The Sacrifice (Der Doktor)

The Sacrifice

Chapter 1: Departure

She opened her eyes…
The sun hadn’t risen yet, so it was not very bright outside her chamber. Denya jumped out of her bed and went to her window – a noise which sounded like a large crowd had woken her up. It seemed to come from the yard under the window of her house…
Well, it wasn’t really a house…it was a castle. She was the daughter of Baron Leoric and Baroness Margareth, the rulers of small lands somewhere in the East of the continent. When she got to her window, she saw the crowd she had heard on the yard in front of the town’s center. It seemed her father’s soldiers had prepared for something…
She got into her clothes and went down to the throne hall (It wasn’t as big as the throne hall of the kings, but it was better than nothing), where she saw her parents giving orders to lots of people – they seemed to be very busy.
Her father, Leoric, was a man who had just left his best days behind. He was 45 years old and had long black hair and a full beard of the same colour. She knew him as a very good-natured man.
Her mother Margareth looked not very different. She was only two years younger and a bit smaller than him. She had black long hair, too. Both of them always wore black robes – black was their favourite colour.
Her parents were both powerful mages. That could be very useful at war or at a siege…well, that had never happened, so they didn’t have to use their arcane powers very often, only if they were called by some other Baron or King somewhere in the world – but even that didn’t happen very often.
Her parents gave Denya nearly everything she wanted. She could walk around free in the castle and she could do anything she wanted to. Except one thing: She wasn’t allowed to leave the town… Sure, the town was not very small and in the taverns strange people were always telling exciting storys… But she sometimes stood on the walls of the castle and let her eye wander across the beautiful landscape. She wasn’t unhappy in the castle, but she always wanted to get out of here. Of course she thought of running away, but she had never found a way out that wasn’t guarded…and she also didn’t want to betray her parents – she had promised that she wouldn’t run away. So Denya lived her life in the castle for nearly 20 long years – until now…
"Good morning Mum, Dad. What are you doing here?", she asked.
Her father turned to her and said with his deep, full voice: "Good morning, dear! Did you sleep well?"
"Yes, thanks dad. Now tell me: What does all that here mean? Do you have an assignment again?"
He smiled: "You remember your promise of never leaving this castle?"
Denya was a bit confused: "Of course I remember. Why do you ask?"
"Today you will be allowed to break it."
First she didn’t realize: "What do you mean?"
They just grinned.
"Do you mean that I will be allowed to leave? Today? Oh, Mum, Dad, that’s wonderful!"
Her mother, Margareth, said: "We kept you too long in this old dusty building. It’s time to get outside and see the world."
"But you always said it would be very dangerous outside…"
"Oh, yes, it is. And of course we will come with you. You don’t have to fear anything."
"But…why now? Why did you keep me here for 20 years and now you want to go out with me – just like this?", she asked sceptically.
"You’re old enough. There are still evil men outside – but you’re now wise enough to have a look by yourself. And we want to give you a special present on your 20th birthday." She remembered: Her birthday would be in six days.
"Oh Mum! Dad! That’s better than any present you ever gave me."
She embraced Margareth and Leoric and burst into tears.

That afternoon her father gave a speech to the townsfolk which explained the reason of their departure and announced their return in twelve days. He gave the leadership over the town to one of his councillors and then they departed. Denya got a goose-skin as they rode through the great towngates – that was what she had dreamed of as long as she could remember. But it came so fast…twenty years – and now, just like this? And she wondered why her parents were taking 20 of their guards with them – usually they travelled alone. So she asked her father.
"Your security is our biggest care. We could not bear it if something happened to you. We cannot always be with you – even wizards have to sleep.", he smiled, "It is just for your security.", he repeated.
"But you said I’m wise enough to have a look by myself!", she protested.
"We’re still a bit worried. And we don’t want to risk anything.", he responded.
It still seemed a bit strange to her, the whole thing, but she just shrugged her shoulders and enjoyed her new freedom.

Chapter 2: Voyage

They had been on road for 2 days now. They always slept in the forest and off the road. Denya wondered why, but her father just told her, that there were sometimes bandits on the road at night and that they couldn’t rest in taverns with 20 soldiers. Surely it wasn’t very comfortable to sleep in a tent, but it was a completely new experience for her – and one thing pushed away the other one.

Thomas was on watch. The trees rose high above him as dark shadows and the noise of the night forest surrounded him. His post was nearly over – soon he would go to wake Daniel and deliver the watch to him. He was tired and looked forward to lying in a warm sleeping-bag.
Suddenly he heard a strange noise in the bushes left of him – a very strange grunt. He thought it would be some wild boar. His first responsibility was to protect Denya – and he knew that boars could be very dangerous. He woke up Daniel.
"Hey, Daniel!"
"Whassaabbb?", Daniel mumbled.
"I think there’s some kind of animal in the bushes over there! Seems to be a boar."
Again this grunt. Daniel was awake at once.
"That…that’s no boar! I know, I’ve been on some boar-hunts! They sound completely different!"
"Well, what is it then?", Thomas asked.
"I don’t know", he paused, "Let’s find out!"
Thomas wasn’t very pleased to go into the dark forest – but he didn’t want to learn how Leoric and Margareth would react if a wild boar would ran through the camp rampaging everything in its way.
They lit their torches, drew their swords and went in the direction where the strange noises came from. After about 100 meters through dark forest thus found the mouth of a cave in a hill standing inside the forest.
"Do you think it came from inside, Daniel?", Thomas asked.
"I only know as much as you, Thomas! What could be in this cavern?", he responded, with a tone of coriousity. With these words he went into the cave.
"Daniel, are you mad? Come back! Let’s go and wake the others!", Thomas whispered.
But he didn’t hear him. Soon the darkness swallowed him and later the light of his torch.
"Daniel? Daniel, come back!!!", he shouted. He looked around…should he go and get help? But that would mean leaving Daniel alone. Thomas didn’t know what to do – he was too afraid to go into the cave.
Suddenly there was a bright flash of light inside.
"Daniel! …oh, Dammit!", with these words, Thomas swallowed his fear and went into the dark cave.
Soon the small passage widened until it was at least 24 feet high and 18 feet wide.
He could see the light of Daniel’s torch. He began to run, but as he reached the light, he stopped abruptly. The torch lay on the ground – with the carbonized remains of his friend at its side. He stood there. One moment. Two. Then he knelt down. The smell of burnt flesh was in the air. Thomas felt as if he was going to vomit.
What the hell did that?
Suddenly he cursed himself again – he should have got help before he went into this cave. In addition was the possibility that the thing that burned his friend was still in this cave – propably to do the same with him. He got on his feet and looked up, just in time to see something he had never seen before. His eyes widened in terror. He couldn’t scream. He couldn’t move – he was as paralyzed.
A horrible silence.
The horrible sound of splittering human bones.
A horrible silence.

The sounds of battle awakened Denya. She was lying in her tent and heard the screams of her father’s guards, the panicking horses and something very strange. A sound like a loud, angry squeaking. She stood up and went outside to see what was up, just to be pushed back by her father.
"Go inside and stay there. This is nothing for inexperienced teenagers like you!", he shouted.
So she sat down and waited, a bit injured by her father’s words – what did he say just two days ago…"You’re wise enough to have a look by yourself!"? Suddenly she could see a bright flash of light through her tent. Then there was the squeaking again, but this time it was a sound filled with pain. Then silence followed. Her mother came in. There was sweat on her forehead.
"You may come out now – it’s all safe!"
When she went outside, she saw a horrible scene: In the camp lay the corpses of some guards. The smell of death hung in the air. In the middle of the camp lay the body of the biggest boar she had ever seen. It was at least double the size of the boars the hunters brought into the town she lived in. The boar was pierced with arrows, but that wasn’t what killed it – the boar died from a magic bolt from her parents, which had hit its side, which was now black.
"Oh, good gods", she whispered.
Nearby stood her parents, talking to one of their guards.
"How many did we lose?", her father asked the man.
"Five are dead and we’re still searching for Daniel and Thomas", the guard repeated.
"Oh, damn!", her father shouted.
"Are there many of these beasts in this forest?", Denya asked.
"I don’t think so.", said the guard, Barlic was his name, she remembered, "That’s by far the biggest boar I’ve ever seen!"
"But how could it come in here?", she wanted to know, "Why should it attack us? And what about Daniel and Thomas?" She had always played with both of them on the castle walls when she was a child.
"We think that Thomas woke Daniel up and went into the forest with him, where they met the boar and then…I’m sorry, I know they were your friends. We’re still searching for their bodies…", he repeated sadly.
Everyone was silent, as a call came from one side of the camp: "We found them!"
Immediately her parents and Barlic went in this direction. Denya followed them. As she came near she saw the two bodies of Thomas and Daniel.
Daniel’s body was completely burned and smelled horrible. It looked terrible.
But Thomas‘ one was much worse. Thomas was ripped into two pieces at his hip. Bowels hung out of his dead body – but it was not just his corpse that was so terrible,…it was the look in his eyes. There was pure terror in them. She turned around, staggered two steps forward, and vomitted on the ground. Her mother came to her.
"I’m sorry – it must be horrible to be confronted with death this way…", she said.
"Did you see the look in his eyes?", Denya asked
"Yes, I did…", she responded quietly.
"A boar cannot do this!?"
"I don’t know…"
"A boar cannot burn people like this!!!", she shouted and pointed at Daniel’s corpse.
Suddenly her father asked: "Where did you find them?"
"Er…in a cave in the north…", responded the soldier.
"I want to inspect it…now!"
The Soldier was quickly irritated, then he went into the forest and Leoric followed him.
Margareth turned to Denya again: "I’ll go with them. You will stay here, where it is safe! Do you promise that?"
First Denya wanted to follow her. Then she rolled with her eyes and said: "Yes, mother!"
With that she went into the forest.
That was all very strange…the incinerated corpse of Daniel, the dreadful look in Thomas‘ eyes, the giant boar – they all didn’t fit together. Not to mention the strange behaviour of her parents.
About one hour later, Denya’s parents returned.
"So did you find anything out?", she asked curiously.
"The cave was empty", Leoric answered.
"Well, what killed Daniel and Thomas?"
"A human of course, probably a mage. What do you think it should be?"
"But this look in Thomas‘ eyes! No sight of a human being could have cast such a terrible look so terrible in his eyes!"
"We do not know what Thomas saw – and probably we will never know! So do not think about it anymore!", her mother Margareth responded.
"We are going to leave soon, so get your things together!"
Denya wasn’t satisfied with her parent’s answers. Why should a mage attack two guards in a cave deep in the darkest woods? But she didn’t ask anymore, she knew her parents too well – she wouldn’t get any response from them.

The thirteen remaining guards soon were very busy at breaking down the camp and got ready to travel on. But there was a depressed athmosphere between the guards. They lost some of their friends and their masters just wanted to go on as if nothing had happened. It was very strange to all of them, but Denya could understand her parents very well for getting away from this horrible place as fast as possible.
Finally they buried their comrades and spent silent minute. Then they went on with their voyage to the mountains which could be seen a couple of miles away. But this day everyone was in a bad mood and nobody wanted to talk about the events of the last night.

On the fourth day they travelled through a village of medium size. Some of the people looked up from their work to watch them passing. There were peasants, blacksmiths, traders, young girls and children. But one person was very conspicuous. An old man with a full white beard and a red robe. He watched her with an expression on his face she had never seen before: His face expressed nothing. Nothing! No sign of interest, hate, love etc. He just watched her. Could this be the mage who killed Daniel and Thomas? Did he send the boar into their resting place? Suddenly her horse panicked and pranced. She tried to calm it down with good words. As she looked in the direction of the old man, he had disappeared.
"Dear, what happened?", her mother asked.
"Nothing, my horse just panicked suddenly. It’s OK…did you see that strange old man in the red robe?"
"No – old man?", her father responded.
"He stood just over there", she pointed on the place where the man had stood, "he was looking at me very strangely."
"Hm…we better be careful – perhaps it was just a crazy old man…but you never know!"
Then he didn’t want to talk anymore and seemed to be lost in his thoughts for the rest of the day.

This time they passed the night in an inn directly on the road. Denya’s father said it would be too dangerous to sleep in the forest this time – perhaps he was more worried about this old man than she thought.

This night Denya had a dream:
She saw two mages fighting a magic battle. One of them was her father, Leoric. The other one she didn’t know, but she meant to remember him from somewhere.
Then she saw the old man with the red robe from the village. He spoke to her without moving his lips: Come…come…Denya…Denya…
Then there was a dark mountain at night with the big full moon above it, shining brightly. But suddenly the moon’s colour turned red, as if blood would stream down its surface and voices appeared, first whispering: "Death…death…death". As the moon became even more overcast with blood, the voices got louder and louder. And as the moon was completely red, they screamed:
She wanted the sound to stop.
She wanted to cover her ears.
She woke up…
It echoed in her mind.
Her breath was fast.
Her heart was beating.
What a strange dream, she thought.
There was a noise outside – a rustle. She went to her window. The only thing she saw was the edge of the forest before her. But wasn’t there a shadow in the bushes? Suddenly a strong weariness overcame her and the thought that it would be better to go to bed. So she went back to bed. Her last thought before falling asleep again was: Only a dream! Only a shadow in the woods! Nothing serious…

The next day they travelled through open landscape. It was a clear and sunny day and the company was in a good mood and without any thoughts about the events of the past days. Even her parents who had been very silent were now in a joking mood and they laughed with Denya and their guards. Her dream was nearly forgotten. Still the thought Only a dream, nothing serious!, echoed in her mind. Therefore and because she didn’t want to ruin the good mood of her parents, she did not tell them anything.
So they went on, with the mountains at their front and sorrow at their backs.
At about midday they travelled on a road at the edge of a forest. Suddenly something very strange happened: A dark cloud seemed to appear over their heads directly out of nothing. It began to grow very fast and a heavy rolling thunder could be heard. They all sat on their horses and looked upwards, everyone with an alarmed or fearful expression on his face – especially Denya’s parents.
Suddenly it began to rain heavily.
"That’s not good…", said one of her father’s soldiers.
Another one said: "Hey, ´tis just a storm! A little rain and some thunder won’t hurt us!"
It was a bitter irony that exactly this man was hit by a powerful lightning bolt that stroke down. He was still able to scream – but after a few seconds of being electrified he stopped and fell to the ground as a smoking corpse.
The horses panicked – as did some of the guards.
Another soldier was hit by a lightning. The cloud, which surely wasn’t a natural one, seemed to chose its victims as if it were controlled by some unknown power. Denya’s horse pranced and threw her to the ground where she kept lying as her father had said and watched what was happening around her. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion: She saw the guards getting off their panicking horses and trying to get their armour off – some of them were not fast enough and got killed by the powerful lightnings or were trampled by their own horses. Suddenly she saw one of the horses running directly towards her, blind in fear. She rolled aside, just a split-second before a mighty hoof hit the ground directly beside her face.
Suddenly the rain stopped. She looked upwards – and the dark cloud was away…just away! Six guards had survived the magical attack. The others had been burned, were trambled or they had fled. She saw her parents running towards her.
She had to be very dirty with all the mud she had been lying in.
"Denya, are you alright?", her mother asked with a worried expression on her face.
But Denya didn’t answer. She just had to stare straight ahead. What she saw caused an unspeakable fear in her.
"Mum? Dad?"
They turned around and now they also saw him. The old man in the red robe was standing about 150 feet away from them and watched.
Then he exploded.
He exploded into a giant cloud of red particles that began to spin around, like a tornado.
She heard the astonished and fearful screams of the guards – but she just looked at the wonderful spectacle in front of her.
Soon a big silhouette could be seen in the cloud. The silhouette seemed to gain more and more consistency while the cloud lost at density. Now she could make out some details of the shadow in the cloud.
No…No! That’s impossible! This can’t be real!, she thought – but she watched the transformation and doubted her intellect more and more. Was she going mad? She took a look at her parents – but the expressions on their faces said, that they were seeing the same.
As the transformation ended she was sure she was not crazy…this was real – a real red dragon was standing in front of the small group of humans. He was about 90 feet long and had huge batlike wings with a span of nearly 100 feet. He had lots of spikes on his back, horns on his head, a long neck, four sharp claws on each of his feet – yes, this IS a real dragon, she thought. No fake, no magic, no illusion – reality!
And the dragon looked at HER.
The only thing Denya could do was stare into the smaragd-green eyes of the creature.
But suddenly it spread its wings and threw itself into the air to fly in their direction.
"OH MY GOD, IT WILL KILL US ALL! FLEE! FLEE!", screamed one of the guards and caused another panic among his companions. The guards began to run in different directions. Then the dragon came. He opened his mouth and spit a white flame that incinerated Barlic and another man she didn’t know. That was too much for her…she turned around and ran into the forest in a wild panic. What she didn’t see was, that her parents attacked the dragon with magic fireballs which didn’t seem to affect him – and that the dragon was watching her running into the woods.
She ran as she had never run before. Branches whiped her face and left some bloody cuts – but she didn’t care, she just wanted to get away from the death and the fire. Finally she landed in a clearing in the forest. She was out of breath, put her hands on her knees and tried to rest a bit. But something was wrong: She didn’t hear anything – no animals, no birds, nothing. Only the wind rushing through the trees. But there was no wind. The trees did not move. She was paralyzed as the giant shadow appeared over her.
The last thing she remembered before losing consciousness, was being carried through the air by two giant claws…

Chapter 3: Prophecy

A red moon…
The smell of death…
The fire…
The green eyes…
Green eyes…
She was lying on hard but plain rock. First she couldn’t see anything. Then her eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. She was lying in a cave staring at the wall in front of her and trying to remember what happened – and why she was here. Was it just a bad dream?
She heard a noise behind her. She rolled around. There lay the big red dragon, blocking the exit of the cave and watching her. Then she immediately remembered everything that had happened, got to her feet and went slowly backwards until she hit the wall behind her. The dragon just watched her. Suddenly she heard herself thinking:
Don’t be afraid!
But she was afraid! Why did she think this?
I won’t hurt you.
Why the hell did she think such strange things? Was she going mad again? Then she had an idea:
"Are…are you speaking to me?", she asked the dragon and felt herself a bit ridiculous.
Denya thought…no the dragon said: Yes
"You are talking to me…through my mind?"
I do not have vocal chords like your species, so I have to use other methods of communication to make myself understandable for you, Denya.
It seemed to her as if she was speaking with herself. But then she reminded herself of the situation she was in.
"How do you know my name? Why did you bring me here? Why did you attack us?", she asked angrily.
Your species always asks so many questions at one time…, she thought with a touch of amusement in her own mind – that was crazy!
I know very much about you, Denya, and I brought you here, because I want to protect you – I had to kill the other humans to do this.
"But I was safe all the time – until you appeared with your magical tricks!" It was really crazy: She was standing in front of a real dragon that could kill her any time and in 1001 different ways – and she was just about to make him very angry. But she had no fear – she wondered why, but now it was too late to backstab… To her astonishment, he didn’t get angry and…smiled! Well, the showing of his big sharp teeth seemed to be a smile to her. Although it could have caused panic in the heart of even the strongest warrior.
You are angry – I understand that, Denya. But you have to believe me!
"Why should I believe you, dragon? You have taken me away from my parents and you are holding me prisoner in a dark cave!"
First of all, you are not imprisoned! When you want to go: Over there’s the mouth of my cave. He pointed with one of his claws into the direction of the exit.
But there’s one thing about your parents you have to know before you go!
First she was a bit astonished: The dragon took her with him just to let her go few moments later?
"You would let me go now? Just like that?", she asked. The dragon nodded. She paused. "What do I have to know about my parents?"
Leoric and Margareth are not your parents.
At first she said nothing. That’s not true…no, that’s not true. The dragon is lying…yes, it has to be a lie…HELL, DENYA, THAT CANNOT BE TRUE!, she thought. But she wasn’t as convinced of this as she should be…
After a minute of silence and ringing with herself she asked: "Can you prove that, dragon?"
I think I can…but you have to trust me!
"I ask you again, dragon: Why should I trust you, after all that has happened?"
Well…I did not kill you…
Now, that actually was a good reason… If he wanted to kill her, why should he play such games?
"How do you want to prove what you said?", she asked tonelessly.
I know a spell that can help you remember things you have already forgotten.
"Aha! So tell me: how should this prove that my parents aren’t my parents?", she asked now with anger in her mind.
I can help you search for the memories of your true parents and how they got killed by Leoric and Margareth!
"My…they killed my "real" parents? This is absurd…", she laughed – it didn’t sound very convincing.
Do it or let it be – it’s your choice…but I promise it won’t hurt.
She thought about it…what could he do with her? What would happen? It surely wouldn’t be prejudicial…
"OK – show me what you have to show."
I can only show you, what you already know, but is buried deep in your mind. Lay down!
She hasitated a moment – then she lay down on the hard ground as the dragon said.
The dragon moved one of his sharp claws into her direction. Suddenly a panic overhwelmed her. Her heartbeat and her breath got faster. She thought: He will kill me, good gods, he will cut me into thousands of pieces…
I have to touch your head to perform the spell. Don’t be afraid.
And she really calmed down – Is this some kind of magic?, she asked herself.
Now relax and close your eyes, Denya!
As she was completely calm now (although she didn’t know why) it was no problem for her to relax. And as she closed her eyes she didn’t mind the dragon, that gently touched her face, anymore.

She found herself lying in some kind of basket. It seemed to be a memory from the time when she was a baby… She couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak – the only thing she could do was watch the scene in front of her: She saw a tall and slim man in a white robe standing before her basket, with his face looking in another direction. In the corner of her eyes she saw a woman holding her basket and whispering soothing words in her ear. Then she saw another man appearing in her field of vision – it was her father, Leoric. He said something:
You fool, you have no chance against my arcane powers! Hand out the child right now and perhaps I will spare your worthless life, and that of your wife.
No – you will have to kill me to get Denya into your dirty pranks, bastard!
She couldn’t help it, she KNEW that voice from somewhere!
It will surely be fun killing you, fool!
The two men began to circle round each other. Then she saw the other man. It was the man of her dream last night. But he appeared somehow familiar to her. With an expression of concentration on his face he stared with his blue eyes into the face of his enemy. Leoric on the other side smiled an evil smile and seemed to be amused by the behaviour of his prey. This was not her father as she knew him… But the other one… He sent a quick look in her direction, smiled – and suddenly Denya was overwhelmed by the realization who her father was… Now her real father cast a fireball in the direction of Leoric, who dodged away and now began to cast a spell himself. Denya didn’t pay attention to the magic battle in front of her or to her crying mother. She was in a trance, unable to think clearly. Her head was empty. What wakened her attention again was Leoric sinking to his knees, totally exhausted.
Do you give up?, her father asked.
Let me think about it…, repeated Leoric with a strange smile on his face.
One moment later her father was hit in the back by a lightning bolt that made him squirm on the ground in pain. Margareth appeared from the left.
No!, said Leoric sarcastically and stood up.
Then he drew a dagger out of his black robe, went over to her father, took his head by the hair and bared his throat. Then without any word he let the dagger without any word slowly glide from one ear to the other one. Her father gurgled and with a swall of warm red blood he sank to the earth, where he died – drowned by his own blood.
Denya wanted to scream. She wanted to close her eyes. She wanted to stop this nightmare – but she couldn’t do anything, as in the dream she had the night before. Then she saw her mother positioning herself in front of her basket. Denya knew what had to come now but the only thing she could do was think No, please, don’t!. But her mother was pushed away rudely by Leoric. She was now out of sight, but she saw her "father" kneeling down beside the basket. His hands began to glow and he put them both down with a sadistic look in his eyes and a mad smile on his face. Then she heard her mother’s screams. The screams were not human anymore as Leoric tortured her to death. Denya thanked the gods that she did not had to see the terrible scene. There came Magareth into her field of vision. She bowed over her basket and smiled.
Hi Denya, my little daughter!

She was in the dragon’s cave again. But she was still paralyzed. She couldn’t move, speak, scream… The dragon just watched her, as a tear ran down her face, bursting on the hard rock of his cave.
I know this is hard for you! To be confronted with death and violence at such a young age… I’m sorry.
Margareth had said the same thing to her a few days ago. No…he didn’t know how hard it was…he couldn’t guess the inner pain she felt.
I have known your father since before you were born!
She looked up.
He saved my life when your mother was pregnant. I was badly injured when your father found me in the woods. He tended me for one week until I was healed. The only thing he wanted to have as a reward was a promise. I had to promise that I would protect his child after its birth – you!
She looked at him in disbelief.
"But where have you been all the 20 years of my life? Where were you been when my parents died?", tears began to fill her eyes again.
I came to late…
She cried: "But you promised to protect me! Why didn’t you stay with my parents? Why did you leave them alone?"
To be together with humans: That’s no life for a dragon., there was an angry emotion in this thought.
And I have sworn to protect YOU, not them. You have been safe for the last 20 years. Now you’re not anymore – so I rescued you from Leoric and Margareth.
"They both have always been friendly to me…I still do not understand! Why did they treat me as if I was their child? And why do I have to be rescued from them now?"
There’s something more you have to know about yourself… I’m sure your parents never told you anything about the "Prophecy"?
Even more terrible things she would have to know…
"No, they didn’t tell me…"
About ten years ago, every creature on this planet with a magical ability, human and dwarven mages, elves and even dragons, dreamed the same dream: One of the old gods spoke to us. He said that a child would be born. A child that could give the gift of immortality to the one who would sacrifice it to the gods on the old druid mountain on its twentieth birthday. When its born, everyone who dreamed this dream would know where to find the child. And really – ten years later everyone felt a great magical presence and lots of people were drawn into this direction.
That was very much to think about.
"I am the child…" – it was no question.
The dragon smiled a somehow sad smile.
Yes, you are… I don’t know why the gods did this. I would say it’s one of their cruel games they’re playing with this world. Perhaps they thought it would be fun to see, how humans, dwarves, elves and dragons kill themselves just to gain a child and to murder it later… But they didn’t reckon with Leoric and Margareth… They cast a spell on you that blocked this attractive power. And the contact to you was lost by everyone. The gods didn’t react…no one knows the ways they’re going…so you were kept undetected for 20 years. I knew where you’d been, but I couldn’t do anything against a whole town of soldiers. So I had to wait until now.
For some reason Denya knew it was true, what the dragon had said. She just couldn’t think this creature was lying. In addition the whole story matched with the dream she had the day before…
Her life would be completely changed through all the things she had heard and seen in the minutes before. It sounded like nonsense: Her father killing her father…a dragon protecting her from her father…a prophecy predicting her father trying to kill her… But it wasn’t her father!?! She still wasn’t sure. She remembered Leoric with this evil grin on his face… Then the other man looking at her mildly… And then Leoric cutting his throat… If my parents are really so cruel, than they have been very good actors the last 20 years…, she thought. She was tired – so much had happened… She was still lying on the floor, so she fell asleep very soon, deep in thoughts…

When she awakened she saw the dragon that slept a few feet next to her. It was late afternoon and the sky outside the cave slowly turned red. She went to the mouth of the cave to take a look at the landscape. The cave was inside one of the mountains. The rock in front of the cave fell steeply down. No chance for a human to get up here.
Nice view, hm?, she thought…and needed some seconds to notice that she didn’t want to think this. She turned around. Smaragd green eyes watched her.
"Yes, it’s beautiful…" She hadn’t figured the view…
"I have thought about everything you told me. Why did you kill all these people? Why didn’t you just catch me at night or when I was alone?"
I didn’t want to risk anything. There were too many guards. And if I would have failed it would have been even more difficult to rescue you…
Again she thought about it – did she really have to be rescued from her parents? Did they really want to kill her? Aloud she said: "Immortality…just by killing one person… it still sounds unbelievable. And why am I that person?"
The gods have chosen you. Now that I’m near to you, I can sense it even through the mighty spell of your parents.
"And why are you so sure this immortality story is true? Why are my par…Leoric and Margareth so sure?"
He growled.
You do not understand, human! I had this dream! Other dragons had this dream! Leoric and Margareth had this dream! Even your real father had this dream! Do you still think this is chance?
Angry emotions hit her mind and mixed with her own.
"Don’t call me human all the time! You know I have a name. By the way, what’s your name?"
Call me T’Sana!
"T’Sana…that’s a strange name!"
Call me dragon, call me T’Sana – there’s no difference!
He was still angry.
Again, she was silent.
Then she said: "I’m sorry. I’m still confused by everything that’s happening. What would you say, if a creature that is a hundred times larger than you tells you that your parents aren’t your parents and that the whole world is hunting you because you are carrying immortality around with you!"
Suddenly something like happiness came into her mind and then the dragon…laughed! It was more a strange grunting, but a clear laughter in her mind – it seemed as if she laughed for the dragon emotionally and the dragon would just make the matching draconic sounds.
"Why are you laughing? What’s so funny about that?"
It’s just kinda cute to see you standing in front of me, still with fear in your mind, but complaining as if I were your wife. You are looking good in red!, he said with a grin.
She turned around in anger. The dragon continued to laugh and her own emotions and those of the dragons fought each other. At least T’Sana won the mental battle and she was laughing together with him.
After a minute of laughing, she asked: "Tell me, T’Sana, do you have something to eat in your cave?" He got serious immediately.
No, I haven’t. And I will not go hunting. Someone could follow me back to my cave.
"So…what about water? I will not survive very long without any water, you have to know…"
Very funny! Deeper in my cave is a spring, there you can drink and wash yourself.
She looked deeper into the cave. It was just a black hole in the wall.
"I cannot see anything there!"
T’Sana sighed.
Humans…take that!
A yellow ball appeared in one of his claws. It shone like a torch. She took it – although it burned like a flame, it was cold like a stone.
"Wow!", was all she could say.
Then she went down the way into the cave that she could now see clearly.
As she went deeper into the cave it got warmer. There she found a small lake. She laid the light onto the floor and touched the water surface with one of her toes – it was comfortably warm. First she drank some water – it tasted fresh and clean. Then Denya took off her clothes and slipped into the small lake where she swam around and enjoyed the warmth. Then she got out of the water and noticed that she hadn’t anything to dry her body. She would have to wait. So she kneeled down and watched her mirror image in the lake. She saw the scratches on her face. Denya couldn’t remember herself ever looking like this. It was crazy…everything was crazy.
Your bodies are…so fragile…
She turned around and tried to cover certain parts of her body as she saw T’Sana standing in the mouth of the cave.
Do you think your naked body attracts me? I am not human! And I’m as naked as you are. Do I cover my genitals when I see another dragon? Or a human? Nature created us both as we are in the moment. But you humans always have to wear these clothes to hide what you are: Animals! Animals like horses. Animals like elves or dwarves. Animals like dragons.
She was confused: "What…what did I do?"
A sigh went through her mind.
Nothing…it’s just that I will never understand you humans…
"You…do not like humans very much, do you?"
"But why? What’s so bad about humans?"
Did Leoric and Margareth ever tell you anything about dragons?
"Yes, of course!"
And they told you that dragons were furious and brutal creatures that liked to hunt and kill humans and animals just for fun?
"Something like that, yes…"
Now, do you see one of those dragons in front of you?
And that’s the point! At first they hunted us, because we ate "their" cattle. As if it belonged to them! The humans that battled dragons spread stories about the fights against the "furious beasts" and caused even more humans to free this world from the "disease". The stories got more and more fantastic: The story that dragons would hoard treasures…it is complete nonsense – but it caused thousands of humans to kill dragons in search of glory and treasure. The humans believed everything they heard: that dragons would only eat young virgins and that they would steal men and children to be their slaves. They nearly exterminated our whole species. Only a handful dragons are left… And everything just because of some rumours…
First he was angry and she ducked her head instinctively, but then the voice in her head became sad – so sad that tears filled her eyes.
"Would you sacrifice me, if you could?"
The dragon paused and mustered her with his deep green eyes.
I don’t know…but I gave a promise. Dragons hold their promises – even in front of humans. So I would give my life to save you from death.
"I will tell the humans the truth. I will tell them now you dragons are in reality. And I will tell them not to hunt you anymore. I promise!"
T’Sana smiled.
That’s nice from you, Denya. But I know that you humans do not always hold your promises.
"I will hold my promise!"
We’ll see…
Suddenly the magic light from T’Sana began to flicker.
I think we better go upstairs. I think there will be better light for you. And a wonderful sunset.
So Denya put on her clothes and together they went to the mouth of the upper cave, the young woman and the old dragon. But as they reached the cave that was lit by the red sky outside, both of them stopped suddenly. T’Sana growled.
Leoric and Margareth were standing in the mouth of the cave.
Denya stood rooted to the spot.
While Leoric had an eye on the dragon, her "mother" smiled and said: "Hi, Dear!"
"How…how did you get up here?", Denya asked.
"Not only dragons can transform themselves into other beings.", was her answer with a look at the huge creature beside her. Denya wondered why he didn’t say anything.
"What do you want?"
She laughed: "Oh, Denya, aren’t you happy to see us? We have searched for you the whole day! We have been so worried about you! This creature could have killed you!"
"But he didn’t kill me! Besides that he showed me what you really are, you murderer!"
Her mother now had a really worried expression on her face. This couldn’t be acting, she thought…or could it…?
"What do you mean, dear? Why do you call your mother a murderer?"
"You are not my mother!!!", she nearly screamed.
Now she looked really dismayed and she nearly whispered: "Oh, Denya, dear! What did this creature tell you?"
"He showed me how you killed my real parents! You and Leoric together!"
Her expressions are so real…
"Don’t you see? He showed you an illusion. Something that has never happened…", it seemed her mother was nearly weeping.
"No, he didn’t. I know it!", but she was not as sure anymore. "T’Sana told me about you and the Sacrifice! You brought me up over 20 years…just to kill me now?"
"Oh, dear, I think it’s too late. You’re stammering nonsense. His influence on you is already too big! Please, Denya, come back!"
Denya was totally confused by the situation. Now she couldn’t believe her parents betrayed her, but she still had some pictures of the vision in her mind. She stood between T’Sana and her parents. Her mind seemed to fight with itself: In one moment she remembered the two humans in front of her as her parents and what they did for her in the last 20 years, then came the pictures of Leoric and Margareth killing her father. She was pulled in one direction, then in the other one…as if T’Sana and her parents would fight a battle in her head…
Until Margareth stretched her hands out and smiled – it was the same smile she gave her 20 years ago when they had met first… Suddenly her mind was free. She made a step into T’Sana’s direction. Then another one.
The smile on her mother’s face stopped abruptly.
"Wrong decision, dear!"
With these words her father who had been as silent as T’Sana the whole time cast a mighty lightning bolt onto the dragon, which screamed in agony. Her mother also cast a lightning bolt and T’Sana was completely wrapped in jerking lightnings. Then he stopped screaming and fell to the floor, motionless.
"No!", she whispered it. Was she doomed to bring death to all the people she loved?
She turned around to her parents, with tears in her eyes "YOU BASTARDS!!!", she screamed, weeping.
"Shhhshhh, Denya! You surely don’t want to be in a bad mood tomorrow. After all, it’s your birthday. Sleep now!", her mother said with her typical cold smile. Then she touched her eyes with her fingers and a wonderful darkness surrounded her.

Chapter 4: Sacrifice

It was night.
She didn’t know how long she had slept.
The full moon was shining above her.
She couldn’t move.
Denya was tied on some kind of altar. To the left of the altar seemed to be a cliff – the ground just ended there. To her right stood a few old trees on the hard and stony earth. This had to be the Druid’s Mountain. Between the trees a fire was burning. She could hear her parents.
"And you are sure the spell works, Leoric?", that was Margareth.
"Yes – the energy will split and flood into us both. Don’t be worried Magareth, it will work, I’m sure…oh, look, our girl is awake!"
With these words he appeared in her field of vision. His face was as grave as it had always been.
"Did you have a good sleep, dear?"
She did not answer and turned her face in another direction.
He sighed: "Denya, tell me! Wouldn’t you do this at my position? Imagine! You could do what you want! You would have power – endless power! You would not have to fear anyone…or anything!"
"But I would not kill someone I have known and loved for 20 years!"
"Oh, Denya, you’re so naive. Let me tell you something: We never loved you! Never!"
She turned around again: "That’s not true! I know you loved me. I could feel it throughout all the twenty years. You cannot say you didn’t love me! You cannot!"
He laughed: "Oh, dear! Maragareth’s telepatic abilities were better than I thought. You have to know she manipulated you the whole time. She told you mentally never to leave the castle – so you did not flee. She gave your subconscious the idea that we loved you. So you had this feeling. She made you do things sometimes you didn’t want – without you ever knowing it!"
"But…I never wanted to leave the castle, because…because…I thought, you would…", she burst into tears. She couldn’t speak anymore. It was a shock: 20 years – a game, a drama, a play of twenty years. Just for her.
Leoric continued: "You should know, when I first dreamed of the prophecy, I couldn’t believe it of course. But when I spoke with Margareth and some other mages, who had all the same dream, it got more and more likely that your birth would happen and the prophecy would show itself as true. And then ten years later we sensed the power – the pure magical power. We were drawn into your direction magnetically. The only time in my life I really loved you, was when we found you in your basket and I knew that you were real…"
"After you killed my parents, murderer!"
He knitted his brows.
"I didn’t know your parents, but I can speak openly and honestly, when I say…"
He stopped. His eyes widened. He groaned…and then he collapsed, dead. Behind him stood Margareth with a bloody dagger in her hand. And with her typical smile she said: "Sorry Leoric, but I wanted to be sure that nothing goes wrong at the Sacrifice…but you surely understand me."
Then she looked up.
"I don’t know the exact time, but your birthday is very near, Denya! Oh, as he told you, it was a hard time with you! I always had to concentrate when you were near at first. Five years of work until you fully accepted us…and this dragon destroyed everything within a day! He was powerful – but not as powerful as we thought. He was easy to defeat. Was he your friend?"
Denya nodded.
"Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sure you will soon meet him again. But please, dear, be honest: Did you fully trust him? You knew nothing about him. He could have eaten you when he got hungry…just like that! You don’t know what you have chosen as a friend! He is still a wild animal!"
"NO! YOU do not know what I have chosen as a friend! You don’t know anything about dragons! You know only the stereotypes of them – you don’t know what they really are! And you’re much worse than this wild animal!"
"I think I have to tell you that this dragon had similar powers to me. I think he manipulated your mind like I did years before. I don’t know exactly what he told you, but I think the least of what he said was true. I think he was a liar like me and Leoric. He would have brought you here by midnight and he would have killed you. But he is dead – as Leoric is. I’m the last liar standing! I’m the winner of the great game of the gods! And I will join them after I have conquered this world for myself!", she nearly screamed the last sentences – then she got quiet again, "I have you to thank, Denya! Because you will give me the gift, the power!"
Margareth kissed Denya on her forehead. Then she raised her bloody dagger.
"Happy Birthday, Denya!!!", she cried.
But the dagger did not come down. Margareth was just standing there. Denya could see through a great round hole in her belly. Suddenly a claw materialized in the hole – and behind her T’Sana, the red dragon. He had just pierced her with one of his sharp claws. Margareth’s rattled and she spat blood – then the dragon raised her and threw her body into the air. As she flew he took a deep breath and spat a great white flame in her direction. Only ashes were falling to the ground. He turned to Denya and smiled.
Invisibility – very useful…
"T’Sana, I thought you would be…"
Dead? Oh, it takes a little bit more to kill a dragon than some lightning bolts from two human-mages! Are you alright?
"Yes, thank you", now she smiled, too, "I thought that would be my end…"
Hey, I told you they wouldn’t hurt you!
The dragon smiled even wider.
But you may relax now – it’s over!
"Yes…finally…" So her muscles relaxed. And then she had a vision.

She was flying. It seemed to be the same spell T’Sana had cast on her in his cave.
But it couldn’t be one of her memories…it was a memory of T’Sana! She was in his body, she shared his vision, his feelings and even his emotions – she was a dragon! Denya was flying above the clouds, so a beautiful white landscape spread under her.
And she felt a magical presence. A magnetic power that forced her to fly into a special direction. Then she broke through the clouds. There were woods below her…rivers, meadows and roads. And there she found what she had searched for. Two humans were on the road – her sharp eyes detected a man and a woman…and the woman carried something. A child…the child she was searching for. Denya’s mind knew what had to come now – but her mind was still a low voice she didn’t notice. She was overwhelmed by the feelings she had. It was wonderful to fly…it was pure freedom! Now she was very near to both humans, so she went into a glide not to scare them too soon. But a few seconds before she landed, her shadow fell over them and they turned around. The woman screamed and the man’s eyes nearly fell out of his head. The baby, her target, also began to scream. But Denya was still enthralled by the completely new feeling of T’Sana’s body and she ignored the voices that said she knew the two faces in front of her. She landed directly in front of the two humans which caused them to make some steps backwards.
The man reacted first: "What do you want, dragon?" He really had courage.
She could hear T’Sana think…or was she thinking?
I want that child.
"No! You’ll never get it! No one will ever get it! It is my child and I will protect it from everyone that’s going to come and steal it for this damn Sacrifice! Come on, dragon, fight me! I have no fear!"
You fool! Do you really think you can win this battle?Just hand out the child and perhaps I will let you and your wife live!
The man just watched her. The he raised a hand – and out of his finger came a magic bolt which hit her chest and froze her immediately. The pain was terrible. And that brought her out of her lethargy. She was not T’Sana, she was just in his body…and she was about to fight her father! He still looked like the man the dragon had shown her in her old vision.
But for now, T’Sana’s body couldn’t move. She watched her father as he said: "Ha! You think I’m as easy to defeat as other humans? You think it would be easy to get the child of immortality? Just like this? YOU are the fool, dragon!"
With these words he cast some magic spells that caused horrible pains throughout her body. She wanted to stop it, but she had no control – she could only watch, think and suffer. But then the mage, her father, made a mistake: In his rage he cast a magic firebolt to make him feel even more pain. Of course that caused the ice to melt and the dragon was free again. He raised a claw and pinned her father to the ground.
I think the answer to the question "Who is the fool?" has changed again – but I also think it won’t change anymore…
Then SHE took a deep breath. She didn’t want to see what had to follow now, but she couldn’t close her eyes or look away. So SHE spat a bright flame that was just as hot to let her father live and scream in agony for a couple of seconds until the screams stopped and the fire SHE spat gained more brightness and finally burned him to ashes. She felt T’Sana’s deep satisfaction – and she wanted to scream and wake up…but the torment continued.
T’Sana searched for the woman – she ran down the street. But the dragon was weakened by the pain. Not without exertion, Denya threw himself into the air and followed her. Suddenly the woman stumbled and fell down. Denya roared triumphantly while she was thinking No, no, please, don’t… She landed before her mother. The relatively young woman got on her feet and stared into the eyes of Denya’s draconic body. The child was nowhere to be seen…
Where’s the child, human?
Fear was in the eyes of her mother…she could even smell her fear. But the woman said: "I won’t tell you! You will never find her! Not in a thousand years!" Then she spat on the ground in front of the dragon. A great anger overcame Denya. The SHE opened her mouth and closed it over her. Then SHE raised her head and swallowed her own mother who was still struggeling and screaming in her mouth. At this action all thoughts of Denya screamed in psychical agony – but her thoughts were the contrasts to the feelings of her body: She could taste the blood of her mother – it was really delicious! And after swallowing her mother completely there was again this feeling of complete satisfaction. These paradox feelings and thoughts drove her mad – but the vision still continued. Suddenly she heard horses with her great sense of hearing. They seemed to be one or two miles away. She threw herself up into the air and peered into the direction the sounds came from. There were two horses – she knew the humans that sat on them. It was Leoric and Margareth. Suddenly a wave of deep anger overwhelmed her. T’Sana was too weak to fight both of them – they were too powerful for him now. He watched them from the air while they found the child somewhere in the woods beside the roads. Then he followed them to their castle that wasn’t really far away.
But Denya had just one thought for the rest of her vision:
I killed my parents…
I killed my parents…
I killed my parents…

She was immediately quiet. She wanted to scream on, but something told her not to do so. T’Sana was still smiling his draconic grin – but now she realized it as the evil smile it had always been.
For some reason you’re right, my dear Denya! You really killed your parents! Your birth…your existance killed them!
"Why? Why you? What…what about your promise?"
You’re still a foolish child! This promise doesn’t exist! And you know the reason why I’m doing this.
Partially! Mainly I cannot live on this planet together with your species! You are spreading all around the world and you declare yourselves the great rulers of it! But you’re weak! Look at yourself! What are you without any weapon or magical abilities? Meat! That’s what you are! It cost me great effort not to kill you immediately when you were in my cave. And it cost me even more effort to talk to you like a cute little pet! But I think that what’s coming is worth the trouble! Millions of people will die – just because of you!
With that he raised a talon and pointed it on her chest.
She closed her eyes…


T’Sana was standing at the cliff. He could feel the power streaming through his veins. It was true! He was immortal! It wasn’t just a feeling – it was an inner assurance. He just enjoyed the pure power that was flooding him for about half an hour – then he asked himself what to do with his new power. He had just forgotten it. Then he saw some lights on the road under him. It was a caravan of gypsies. Oh, yes…he knew what to do with his new power now. He spreaded his wings and flew down the mountain.

A slack hand was hanging down the altar, still lit by the fire on the mountain. But the flame had burned down and wouldn’t do it any longer.
As the screams of dying humans sounded up to the mountain, the fire began to flicker. It wasn’t the sound of a battle – it was the sound of a massacre. Men, women, children, even babies – they all screamed and died in pain and agony. Only the triumphant roaring of the dragon was louder than the terrible noise of dying humans.
And as the last screams of a dying child echoed over the mountain, the fire went out…

Written by Der Doktor

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