and they both, had mourned for him in their own way. There wasn’t much to look forward to... but now, was not the time to let sorrow get in the way, and get the better of them.... and so, they set out to destroy the evil, that afflicted them, and tormented them, once and for all.