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The Eldar Flame

A Broken World Tale

By Blake BoothPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 12 min read
Runner-Up in Christopher Paolini's Fantasy Fiction Challenge

She ran.

With all her might, with all her will, she ran. Her legs burned, her lungs ached in agony—breath white in the chilled winter air. She pulled her skirt high about her waist, never mind her shame; propriety would not save her now. Aaron roared behind her. They'd caught him. His voice turned shrill as they did what they did. She'd been witness to their slaughter in the streets, pulling babe and child apart with their talons and teeth. She suffered the terror of her love dying the same. Snot and tears ran from her face into the hair of the child she clutched.

Aaron was fighting to give ground between her and that ragged breed. The love she bore him was strangling her as she ran headlong through the north gate. She knew she could not save him, though she longed too. Then his voice joined hundreds of others as the slaughter reached the northern gate. Heavy, haggard breaths escaped her mouth.

She came through the gate and found the way blocked. Hundreds stood transfixed and unmoving, oblivious to the doom about to befall them. Their eyes wandered north. Sarah did not stop; she shoved through the masses and found a way to run. So many simply stood pointing, watching as their only hope of living fled the city. The Witch-King's dragonkin was already a league away with all his slave children. Sarah felt the white-hot coal of shame burning in her guts. She could not dwell there now.

The bloodletting began when the people were bundled under the gate. She made for the wood just beyond the north road. The forest was beyond the meadow but seemed leagues from her feet. There was a great racket. The world went still. In an instant—silence. A strange turn in the midst of chaos. It closed in like the darkness. There was only the sound of fire. Then the sky whooshed above her head, and a burning building sailed through the heavens. Down it came on the north road, smashing hundreds of women and children in their flight.

She never stopped running. The deaths of many only added to desperation. She kept the name of the old one on her lips, the way Aaron had told her. It was not their Witch-King that would save them now, and he had fled them. They had sold their firstborn for nothing. There was nothing but shame there now.

Dusk was on the horizon, and the sound of slaughter began anew. The fell creatures were swifter afoot than a dog or deer. She ran for the woods, pleading with fate to give her passage. A city aflame was light to her feet and lamp to her path. Somewhere behind her, another woman was caught. The caught woman screamed. The woman's voice became shrill as they stuck her, then there came another sound, the haunting sound, the sound that can only be made when one is severed or pulled apart.

Sarah clutched the child tight to her chest and ran harder.

"Zaerock," she whispered the name, hardly more than a ragged breath. She said it over and over.

Her legs threatened to fail. Her lungs burned, foam dripping from her mouth. She was almost to the woods. From behind her the hideousness opened its giant maw and such sound as has never been made; a wail or scream, it was vehemence to tear even a soul from its frame; not if a thousand horses were flayed alive or a thousand swine cut at the same time, not if a hundred thousand hares screeched their dying screech at the same moment, not if all this joined in chorus could it rival the sound that came out of the giant's mouth. Men clapped their ears and fell to their knees; some rolled and screamed. The stronger, the opportunist kind of man or woman staid their feet and gave distance between their fallen comrades and the monster behind them; their lives depended upon it.

Sarah was the first to her feet. She stood dizzily, turning around, finding Dawn and pulling her back to her arms. The city came full into view flames and all… and there that colossal frame. That immortal immensity. Frothing with a wrath that could not be satiated. A god it must have been descended from the high places. One of the ones who broke the world asunder, Sarah thought. It had a stag's crown and a beard that writhed and wriggled like turned-up worms and a mane of a giant cat ringed its neck. It roared again. Men fell once more. Sarah was driven to her knees and cupped her hands round Dawn's ears. The great being swung its tree and man and horse sailed to the setting sun. Those that did not were driven into the heart of the earth on its return swing. They would need no grave. With a thrust of its arm buildings came free of their foundation and sailed through the night sky crashing in the lower quarters of the city.

Sarah pulled Dawn again into her arms and ran for the forest. She was past the north road now, in the long grass. She was almost to the wood when blinding pain splintered through her shoulder. Dawn fell headlong before her. Sarah whimpered the name.

"Run!" She screamed to Dawn, "The name, don't forget the name child! Run!"

Sarah tried to right herself, but her left arm would not work. Wicked and jagged metal was hanging from her shoulder. She cried in pain. There was the padding of a great many feet coming upon her. The terror closed in. She thought of Aaron. Tears burned in her eyes.

"I don't want to die, I don't want to die," her woman's voice became that of a child as she whimpered. She found her feet, though dizzily and started to run. Something leaped from the grass and pounced upon her. Its voice raw and seething. The pain erupted anew in Sarah's shoulder. She screamed a long, piercing scream and it was met with laugher. Sharp, mean hands roller her over. She stared up at grinning lips and a mouth full of wicked looking teeth.

"Thought you'd get away, pretty little thing," its voice gurgled in the tongues of men.

Other voices laughed about her. One of them pulled a cruel looking piece of iron from its scabbard.

"Oh, no. No, please," Sarah said soiling herself. The creature stayed his hand. Sarah turned round on her belly and looked up. She could see Dawn's head bobbing through the long grass at the edge of the wood. A faint hope whispered through her heart. She filled her fists with a handful of soil and turned around. She got to her knees and looked upon them; there were three of them.

"Each of you are foul and disgusting," she said. They giggled.

"I hope each of one of you roasts in a pit and bleed to oblivion," she said. They laughed. The one nearest her went to grab her hair and she flung the dirt in its face. It roared. The second came after and she slung soil in its eyes as well. The hurled flung itself into her. She tried to fight it, but the beast was feral and fierce and rent her flesh savagely. When it sunk its teeth into her she found she hand no more strength left to resist. Her eyes wandered to the tree just as Dawn came to their edge. She'd made it to the wood. It was the last thing she saw. Sarah whispered the name with her dying breath, hoping against hope.

***

Dawn ran into the woods with her mom's cries behind her, her own terror coming out of her mouth. Fear kept her feet moving. She ran, not knowing where to run, only that her mom had told her to run into the forest and hide and to say the old name the way they used to pray to the witch.

"Zaerock. Zaerock. Zaerock," she said.

She heard only the sound of her feet for a while, but then she heard them. They were coming. She ran deeper into the woods, but her legs were not so fast. She said the name that her mother had taught her. Over and over, she said it. The forest was crashing with feet behind her. Dawn turned round and fell over her own feet. The monster men with green skin were there laughing.

She was caught. She cried a child's cry. They were going to eat her just like her mom had said. She didn't want to be eaten.

"This little one," came an evil, broken voice, "Is all mine."

"I don't think I will let you have it all to yourself Urglack, not after all that chasing, no. I want a bite too," said another voice.

"I want one of the legs," came a female voice. This one stepped into the moon light dripping down through the forest's canopy, "She drips with fear. Tell me little one, how old are you?"

Dawn looked into the hideous face of an orc covered in blood and bravely raised three fingers, "I'am dis many."

Maybe they wouldn't eat her. The wicked face broke into a grin of sharp, daggered teeth.

"You can have a leg, Gurga" Urglack said. He was the biggest of the three and had horns on his head, "C'rug can have a bite, but I want her heart and liver."

Dawn wet herself then. The others laughed. They thought it a merry thing that she had soiled herself.

Dawn tried to speak a word, but nothing came out. Her body trembled, "Bur.. dah… bur… dah… bur," one of them mocked.

The other one snatched her up violently, its talons sinking into her flesh. Dawn cried, but the name came out of her mouth, "Zaerock."

"Saer-what," the one in the moonlight said.

"He's a dragon, and he's going to help me," Dawn said, "My Pa said so."

All three of the mean orcs fell to the ground laughing, holding their stomachs, and stamping the ground. She started to back away, tip-toeing through the wood. Then they were up and about her again. Urglack got serious then, "No, no, no, little one. You cannot leave. We haven't eaten you yet, and since your dragon has not come to save you, we shall begin our feasting."

The ground trembled ever so slightly. There was the sound of wind.

"What was that?" said Uglack.

"It wasn't anything," C'rug.

"There's a fire," said Urglack, pointing over C'rug's and Gurga's shoulders.

"A fire?" said Gurga.

"Aye, and its floating, the fire is floating," Urglack said.

"What is it?" Gurga said as the darkness was torn in half and a furnace leapt from the blackness. Behind the flame a great shadow rose, with red burning eyes. C'rug and Gurga were swallowed whole and burnt to the bone. The forest kindled. Dawn screamed. Urglack spun and ran on all fours, but the river of flame lanced out through the darkness and swallowed him whole. The forest was burning all around Dawn now and she cried a child's cry. Great big, red hands with talons long as swords and scales great as shields reached through the flames and scooped Dawn up.

Then she was floating. A moment or eternity, she did not know, but there she was, standing on a cold stone boulder high above the burning city and a kindled forest. The god was still at work smiting the city to ruin, roaring this way and that. His green children worked through the roads and buildings, slaying and eating as they delighted. The chilled night air kissed her cheeks and made her tears tingle. She turned around and found two great red eyes that burned on the inside staring back at her. The eyes belonged to a great long red neck with wings.

"Z-z-aerock," she whispered.

A great big, red nuzzle dressed in black scales warmed her. At its touch, she felt a river run through her. From her hands to her heart to her head. Grief and loss and terror… But, comfort and peace and hope, then at last, joy. All in a twinkling or forever, she couldn't be sure. She searched the dragon's great big burning eyes, and there was knowing and sorrow, but again peace. He pulled his snout from her, and then there was fire right beside her that warmed her insides. The great snout of the dragon touched her again, and she could feel its anger. Finally, the dragon raised its gaze to the titan in the city. Dawn knew what he meant to do, that he was going to leave and that he would return.

The dragon rose to its feet. He was so very big. His great red skin was dappled with black stones and scales that dripped like wax, but then with a shiver, they were hard, and now his skin was black, and only where the scales met could she see his red hide. His red wings stretched to the heavens. Then the sky whimpered. Thunder broke above, and lightening struck the great black dragon as it sailed to the city. It was vast and nearly impossible to see save when great brilliant lances of fire leapt from its maw to the god or orcs below. His great shadow collided with the god and the whole world shuddered at the sound. The colossus stumbled and fell bowling over building and spire.

Great pillars of fire rose to the heavens. The god roared and even from where Dawn stood it hurt her ears. The god got his hands on the dragon and threw it across the city, where it tumbled through buildings and walls. For a moment, Dawn thought the dragon slain. The giant lumbered over to where the body of Zaerock lay. He flung rock and debris from its place, searching, but the dragon was not there. Zaerock fell from the sky in a storm of fire. His great tale snaked around the god's neck, coiling tighter and tighter. Zaerock savagery was unmatched. He bit, burned, and pulled. Antlers snapped, the writhing beard was shorn; the god lost ears and lips trying to free his body of the dragon. The god tried to pull Zaerock's tale from his hide. Zaerock's tail pierced the giant's eyes for the endeavor and down the god went.

A great conflagration went up then in the city, and it burned the rest of the night. The fire swept through the whole middle of the city. Dawn was certain the dragon had fallen. The sun was creeping into the sky when a great mass floated into the heavens above the flames. It flew over the city and set down at the northern gates. It was the burning skull of the god Zaerock had slain. The dragon left it there and flew to where Dawn was watching.

He was even larger than Dawn could have imagined. His body was red again. He had many, many wounds and was bleeding from great places, but he didn't seem to mind. When he sat down, Dawn came to his snout and put her hands on his head. Without images, without words, she knew he had slain all the god's children. All the orcs were gone. She loved him, thought her heart still hurt. Tears came for her Ma and Pa. He sat up then and unfurled his great paws and in them there were the bodies of a great many people; she could not count, but there was more than four for sure. She could see her Ma and Pa and her uncle Braeden. Each of them were savagely broken and partly eaten. The terror of the sight brought tears and wailing, she turned her back and shoved her face in the dragon's hide.

He scooped her up as before and laid out all those dead before him. When Dawn's hands touched his hide, a knowing went into her. These were his people. These were those who had not bowed to the witch in his city, these were one's who had kept his name. There was a sound of a great burning and as he roared, fire leapt from his mouth. The furnace of it burned the dead. She watched as their bodies were kindled and eaten. The fire grew too bright to behold and burned longer after he was finished feeding it.

He set her down and she sat next to him and the two watched as the fire burned. There was an emptiness now inside her that she did not know how to mend. A sorrow, though she knew not to call it that. The ache pulled at her heart and throat and eyes. The dragon did not speak again to her as he had; only he watched the fire. Beyond it, the god's head still burned. The city was left in ruin. There would be no going back now.

Then from out of the flame came the naked figures of a woman and a man and others. Dawn leapt to her feet, tears in her eyes and mouth, she ran to them and threw her arms around them both, "Momma! Papa!"

Fantasy

About the Creator

Blake Booth

Just a small-town dude from Southern California making videos and telling stories the way I like to read them.

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (4)

  • Raymond G. Taylor2 years ago

    Congratulations on being a winner!

  • Priscila Sellers2 years ago

    Great story!!! Loved it , the ending was awesome!!

  • Jake Sellers2 years ago

    Awesome! Really brought it all to life. I felt like I was apart of it

  • Stephanie2 years ago

    This was such a great read. I enjoyed the whole story. Awesome first submission!

Blake BoothWritten by Blake Booth

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