Chapter 26:

Chapter 26


The three heroes wander through the blackened wasteland. Bones litter the land. Massive ribs, skulls, and wings. The soil is rich with rotted organic matter, compressing with every step. Occasionally, a small pool of watered down blood pushes up to the surface, only to be sucked back down. Damaged, decaying trees rustle in the wind. Small iron lanterns, fueled with eternal flame, hang from their limbs and branches. The air was dense. A thick, smokey fog sat low. It was clear they didn't belong. Elizabeth could fit in with the dead, but she was too human to fit in with the rest of the occupants.

"So, what's our plan?" Vera asked shakily.

"We need three things." Elizabeth explained. "Dragon's scale, blood, and breath."

"Those all sound like we need a live dragon." Isaac pointed out. "How are we going to get one in the graveyard?"

"Dragons gather here when they sense their own death right? We can just sit here and wait for one to show up." Elizabeth reasoned. Vera sighed and sat down on a protruding piece of phalanges.

"How long do dragons live again?" She said, head in hands.

"A couple hundred years at least, sometimes a couple thousand." Isaac responded. Vera groaned into her palms. Everyone hunkered down in the graveyard, resting upon their own set of vertebrae. Seconds turned to minutes turned to hours. Isaac noticed that Vera was sketching in a little notebook. "You draw?"

"Oh. Yeah. Just a little hobby of mine. Helps take my mind off of things like my studies."

"Never seen you draw before." He walked over and took the sketchbook from her. Isaac flipped through the pages, admiring each piece.

"Never had time to. We're always on the run, or fighting, or just plain tired."

"These are pretty good. How long have you been practicing, or are you a prodigy at this too?"

"I've been sketching for about as long as I've been doing magic. I made sure that I had an emotional outlet, spell casting sometimes is greatly affected by your emotional state. Magic can go awry if you're unsure of yourself or scared." Vera looked up at Isaac, trying to meet his eyes. But Isaac had already looked away, dejected and almost embarrassed. Suddenly, the wind picked up. Ash swirled around the soil. The dim sun was blocked out by a gigantic entity.

"Dragon inbound!" Elizabeth shouted. A massive, reptilian creature descended from the heavens. A rigid, angular body covered in scales, spines, and spikes. Large, halberd-like horns protected the face and struck fear into the hearts of all that witnessed. Its wings were torn, its flesh scarred. The beast was ready to meet its maker, face its demise. Centuries of battle had brought it to this very moment, unknowingly ready for one last fight. It touched down with a thunderous thud. Dust and rock blew into the heroes' faces. It dug its claws into the earth and wrapped its tail around its body. Resting its head, it closed its eyes.

"So, what's the plan?"

"No clue." The party hesitated; their bodies ready but their minds stagnant. Isaac offered his hand.

"Hand me a bottle. I'll approach the beast and cut off a scale. After that, surely it will bleed. That's when I'll collect its blood." Isaac put his helmet back on.

"And what about its breath?"

"I assume by that point it'll be awake and enraged. So when it tries to kill us, you steal its breath."

"Alright." Vera and Elizabeth said nervously, handing him one of the alchemist glasses. Isaac crept towards the draconic monster. The beast took deep, lumbering breaths. Isaac prepared his blade. He placed the tip right up against the dragon's skin. His sword plunged deep within its flesh. The dragon opened its eye, pupil constricted. It shot awake, roaring into the cosmos.

"Shit!" Isaac screamed as the dragon took off. Leaping into the air, Isaac was carried off with it. Reaching mach speeds, Isaac clung to dear life. A whipping torrent. A hellish ride. The dragon continued to roar as Isaac continued to hold on. The dragon's aimless attempts to shake off the paladin then became directed. It homed in on Elizabeth and Vera. Focusing on the two girls, the beast dove down towards them. As it roared another hell born tune, a blast of fire erupted from its maw. Scarlet and violet flames descended down on the two.

"Vera!" Elizabeth screamed, clutching the mage tightly. Vera through open her arms and a light screen manifested just in front of them. It blocked the approaching flames and the two watched as the entire area around them became engulfed in hellfire. The dragon pulled up, avoiding the ground, and circled back up to the sky, ready to dive bomb again. "Ideas?"

"I'm gonna try to catch the flames like how I caught the siren song."

"And you think that'll work?"

"I hope so." The dragon came barreling back down. It ignited the air. Vera quickly blocked. The beast circled back around. They repeated this dance several times. The dragon would swoop down. Vera would ready her spell. The dragon would breathe its fire. Vera would give up and block. The dragon would fly back up, ready to repeat the cycle. While this went on, Isaac continued to climb up and hold on to the dragon. He planted and wedged his feet underneath some stray spikes. He positioned his blade across the reptile, sliding its edge underneath a scale. The dragon dived back down.

"Come on Vera. You've got this." He whispered. The dragon rained hell. As it did, Isaac pushed on his sword. The scale was sliced off and the dragon's breath was cut short. It screeched a pained plea as it tried to hit Isaac off with its tail. The two endured their blows. Vera braved the heat to ensnare the flame. Isaac took the beating to collect the blood. Feeling the knight still on its skin, the dragon clawed at its neck. Isaac dismounted the creature, nearly avoiding the sharp nails of demise. The dragon retreated. Isaac plummeted.

"Isaac!" Vera screamed. She held her staff to the sky. Casting a small whirlwind, she slowed his fall. Elizabeth corked the dragon's breath. Vera caught Isaac in her arms. She stumbled back and the two fell into the dirt.

"Isaac, did you get the other ingredients?" Elizabeth asked. Isaac painfully raised both his arms. In one hand held the blood bottle, in the other held the scale. They had gathered all they needed from this place of death, but their time in the dragon graveyard was far from over.