… And the Sand Drew Breath

by Len

…And the Sand Drew Breath

The sand seemed a living being, moving and shifting under the feet of the weary soldiers. The heads of the men hung low; no sweat dropped from their brow for the devil sun had already stolen any fluids. One of the men turned around to try to measure the distance the squadron had walked. He lost all hope as the wind and sand had already covered their tracks. The thirteen men seemed as though they had been dropped in the middle of this wasteland and simply left to die. Still, there was nothing to do now but press on.

The men had not travelled much farther when they found what they had been searching for. A large serpentine head swung around to gaze at the troop of men who had dared disturb his meal. Long brown spines stood up on the back of the beast’s long neck, promising death. At the sight of their target, the men quickly shook the sense of doom that had gripped them for many days. The sight of the bloody, half-eaten giant reinstated it.

The four archers launched the first attack, a volley of arrows that did nothing but bounce off the thick and armored hide of the dragon. The serpent retaliated, dropping his lower jaw into the sand and then blasting it at the men. The archers did not get their shields up in time, and the skin was flayed from their bones. Two soldiers, each armed with a large axe, charged the dragon. One was pinned to the ground by the great claw of the beast. The other man landed a violent strike to the neck; scales fell away and the blood poured onto the sand. The dragon swung his spined tail and exploded the man’s head. At the same time, the beast bit the man pinned underfoot in half.

Five of the soldiers turned heel and ran away from the gory scene in front of them. They believed they stood a better chance out in the harsh desert than battling the far superior dragon. The remaining brave warriors did their best to spread out and circle up the beast. The only problem with that plan was that a dragon is deadly from every direction. With a quick jerk of his head, the dragon launched several spines at a soldier. The man’s shield managed to block the majority of the missiles, but a few found flesh. Thinking the dragon distracted, another man charged with a long spear. The dragon twisted out of the way with a quickness that betrayed its size. The man paid with his life. The attack was not completely in vain, the remaining soldier was able to drive his spear deep into the gut of the dragon. As the serpent turned to face his attacker, it once again filled its mouth with sand. The man tried to run, but was blasted down by the blown sand.

The man that had been struck by the flying spines began to feel the venom course through his veins. He dropped to his knees in the sand and started crawling in a panicked state. The dragon, too, knew that his life was ending. Its mouth dropped in to the sand, and it knew that it would never again have the strength to pull it back out.

The man crawled through the sand and ended up face to face with the dragon. The two dying creatures stared into one another’s eyes; a lifetime of thoughts, regrets, and hopes passed between them, though not a word was spoken. The sand seemed to drink the blood of dragon and man, and the sand drew breath.

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3 Comments to “… And the Sand Drew Breath”

  1. Reblogged this on The Kraken's Wake and commented:
    I decided to go with a druid character in my Dessilus area of Unitus. Hope you all enjoy the birth of this particular druid. Let me know what you think, please

  2. Very vivid tale, Len. Although gruesome, the ending is so gentle. Kind of like an “ashes to ashes” feel between two worthy opponents and the enduring power of the earth to both give and take life. Well done!

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