~We didn't think anything of them.~ Rhaelgyr told me as the memory slowed once more. The sun was setting, the clouds a riot of bright colors. Several dragons circled the khaledra, a lone voice raised in song. ~They were pests. Humans living in mud huts with sticks to defend themselves.~
Darkness fell, and the sky filled with a myriad of stars. On the northern hemisphere, an aurora began dancing. Rhaelgyr's home was breathtaking, though odd. It was unique, like looking into the face of creation itself.
~Sounds like they should have been easy to handle.~ Small figures darted from shadow to shadow on the escarpment.
~Yes, they should have been.~
~So what happened?~ More movement now, faster, seething toward the castle.
~They weren't exactly primitive humans.~
We swooped toward the ground, close to the humans. They'd only seemed small from a dragon's point of view; up close they were tall, powerfully muscled, and well armored.
They moved like experts, keeping hidden, not drawing attention to themselves. The soaring dragons landed, roars and growls coming from the khaldera. The humans were silent, communicating with hand gestures alone. I saw no weapons, but I felt the danger they represented.
Humans circled the khaldera, eyes lifted to the upper reaches. Did they expect dragons to fall on them?
~Of course they do.~ Rhaelgyr answering my unspoken question quickly reminded me how close we really were. ~Dragons can see in the dark.~
~Do you have any weaknesses?~ My voice was teasing and light.
~Pride. Notice we have no defenses?~ The attackers brought out grapling hooks and climbing gear. Nothing mere primitives would have.
~Who would assault a dragon castle?~
He laughed. ~Exactly~ Hooks flew from gas-powered launchers, digging into obsidian several hundred feet up. ~Making it easy for intruders to get in.~
The humans rose through the air, quickly arriving at the lowest landing. Their black armor blended with the shadows and obsidian, quickly lost to my eyes in the memory. They disappeared in the khaldera, and the night fell silent.
Until the first roar. We were suddenly inside, traveling halls of volcanic glass. The entire place smelled of sulfar, spice, and dust. And now blood.
Humans swarmed across a dragon, hacking at its wings, disabling flight. A metal net wrapped around its muzzle. One of the humans was crumpled in the corner, moaning brokenly. The others ignored their fallen comrade, hacking at the dragon.
~We feel safe in our lairs. No one would attack us where we live.~
~How soon before the others arrive?~
~Minutes. All lairs are joined, but a khaldera isn't designed as one big home. Just a series of linked rooms.~
~They didn't get here in time.~ I was stunned by the amount of damage done to the helpless dragon.
~No.~ Bitterness flooded the connection. ~They gutted her before anyone arrived.~
A dragon scream filled the room, rising high, then cutting off. Tears rose, and I wanted to turn away, but couldn't. Rhaelgyr was showing all of this memory to me.