Dawn, Blood and Absolution
The public house, near the end of the silk road, was astir with people from the world over. The smell of meat, mead, and humanity filled the large
building, the myriad of travelers each engaged in their own private distractions and rituals. Drunken bravado meshed with the seductive whispers of
women whose job it was to distract men from anger and into something even more primal. A chorus of lust and gluttony, sung in more languages than one
could number, filling the night with defiance.
After all, that is what it was in effect. A defiance of the night. Drunken men, fueled by the presence of beautiful women, raising their voices to the
darkness to show that they did not fear. To make it clear that they did not fear.
But the quiet and aged man in the corner knew the truth. He knew that they did fear. He knew their bravado for what it was, tricks meant to disguise
the fear that they all suffered under. The oppressive knots and spasms that caused men to soil themselves and to freeze in the face of what the night
had to offer them. Only in groups and in the artificial light of countless candles could they act this way. Outside of this environment not a single
one of them would dare make a sound... Choosing, instead, to hunker down and hide in some shadow in an inpatient pursuit of the dawn.
The old man knew, all to well, that this was not cowardice he was thinking about. It was simply the way of things. In his many years he had come to
terms with the harsh truths of the world. He had seen plagues ravage entire nations into graveyards. He had witnessed entire populations evaporated
into a collective of death. He had stared into the eyes of pure evil without flinching or fearing.
Evil, you see, is banal. It has a purpose and function. It is no different than us. But chaos? Randon chance? That was a creature more heartless than
any evil the Gods ever visited upon humanity. The old man often wondered, in silence, if even the Gods could be victims of the great wrath of
, he reminded himself Would really anger my patron.
And with that he stopped for his patron was not one to anger. This was
a lesson learned long ago, and from then on, again and again. Never enrage that which one cannot comprehend.
One of the nearly naked beauties approached his table, offering more mead. He waved his hand over his cup, as he had been doing all night, choosing
instead to toss a bit of copper onto the table. If she possessed the language to question why he was sitting in a public house without seeking liquor
or women, she apparently chose not to use it. That, in his estimation, was worthy of reward. As worthy of reward as is anything in this wretched
Besides, his time for revelry was long past. In fact his time for everything was long past. He had lived more years than any other human that he was
aware of, though he often wondered if Cain still walked the lands. Only his patron was his elder, and to call that being human would be blasphemy - a
sin that already saturated the old man to the core. How long had he sought to make it right?
He laughed silently but visibly, as the nubile young woman walked away with her free coin. What would she say... what would any of them say if he were
to confess his real age and to tell his true story?
A pause came upon him with this thought. Why not? This is my last night. Why not confess to it all? Priests? Bah. Drunks and whores are as Holy as
the ones I have met...
Sauntering over to the bar he dropped a large bag of coins - silver, gold, copper, bronze, and a few that he could not even begin to identify and he
"Friends, at least those who understand my native tongue, allow me to buy you all a drink and share a story with you."
The truth was that he was not speaking in his native tongue, but the native tongue of this area, so many looked up in acknowledgement at his words and
stared momentarily. As they did the old man turned his head to the publican, saying "I've paid you fair. Start pouring for my friends."
With that, the mead began to flow and the room calmed a bit as a handful stopped to listen to the crazy old man...
"Tonight, we sit at the base of a range of mountains known as the Kush. Of this we are all aware. Of this we will all speak. But I will say what none
of you has the courage to say. In the foothills of these mountains lives a being called Fut's-Lung - the devourer of human flesh. The flaming
guardian of the Underworld. A dragon. In the morning I shall take my fathers sword and slay Fut's-Lung. What is more, in doing so I shall slay the
last living dragon... the last of his kind."
At this a young and impetuous man stood and laughed.
"Gray beard, not only do your words endanger us, but you speak lunacy. Here we are all traders and we know the tales of many lands. There are more of
that breed than just one. Brag to the bushes you old fool, because we will not listen to your fantasies. Not even if you pay for it."
Pulling his cloak back, and showing his facial scars the old man stared a hole right into the young traders soul. His blue eyes cutting like knives
into the younger mans courage, leaving it gutted and empty like a fish prepared for cooking.
"When I was born there were thirteen dragons left alive. Twelve have I killed. Kur, Naga, Gyo, Wyvern, Y Ddraig Goch, Zmey, Balaur, Evren, Apophis,
Fafnir, Guivres - all from the lands you know. Across the great seas I slew Quetzalcoatl. Now I have returned to finish the work and slay the last
With that the old man began to stare off, as if his mind were elsewhere. As he did a voice rose from the crowd asking "Why? Why would you take on
such a task. Assuming that your words bear any truth?"
And with that question the old man knew it was time for his confession. A public house as a surrogate for a Church, and drunks portraying the Priests
of the new religion.
"Because, child, a very long time ago I was a Prince. The Prince of a kingdom that brought light to the world and which promised to change the very
nature of what it means to live. But my inmaturity was manipulated by those with evil in their hearts and I was led to slay my father, to kill the
King. In doing so I brought down the work of God himself. I brought down the wrath of a powerful being. I brought down the darkness that has, since,
filled the world. Plagues, wars, the fall of civilization. All this because of my single moment of envy. I have lived for hundreds of years. I bear
the unspeakable curse of immortality and the only means of removing it is to destroy a darkness to balance the scales... to make up for the light I
extinguished so long ago."
The laughter and mockery that followed was expected. The tender and caring touch of the woman who kept trying to bring mead was not. As the drunkards
went back to their debauchery, the old man and his new friend walked upstairs for what he insisted was his last night in this realm.