Please note that this story takes place within the novel Secrets of Arach Innis. In the book Uleric is not a POV character and so the reader misses the actual battle. This flash fiction hopes to make up for that deficit.
The Battle of Dragons at the Inlet
By Jane B. Night
“Formation!” Uleric shouted. The hundred men who had marched with him from Eideard to the inlet lined shore. The smell of saltwater filled his nose and he breathed it in deeply. The water before him was gray as the sun set and the sky darkened. Soon, they would be in the time of Lunereo.
“Hold!” Uleric shouted once each of the men was in position. On the ground before them lay swords and shields though they would be flimsy toys against the army of Zelig and their cannons.
He whispered a prayer to Lunereo. Alicia might be of Zelig but she his princess and their only hope.
We are ready he thought as loudly as he could. The news that their princess could hear thoughts was so shocking he almost did not believe it still. He did not understand her gift but he did not need to. If Rodion, his prince and friend, vouched for Alicia he had to believe. He had to believe that on this night a miracle would happen. There would either be a miracle or a slaughter.
The bard, began to sing a song of courage but he was too far away for Uleric to hear the words.
It was for the best.
Uleric did not want to hear a song of courage. It might uplift the others but he wanted the last moments of his life lived in his own head.
One way or another the night would end with him in the arms of his beloved whether it was Alicia’s servant who he hoped the King would let him marry or the love he had killed when he tried to make her a Dragon.
Rodion is in place.
Alicia’s voice in his head startled him but he held his ground. If they failed, it would be through no fault of their own. The idea was crazy and he had known it when he promised to lead the Lunar Dragons to likely death.
There were one thousand Dragons. Only three kingdoms had sent assistance. The other kingdoms had ignored their pleas for help claiming it was not their battle.
They were wrong.
A faint light appeared over the water. It could only be lanterns lighting the way of the enemy ships.
Uleric looked up into the sky. The moon had not yet appeared. This fools errand had no chance if the enemies appeared before the moon.
He heard excited chattering from his men.
“Silence!” Uleric hissed.
More lights appeared on the water.
They would soon be close enough to see the shore.
Uleric looked up into the sky again. He saw the tip of the moon peeking from behind a cloud. He took a deep breath and prepared for the end.
He looked back across the water. He could see the dim outline of a ship’s bow.
After he sent the thought to Alicia everything happened at once. The smell of Mist Reaper hit him though he smelled the foul creature in his mind instead of his nose. His body reacted as if he were at the Gate of Mist with a Reaper coming to steal his soul.
The air around him thickened and his body tingled. He got taller and longer as his skin turned to hard scales. Pain seared through his spine as wings ripped from his shoulders. He felt the power well inside him as he prepared to fight. It was familiar but different. He was not at the Gates of Mists keeping Reapers from invading his land. Instead, he was fighting men to make sure that the Gates of Mists always had guardians to protect mankind. If they failed, Reapers would consume the world.
Around him, the others were turning into their Dragon forms as well.
Uleric opened his mouth and fire spewed forth onto the water.
He flapped his wings and lifted himself off the ground. The shouts from the water confirmed that the sailors had seen him.
A thunderous sound told him that a cannon had been fired but the ball died in the water.
Three more cannons thundered in the night but the ships lights were growing dimmer. Uleric flew over the surface of the water towards the ships.
He let out a Dragon screech and spewed more fire in the direction of the boats. Part of him wanted to chase them but he knew that Alicia’s strength could not last and he did not want to be far out into the water when his Dragon form dissipated and he became a man again.
He called back the Dragons that were pursuing the ship in their rage. They reluctantly obeyed. He could see their anger that he had not let them do any real damage to the ships. He sympathized. Part of him wanted to set fire to every last one and to be sure that the people of Zelig never threatened them again.
He knew that was not what his Princess would want. The men aboard those ships had once been her people. The leader of the attack was her own brother.
Frightening them away would be enough.
He felt the scent of Reaper fading and turned around. He did not quite make it to the shore by the time his man form returned.
The water was cold as it immersed him and he shivered as he kicked his feet and used his arms to propel him towards the shore.
He reached out to her with his mind.
He climbed out of the water and onto the sand.
The men around him began to shout and cheer.
He donned his clothes and turned to the man nearest him.
“Lead them home. I need to find the Princess,” Uleric said. The man at his side nodded.
Uleric picked his sword and shield from the ground.
He was not sure where Alicia was but he would look for her. She had saved her kingdom. She deserved the funeral of a hero.