He inhaled a deep breath and let it ignite with his inner flame before blowing out a long stream of fire.
In the moment of heat and light, he saw another tunnel. Carcasses of dead rodents and debris left by spelunkers caught fire and burned slowly, creating beacons for him to use as he traveled.
Twisting and turning, he continued his trek until he caught the soft crimson glow of magma. And a voice, low and rumbly.
He peeked his head around the corner. The tunnel ended at the edge of another crater, alive with a fresh river of molten rock. Even more exciting was the Drake lounging next to the steaming lava. He had massive with scales of deep crimson, glowing around the edges with the fire that burned within his belly.
Dax took a step closer, ready to introduce himself, but hesitated the moment he heard him speak.
“Come to watch the mountain burn?” At first Dax thought the Drake was speaking to him, but after brief pause, he continued to talk to himself. “Tourists love the fires. They’re so pretty. Oooh, look at how it burns!”
There was something familiar in the deep, haughty voice, as if he had heard it before, but he couldn’t place exactly where that was. He stared, scrutinizing the other dragon as he continued to ramble.
“Stupid humans. The whole lot of them. They have all this glorious land to enjoy, and what do they do?” The Drake laughed maniacally. “They destroy. They abuse. They don’t even see the beauty. They don’t deserve any of this.”
Hearing those words, Dax was reminded of some of the Elders back home who’d preached about the horrors of humanity. The abuses of the land. The drive to conquer and destroy. They spoke as if humanity was a plague to be endured until they destroyed themselves, and then the day of the dragon would come.
“Come. Flock to the mountain.” Laughter continued. “And burn with it.”
As if in response, the ground shook below them.
Burn was right. He could feel it in his bones. This volcano was nearly ready to release, and when she did, everything in her path would burn.
But Dax did not share the same enjoyment in knowing that cleansing by flame meant loss of life. Even the Elders of his people who preached against the vile human plague would never go as far as wishing their destruction. Patience was always their motto.
This Drake, however, with his maniacal laughter, was clearly hoping to see them all die.
He hadn’t seen much of humanity, but even if they were ignorant of their place in nature, there was no joy to be had in their potential destruction. Dax chose to turn away from the madness, hoping to avoid crossing paths with him in the future.
And again his thoughts turned to Jane. She would burn. His heart nearly froze as the reality struck him. The mountain would erupt. Lava would flow and bring with it destruction. If not for her, he’d leave the island and return home. He could see a volcano there and not have to endure the sight of people dying.
But Jane was here, and despite not knowing her well, he felt something strange whenever her image came to mind.
He cared whether or not she survived, and for that reason alone, chose to stay longer – if only to warn her.
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