by Mark Staufenberg
'Dragonmaster Alex' thought the boy, gazing through the branches the large oak in whose boughs he was now seated, 'A dream come true. But what good does such a title do me?ā
He gazed down at the Dragonmasterās armor. MY armor, he corrected himself. ĪThe combined power of the Four Dragons, bestowed upon a mere child. How can one such as I ever dream of challenging as legend such as Ghaleon?ā
Alex leaned back against the trunk of the tree, his eyes closing. ĪI am only a child compared to him, a weak, impotent child. How many times must he prove this to me before I understand?ā
Alex heard the soft beating of tiny wings gently break the clam of the night air. "Alex?" called out a familiar voice, "Are you there?"
Despite himself, Alex smiled. "Iām here Nall," he said quietly, relying on his companionās perceptive hearing to pick up the whispered reply.
He heard a squeaky grunt of confirmation and an eventual thump as Nall landed on a nearby branch. Opening his eyes, he saw Nall, curled up in the crook of an adjacent branch, his body-length wings folded tightly against his catlike body to keep out the chill of the night air. "Thinking about Luna, huh?" asked Nall, nodding with confirmation even before the words had escaped his lips.
Alex quickly closed his eyes again, the sting of fresh tears jolting him out of his momentary revelry. Luna. "No," said Alex softly, "I was trying my hardest not to think about her actually."
Luna, a glazed look in her eyes, sings a song unlike any Alex has ever heard. The Black Dragon appears, or at least its body does, Its eyes are soulless pits, the life having been extinguished when Ghaleon destroyed its soul. The song changes pitch and the maw of the great beast opens, revealing a churning mass of lightning beyond the fearsome teeth of the great beast. The jaws spread wider and the energy spills forth in a great cascading torrent. Luna looks on impassively as the dark song spreads from her like a dark cloud..
Alex snapped his eyes open, dispelling the dark memory from his mind. "And obviously doing a great job of it," said Nall drolly.
Nall looked away, slightly chagrined at a sharp look from Alex. "Sorry Alex," said Nall, "Uh.. what were you thinking about then?"
Alex looked away silently for a moment. "Why are we doing this?" he asked, "Thereās just no way we can win! Every time we go up against Ghaleon he just brushes us aside! Weāre just kids! Up until a few weeks ago, Iād never even handled a real sword! What chance do we have against someone as powerful as him?"
Nall was shocked, heād never seen Alex like this, so utterly without hope. "Of course we have a chance," he said," After all you are the Dragonmaster-"
"So what?" yelled Alex, slamming a hand into his breastplate, "Itās just armor and a title, see? Just words and metal! Ghaleon has an army, he has power, he has.."
Alex broke off mid-sentence, tears streaming down his face. "He has Luna." Said Nall, finishing the thought.
The dark magic of the song washes over Alex and the others, paralyzing them, crushing them amongst waves of dark energy. Alex looks up just as the Black Dragonās energy wave washes over the party, causing screams of pain from the others even as the Dragonmasterās armor absorbs the brunt of the attack. Alex watches on, horrified as the energy sears their skin, even as he feels himself weakening. He looks up to the source of the dark power that holds them captive, and sees no glimmer of recognition, no chance for mercy. "Luna..."
"Weāll get her back Alex," said Nall with confidence he didnāt feel. "We will."
"How?" replied Alex, his voice barely audible against the gentle breeze.
Nall turned away, unable to look at Alex, for fear the pain and sadness would overtake him. Feeling utterly helpless, he flew off, leaving Alex alone to his thoughts.
Desperate to stop the torment of his friends, Alex pulls out his ocarina, hoping, perhaps vainly to restore Lunaās memory. He begins to play, the familiar melody sweeping over him, giving him the strength to continue against the dark power of the Song. The lilting melody catches the wind, floating over to the rigid form of Luna. Upon reaching her ears a change is apparent. The glazed look begins to fade as her voice catches and stumbles over the dark melody of the Song. Finally she ceases singing, her eyes again full of life. "A-Alex?" she asks. Alex stares wide eyed at the girl in front of him. Perhaps there is hope....
Alex stopped sobbing, wiping his eyes dry as he again leaned back against the comforting strength of the tree trunk. Slowly, he reached into his pack, his hands automatically encircling his faithful ocarina. He brought the instrument to his lips and haltingly began to play the song of the Goddess festival. The lilting melody cut through the night air, its haunting tune spreading through the forest as a young boy played on as if his life depended on it. And in some way, perhaps it did.