The story so far:
Death of Mordell
The old dragon slowly raised his head and looked down at the young white haired girl before him. A tear came to his eye as he remembered seeing another such girl back when he was still a very young one. He then told her this tale.
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There is much to tell. I have known your family a long long time. Let me begin with the first one I ever met.
It was a night that I shall never forget. Most of what I am going to tell you about that night I heard from others. My view was very limited. One cannot see very much while wrapped up in a net.
I so wish that I knew Mordell before he died that night. I have heard such good things about him since, because later his son became my best friend.
The night he died, he looked me directly deep in my eye and gained strength from it. Only a good man can do that, others would faint from terror. He gave his life to save me and his men.
That day Mordell and his men had finished a two day march. They had been sent there to set up camp and to scout the land to find what the Dryads were doing in that area. They thought they would get a days rest before they got to their assignment.
There was a stream with a waterfall where they camped and the men were enjoying the cool water. Even the ones doing guard duty were not wearing their armor, since the sentry point was at the top of the waterfall. When someone came to take their place, they ended their duty by taking a jump into the water.
Earlier that day during the march a boar had been disturbed and before it got far, it was dropped by the archers. The men gladly carried the boar the rest of the way and it was now being cooked over an open fire.
Night was falling and the men were relaxed. They were not expecting any problems since the scouts had found no sign of the enemy in the area. This was expected to be an easy assignment. After three weeks of heavy battle, this was going to be a nice break.
No one had their armor on and many had little clothing on at all. The ones posted on guard duty already noticed that I had been flying over the area. I had been the one that had noticed the Dryads in the area. Little did I know then, that was what they wanted me to be doing. A trap had been seat and that night they were ready to capture me.
There I was flying free. I had already seen Mordell's men at their campsite and was flying along the river that ran nearby. I had not seen anything so far that night when I suddenly heard a loud explosion just below me. I barely had time to look down to see what it was. I suddenly found myself being wrapped in a net. I tried to burn and rip through it. Flame did nothing to it and it was too strong even for me to pull apart. I bellowed and roared and blew flame as I fell from the sky. I could not spread my wings. I had no control. The more I worked at getting out, the tighter the net got around me.
Then I splashed into the river. I began to sink. But I felt myself being pulled to the shore. There was a small camp of Dryads on the shore. Once I was ashore, they began to wrap rope around my snout to keep me from breathing fire. All I could do was blow hot smoke from my nostrils.
Then I saw three dark men walking towards me. They each had a wooden mask over the top half of their faces and their clothes were just pieces of skin roughly sewn together. As they got closer I could also tell that they had no hair on them at all. These three were not Dryads. They were humans, but not like any I had ever seen. They were dark skinned, but not like the black tribes from far south. Somehow I knew that he meant to touch me. No one touches a dragon without permission.
Dryads were cheering over my capture and did not notice that the camp was being surrounded.
Suddenly a horn blew startling all in the camp. That was the first time I saw him. Mordell had walked right into the camp unnoticed. He was standing there only in boots and pants holding a sword in one hand and a horn in the other. He was still wet from his swim.
He was a bit taller than most of his men. They were now coming out of the woods with their swords ready. They had wasted no time coming to my aid.
A mumbling began amongst the Dryads. They had suddenly realized that Mordell and his men had cut them off from the trees. Their backs were to the river. Trees gave them strength.
Mordell dropped the horn and gave a fierce scream as he broke into a run towards me. Battle ensued all around me. It was bloody and bad. Mordell must have known that the odds were against them, even with catching the Dryads by surprise, they didn’t have much of a chance unless he could free me from the net.
I was much smaller back then and considered quite handsome. But I felt like nothing as I lay there helpless as Mordell and his brave men risked their lives for me.
When Mordell reached my side, he had two of his men guard his back. He went to work untangling and cutting the net. It was tougher than anything he had ever tried to cut before. He worked relentlessly on the net. I figured what he was trying to do and began to move so that the net was stretched out for him. In moving I also discovered that they had not finished tying up my snout. While Mordell chopped on the net, I worked at loosening the rope around my snout. I was having better luck than Mordell. Once my snout was free, I looked around. I could see several of Mordell’s men laying dead or wounded all around. I could also see that Mordell had cut through one rope and needed to cut two more to be able to get me free.
Suddenly a shadow fell over us. Mordell looked up to see the biggest sprite ever standing before him with sword raised. Mordell didn’t move quickly enough. The sword cut deep in his left shoulder and he fell against me. He found himself looking directly into my eye. His face was only a foot from it. I could not help but look back. Looking into the eye of a dragon is a terrible thing for its enemies and a great source of power for allies. I also learned that day that a dragon can gain strength from a human, if the human is able to gain from the dragon when their eyes meet. That moment seemed to last forever.
Blood was flowing down his arm heavily. Time was running out for him and his men. Then he quickly swung around with his sword making the sprite jump back, but he had not aimed at the enemy. He hid the second rope in trying to free me. The sprite realized what he had done in the maneuver and began to work at keeping Mordell away from the hole he had started. I could see in Mordell’s eyes that he was not going to give up. He kept looking back at me each chance. Mordell was very good at tricking his way back to hacking at the rope. But this was getting in the way of him defending himself.
This dryad stood at least six inches taller than Mordell and he was young and agile. Mordell kept doing moves that kept the dryad off balance and this helped him come back again and again to work on the rope. The frustration upon the dryad’s face began to amuse me and when Mordell had the second rope cut, the dryad yelled his anger and rushed. He almost got Mordell, but he was ready and quickly turned and slammed his enemy square in the face with the pummel of his sword. The dryad fell upon his back with blood flowing from his broken nose. He was unconscious.
Mordell came back to me and began working on the third rope. As he did so, I also began to wriggle in the net so that when the rope was cut, I could quickly rise out of it. Mordell was beginning to slow from all the blood he had lost. It was taking longer on this last one and that gave time for the dryad to wake up. We were too busy with my escape to notice that the dryad was getting up slowly. Finally Mordell’s sword cut through that third rope and I found I could just squeeze out of the net. My head and arms were free, but not my wings. That was more than enough to deal with the enemy. I turned to look upon my savior, but I was too late. I saw just in time the sword of the dryad sink right through Mordell’s heart from behind.
I screamed! I felt like the love of my life had been killed before my very eyes instead of a man that I didn’t know. I was told that my scream was heard for miles. Everyone around me almost fainted with the terror that it sent through them. But I barely heard myself and I have trouble remembering what I did after that. I do know that the first dryad to die by me that night was the one that killed Mordell. I used his lifeless body like a club in striking down many of the other dryads. The rest I burned to ashes.
The battle was soon over. Barely a handful of Mordell’s men were still alive.
I went to Mordell’s side. He was barely alive. He weakly asked for his sword. He wanted someone to help him hold it up in the air. His hands held the sword, but one of his men held his hands upon it. Then he spoke weakly, but with fervor, “I bequeath my soul unto this sword!” Then his strength gave away, but he still held on for one last request. He looked at me and spoke, “Give my sword to my son and . . .” But he said no more and his eyes looked far beyond me.
I commanded the men to gather the dead and take them home, but I had Mordell and his things strapped to my back. I took him home.
I lost something that night. It is something that I do not know how to describe, but I have found others that understand that loss. Such can only be told in a story like this. Someday you will also understand. It is a loss all must go through to be able to grow.