The dragon Requiem rose before dawn, his polished blue hide glistening silver in gibbous moonlight, the scent of pine and earth filling his nostrils. A mist clung to the valley that encompassed the lake he had bedded along side of for its cool water. He drank now from its refreshing depths, taking in the flavor of the leaves, and needles that had been steeping in it like a tea. The stars began to fade as the sky began to gather light in the east. Requiem thought of another predawn sky so long ago when he had encountered a wizard of might and ambition.
The wizard’s staff had illuminated the landscape in an eerie light that gave the lie to Requiems simple hillside disguise; the blood coursing through his veins glowed a luminous golden fiery orange, giving the dragon the appearance of being engulfed in pulsing shimmering flames. Requiem had been caught asleep and was surprised by the sinuous figure dressed in satiny robes of yellow & orange. That wicked staff through which he channeled his enchanted power glowing like cold star at one end & the other sharpened like a sword blade. The enchanter’s face swung into the light of his staff, his own shadows crawling across his face as if trying to escape. His hair was faded and frayed and whipped in the swirling wind that was the result of poorly contained energy.
As Requiem took in the scene, he noticed the malevolence in the wizard’s eyes. Suddenly the blade of the staff arced towards Requiem, and with unnatural speed ripped open his chest directly over his heart, which beat visibly in the light of the enchanted staff. Furious, Requiem reared onto his haunches to his full, towering height. He saw the wizard pull back; preparing to launch the staff like a spear, and Requiem grabbed the tiny mortal in his right hind talons, balancing his weight on his left with his tail and spreading his great webbed wings, blotting out the rising sun from the sky.
He saw the wizard swing his staff again, this time to jab Requiem’s thumb talon which held the man like a little girl holds a doll. The dragon tightened his grip forcing the air from his lungs and causing him to drop with weapon. “Why do you attack me?” he said aloud in his deep, gravely voice.
Unable to speak until his breath returned, the man sputtered and coughed, his bluster gone. Finally, he spoke; “It is said that a wizard who possesses the heart of a dragon can defeat the Evil Incarnate.”
Requiem almost felt sorry for the defeated wizard. “That is a metaphor you fool! Do you not know how to read your own teachings? While you had the upper hand by surprising me & were able to magnify your strength through the talisman of that staff, your heart was mighty, but now in defeat you have lost every ounce of courage. One with the heart of a dragon would remain brave even in defeat. He would not rely on tricks and gadgets to give him courage. He would remain determined long after others have given up. Impossible odds would not dissuade him. Strength is not a physical adjective, it is a spiritual one.”
Requiem still bore the scar from that encounter, though it was hundreds of years old. Now he was embroiled with another wizard who wanted to defeat Incarnate. This one has heart, true enough; but is it the heart of a dragon?