His Dead Son
He walked as best he could, which was nothing more than a fast limp. He stretched his right hand out to touch the cold stone of the adjacent cliff, using it to help keep his balance. His foot, his left foot, was sheathed with blood. The gash on his calf was the cause, a deep slash from the Dragon Booster himself. Congratulations Dragon Booster, my hatred towards your pitiful existence has only intensified.
He was deep in the wastelands without his dragon. Sounds of the raging battle, no, of the raging war, rang out in the drear expanse. Huge rocks and boulders, randomly placed on the sandy ground, and towering up to the grey sky prohibited any decent view of his surroundings. High in the sky, however, brilliantly displayed against the looming, low clouds, were the misfired mag-pushes, pulls, blasts, and countless other nameless mag moves that had recently been rediscovered.
Word Paynn rested his weary body on a jutting outcrop of stone from the cliff wall. Leaning over, he checked his wound. The only one he had, he was proud to say. His armor, before he had lost it, had deflected and prevented countless other injuries. It was a shame the Dragon Booster had found him then, weak and drained. The coward had used his chance and wounded Word severely. If not for his leg…well, Word would not have been forced to seek solitude for the moment while he recovered.
Word balled his claws into a fist and slammed it against the rock he was seated upon. I could have directed numerous wraith attacks. He fumed silently. For now, he would have to lay low. It would not do at all for an enemy to find him now, barely able to walk.
He did enjoy his current rest. A blessing from the rapid war which did not stop. His break didn’t last long though, as voices and the sounds of a fight could be heard from further along the cliff wall.
Word was about to sneak back the way he had come, but then he heard the voices of the participants. He heard the Dragon Booster yell, Armeggeddon laugh, and Moordryd holler with rage. They weren’t too far off.
Lifting himself, he balanced on his right foot, his left held gingerly a few inches off the ground. Step by step, he made his way carefully along the rock wall. When he reached the end, he peeked his head around it. He was relieved, after a quick glance, that he was completely concealed and could not be seen by the others.
Not far off, in a rare clearing, the Dragon Booster sent Armeggeddon flying with a powerful mag-push. He had certainly learned quickly since the war had started.
The Dragon Booster bent over at the waist and put his hands on his knees as he gasped for breath. Perhaps no more than ten feet away, Moordryd stood sullenly, sweating and panting as much as the Dragon Booster. The sight of his son sent Word’s mood into a spiraling downfall.
He had never been so angry at him, or so ashamed with him. At the onset of war, Moordryd had made clear his plans to Word. Never before had a mag-push been more effective than mere words. After regaining his senses from the surprise, Word had literally exiled Moordryd from his sight. His son had then gone forth determinedly to proceed with his own plans, which happened to include helping the Dragon Booster every so often. That ignited Word’s own fury even more. But nothing angered him more than the day he found out his son’s ultimate secret. For quite a long time, Word had been in an alliance with the Shadow Booster. The alliance began to fall apart, however, when the Shadow Booster had begun to disagree with Word’s schemes and to use him only to gain momentum in the war through means of treachery. And the unmasking had forever burned a memory into Word’s head. He had never, absolutely never before felt so betrayed and enraged.
Forcing down his thoughts about his delinquent son, Word waited to see what would happen. Surely those two couldn’t defeat Armeggeddon. He frowned slightly as he noticed that the Dragon of Legend was not present. Neither was Decepshun. His small smile in the dank light went unnoticed. However could the Dragon Booster replenish his mag energy? He was a fool and Armeggeddon would have him. Dead.
Word pressed himself further into the shadow from the cliff as he sensed Armeggeddon returning. Moordryd and the Dragon Booster, though, could not, and did not know of his return.
“He’ll be back soon.”
“I…know.” The Dragon Booster wheezed, apparently more winded than Moordryd. Word listened intently. “Let’s try to find Beau before he does.”
Moordryd frowned. “Even with Beau, you still won’t be able to defeat him.”
The Dragon Booster looked up at Moordryd, still bent over. “I…I know,” he said, as if he were almost ashamed to admit it. Standing straight again, he continued, “I’m going to try to lead him into a trap.” Moordryd appeared doubtful.
Word silently lent the Dragon Booster his support. It would be good if he succeeded, and then died while trying.
“What kind of trap?”
“A good one.”
Moordryd grimaced. “You don’t have one, do you?”
“No,” the Dragon Booster admitted, rubbing the back of his neck, “not yet.” Looking at Moordryd’s disdainful glace, he quickly said, “but I’ll lead him near the Dragon Priests, they should be able to do something. He can’t stand up to all of them.”
“I suppose. Well,” Moordryd said as he began to walk away, “you have fun doing that.”
“Where are you going?”
“Somewhere else while you fight Armeggeddon.”
“Aren’t you helping?”
“Why?” Moordryd said with a hint of arrogance. “Decepshun isn’t here, I have to find her, and the Dragon Idiots can take care of Armeggeddon. I’m not going to get in the middle of that. So have fun.” He flipped his hand in the Dragon Booster’s direction.
The hero sighed, knowing Moordryd wouldn’t needlessly endanger himself if he could gain nothing directly. Word saw him glance to where Armeggeddon disappeared with a worried look. Then he turned and walked away, presumably to look for his dragon. Word looked at his son, who had stopped. Moordryd was looking to where he had last seen Armeggeddon disappear. Unlike the Dragon Booster, he stood watching that place. Word found himself growing uneasy. Armeggeddon was close. Very close.
Then he saw him. The faintest glimpse of the grey armor through a scraggy brush. As Armegeddon moved closer, Word got a better view. He saw Armeggeddon prepare himself, and focus on the Dragon Booster, who’s back was turned. Word realized that Armeggeddon didn’t see Moordryd standing off to the side. Armeggeddon rose up and in each hand appeared the purple glow of mag energy. Now Moordryd saw him.
Moordryd immediately saw where Armeggeddon’s attention was focused, and shouted at the Dragon Booster, “move!” He sprang into a sprint towards the hero. Word watched as Armeggeddon let loose a terrific mag-blast from his one hand, intended for the Dragon Booster. Just as the Dragon Booster turned to Moordryd, Moordryd slammed into him, knocking him out of the way. The mag ball barely missed the Dragon Booster as he was knocked to the ground. Moordryd, however, was hit. The mag-blast hit him on his right side and twisted his body as the force blew him off his feet. He landed in a cloud of dust meters away.
The Dragon Booster had landed as safely as he possibly could. His first instinct was to look at Moordryd, then he quickly looked to where the attack had come from. Armeggeddon shot another mag-blast from his other hand, but the Dragon Booster deflected that with his armored arm. He backed up as Armeggeddon advanced, stepping out of the brush and walking with a deathly stride.
“Moordryd, you okay?” The Dragon Booster asked as he approached Moordryd’s head, still walking backwards and keeping an eye on Armeggeddon. “Moordryd?” he asked again when he received no response. Word peered at Moordryd, waiting for his son to answer. He didn’t.
Moordryd remained motionless. Word saw the slight widening of the Dragon Booster’s mouth as he was able to see Moordryd more clearly as the dust settled.
Armeggeddon watched this with evil eyes. “Is it bad, Dragon Booster?” The Dragon Booster didn’t answer. So Armeggeddon continued, “it should be. That mag attack was most….”
“Yes, he died to save you.” The evil warrior interrupted. Word felt oddly stricken by his words, they didn’t seem to make sense to him. Moordryd was dead? Armeggeddon still advanced while the Dragon Booster backed up, both moving in that odd, slow way, as if they were swimming. Each word they spoke rang out louder than it should have. Word felt slightly lightheaded.
“That was a coward’s shot! You tried to hit me when my back was turned! Neither of us were ready! Couldn’t you have faced us like a real warrior?”
Armeggeddon chuckled. “In war, Dragon Booster, all shots are fair. You do what must be done, whether it be noble or underhanded. If you had been paying attention like he had….”
“I…,” the Dragon Booster started, but didn’t finish. Word realized that he didn’t know what to say in retort, and Armeggeddon took advantage.
“He died because you were foolish and let your guard down.” Armeggeddon advanced a few more steps. “You, are an embarrassment to the original Dragon Booster.”
The Dragon Booster clenched his teeth, and as he passed by Moordryd’s head, he glanced down at him and said with hope, “but he’s not dead.”
“That does not matter. He will be soon. Because of you.”
“No, because of you.”
Armeggeddon found this amusing. “Stop your childish protests. If you had paid attention, he would live still. You too, perhaps. Now, you….” Armeggeddon paused as the Dragon Booster fled from the scene. Which, in Word’s opinion, was wise. He could do nothing for Moordryd, and he had no hope of even being a minor threat to Armeggeddon. His best chance was to find his dragon. Armeggeddon smiled and pursued, giving Moordryd no more attention than a speck of sand.
The clearing grew silent and the wind howled, blowing up swirls of dust that spun around Moordryd’s body. Word stayed silent, and watched Moordryd for signs of life. If he wasn’t dead before, was he now? Word took a deep breath. Was his son really dead?
Moordryd’s body gave a feeble jerk as he coughed. Word felt a rush of joy. From his spot where he had been holding onto the cliff for support, he jolted forward. Which he shouldn’t have done. Pain shot up his left leg as he put too much weight on it. Word was forced to stop, and then he hobbled slowly to Moordryd.
After what seemed like an eternity, he reached his son and fell beside him on his knees. More pain erupted from his leg, but Word ignored that.
Moordryd lay on his back, his head tilted to the right, away from Word. Word reached out with his left hand and turned Moordryd’s face. Moordryd gasped pitifully and with dire need for air. That mag-blast had knocked the wind out of him.
Word’s eyes were immediately torn from his son’s face to his side, where the attack had struck him. Word gasped.
Moordryd’s right side was bathed in dark blood. It was difficult to see in the fading light and through all the blood, but Word could tell that nearly his whole side had been ripped open. Blood gushed out at a frightening pace, drenching Moordryd’s clothing and the sand around him. Not just blood, but clear fluids and the remains of his intestines saw the gloomy light of day.
Word straightened. He couldn’t tear his eyes from Moordryd’s soon to be fatal wound. Even if there were a hospital nearby or some sort of help, Moordryd had no chance of living.
“F…f…father?” Moordryd coughed. Word looked to his son’s face. “Wher…where did…y…you come from?” He asked weakly, and with each word he spluttered, a trickle of blood seeped from his mouth and down his face and stained his white hair.
Word looked down at him, his dying son. “I….” He faltered, unable to say more as his mind slowed down. His son was dying.
“I…where’s the Dragon…Booster?” Moordryd nearly whispered and slowly glanced around.
Word cleared his throat and prepared himself to answer his son. But when Moordryd focused his failing eyes on him, Word stumbled. “He…the Dragon Booster…is gone…he’s run away.” Moordryd looked up at the sky.
“He’s not hurt?”
Moordryd tried to nod his head, but only managed a swift, awkward jerk. He closed his eyes in pain. Word sympathized and put his clawed hand to Moordryd’s forehead. Moordryd half opened his eyes feebly.
“Moordryd, why did you save the Dragon Booster?” Word asked softly, then his soft words became filled with a hint of anger. “You could have let him die. Why risk your life for his?”
“Because…he would’ve done the same for me.”
“I hardly see that as a good excuse.”
“And because the world needs him,” Moordryd looked blandly up at his father. “He’s right…he can save more people…help them….” And Moordryd stopped talking as he broke off in a fit of coughing. Word could hear the gurgle of blood in his throat as Moordryd coughed it up. Moordryd clenched his teeth as the shaking sent pain racing down his spine from the deadly wound in his side. When he calmed down, each breath he took was a desperate plea for air as the blood still in his throat barred much from making it to his lungs. The blood started to course from the corner of his mouth in regular pulses.
Moordryd began to shake uncontrollably. “I….”
“Hush,” Word said smoothly as he realized Moordryd was nearing the end. He inched closer and took Moordryd’s head and laid it on his lap. He wrapped his arms around it, providing a safe haven for Moordryd to pass away in. Moordryd looked up at him, barely able to see him, but still with a faint expression of shock and prolonged happiness.
“I’m…sorry for hitting you…with a mag-p…push,” Moordryd said, as tears began to emerge from his eyes. “I’m not going to make it, am I?” And he spoke that last sentence with such heart-stricken grief, that Word felt himself tear up. Moordryd gulped for air as he forced himself to continue, “I…wanted to tell you I…w…was the Shadow Booster for a long time before.”
Word forced the rising lump in his throat back and tried as hard as he could not to let the tears forming in his eyes to have an effect on his voice. “It’s okay,” he said.
All the anger before about Moordryd’s deception towards him almost diminished in an instant. As Word gazed down at his son, he felt proud. Moordryd had deceived him, but who else had even come close to doing that? Moordryd had showed his cunningness and his talents with the mag-moves as he fought beside his father and against him as well. Of course, Word was still held anger, but it was held at bay as he repeated the same thought over and over in his mind. Who else’s sons were legendary heroes?
Moordryd gazed up at the sky with his unfocused eyes and Word doubted that they saw anything. His breathing became increasingly laboured and Word clenched his teeth as he realized his only family would soon die. The dry wind taunted him with it’s forlorn howl as it raced throughout the wastelands. It carried distant screams and the smell of more blood.
Moordryd coughed slightly, and from then on, he took small, shallow breaths. His chest rose and fell slowly. “Relax,” Word said as gently as he had ever said something before, “rest, my son.” And then, remembering how Moordryd had always tried to impress him countless times before, just to see if his father was pleased, Word said, “you have made me proud, Moordryd Paynn.” Tears formed at the corners of his eyes, and he spoke again in a wounded voice, “you’ve made me proud.”
Word then grasped Moordryd tighter as his son utterly relaxed. And Word knew, even though Moordryd continued to stare up at the great expanse of sky, that his eyes saw nothing. Word held back his tears, refusing to let them fall.
The ground rocked violently as a huge explosion shook the land in the distance to Word’s right. Word looked in the direction, but the towering boulders blocked his gaze. In the sky, just above where the explosion had happened, lethal mag energy rocketed through the air.
Word turned back to his son and placed his body on the ground. Word stood and grimaced suddenly. His left leg reminded him of the deep gash on his calf. Word, doing his best to ignore it, rose. He could do nothing more for Moordryd, and if he stayed any longer, he was sure to be discovered.
Limping, Word veered away from his son and the battle. He would find Abanddonn and fight his war. He would find Armaggeddon and destroy him. He would fight to the end in memory of his dead son.
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