The world has shifted, and yet again he feels himself being left quiet and behind. How many more lives must he lead? How many more can he mold? What of worth could he leave behind in the wake of this pain, and suffering?
High in the hollow, where the air grows thinner than the wet, humid fog that clings to the golden surface of the lush jungle below, he watches, waits for a sign that may never come. Out across the horizon, the corpse of a long dead dragon, failing to rot, failing to decay, and when he shifts to think back on those dark, venom laced days, something groans. A cursory glance. A grimace. His shoulder. That creak and groan of joints that have grown too used to hardship, with the consistent pressure of a waiting world.
Am I really getting that old?
There is no response. Droning from the land below him.
The sun begins its final arc through the sky, the herald to the end of the day. Night would be upon them soon, and even with the jungle stilled, it would be unwise to remain so high up where rooks and ravens, carrion eaters would fly. The wyverns might mistake him for prey, and there would be little left of him come sunrise. When he stands, his knees begin to complain as well.
And still, below. Still, the remnants of a fight he could not see to the end. His fears, unfounded. The battle won. And yet, there remains a hole, there remains an awful void where the seat of knowledge might have found it sealed for good. A thought manifests into his head, and the deadline grows closer. Fear, trepidation… acceptance. It would be just like him, right? There will be another like him. There always will. Hells, he’d sown those seeds himself in the young men and women he leaves below.
They will miss him, yes. There are better things worth remembering.
Forgive him, this final moment of theater.
He spreads his arms, and waits. And when the sun begins to dip he breathes in, slow and deep, he opens his eyes once more to behold the crimson sliver that bids him farewell from beyond the treetops. A goodbye, a promise. When it winks out, when the warmth of this last sunset fades, he holds his breath, and sinks into his own shadow.
How it burns bright and hot at the center of it, this roiling desire that sears and cauterizes everything that touches it, a twisting kernel or – something alien, something pure in it’s visage. Something molten.
From the dark waters of the muck, she rises, a single, taloned hand amidst the grime that pulls the body upwards, and upwards even still. The sickly sweet smell of nectar follows her.
A trail of rot follows in its wake.