Drakan II: The
By Laura Campbell, aka Shadow of Light Dragon
In the wreckage of the Dragon Temple they found a large basin fashioned of some golden metal. It was perfectly smooth and whole, as though untouched by time's passage. The bowl was shallow, but wide enough for a dragon to rest its head on.
They stood it upright where the dias used to be, and snow fell all around it, and in it. Rynn brushed a couple of the white flakes away and watched them melt on her fingers. More snow fell. She looked around the ruin and sighed. "This is going to take some time."
"We don't have to do this all Winter," Star suggested.
"But I feel we should make a start here."
"Of course." Gloved hands ran around the bowl's rim. "Especially here."
"Something about the Order of the Flame I don't know about?"
He grinned. "This was where the Flame burned. A symbol of what we carried in our hearts."
Rynn stared into the bowl. How long must it have lain, cold and empty? "I guess we should relight it, then."
Star was looking at the sky. "Perhaps we should invite them to help."
It was Ebontyne, Morghus, Glaive and Kang-shi. When the dragons glided down to the castle ruins, Rynn said, in a voice that showed she was glad to be wrong, "I thought we'd seen the last of you."
"Glaive talked me into signing up," Ebontyne said.
Rynn stared at the male warrior.
"She had nothing better to do with her new-found mortality," Glaive said, swinging down from his seat. The snow crunched under his boots.
"Might as well grow old living for something," Ebontyne agreed, also dismounting.
"Sometimes," Arokh's thoughs came to Rynn from another part of the ruins, "it takes the realisation of death for one to decide to do something with one's life."
"And you?" Rynn asked Glaive.
The man shrugged, lowering his hood and making a face as snow brushed his scalp. "I thought you might be able to use another mage."
Rynn couldn't stop a skeptical arching of one eyebrow as she regarded Kang-shi. The dragon's eyes narrowed in response, jaws twitching into a faint sneer.
Glaive turned to his Bonded and reached up to touch her golden face. The dragon's green eyes flinhed, then blinked at the human in confusion. To Kang-shi as much as to Rynn, Glaive said, "It's time for us to change as well."
"Change?" Kang-shi blurted, and her expression was almost a snarl.
Glaive withdrew his hand, but remained looking at her. Rynn heard him say, very softly, "I'm sorry."
Then Ebontyne was beckoning her, Star and Morghus away.
"What's that about?" Rynn asked as they left the two alone.
"Nothing that concerns you," the War Mage replied. "Ask one of them for yourself later." She indulged herself with a backward glance. "But I'll tell you, it's something that's long overdue." She drew a deep breath, then asked Rynn, "What do we do now?"
"Start a fire," Arokh's throughts murmured again. "Then make it grow."
The bowl was empty save for a few stray snowflakes, but the other Bonded said that wouldn't matter. The metal, if it was metal, would burn as soon as it was touched by the flames. As it had so long ago.
Rynn had wanted everyone to light the bowl together, but the others, excepting Delon and Arokh, had declined, saying it was her right. Her responsibility.
Thinking of Rimril and Atimar, Rynn added to herself, "My charge. Here is where it ends. Where we not only keep the Flame alive, but give it new life. Where it rekindles."
"No, Rynn...here is where it begins. We've saved Drakan from Navaros, but to return the land to the days of glory... to another Golden Age... that is a task more difficult and more important."
Rynn approached the bowl with her hands half-raised. "More important than saving everyone from Navaros?"
"What use in saving them if they do not value their lives? If they use their lives to accomplish nothing of value, or, worse, the destruction and pain of others?"
"That is what the Order of the Flame is? Learning that your life has value?"
"That all life has value. That it's worth preserving. And worth living." The dragon lifted his eyes to the towering ruins of the great library. "There is so much to be done in life. And we realise that so late."
"Then let's make a start," Rynn said softly, pointing into the bowl.
Arokh's jaws parted and he exhaled a short blast of fire as Rynn sent her magic with it, streamers of crimson and gold flowing from her fingertips.
The basin flared to life with a low roar, as of flames disturbed by the wind. The inside of the bowl reflected incandescence as fire leaped up in a golden dance; snow in the basin evaporating without even having a chance to melt.
Rynn glanced down as Delon came to her side and grinned up at her. She put an arm around his shoulders wordlessly and they both turned their eyes to the flames again, waiting in silence as first Gholek, then Ebontyne and Morghus, Star and Nashiva, then Glaive and Kang-shi came forward with them into the circle of warmth and light.
"And so," Arokh rumbled, "it begins."