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The Last Stand

Prologue:

By K. BensleyPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 6 min read
5

There weren't always dragons in the Valley. But apparently now they’re here. According to the reports anyway, I’ve still yet to lay mine own eyes on a single one of these wretched creatures.

Rasimir sat and questioned his purpose, which was often, especially later in the day when the sticky air heightened his agitation and complacency. The young man’s wiry frame laid spread amongst the cluttered confines of the observation tower. How do I stay vigilant in this heat and with these conditions, there should be two of us, justifying the lack of discipline and knowing full well that not manning a post correctly is a flogging offence. But being alone, he took full advantage to do as he pleased.

As usual, his mind wandered to memories of home, specifically leaving it some years ago little more than an awkward angry boy, which always evoked a certain pleasure at the thought of folk seeing the transformation. Admittedly, he was still as quick to anger but a little less awkward, most probably because of the confidence brought on by his new abilities. It had unlocked something dormant, not just a physical prowess but something within in the mind. Having bested some of the most experienced veterans in the dueling ring and realizing the weak boy was gone, he felt unstoppable. However, the thought of going back home before defeating an enemy and being awarded the red sash brought on a wave of nausea. Unofficially, earning the infamous garment had become a rite of passage to becoming not just a made soldier but commanding the respect of one. Some of the most talented fighters were seen as inferior to those who’d applied their training in battle. The stories about those who’d previously tried only had two endings, they either passed the test, or died. Still, Rasimir wanted nothing more than to be able to prove his worth to not only the commander but also to those who’d tormented his youth. What better way to serve that purpose than to be sent to the most northern tower in the grasslands, knowing full well when the dragon attack does come, it will be from the South. Most likely why the men are spread so thin on the northern walls, understanding the logic but far from pleased about it.

Little was known about the dragons, other than they’d conquered every known continent beyond this one. The few survivors that had managed to flee from the across the seas, spoke of scaly lizards with long tails and an unquenchable thirst for human flesh. People preferred to think of that as hearsay, as those who’d fled their lands had done so long before they’d even seen a dragon. Still, the fear spread throughout every city. The capital responded by tripling its military and fortifying the whole valley with rows of walled fortifications for hundreds of miles. The fear of their coming was only heightened when many soldiers, spies, traders and even would-be heroes went off in search of answers, never to be heard of again. Occasional distant sightings turned to recent reports of mutilated guards and farmers. To those who paid attention, it seemed inexorable. The noose was tightening around Akonia, its valley and the last pocket of humans.

Rasimir froze. The sound of a faint voice carried on the wind, followed by a prolonged silence. Am I going mad? This prompted him to keep perfectly still and open his mouth, an old trick taught to improve hearing ability. There! This time it sounded like muffled conversation. Although no words could be defined, there was certainly more than one voice. To anyone watching the tower, it would appear empty as the young guard was positioned below the viewing ports, an unforeseen advantage. Moving slowly, he began to peer through the cracks in the wooden palisade. Looking northwards, nothing appeared untoward, just the movement of the warm winds swirling through the knee high grasses. After a few moments of scanning, something stood out in the far distance. A silhouette, it looked unmistakably human in form. It appeared to be methodically crawling through the grass, followed closely by another, then another, much like a trail of ants. After stopping the count at five and realizing his chest was tight with fear, he began to breathe more deeply while working out if it was possible to light the tower’s beacon, and still survive.

It was a mile to the nearest wall and it would be dusk before anyone came to relieve Rasimir for guard change. My orders are to light the beacon for enemy, little was said about how to defend a whole wall, alone. It only left one option, run to the safety of the next wall and fire the beacon there.

Keeping as low as possible, he unbuckled both weapon belts, unsheathed the standard issue short sword and took off anything else that would slow him down. Feeling lighter but equally unsure about leaving behind the spear and shield, Rasimir glanced back to gauge the enemy’s proximity. A few hundred yards, lord! Prompting him to descend the tower’s ladder. By gripping the top rung tightly and throwing the sword into the grass below, it enabled the use of both hands to slide half the way down and jump the remainder, receiving burning palms as a reward. After a brief rummage in the foliage, the sword was produced and held firmly, providing instant comfort before he hastily headed along the sun baked track southwards.

The imminent threat carried the young soldier to almost a sprint without fatigue. But as the wall came into view, something seemed wrong. Slowing down to almost a stop, Rasimir noticed three men hunched over a fourth, although it was too far to see who they were. Undeterred, he maintained his course towards the wall. However, as he did so, the scene ahead became more apparent. The body on the ground was a corpse, an Akonian guard no less. The three men seemed to be feasting upon the dead soldier, face first like rabid dogs. While attempting to make sense of what was happening, one turned sensing his presence and immediately hissed, spraying a jet of bloody debris while also drawing the attention of the others. Wait…. They’re not men, confused by their mottled green skin and snake-like eyes. Dragons? The realization set in but as it did, the three of them were already running towards him.

Time seemed to slow for Rasimir, like it did in the tournaments. I was born for this, he affirmed. Taking a deep breath and letting the familiar anticipation take hold, he planted his feet in the ground and readied for the attack…

It was like a dance that had been practiced a thousand times, although the dragons were faster than the usual foe and also wielding daggers, the pattern was the same. Feint, spin, thrust, slash, stab and repeat. One thing that stood out was the high pitched screech they gave as his sword buried into a neck and impaled a stomach. The third took the hilt of his sword to its face, many times. It felt exhilarating, far better than with training swords and with the added finality.

Standing there breathless and only just feeling the deep pain from a dagger wound to the arm, that’s where my shield should have been, now regretting the decision to leave it. One of the attackers was still squirming in the grass and gargling bright red blood. Rasimir walked over and pointed a bloody sword to its face and for the first time took in the dragon’s features. It’s almost human… is this some kind of affliction? Puzzled by the patches of hair and human looking skin intermingled within the dark green scales. The eyes however, they were completely reptilian and appeared soulless. Watching the thing take its last breath, he felt no sympathy, only further confusion. The thought was cut short when a deep guttural growl was heard from behind.

Spinning on the spot, Rasimir for the first time since being a child felt utter fear. Stood before him were at least twenty more dragons. It wasn’t the numbers that terrified him, it was the fact they looked more like what he expected, or feared. One in particular stood out, assuming it was the one who’d got his attention. It stood at least eight feet high, wearing nothing but a crimson waist cloth and resting a huge great sword over the shoulder. Its scales glinted in the fading sunlight. Is this the king? Before he had chance to formulate any kind of plan, the thing spoke.

“Impressive” it bellowed in a voice beyond deep. After a pause, the creature continued.

“You have a choice youngling, die now or join us….”

Fantasy
5

About the Creator

K. Bensley

Writing is a hobby that I’m looking to explore and improve upon by creating a variety of fictional content.

Please enjoy.

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  1. Excellent storytelling

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    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (1)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran2 years ago

    Awesomeeee story! Rasimir was a very unique name

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