Last Breath

The clink was familiar. Irregular footsteps, metal boots hitting rock, he knew what he would see even before he opened one eye to gaze at the figure approaching. Was he trying to sneak in all that armor? Absurd. Almost as silly as wearing the armor in the first place. It never protected them, but they kept doing it.

“What do you want, human?”

The man stopped, apparently startled. “You can talk?”

“Of course.” Other than opening one eye and speaking, he had not yet moved. The human did not seem to be much of a threat, but it was good to be cautious; they were unpredictable creatures.

“No one told me you could talk.”

“Indeed. Did they also not tell you I can hear?”

“What?”

“That armor you are wearing. It is rather… loud.”

“Oh.”

“I will ask you again. What do you want?”

“Well…” Even though humans were largely a mystery to him, he recognized discomfort.

He lifted his head, slowly, and turned so both eyes could focus on the man. That seemed to make the intruder more nervous. “You were sent here to kill me, yes?”

Perhaps the man had thought his purpose had not been obvious. In any event, he took a step back and began pulling at his sword. It caught in its sheath.

“Someone must want you dead, sending you to me. You clearly are not prepared for such a battle.” Without uncurling his body, he spread his wings a little. He wanted to be able to move quickly in case the man actually attacked him.

Instead, he gave up trying to draw his blade. “It is true that this adventure was not exactly my choice.”

“Then why come? Surely you know that this will not end well for you.”

“I want to prove myself. I am trying to win the affection of a woman.”

“And your death will accomplish this?”

“Not my death. Yours.”

“But how do you hope to manage that?” His curiosity was genuinely aroused. Humans never really spoke to him. To be fair, he never gave them much of a chance to speak. This one’s willingness to answer made him aware of how many questions he had.

“I… I do not know. I suppose I thought my love would give the strength to succeed.”

“Love? I admit I know little about it, but I do not see how that should be of use in this situation.”

“I must confess I am not so certain myself anymore.”

“So what will you do now?”

“I must find a way, even if love is not the answer.”

“What? You mean to still attempt my death?”

“I must. I cannot return unless I do. I will fight you until my last breath.”

“So even if I allow you to leave, you will refuse?”

“That is correct.”

“Very well.” He opened his mouth wide and exhaled.

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