Suggested by Kathrine
The legend says I will rise from the ashes. But who will set the fire if I lack the power?
There is only one I can ask. My single remaining friend, my battle partner, the one who never forsook me. He who is one of the reasons I no longer have any other friends. All of my former friends are dead to me now. They do not understand that what I did was to save them. This will be my final sacrifice. Perhaps when I rise from my fiery grave, they will finally understand.
I walk through the flames that The Dragon has already kindled on the cliff walk, burning the scrub bushes that cling to the crumbling edges of the narrow path. It is a Way of Fire and it seems fitting to me that my final road should be as fiery as my life has heretofore been. Below the cliff people thickly crowd the plain, watching, always watching me. I arrive at the top of the cliff and reach out mentally to The Dragon.
You are ready now? he asks.
You are certain this will save them?
If I were not, I would not have gone forward with it.
There is that in his eyes that speaks of homage to me.
Remember, you must fly far and fast after you have set the fire. They will not bother you once you have left, if you are gone swiftly.
They will think that you sacrificed yourself to me, in the way the stories all tell of maidens being sacrificed to dragons.
It is well that they do. Our world is not ready to accept the idea that humans could work with dragons instead of against them. Ours has been a rare and beautiful partnership.
I do not want it to be over.
Nor do I. But alas, the good of the many and the good of the few almost never march hand in hand.
Did I not know you would rise, I would not do this. Even with that knowledge I do not know if I can.
You swore. Honor your oath!
He had been pacing back and forth in front of the cliff while we spoke telepathically. To the people waiting in breathless suspense below, it seemed as if he was savoring his victory before he pounced. At my call, he drew back his head and in one more second, there was fire all around me. The heat is suffocating, but it will be a few minutes before I am overcome. I look out at the people below, the ones who are now safe. They will never know all that has been done in secret to preserve their lives, but that is as it should be.
As the flames crackle and reach higher, The Dragon launches himself into the air, flying one triumphant victory circle around the cliff. The people scream curses and imprecations at him. He dives low over me, locking eyes with me one last time. Once more, I feel his loyalty, so vibrant and strong it has always seemed to me almost as if it had a life of its own. It's time to tell him.
Your loyalty has been beyond price. I was not complete until I met you.
I love you. I will always love you.
I will never forget you. Perhaps we will meet again.
I will not cease to look for you until my eyes close in deathsleep.
I love you, too, you know.