This story is by Emilia Cuevas and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
He was right in the middle of a battle in a war waged for their homeland. Whether they were winning or losing he didn’t know, the chaos of war made it impossible to decipher. He was trying to get to the other side of the battlefield when he was knocked out of the sky. He tried to stay up, but couldn’t move his wings. When he hit the ground, he lost consciousness.
Addar woke up in a dark, damp cell. The last thing he could remember was the floor getting closer and closer. What had happened on that battlefield? He knew the answer a few seconds later when the King of the Western lands strode into the dungeons. Something had gone wrong. The monarch drew closer. Addar’s heart started racing, if he was here, odds were they had lost the war. How badly had they been defeated?
The King stopped in front of his cell and poised a question that upended Addar’s whole world in seconds. “What does it feel to be the last of the mighty dragons?” His Majesty taunted.
Addar realized right then and there: his clan hadn’t only lost a war, they had been massacred, slaughtered into extinction. All were dead but he. The King hadn’t come to interrogate him or captured him to strike a bargain instead, he was a trophy in his castle. The last of the fire-breathing dragons. The ruler was here to gloat. By killing all the dragons he had finally rid his kingdom of magic. All that remained, it seemed, was Addar.
The King wore a smug smile on his face, he didn’t expect an answer from the dragon. He was mocking him, hoping to inflict as much pain as possible. “You fought bravely, I`ll give you that. But it seems like it wasn’t enough to keep you alive. To stop the slaughter.”The monarch teased.
Addar snarled at and tried to incinerate him, but the collar around his blood-red, shimmering neck was damping his fire. It must have been imbued with some sort of magic to stop him from burning the King into a crisp. Ironic really, that the man who had banned magic from the realm relied so fully upon it. If only he could get rid of the chains around his neck, Addar could get his power back and end this once and for all, but the chain did not budge. All he could do was glare at the King, amber eyes filled with fire pierced into cruel ice-blue ones.
The King left Addar alone with his thoughts, they dwelled on his kind, on the family he had lost. The grief was overwhelming. His vision blurred as he felt the weight of his loss settle on his shoulders. His entire clan had been wiped out of existence in the blink of an eye. His head sagged to the floor and he lay there unmoving and unflinching for hours.
The hours turned to days and the dragon still didn’t move an inch or eat anything. He felt the weakness that the malnutrition brought with it but didn’t care. During those days, all he could do was hear the words the King had told him over and over again. Three days after the monarch’s visit he finally fell asleep. The words echoing in his head.
The last of the mighty dragons.
The last dragon.
He woke up from a dreamless slumber a week later, while he slept another thought had crept into his head: he had to avenge his clan. With that idea, his loss felt lighter, not less important, but somewhat manageable. He had a purpose and, with that in mind, he started eating again, for he needed to get stronger to be able to strike when the time was right.
A week passed, then another and Addar grew stronger, the thought of revenge burning like an ember within him. As the third week drew to an end, the Captain of the Royal Guard appeared. Unlike the King, the Captian didn’t get close but rather whispered to a guard’s ear, most likely to make sure the dragon, pretending to sleep in his cell, couldn’t eavesdrop, but his hearing was better than that of mere humans and he was able to listen to every word.
“Prepare yourself and your men to transport the dragon. He’s to be brought to the city’s center in two days’ time for his execution.” The Captain ordered. “Use whatever resources you need, just ensure that he’s well contained.” And with that, he vanished up the stairs, back into the castle.
Two days, he had two days to form a plan of escape or one to get his revenge… The dragon fell deep in thought. Once the days had passed, the guard stationed at the entrance of the dungeon came for him along with nine other guards and a brand new set of shackles. Despite his best efforts not to, his instinct took over and he recoiled at the sight of them. They opened the door. It was time to decide, was he going to escape or kill the man who had brought about the end his kind? He let himself be shackled and dragged out of the dungeons into the execution plaza, right in the middle of the city. He had made his choice: revenge it was.
He felt the sun warm his thick skin and breathed in the cool autumn air, enjoying what might very well be his last moments alive. The soldiers heaved him to the center of the plaza in front of the King, where he was to meet his end, and chained him to the floor. Cowards.
The dragon looked up at the ruler, who rose from his makeshift throne to address the crowd. “We gathered today, at the end of this great war, to see the infestation that plagues this kingdom be exterminated.” His Majesty announced. “On this day, we shall at long last be rid of magic. After enduring years of hard work, all that remains of the wretched thing stands before us and with the death of the last dragon, magic will disappear from this kingdom once and for all” Cheers rose from the crowd. “Join me today in celebration. To the end of magic!” The cries of support roared stronger.
The King stepped down from his stand overwatching the plaza and placed himself in front of the dragon. As he unsheathed his sword, the crowd became silent.
“I’m going to enjoy killing you.” The King hissed to Addar. “Just as I enjoyed killing your brethren” The dragon snarled at him. It was now or never.
The King stroke, aiming for his neck, but with one swift movement, the dragon deflected the blow. It landed on the restraints on his neck, which broke apart. As soon as the chain cracked, Addar felt the magic vanish, he could breathe fire again. And he did.
Addar unleashed the inferno raging within him onto the King, ending his life instantly. As the scorched body of the ruler fell to the ground, the Royal Guard raced to contain the dragon, but Addar was busy burning away the remaining restraints. The last shackle dropped just as the Guard was within reach. Addar flapped his wings to start flying when he felt a sharp pain on his right shoulder. There was an arrow lodged there. He roared as the Guard shot more arrows at him but he lifted higher and higher until he could barely see the people, then he unleashed hell upon the city.
He flew all over the capital releasing his fire upon it. He spared no one, as they had spared none of his clan. Addar burnt through the city until all that remained was a shell burnt to a crisp, a ghost city.
The dragon flew away from the city and wandered the skies. He flew for hours on end until he arrived at the debris of his former settlement. What he found shattered him completely. A part of him had hoped that the King’s words were lies, but seeing the destruction around him, he realized he had been telling the truth. He was the last dragon. All around him lay the corpses of his clan, scattered through the battlefield glimmering on the sun like fallen stars.
Addar couldn’t stand the sight of it, so he flew away, for how long he wasn’t sure until he stumbled upon a nice little cave away from everything. He landed there and dragged himself into the small, dark, and most importantly, isolated cavern. He decided that this was to be his home from this day till the day he died. He curled up on a corner of the cave and cried himself to sleep. Alone, as he would always be. The last dragon.