It was a peaceful autumn morning and I was enjoying it to the fullest. It was not Anadria, but my mountain cottage that offered me this time a few weeks of rest. Far away from civilization just at the base of the Dawn Mountains, I found peace and happiness surrounded by my own loneliness. But that morning was not going to be as I expected it. Rivira had summoned me and he rarely did that.
The ride through the forest was sweet and calm. I had grown accustomed to all the little birds, owls, bears and deer. Innocent and pure.
The animals slowly diminished the deeper I rode into the forest. All because of Rivira. He was quite an animal himself when he was hungry. I wondered if he had summoned me because he needed some company? Perhaps it was an opportunity to catch up as friends do. We had known each other for an eternity after all. Then again, Rivira was not the kind for chit-chats and catching ups.
I knew I was close to his home when my horse almost threw me off its back. I quickly dismounted and continued on foot.
Surprisingly, I found Rivira in his true shape gazing at what seemed a mutilated man lying in a puddle of blood.
‘I wanted to eat it,’ he said. Rivira called humans it though he often took their shape, ‘but I wanted your opinion on this one.’
‘How so?’ Was he consulting with me on his choice of meals? He must have been tremendously bored.
‘It has some kind of disease.’
‘How can you tell?’ I examined the corpse. Its flesh and clothes were torn apart, its face unrecognizable but…
‘Its hair is silver…,’ added Rivira.
I froze. How many silver haired men did I know? I quickly knelt by the corpse and searched for clues.
‘People from Silverstone have that…’ I only knew one but what where the chances that this man was…
One of his hands, though broken in almost every inhuman way possible, still held the ring.
‘By the Death Bug!’ I gasped. ‘What did you do to him?’ My stomach hurt.
‘I didn’t do this. I found it this way.’
‘You found…’ Who could have possible done this to him? What in the name of the…
‘Well?’ asked Rivira as steam surrounded its nostrils. He slowly lowered his neck studying the body. ‘Should I eat it anyway?’
‘I’d rather you didn’t,’ my voice trembled.
‘An old friend.’
‘Mhhh…’ his humming shook the trees as he watched me with intrigue. Was my face revealing too much emotion?
‘Who did this to him? What in the name of the Misfortune was he doing in these forests?’
‘This disturbs you greatly,’ said Rivira.
‘Why…’ I bit my lip.
‘There is no need to stress yourself,’ Rivira was a wise friend but he never tolerated my human weaknesses.
The dragon slowly shrank from its impressive posture into the human shape to which I was more accustomed. He turned into a grey haired man with light green eyes and perfectly shaped features though he tried to imitate a man of about forty five cycles. He wore dark grey leather resembling his dragon skin color.
I studied his body trying to understand what or who could possible do this to him. My head felt light, my eyes were filled with tears and I was not sure what to do.
Rivira glared at me with powerful and piercing eyes. They revealed intrigue and puzzlement.
‘He deserves a proper burial,’ I finally said fighting the tears and the grief that was quickly taking over. ‘I will take him with me. Do you have something with which I can cover him?’
‘I will bring you a blanket.’
I just stood there staring at nothing more than a pile of meat and crushed bones. The blood was… I remembered what it once was, a beautiful, attractive man with a good heart and…I wanted to touch his face but quickly recoiled. Everything I would touch would be blood and bones.
Rivira brought me a blanket and I covered the body.
‘Who did this to him?’ I asked.
‘I found it this way, on this spot. I believe its blood was still warm. I am afraid I have not seen more, yet I have the feeling that a vicious battle had taken place. There is another corpse not far away from here. It’s burned to ashes.’
‘I will see to that later,’ I stated. ‘After I bury him.’
‘He must have been a good friend,’ stated Rivira.
‘Thank you for your help,’ I replied.
After Rivira left, I managed to bring the horse closer to the body. Carefully I lifted up the body. over the horse and pulled the horse by its rein. I slowly marched along it, keeping an eye on the body. He had always been a little big in stature and the horse I momentarily owned barely carried the weight. It was going to be a long walk back to the cottage.
My pace was bitter, the falling autumn leaves worsening my state. What should have been a beautiful and colorful day, became dark and meaningless. I was holding on to the body as the horse struggled to carry it. My hands and clothes were smudged in his blood. His blood! Was this how it was supposed to happen? A strong, unbeatable, fearless man becoming an insignificant corpse? A dragon was on the verge of eating him, if it were not for his unusual apparel. Sadness took over me. Tears fell over my cheeks as I remembered him. The way we met, the conversation we had, the impossible quest. How could have this happened? Why was I the one who found him? Why was my luck so poor? What a terrible thing to say but…why him? The tears worsened into an endless sobbing.
‘Damn you! Damn you, beastslayer!’ I cursed as I watched my hands covered in his blood. Blood. So much blood. So much…