A Dragon's Flame
Libraries: Action, Fantasy, OneShots, OriginalFiction
Published on / 1 Chapter(s) / 0 Review(s)
When you think of a dragon, you likely think of fire. Well, this is an example of how Zan can make use of his own fire, in a variety of ways. This is my submission for the Latent Element Challenge.
The tall, imposing red and gold dragon rises from his slumber after a long and restless night on the cold yet soft grassy ground beneath a great birch tree. The fire he had started the evening prior is snuffed out, the logs within the circle of stone reduced to nothing but ash. With a small frown, he gives a subtle flick of his wrist in the direction of the campfire... and a strong flame sparks into life, depite there being no fuel to keep it going. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zan'theros is a dragon that has great control over fire magic.
This morning, he uses a more utilitarian application, by providing a source of heat to cook the remainder of last night's hunt. He had managed to get two possums for himself, one of which was eaten last night, and the remaining one he cooks this morning. The animal is already scorched deeply in its side, near its head; Zan uses his fire for hunting purposes too, since he lacks long-range weaponry and isn't exactly stealthy with his bright scale colors and great height. His sharp claws skin the possum cleanly, and its meat is held over the magical flame with a stout stick.
As it cooks, he places his hand over the small pouch on his harness that holds his bone heart talisman. "I use your gifts to honor what you taught me, when I was little," he muttered, convinced his mother's spirit can hear him through the talisman. Though she taught him the basics of survival before her death, she hadn't taught him to use his flame in ways to make it easier; this was something he had to figure out on his own. He does know that he gets his flame from her though, as he's witnessed numerous instances of her using fire magic for various mundane tasks, like lighting candles and reheating leftovers.
Despite his adept grasp of fire magic, he isn't keen on using it too often, for it was fire that burned down his village and killed everyone he loved when he was young. Only in times of need, like those relating to survival, does he prefer to make use of it. Even in battle, he's far more reliant on his greatsword than any kind of fire magic, unless absolutely necessary.
With his breakfast concluded, he stands up and gets his gear sorted. Another subtle wrist flick, and the fire vanishes from the small improvised pit. This is a trick that allows him to not feel hesitant about using flame when he needs to: he can create a blaze, but dispel it as well, so it can do no harm to things around it.
Not even an hour later, as he walks down one of the smaller roads that cross through this region, he hears a struggle. Picking up the pace, it becomes clear that this struggle is rather violent in nature. And finally, rounding a bend in the road, Zan'theros sees that it's a caravan robbery. What looks to be a family of elves on their way towards a nearby town has been assaulted by a small group of bandits, a few humans and a heavily armored minotaur leading them. The four elves are clearly outmatched, with the mother and young boy needing to hide underneath their cart, and the pair of oxen panicking while they're stuck to it. The father and grown daughter are doing their best to stave off the marauders, but their agility only seems to be keeping them from suffering more than a few stray cuts here and there, since their strikes with their own shortswords aren't doing them much good.
The dragon springs into action, conjuring a head-sized fireball in his left hand, and hurling it at one of the bandits. It strikes the human in the side, charring the furs he wears and smoldering a large chunk of his flesh, hitting with enough force to send him to the ground in a screaming, pained heap. The other bandits now turn to Zan, giving him their full attention, and the elves take this opportunity to hide together under the cart.
"Kill the dragon!" the minotaur bellows as the remaining two humans rush him, the lumbering bovine man hot on their heels. With a deep breath to calm his mind, he prepares for the bandits' attack. One reaches and strikes at him, a sloppy move that is easily countered with a backstep and downward swing of his greatsword to sever the arm holding the weapon. The other tries flanking him, and he rapidly unfurls his wings and closes them again, sending a sort of flaming shockwave behind him, one that administers a full-body burn to the bandit; it's not fatal, but the incredible pain causes her to stumble and writhe around, taking her out of the fight.
"Guess I gotta do this myself!" the minotaur says in frustration as he swings a huge battleaxe at Zan'theros. It's not every day when the dragon faces down an opponent that's eye level to him, and such opponents tend to be very strong. He's only just barely able to deflect the attack, and returns with a swing of his own blade. Rather frustratingly, it's not able to cut through the minotaur's heavy steel armor; though his greatsword can normally defeat the armor of smaller opponents like humans and elves, bigger ones tend to wear more of it, meaning it's not a simple task to get through.
"Pathetic lizard!" The minotaur strikes back with the flat of the axe, striking Zan right in the chest and hurling him backwards, causing the cowering elves to make sounds of fear. "I will show you what true strength is!"
Getting up off the ground, he mutters, "You wanna play hardball? Fine." He places his free hand on the base of his greatsword, and as he rises up, he channels fire through it and onto the blade. The metal becomes white hot and covered in raging flames, and he gives a powerful upward slash as he stands. A wave of fire hits the minotaur, making the big bovine stumble, and Zan follows up with a rapid stab. The heat of the blade is able to get through the armor, piercing into the minotaur's heart, and coming out the other side. The strike decisive and final, he pulls his greatsword free, letting the lifeless body of the marauder fall to the ground. The intense heat cauterized the wound immediately, making it a clean kill.
His hand waving over the sword again, he dispels the magic, returning it to its normal state. The bandits that remain alive, he puts out of their misery with swift stabs through their chests. A rapid flick of his blade cleans it of blood, before he sheaths it over his back, between his wings. He kneels down by the cart, checking on the elf family. "It's okay," he assures them, green eyes soft and warm. "I've dealt with them."
The four emerge from hiding, and all of them give the big dragon a hug at the same time. "We would have been dead were it not for you!" the mother cries out. "How could we possibly repay you?"
"By letting me tend to your wounds," he replies simply, kneeling down once they release their hug. The father and daughter were the only ones fighting, so they're the ones that he focuses on. Their injuries aren't severe, but they are bleeding freely, which isn't good for either of them. "This will sting at first," he warns them as he wraps his hands over the first couple wounds. He channels his flame through his hands, a weak and mild version, one that causes swift surface-level cauterization. Essentially, he's forcing the injuries to scar over, so that they're able to heal much more quickly - more so than any bandage could do.
"Don't thank me for any of this," he insists as he finishes. "I see it as a duty to rid this world of marauders like them, and to help those that they hurt." Seeing the little boy, he conjures a small ball of fire in one of his hands. This ball is quite literally that: a ball. It's warm to the touch but not hot, and is completely solid, even able to bounce a bit. Once the family sees this, they allow the little one to take it, who seems thrilled to have a new magical toy.
"May we at least know your name?" the father asks as the dragon stands up to continue his journey.
Without turning around, he replies, "I am Zan'theros, the fiery wanderer. If we cross paths in the next town up ahead, perhaps we can get to know each other better."
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