Alex stepped out into the sun and took in a deep breath. Today was unusually hot, even for his little southern town. He checked his phone for the weather report of the day and saw the weather was meant to climb to an impressive one hundred twenty degrees Fahrenheit!
He shook his head and made his way to his car. Mondays usually contained no excitement for Alex Gray. This Monday was no different to him and all he had planned for his day, was an eight-hour shift at his bar. He found the work to be fun. He liked the people and while there wasn't much money in owning a bar in the south anymore, he liked the regular customers that would come in.
The drive to his job was typically a short one. He would usually take the interstate, but today was a little different. Something pulled him toward the back road that would take him an extra half an hour to get to work. It was a strong pull, and he was unable to rationalize it but he chose that road anyway.
"Wow, Alex. You just had to take the back roads!", he yelled at himself. He was ready to turn around when all the sunlight that burned him just moments ago, was gone. It was suddenly dark enough that Alex was unable to drive farther. He slowed to a stop and turned his car off. "What the-", he was interrupted when something fell to the ground just in front of his car. He yelled in surprise and covered his eyes as if he was waiting for the glass to break in his car. He looked up and drew in a sharp breath.
Just in front of Alex, there was a strange winged creature. It walked upright, and it looked almost human! He looked at the scaled creature and he noticed it's head tilt to the side. This thing was examining him! He reached under the seat for his .45 caliber pistol and when he had it in his hand he opened the door. His hand was shaking, and he did not know what he was going to do. All he knew, was he was going to find out if this thing was dangerous or not! He took a step forward and the creature stepped back and flinched. It was scared.
Alex couldn't help but notice this and put the gun down. He mentally kicked himself.
If this thing is dangerous...you just set down your one chance at a defense you idiot! He told himself. He raised his hands up to try to show he meant to harm to it. He stood and waited until the creature looked back up at him.
"You...human?", it asked, stretching out its gold scaled hand. Alex screamed. It was almost embarrassing to him how loud he screamed. The creature in turn screamed out of fear as well.
"You can talk?", Alex yelled in shock and confusion.
"I can talk. You didn't know?", this thing tilted his head again as if it expected him to know about it.
"What are you? Where did you come from?"
"Oh. You're a local...People in your town don't know yet. I am a Dragon. My name is Dracus. My father sent me to find a man named Alex. He is our king and we need his help.", Dracus extended his hand yet again.
"This Alex...Do you know what he looks like? I'm Gray.", Alex shook Dragus' hand. He knew he wasn't entirely truthful, but he reasoned that any man in his position would do the very same.
"His appearance is not known to me, unfortunately. All I know is he works at a place called Bar. He put his memory to sleep and we all need him. The rest of the world is in danger of being destroyed by a woman named Eryn.", Dracus' emerald eyes sparkled as he saw what he knew to be a spark of memory cross Alex.
"Gray...Are you sure that is your name? Dragons can see more than you think.", Dracus smiled.
"Ok. Caught me.", Alex grinned. "My name is Alex. This sounds unreal and familiar. How can I be sure?", he asked shakily.
Dracus raised his hand to reveal green markings on his palms. He extended his arm out and touched Alex's forehead. A flood of memories rushed through Alex. He saw everything, he saw his family. He saw his queen Eryn. Her grief when he had to make his soul sleep. He never wanted this. He wanted to heal and come home to her, but something went wrong. The connection to bring him home had broken. When it broke, Eryn had too.
Alex looked up at Dracus. "If you were here to kill me I would be dead. I went with your story way too fast for normal, but I'm sure your father will get a laugh out of this.", he joked. Dracus did not seem to understand and just shook his head. He was warned by his father that the king's humor would not make sense.
"Not so fast. We need to be sure. Who is my father?", Dracus asked. A question only the true Alex could answer. He watched as a smile lit up Alex's face.
"My most trusted friend, Dracorius. Why did he not come himself?", he asked. He instantly regretted asking when he saw the pain cross Dracus' face.
"Eryn's guards killed him and a lot of the others."
"Then we must hurry. I want to find a way to stop this without hurting Eryn. She was once a great woman and a loving Queen." Alex said solemnly. "Now, do I hop on your back or do you hold me?"
Dracus laughed. "Sire, we can take the car if it is easier."
"Right. Let's do that.", he said opening the door on the passenger side for Dracus. The Dragon climbed into the car and fastened his seatbelt. "Are the walls still up? How do we do this?"
"Eryn reinforced the walls, and Dragonkind is no longer allowed on the palace grounds. Eryn orders any Dragon she finds to stand in the courtyard to be executed every day at dawn. If we hurry we can save the prisoners she caught yesterday. My mother and my sister are among them.", Dracus looked at the anger that is now clear on the king's face. Alex nodded and he hit the gas. They drove in silence for what seemed to be an eternity, only stopping for gas.
"Wake up. We are here!", Alex said as he nudged Dracus awake. Dracus opened his eyes to see, to his surprise, nothing. It was still very dark and his phone said it was three in the morning. "It's been a thousand years. I am finally home. Hold on Eryn. I'm coming.", Alex said quietly. He has had almost no time to think. When Dracus showed up he just believed him. No questions asked. It must be his subconscious telling him it was all the truth. He thought back on his fallen friend and felt so much pain. His love had done this. On that thought, Alex wondered what would he do? Would he accept Eryn with open arms? Would she even want him home? How can he bring peace to her heart again?
The drive was silent but Alex knew where to go. He knew there was a bunker only he and Dracorius knew of. They built it as boys. He and his friend. He had to protect Dracus. He knew it would be all he could do for his best friend now. That, and save this boy's living family from Eryn. Alex stopped the car and he led Dracus to what looked like a small shed. That was exactly how Alex and Dracorius designed it to look to the normal person or Dragon. Once you open the doors, however, it changes provided you have the key. Alex inserted the key into the opening on the floor, and it dropped open to reveal a very large bunker!
"My father told me of this place. He told me you built this with him because of a bad feeling. I never believed someone would trust their instinct this much, but here we are apparently.", Dracus said as he admired the underground fortress.
"I will need to kill Eryn. Won't I?", Alex asked certain it was now already too late to save his love.
"Sire...I am so sorry. I don't see how she can be saved her heart is so broken and dark now.", Dracus said heartbroken. His father used to tell him stories about the wonderful Queen and her love for the country. He knew she was once a very gentle loving woman and she loved her King as dearly as she loved her people. He knew this would devastate Alex, and wanted to be there for his new friend no matter the cost. Even at the cost of his own life.
"Okay. I will be the one to do it. No one comes with me.", Alex insisted. He knew Dracus would get in the way and this needed to be quick. The two nodded at one another. This was the King's fight. "This bunker also concealed tunnels that lead to the courtyard. I will use those and you stay far enough behind Eryn does not see you and we will save your family."
The two made their way through the tunnels, torches in hand. Ready for whatever happened. Resolved to end this. The walk gave them enough time to speak, but neither chose to do so as it would make this all too real. They knew the heartache that was on the other end of the tunnels and they were ready, but they wanted the time to formulate a bigger plan in their minds. Alex was ready to sneak to Eryn and kill her before he was found out. He had no idea that Dracus was formulating a plan of his own. He intended to lay down his life for his King so Alex would not have to live with the memory of killing his own wife.
They finally reached a big red door with a Dragon on one side and a man on the other.
"This is it.", Alex said. "This is the courtyard entrance. We need to be swift and stay hidden. Do not make a noise!", he said and with that he opened the doors.
The courtyard was breathtaking to Alex. It looked as it had a thousand years ago, in 2020, when he left. He knew then, that if even this has never changed, Eryn would still be sleeping in her own tower. So that was where he would begin his search. He and Dracus made their way slowly to the Queen's quarters, and Alex stopped as they reached Eryn's room. He held his breath and he opened the door. His wife was sleeping. She looked as beautiful as she always had. That thought alone made what he was about to do hurt so much more.
Just as Alex raised his sword, Eryn opened her eyes. She looked at her husband in disbelief. Just as quickly as she saw his face, she saw the knife.
"Husband! My love! Stop!", she said. Too late. The knife already found her chest. She struggled to breathe and blood quickly filled her lungs. Alex tried to look away, but he wanted to see her face one last time. He held on to her and he cried.
"I'm so sorry, my love. I loved you.", Alex cried. His wife placed her hand on his face one last time and smiled.
"You're home...", were the only words she could say. The Queen was dead. Alex let out a cry of anguish as he held his wife.
"Round up any guards or spies she used against the city. They die tonight for treason. Free the prisoners.", Alex said coldly. Dracus regretted not being able to stop his friend from the heartache he was now stuck with. He wanted Alex to find peace with the city's freedom, but he knew that was not possible.
"Yes, sire.", Dracus said as he made his way to the guard tower.
That morning as Alex demanded, the traitors were killed. The city was free, and they cheered for their returned King. They finally had peace again. Alex demanded a Queen's funeral for Eryn, even considering her betrayal. He knew she never would have hurt anyone if he stayed. He felt so much hatred for himself when he thought back to the day he left. He promised his love he would come home, and he did. It was just too late to save her. He never wanted this. He never wanted to lose her, let alone be the man that took her life.
In his throne room, he met with Dracus. "My friend, the time has come to consider a new option for the city. I am not fit to rule any longer without my Eryn.", the king said sadly.
"Sire, I never wanted our Queen to die. I want what is best for our country as you do, Lord Alex.", Dracus said.
"I know. That is why I am leaving the throne to you.", Alex smiled at his friend. Dracus smiled back but shook his head.
"I can't take your rightful place, Alex. I will protect this country with my life. You are my friend and I will not lose you. You belong here.", Dracus pleaded.
Alex raised his hands up to silence Dracus. "I have considered this at great lengths, friend. You belong on this throne. You acted in the best interest of the people and risked your life to do so. That is the leader they deserve.", Dracus was in disbelief. He smiled as he knew Alex would not take no for an answer.
"So, what does one wear to the first Dragon King coronation, then?", Dracus asked with a smile as he and his friend walked down the halls of the palace.