A roar rang in Nathan’s ears, coming from the purple dragon nearby. Nathan’s stomach lurched as he looked at his knee. The skin around his knee was bruised from the force of the metal going through his bracers. It had a large gash about an inch long under the kneecap, and the muscle under it was torn far apart. A swordsman had flailed his sword after Nathan had caught the soldier beneath the chin with his hammer. Now, Nathan lay in a trench next to Cole. Nathan flinched as Cole probed his fingers into his skin especially deep.
“This will itch, so stay as still as you can, or the flow of magic will stop,” said Cole as he cupped his hands around Nathan’s knee.
Cole whispered a short phrase in the ancient language. The flow of magic made his skin crawl, but then the feeling subsided to a dull soreness. Cole looked white, and he was shivering from using magic on three other men before himself. A loud clink of steel on steel brought Nathan back to the situation at hand. He looked up at the sky, and he saw the purple dragon produce a wave of fire, catching a wagon ablaze. A man who was fighting behind the wagon fled with a howl into a nearby lake with a tail of flame behind him.
At the sight, Nathan got up and untied Fire-Eater from a nearby tree. The pure white horse was nickering, but at the sight of his rider he calmed down quickly. As Nathan climbed onto the horse, a shot of hot, blinding pain raged through his body from his knee. He shifted blindly in the saddle, and he almost fell of, but he managed to hold on to the horn. As his vision came back, he looked at the battle field.
The Empire was winning, but the commander's grey horse was not on guard behind a row of spears and men. With a fierce cry, Nathan held his battle hammer in the air, and he charged toward the tree. When he got close, he rose in the saddle and jumped off his steed, twisted in the air, and landed in the saddle. He cringed from slamming into the horn.
Five soldiers turned around all at once, and they circled Nathan in a small loop. Nathan stuck his heels into the horse's flanks, and he caught the first two soldiers with its hooves. He grabbed a spear from one of the soldiers, turned it around, and stabbed the man in the eye. Nathan then grabbed the dagger from the soldier's belt, and Nathan stabbed it into the next. As he gurgled, the fifth soldier stopped dead in his tracks with his eyes wide, as Nathan hit him upon the head with his own hammer.
Nathan looked around for a second, waiting for more. There were none; he had killed them all within a few minutes. There was still carnage on the battlefield, a dozen soldiers were still exchanging blows with his own men. He readied himself, taking a spear, two daggers, and a mace from the men he had killed.
He jabbed his heels into the flank of the grey battle horse, tried to control it as the horse jumped over the wagons onto two of the soldiers, most likely piercing their lungs. With that distraction, his soldiers dispatched the men on the road. He handed out his daggers, mace, and spear to soldiers who did not get weapons from the dead soldiers.
The carnage was almost unbearable, and the face of a man who did not get out of the burning wagons made bile come up his throat. Nathan leaned over the side of his saddle, and he spewed his small breakfast of cheese and bread onto the roots of an old oak tree.
The battle was not over yet; the dragon was still killing Nathan’s soldiers at a fast rate. The dragon was taking down more and more of Nathan’s men. The road was strewn with blood, vomit, broken weapons, and all the carnage of dead soldiers.
With all that going on, Nathan only thought of his dead family, all killed by a dragon years ago before the fall of the riders. Their faces were stuck in his mind like it was only yesterday. He had lost his mother, father, and two younger sisters, LouAnn and Martha. If they were still alive, LouAnn would be fourteen, and Martha would be ten. He, himself, was only nineteen, old enough to find a fair wife to have many young sons to take over the throne.
Nathan’s blood lust was overpowering as he jumped over a creek and rounded the road to its north side. Squatting in the saddle, he pulled a spear out of a fallen soldier, and rode straight toward the towering purple dragon. It blew a tongue of flame at an old tree with a tower for archers rested in between the thick, sturdy limbs. Nathan watched the tree disappear in a wall of flame, right before he threw the battered spear at the dragon.
The spear flew true, and it hit the creature in the eye. The creature jerked from the pain, and it let out a gut-wrenching roar. It locked eyes with Nathan for just a second, and then she lost her focus as something fell from its back.
The dragon’s rider hit the ground with a dull thunk. The dragon fell to the ground beside her, letting out a wail unlike anything Nathan had ever heard before. Nathan got up, and he slowly stepped towards the Dragon-Rider. The dragon made no move to come at him, and he sighed with relief. He took one step after another, creeping to the woman. He finally reached her, and pulled off her helmet. It was his sister, LouAnn.