I finally stumbled over Sal’s limp body and was able to drag him next to Goldor. Both men were breathing rhythmically, and unconscious, but neither seemed to be seriously hurt. I ventured out of the cave, when I felt the cool air of night descend, so I knew that I could gather some firewood in the safety of the dark. After a great deal of effort, I was able to get a fire started to warm the two men.
My mind was in a frenzy trying to assimilate all of the new information. I had no idea that dragons adhered to such a hierarchy. They always seemed to be mindless beasts of labor. Granted, they did seem to show signs of intelligence, but so did horses and mules. Any animal could be taught tricks.
How was it possible that a race of beings could have such an advanced intellectual society and then allow their selves to be diminished to what we now knew dragons to be? It all didn’t seem to add up. There had to be pieces of the story missing. The black dragon that shared the link with me almost seemed to be a different being than the other dragons I had had contact with in my life. I had lived around dragons my whole life, and none of them showed any signs of intelligence. How could one dragon be so intelligent, and the rest be so stupid. There was something else going on.
The night seemed to drift by in a haze of thoughts. I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about my two friends, but I also had so many things to unrest my mind that I couldn’t settle myself enough to even rest. Morning came with its cool damp greeting. The birds started to stir, and so did the two men. Sal was the first to wake, probably from years of training as a soldier. Even an unconscious sleep couldn’t keep the man from his routine.
Goldor, on the other hand, gave me pause for concern. Until last night, I believed that the man didn’t sleep at all. He always seemed to be awake. He would stay up well after we went to bed, and always woke before I did. Perhaps he did sleep, and was just as disciplined as Sal. Perhaps Sal has caught him asleep, but now, he didn’t seem to want to wake up.
“What happened?” I heard Sal grunt in effort to rise only to sink back to his bedroll.
“I don’t know if you should try to get up.” I offered. “That dragon hit you pretty hard. He took your remark as a threat I think. I don’t know what he did, but I heard you grunt like he hit you, and then you slammed against the cave wall. I tried to check you, but didn’t feel any blood. You do have a pretty nasty bump on the back of your head, though.”
Sal grunted again as he made another attempt to sit up. “I think it broke my rib, too. What did it want from you?”
“He doesn’t want me to bleed anymore.” I said with a weak laugh. “He told me that somehow we are linked, and if I bleed, he does too. I guess dragons don’t replenish their blood as quickly as humans, and he says that I’m killing him.”
Sal laughed, “Well we should bleed you a little bit each day, and kill the beast. It’s a menace to decent people.”
I wanted to laugh at Sal’s joke, but the dragon’s words were haunting me. What if he was telling the truth? If so, I really was responsible for the lives of hundreds or even thousands of creatures. Granted, they have never been anything but a burden and a curse to me, but they were still living creatures. What right did I have to decide the fate of so many living things? And if they were as intelligent as this one linked to me was, I would be killing not only the creatures, but a long line of knowledge, history, and progress that humans didn’t even know about, or have long since forgotten about. No, I couldn’t do that to them. As much as I hated the beasts that seemed to be just another in a long line of my superiors, I didn’t hate them enough to destroy them all. And what if the white dragons were evil? I could be upsetting some sort of balance.
I had only encountered a white dragon once before in my life. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. They could be evil beasts. Maybe that was why the white and the black dragons had some sort of pact; to give their species some sort of balance. Then again, I never really did like black dragons. They always seemed sinister to me. Maybe they were both evil, and had some dark pact with one another. After all, a white and a black dragon didn’t seem like a very likely couple to mate. The whole thing was just so confusing.
“No, I don’t think I should kill him.” I finally decided. “He wasn’t sure if the link went both ways or not. My life might be linked to his as much as his is to mine.”
It was the only thing I could think to say that wouldn’t make me sound crazy. I was sure that Sal thought about as much about dragons as I did. All people did. They were just beasts of burden not unlike a horse, or an ox.
“You’re right. Besides, I had a good dragon under me for years. The beasts are more than they seem. I was friends with my red dragon. Her name was Sillafina. Sillafina… good ol’ girl…” Sal’s voice started to quiver in emotion with the mention of his old dragon.
“What happened to her, if you don’t mind me asking?” I asked, after waiting the appropriate time for his emotions to run their course.
“Sillafina? Oh, well she went missing all those years ago when the rest of The Red Riders fell. Don’t rightly know what happened to her. It seems that she just couldn’t stand being in the stables with all the other dragons gone. That’s why I say that there’s a lot more to those beasts than we give them credit for. Most folks just think that dragons are stupid beasts of labor like oxen, but dumb animals don’t miss companions. Sillafina never seemed to be able to let it go. She knew those other dragons were killed. I don’t know how she knew, but she did. I couldn’t get her excited about anything after that night. Then, one day, I sent her on a retrieval practice mission. She swooped down into the forest and out of sight, and never came above the tree line again.”
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