flASH fiction: Volume 5: Strange Prisoner (13)

Strange Prisoner
By
Jason Pere

“It is unthinkable, we should end him this moment,” said Harhanov Master Black. He cast his gaze towards the double doors at the rear of the enormous audience chamber after he finished speaking. He even swayed a little in the direction of the floor to ceiling pair of molded brass doors as if his words compelled him to follow through with the debated deed. After a fleeting moment of silence he was pulled back into the conversation by the sterling youthful voice of Donakis.

“He spared my own life when all of his warriors would have seen my blood on the ground. He is honorable, even for a human,” Donakis said. She spoke to the conflicted Master Black but once she was finished speaking she took a bold step forward, towards the dais at the far end of the audience chamber where Sia of Red was currently sprawled out her full length from neck to tail. She held an innocent hopeful glinting in her dark gaze as she moved closer to her matriarch as though closing her proximity to the great red winged wyrm would somehow sway the dragon to her point of view.

“So he can die an honorable death and then we can be done with him. He should not even be within the walls of the Red Sanctuary. Each breath he draws here is a dishonor to every one of our breed that has been slain in the human crusades. Say nothing of what the likes of Stef’han of Black would think of…” said the black scaled ranking dragoon war leader with ramping intensity. His mounting fervor was abruptly cut short by a powerful thump of Sia of Red’s mighty tail against the black volcanic glass floor of the chamber. Clearly the mention of her late spouses name had spurred her from spectating the debate into participation.

Sia of Red raised up her long neck from where it had been draped over the dais’s cushioned headrest. She glowered at the pair of dragoon warriors as a parent would regard two contrary children before leveling a measure of judgment. A few errant wrathful sparks fell from her eyes as she shifted her attention from Donakis to Harhanov. She took in a deep breath and enjoyed a single heartbeat of sun on her face and wind blowing over her scales from the large access portal in the roof over the dais. After the pleasant moment was over and done with Sia of Red curled her tail in front of her and placed both massive front claws over it, adopting a posture that was as regal as it was patronizing. “That is quite enough from both of you. There are fewer of my children every day. I will not see what little of my progeny who remain on the face of Argaia at odds with one another.”

“My apologies, Great Mother. I forget my place,” said Harhanov with a pensive wince and lowering of his head.

“Apologies, Great Mother,” Donakis echoed with a similar infection and gesture as that of the Master Black.

“No apologies are needed. You both feel passionate about your respective positions. I would hear what each of you has to say…in orderly fashion,” Sia of Red said with an inflection that was both an expression of curiosity as well as a not so veiled command for cooler tempers. “Donakis my daughter, please begin. Tell me why you are so intent on listening to what this human has to say?”

Donakis’s eyes widened as she was placed at the center of attention. She had been so intent on battling just the have her voice heard that she had given pitiful little thought to what she might say when afforded the opportunity of receptive ears. Her mind raced with the speed of a charging lancer’s stallion. “Great Mother, it is not that I an intent on hearing what this human has to say. It is that I am curious why this human wished to speak in the first place,” Donaki said, carefully picking her way through her words as one would step barefoot through a rock quarry.

“What?” remarked Harhanov. His tone was no longer one of arrogant dismissal but that of genuine intrigue.

“Go on my daughter,” Sia of Red coaxed with a thoughtful tilt of her winding neck. Her cadence was marked with interest much like that of Harhanov.

“I suppose that you may know this much better than the Master Black or I would but in my time fighting the humans all the stores I have heard of their crusade against us, little of it involves speaking between us and them. All I have known of their kind is their blood for our blood. Great Mother I ask of you, have the humans ever wished to speak with the dragons or their children?” Donakis inquired with a light note and spread of her hands.

Sia of Red shifted back onto her haunches. She exposed her red belly to the pair of dragoon in an unmistakable display of vulnerability. Her mind was clearly searching thousands of years of memories in an attempt to answer Donakis’s question. The dragon was so wrapped in her thoughts that she was able to do nothing more than ponder. The wind and the light from both suns continued to come thought the portal over the dais as the dragon reminisced silently. Sia of Red’s thoughtful recounting did not last for any lengthy measure but it was long enough for all to witness her face contort in several varied emotions, lastly amusement. “My daughter, at first there were some talks with the humans. It all happened before they started their crusades to gain control over the face of Argaia and push us from existence and even then they were more threats than they were true attempts at peace. Since those days I can not recall a single one of the human breed that has ever met our kind with words instead of steel,” said the majestic red dragon as she lowered her neck so that it hovered only several feet off of the floor. Her voice carried a sublime humility and wizened note of acceptance as she graciously blinked her smoky eyes at Donakis.

“If this human is truly one who has been like no other before then perhaps it is worth listening to what he has to say. I mean the promise of peace between human and dragoon…” Donakis said with a full heart and hopeful clasp of her hands to illustrate a world of possibilities.

“That human is no high born, certainly not one of their kings. I doubt that peace is his to promise even if that is his intention,” said Harhanov with a surly curl of his lips that exposed his long age-yellowed fangs. He folded his arms defensively across his chest to fully express his level of doubt to both his subordinate and his matriarch.

“Still, you must admit that Donakis makes a sound point, my dearest son,” Sai of Red said to the Master Black with flawless maternal comfort in her voice. The words nearly sounded like a nursery lullaby as they left her mouth.

The Master Black shifted and squirmed ever so slightly but evident enough that all could see he was battling to refrain from accepting the truth to be so plainly found in the moment. “Great Mother, I find I am forced to agree,” said Harhanov with a noble melody of submission and acceptance in his speech.

“Then we should hear what the human has to say. Summon him here. If he has nothing of value to speak of then you may open his throat and spill him dry with my blessing,” said Sia of Red with a measure of finality in her voice.

Donakis thankfully knelt before the great red dragon and bowed her head. When she came up she cast a nervous glance at the Master Black. She found her own trepidations and fear of failure reflected in the primal bloodlust that graced Harhanov’s face with a sincerely murderous grin.

“Thank you Great Mother. As it always has been, it is my pleasure and my honor to serve your will,” said Harhanov as he knelt before proceeding to leave the audience chamber.

The Master Black’s echoing footfalls faded into the reaches of the Red Sanctuary and served as a perfect overture to the uncertain moments that were to soon follow. Donakis found the ensuing silence quickly put the taste of rot in her mouth. She knew Harhanov was possessed of honor beyond reproach but still the notion of him having a private consort with their captive before a proper audience with Sia of Red did not sit well with her. While she knew the Master Black would never knowingly undermine the wishes of their matriarch, his contempt for the humans could not be over looked. Donakis rose up and smiled at the powerful red dragon while her eyes shown with infinite hope. “Thank you Great Mother,” she turned and swiftly followed in the Master Blacks footsteps. The moment the doors of the audience chamber were behind her, Donakis broke into a desperate sprint. She needed to see Aaron Luckworth before Harhanov could reach him and sour first impressions with the weight of centuries of festering mortal enmity.