flASH fiction: Volume 5: Red Widow (6)

Red Widow
By
Jason Pere

She had many children. They were not born of her body but the all carried enough blood for Sia of Red to call them her’s. The great red dragon reined over a vast brood of unshakably loyal, even fanatical warriors. She needed to only whisper her slightest whim and the dragoon would push themselves to the point of breaking and beyond in order to bring her will to manifestation. Even reigning over the legion of her children, Sia of Red could not help but feel a terrible sense of isolation. The death of her mate, Stef’han of Black weighed on her spirit more than she realized it would. When the Rayward artillery had pierced the great black dragon’s heart, Sia of Red felt it and knew that it harkened the beginning of her own end as well. She had told herself that she accepted her imminent demise the moment she was aware of it but her heart had yet to align with her mind on the matter.

Suffering the loss of her mate without anyone else to commiserate with made the tragedy all the more unbearable for Sia of Red. For longer than one hundred human lifetimes, she had enjoyed the wondrous company of Stef’han of Black. The elder black dragon had a kind and good humored nature that she was able to witness when they were able to steal a few candid moments. Otherwise the mighty black dragon projected a genuine air of deep wisdom and fearsome bravery. She had leaned on his council and drawn inspiration from his unwavering courage for years. Nobody could ever truly compare to the specimen that was Stef’han of Black, not even the few other dragons who remained in the world could offer Sia of Red what her mate had been able to provide for her. The great red dragon knew that even the most empathetic of the dragoon could do little to console her or assuage her grief. She would be alone in her mourning and that made it all the more heartbreaking. Stef’han of Black was certainly not the first of her kind to have been slain during the human’s crusades but he would be the first, and only death that Sia of Red would have to suffer through on her own.

The great red dragon drew some tiny measure of comfort knowing the finality of the situation. The fact that she would never again have to repeat this feeling of heart crushing misery, was a small offering but it served to keep her from being completely suffocated by her melancholy. Being aware of her limited time remaining in a world that was rapidly becoming the sole province of humanity set her red scales crackling with another heated concern. She preemptively mourned for her children’s grief at her own passing. The dragoon would come to know a world without dragons and Sia of Red hated that notion. If she could have borne the brunt of that grief for her progeny she would have but the only way for her to spare her children that pain was to live and that was a mocking impossibility. It cut Sia of Red to her core knowing that after processing the loss of her mate, she had a fresh wave of pathos to shoulder on behalf of her children. She wondered if she would ever know joy again in this life, even a single moment of levity would have been enough to sustain her through to the end.

The volcanic glass below Sia of Red’s long serpentine neck sizzled as scorching tears of lava fell from her eyes. The droplets were few but they were hot and intense enough to create a small pool of molten slag next to the powerful winged wyrm. Sia of Red snarled and bared her killer sharp fangs as she looked into the hot glowing orange pool of sorrow made tangible. It had been an age since she had shed her last tears and in this moment she cried more than she had ever cried during the span of her considerably long life. Sia of Red was able to reconcile that her numerous tears were justified, Stef’han of Black deserved every one of them.

Sia of Red lingered in the spectacle of her ever flowing grief from the rising of the suns until the second sun reached its zenith. As the day shown the brightest it was as if Argaia’s two suns helped to shine their light on a greater truth for Sia of Red. The light that rained down from the cloudless sky helped the red scaled creature to remember that there was something beyond the mourning she felt ravenously feasting on her dwindling reserves of inner strength. As much as Stef’han of Black deserved her tears, Sia of Red came to recall that her fallen mate deserved the blood of the humans much more. The light of the suns helped guide Sia of Red from the pits of grief back to the bloody road of retribution. Her tears ceased to fall as the warrior’s fire in her belly was rekindled.

The red dragon rose up onto her muscular legs and moved over to the edge of the stone circle that served as her mountaintop chamber. She looked down on the valley below and stared wrathful vengeance in the direction of the human war camp. Though the distance was further than even her keen dragon eyes could decipher, Sia of Red could still sense the humans reveling in the slaughter of her mate. She would bring down a fiery reckoning upon those who had taken her one great love away. She reared up onto her back legs and buffeted her wings against the sky. The wind from the singular powerful flap of her wings sent shards of volcanic glass flying through the air. Sia of Red was on the verge of taking flight and rushing to join her mate in a blaze of glory end but a strange sensation tickled her nose and gave her pause.

Sia of Red caught the scent of her wounded children in retreat. It was a familiar smokey fragrance that she had been observing for the last few days but she noted the smell had changed. The hearty scent had grown corrupted with the odor of copper and iron. The metallic smell could only mean that the humans were close to the fleeing remnants of the dragoon army. As much as Sia of Red would have loved to sate her thirst for vengeance with the blood of the Rayward army camped at the base of her mountain, she knew that her children were in danger and that took all precedence. She gave one last disdainful glare in the direction of the human band who had ended Stef’han of Black and then she leapt up with a mighty roar befitting the greatest of all matriarchs and took to the skies. She set her flight to follow the smell of men who wished harm upon her progeny and with each beat of her wings she swore to make the humans that hunted her children absolutely terrified before she burned them to a pile of ashes and bones.