Zakaya's Dream

The rumours had raged on for months now in Kayir's citadels. The Seers' representatives had announced that there were now as few as one or two demons remaining in the world, and the Grand High Priest had declared the bounty on the head of the world's last foul spirit - a revered place in the pages of Kayir's ever-evolving scriptures. Most people expected that it would be the nation's army that would finally manage it, and their General who would win the honour. No-one mentioned the name Zakaya, for few even knew of his existence even inside Demon-hunting circles. But nevertheless, it was he - not the Kayir army - who was on the demons' trail, and closing fast.

The young couple that came to Arcadia's market each week and bartered away their seemingly endless supply of pretty jewelery for essentials like food and clothes had always raised a few eyebrows, but Arcadia was the kind of place where the villagers barely understood anything outside of their own mundane lives, and worried about them even less. The couple, Theinus and Shalara, had been together for a little over a thousand years, but they both knew that their lives wouldn't last much longer now... Not just because they aged at a mortal rate while taking on human forms, but also for a far more important reason. They had seen the destiny of a man from the south, travelling across continents with the sole purpose of ending their lives. Far important than that, though, was the life of their son.

Zakaya was a desert man, and despite having travelled the world in the pursuit of his cause, rain still made him feel uncomfortable. He struggled on across the muddy ground, wrapping himself tightly in his rainproof cloak, and cursed the weather, the failing evening light, and of course the demons that were the cause of all the world's troubles.

The two dragons had known their fate long before they had a child, and they knew what to do in order to try and assure his survival. Shalara had spent the full term of her pregnancy, and her son's three years of life so far, in human form, as had her husband. He was growing up human - and tonight was the night on which they'd be thankful for that. Just after dark, they went to the village Elder's house and knocked at his door. Standing there, Shalara cradling her son in her arms and Thialnir, the elder, staring with eyes wide, the dragons explained everything. They asked him to take the child into his care and, with the beginnings of tears forming in his eyes, he took the infant from his mother and closed the door quietly. Theinus smiled weakly at his wife, and they both silently headed back to the secluded spot in the Beyel hills outside the village that had been their home for what would be the last time.

The going was getting steeper now, and the rain coming down more heavily. The mud under Zakaya's feet sank a couple of inches with each step, and sucked at his feet as he tried to move on. Slowly but surely, though, he was getting to the top of the hill, where he could feel the demons' presence.

Theinus and Shalara embraced each other, wordlessly, as they saw the dark figure approach over the crest of the hill. They heard the demon hunter's chant as he stepped towards his foes, and they looked into each others' eyes, overwhelmed by sadness.

Zakaya screamed as he drew his sword, and swung it around in a wide arc through Theinus' and Shalara's necks. Their bodies, arms still holding each other, toppled to the ground. For a second, it was as if the world held its breath - and then slowly, their forms began to dissolve into golden light, and drift away into the night sky.

Despite the build-up to this day that he'd been preparing for for months, Zakaya felt little emotion as, sword still in hand, he turned from where the dragons' bodies had lain. He stood for a second in the moonlight, thinking, and then suddenly everything became red and his mind filled with pain... And everything faded away.

Thialnir, tears flowing uncontrollably from his eyes, pulled his knife from the back of Zakaya's neck, and the self-proclaimed demon hunter's body crumpled to the ground. The elder stood atop the hill until dawn, thinking about what had happened that night. Then, still grieving deeply, he buried his knife in the ground where the two dragons had died - a reminder of the only small vengeance he had been able to offer.

In the village below, a young boy's heavy and empty heart was grieving the loss of a feeling that he'd lived with so long that he never even realised was there. He looked up as the first rays of sunlight appeared over the horizon, and glittered like a tiny golden spark on the edge of his tears...

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