The boy and the dragon stood together for a while and thought about what had happened. Then Vasilis said, "It's getting late, what should we do for the night? I can't get back to the village before dark, and my people would wonder where I am. And after all that has happened, I really don't think it would be right leaving."
"Yes. I would not like to be alone tonight-- it would be my first time. We could probably stay in my Father's-- in my cave." The dragon said, still a little sad. But nevertheless, they walked up to the cave, Vasilis gathering some wood along the way. Once they were inside Vasilis started building a fire, or at least attempting. "I could probably do it faster, May I?" The dragon asked
"Sure." Said Vasilis. The young dragon spit a little bit fire at the pile of wood, and it promptly started burning.
"I wish I could make fire that easily, it would have taken me a long time to get it started. Thanks." Vasilis said.
"It was nothing, I am glad to help a friend." The dragon said, and looked at the boy while sadly smiling. The boy seemed perturbed by something. "What's wrong?"
"I'm still a little confused about something. You say that we're friends...But after what my people did, how can you be friends with a human? Even just staring at one should boil your blood. At least, that's what would happen to me." Vasilis said, slightly upset.
"I don't want to hate people. I don't want to live in fear, and I don't want destroy, simply because others destroy. And I do not want to be alone. To be honest, if I had killed you, I probably wouldn't be around long either. Your people would have gone on another hunt, and would likely have killed me. You saved me, in a way. But even now, I'm all alone...I have no one" The dragon said, while looking at the boy with pleading eyes. "It would be nice to have a friend."
"Of course. It's the least I can do, after all that happened." Vasilis said. They both sat in the cave and wondered what to do next, and how theirs lives would play out. Until their thoughts were interrupted by the rustling of the bushes out side. "Something is coming..." Vasilis said.
"It's a human!" The dragon replied angrily.
"Maybe you should hide, and I will talk to whoever it is." suggested Vasilis.
"No, I will come with you this time, I will not lose another friend by hiding in a corner!" The dragon said, ready to dismember whoever was coming.
"Vas? Are you in there?" The human yelled into the cave. The voice was very recognizable
"Father?" Vasilis shouted back.
"Oh, thank God I found you! Why are you up here? It's dangerous to be up here, especially at night. God only knows what kind of demons that dragon could've summoned when it died " He replied. The dragon scowled silently, as Vasilis gave him a silent command to calm down.
"It's ok, dad. There's nothing evil up here" Replied the boy.
"Ok, I'm coming. I just worry about you. There's a lot of st-" He replied, before catching sight of what was in the rest of the cave. He stared at the copper scales and the eyes of the dragon. He was starting to run, but he was not fast enough as the dragon had just jumped and pinned him to the ground.
"Vasilis, Run!" He screamed, still under the pressure of the claw.
"Why? I've been here all day, and nothing bad has happened to me yet. Why should I run?" He said, while placing his hand on the dragons back, showing that it is in fact benevolent.
"But..." The trapped man protested.
"But what? You still believe the elder, even after you have proof in front of your own eyes!? If he wanted to kill you, don't you think he would've done it by now!? You know he could kill us both at any second, but he won't. He's better than that...unlike us" Vasilis preached
"I..." The man said, trying to protest again.
"He's right, and you know it. I don't want to hurt you. No, I won't hurt you; there would be no point. I can stay here all day and all night if I have to. Or I could let you up right now, if you don't hurt me. I don't want you to go back to that village and tell them to go on another hunt. I don't want to die, and neither do you. Are we clear?" The dragon explained.
The terrified man once again looked at his son. Vasilis saw the distrust in his eyes, and was appalled. He turned away and gripped the body of the dragon harder in anger. The dragon gave him a sympathetic look. The older man sighed, and said, "I'm sorry" Vasilis stared at him in disbelief.
"Why are you sorry? I thought 'the elder is wise and all-knowing'" Vasilis quoted.
"I was wrong...This dragon didn't kill me or corrupt me like the elder said it would. And I don't think it's going to..." The man said. The dragon looked over at the boy, who gave a silent nod. The young reptile lifted his claws slowly off the man.
"I forgive you, father." Said Vasilis, walking to his father's side.
"Thank you, Vas" Said his father. Vasilis told his father how they met. Afterward his father looked at him in disbelief and said, "The village chief is an idiot! Maybe he thought what he was doing was best for his people, but he is a close-minded fool!" He turned to the dragon.
"I was with the raiding party and I helped them-- you know. I didn't know that-- I thought that you were-- What I'm trying to say is, I'm sorry. My village's elder told all of us that dragons existed only to kill humans. Can you forgive me?" Said the father, kneeling.
"I do not know If I can forgive you yet, but I will not hurt you. Killing someone else's father will not bring mine back, and I would lose the only friend I have." said the dragon, sadly.
"What should we do now?" Asked the father, "I do not know where you can go and be safe."
"If we came to the village and showed them that the dragon meant no harm, would any of them believe us?" Asked Vasilis.
"It is possible, but the elder would tell them that dragons are liars and that he has corrupted us, and then we might all be killed." The father replied.
"Let's think about it in the morning, I brought some food for you Vasilis, none for the dragon though." The father said, "Say, do you have a name?"
"You can call me Sotirios" Said the dragon, "What is your name?"
"I am called Nahan." Said the man. Nahan gave some of the food to Vasilis and they began eating.
"How did you find me?" Asked Vasilis.
"After you ran away and did not come back for hours, I went looking for you, I saw the light from your fire and came here." Nahan replied. "I was worried about you."
"Thank you." Said Vasilis. They finished eating and prepared to sleep. Nahan unrolled a bedroll for himself to sleep on. Vasilis leaned against Sotirios's side and quickly fell asleep, along with his new scaly friend. Nahan could not get to sleep right away; His mind was buzzing with all that had happened. The creature, whom he had thought (or been told to think) was purely evil, now had its arm around his son's neck. Although it was clear that it was only to comfort each other, he feared for his son's life. But then he took a second look at his son sleeping peacefully by the dragon, who had partially covered him with his wing. He looked at the dragon and realized that it was quite beautiful; it's copper scales twinkling in the light of the dying fire. He saw both of them had a smile on their faces. He also smiled. Although he still had no proof that this dragon was really friendly and kind-hearted, he felt he didn't need it anymore. He just wished that he could convince his village that not all dragons were bad. was finely able to get to sleep after deciding to do anything he could to mend the fear in the village, he supposed that some dragons were evil and caused the stories that the chief told, but so were some humans evil.
They woke early the next morning, and started to make plans. Nahan asked Sotirios, "How do dragons view humans? In my village the chief tells us that dragons are nothing but monsters who do nothing but lie and destroy, obviously this is not true of all dragons."
"My father told me that humans are best left alone. We came here because there were too many humans where we lived before, they were taking up most our hunting grounds. The humans there did not bother us often, as dragons were there before they were. So I suppose they were used to seeing dragons in the sky. I had heard stories of dragon slayers, evil humans who fight and kill dragons for sport-- Unfortunately, the stories are true." Said Sotirios, sadly. "I must forgive you, Nahan, you were acting to protect your family and your people, not simply to kill and destroy."
"Thank you." Said Nahan.
"I do not think I could have forgiven you if you had been involved in killing my father." Vasilis said.
"He is not the one who killed my father, it was your chief elder. You were just a pawn in his plan. I do not blame you, you were doing your job." Sotirios said.
"But now I have a new job. I want to help you. I feel responsible for orphaning you, and I want to make it better. I just don't know how." Nahan responded.
"It's ok. I know that you want to help, but I don't see what you could do. I'll be fine, though. Don't worry about me." Sotirios said.
"It's not ok. I couldn't live with myself if I couldn't at least try to undo what we did. There's so many people out there who are ignorant, like I was. Even when I first saw you...until I saw you and my son, I still would've tried to kill you." Nahan responded sadly.
"Maybe if everyone else saw us together...maybe they wouldn't be afraid anymore either. But how can we show them? You can't exactly pin down an entire village and yell at them until they finally get it." Vas chuckled.
"Maybe we could, metaphorically speaking. If we show them that we're friends, and that I would never hurt you, maybe they would accept me." Sotirios suggested.
"But the second we enter the village they will attack." Vasilis objected.
"Unless we go somewhere where they can see us, but not hurt us." Sotirios said.
"What do you mean?" Nahan asked curiously
"I mean the sky. Can they attack us if we are flying?" The dragon asked.
"No, I don't think they can." Vasilis said, but he seemed perturbed by something.
"What's wrong?" The young reptile asked.
Vasilis hesitated for a second. Afterward he said, "No, it should work perfectly! But...just to make sure...I think that Dad should go down just to make sure everything will work out. The best time to do it would be a sunset, when everyone will be out and about."
"That seems like a good idea. I'll go to make sure that everyone will be out, and that there will be no problems. Then, you two fly by over the village together. Hopefully that will make everyone see that we can live in peace." Nahan said, as he started walking down the mountain and back to the village. That just left the two friends.
"Are you sure you want to do this? We can always just fly away and leave them to their ways." Said Sotirios.
"No, we must at least try. We cannot let ignorance claim anymore lives, either dragon or human."
"I agree, It's just that I don't want anything to go wrong. I don't want to be alone again." Said Sotirios.
"Nothing will go wrong, all will work out."
"Well, let's do it." The boy climbed onto his friend's shoulders, and hung onto his neck.
"You Ok? Asked Sotirios. "It would not be very good if you fell off."
"I should be good, I have never flown before, I can't wait. But if I fall out of the sky...will you be standing by?" Said Vasilis.
"I'll be standing by. Now hang on tight! I am going to take off now!" Said Sotirios. The dragon leaped off of the ground with great force, so much that Vasilis almost fall off backwards. Once they were airborne Vasilis looked in awe at his surroundings, he had obviously never seen the land from this angle and wondered if any other human ever had.
They flew low over the village, so everyone could see them, so everyone could see Vasilis riding. The people first looked afraid, then confused as they spotted the rider. The dragon and boy flew higher and looked for a place to land, the boy was still amazed by flying, and his grip had loosened. Sotiros hit some rough air and Vasilis lost his balance and slipped off of his friend's shoulders and started falling.
The dragon felt his friend fall off, and then seen him falling, he nearly panicked but then he began diving towards to boy, he refused let him die. His sharp eyes following his friend as he fell, he caught up and carefully grabbed his friend in his claws. The ground was coming fast, he started pulling up and flew right over the villager's heads. He landed carefully a short distance away from the village. The young dragon looked at his friend, still in his claws. The boy got up and stood next to him.
"Are you OK?" Asked Sotirios.
"Yes." Vasilis said, still shaking. "Thank you. We may have other problems now though." The chief was coming towards them, and some of the best fighters in the village were following.
"Another monster has come! This one has deceived and enslaved one of our young men! We must destroy it!" The chief preached.
"This is no monster!" Vasilis shouted over the chief "This is my friend, who has just saved my life!"
"Saved you? After he dropped you?" Asked the chief, sarcastically
"He did not drop me. I fell off, and he caught me." Said Vasilis
"Kill it! it has deceived this boy!" Shouted the Chief. He then pulled out a knife to throw at the dragon. But his aim was off, the knife flew on a path right towards Vas. Sotirios used his claws to push Vasilis out of the way and moved in front of him, taking the knife in his side. He growled and jumped towards the chief, pinning him to the ground, the same as he had done to Vasilis the day before.
"You filthy monster! " Then he spoke louder, so all of the shocked people could hear. "This man ordered the killing of my Father in cold blood! My Father had done nothing to harm this village. We came here in peace, but you attacked us without any cause! No, I will not kill him, it would not solve anything and only bring more death and violence. I only want everyone to know the truth, that not all dragons are evil killers."
"It hold me down with one claw, and the other raised to strike! Don't listen to it! Protect me! Help me! Destroy it!" The Chief said frantically, as almost the entire village picked up whatever could be used as weapons. They formed a circle around the boy and dragon. Some of the men restrained Vasilis, so he would not interfere.
Sotirios gave up. Even after everything happened, the people still didn't see. They only followed that idiot chief. He sighed and lifted his claws off the man. "I give up. I'm done. I don't want to hurt anyone here; I tried to prove that. But I'm done." He said, as he spread his wings and flew back to the mountain. The people put down their weapons and stayed quiet. They didn't know whether to consider it a victory or a defeat. They waited for their next instructions.
Vasilis broke free of the man holding him back. He walked to the center of the circle and looked down at the shaken up man. He didn't know why he was acting so blind, or why he just wanted to kill. He decided to ask.
"Do you remember that speech you gave yesterday morning? You said that there were creatures that just wanted to kill. You said that there were creatures who killed in blind anger for no reason. You said that there were creatures that couldn't be reasoned with, no matter what. Now I wonder: Were you talking about the dragons, or yourself?" He asked monotonically. The man looked up and scowled. "Why are you so angry? What has he done to you that you didn't deserve? He let you live, even after you killed his father. But that wasn't enough. You still called an attack on him. You killed his father without any reason, you accused him of trying to kill me, his only friend, you almost killed me, his only friend-- but that wasn't enough for him to draw any blood. All it took for you was just seeing him. Do you really think you're in the right?" Vas then noticed everyone listening in on his speech. "Do any of you think you're in the right?" He asked.
"They're evil. They are all evil. Always have been, always will be." The chief mumbled.
"Sotirios was right...I give up, too. I'm not losing a friend over a stubborn man who can't see the truth. I'm leaving. Maybe I'll be back when you're gone...maybe I'll never come back. But as for now, I'm going to live with the only person that really understands, and who really needs a friend right now." Vasilis said, as he started to walk to the mountain. All eyes were on him as he walked alone down that stone path. He broke through the circle of people and continued on his journey. Many eyes cast there gaze upon him, but he only returned one persons glance. He looked up at his father's eyes. They were impossible to read, though. Whether they cried out guilt, frustration, longing, hope, or defeat was a mystery. He continued to walk.
"Sotirios?" Vasilis's voice echoed in the cave.
"Over here." The dragon's voice answered. "I guess we were wrong...we really can't change their minds. I guess your chief is just too hard-headed."
"You're right, the chief is too hard-headed to realize your a person. But I'm not. Let me see that knife wound, I hope it's not serious." He said. After seeing how far it had been in, he really felt guilty that he let it happen, and greatful that he had a friend who would do that for him. "Thank you for saving my life, for the second time." Vasilis went to his friend's side to pull out the chief's knife. It was not a bad wound, for his size, but still, the knife's blade was completely embedded in. If it had been any longer...he didn't want to think of the damage caused. Vasilis started to pull it out when Sotirios jumped slightly.
"Hold on! We can't leave it there!" Vasilis said, "Just hold still, it wont hurt long." Vasilis jerked the knife out as Sotirios flinched again.
"Thanks, it's odd how it did not hurt at all when hit me." Sotirios said, "What will we do now? The chief will not change, as I am sure you have realized."
"Yes, I have. I don't know what we will do. I suppose we should just fly away and leave them to their ways." Vasilis said with his head down low. He felt bad that he was just giving up.
"Yes, I cannot think of anything else we could do to change them." Sotirios said sadly. Sotirios and Vasilis sat next each other and watched the crimson sunset, along with the change of seasons. Sotirios suddenly got to his feet and looked intently at the door.
"What is it?" Vasilis asked.
"Many humans! Coming towards the cave!" Sotirios said, growling.
"I can't be another raiding party, can it?" Vasilis said, worried. "I hope not, but why else would so many come? "
"Let's go meet whoever it is, if we do not survive, I am glad to have met you." The dragon said, while sadly smiling. "Now it's time. We will seize the day"
"Yes we will. This story will end where it began.
Vasilis and Sotirios walked to the entrance, ready to meet whoever they found there. Vasilis armed only with the chief's dagger, still covered with his friend's blood, Sotirios with his claws teeth and fire. This could be they're last confrontation with the villagers. In fact, they almost knew it to be true.