Once long ago, a part of Thrak had died, and a part of him had lived. He had never fully understood it. This did not surprise him in the least as when he awoke on a beach, tail-less but alive, his companions had told him that a small woman had been inside him and that was why he lived. When he saw the woman lying next to him he knew she wouldn’t have fit. He had swallowed things near her size before, but he knew his limits. He figured it was another mystery he wasn’t meant to understand.
He remembered hearing Iricah say that this was to be written on the scroll under things one didn’t tell the lizardfolk barbarian. Thrak did not see a scroll, nor her write anything. A few times the others mentioned his death, and joked about his missing tail. Thrak did not dwell on such thoughts, or perhaps any, but afterwards he had decided to ask Frank about death. He figured the cleric would understand his question best, but he wasn’t getting his hopes too high on a clear answer.
“Well Thrak,” said the cleric, clearly amazed by the lizard man’s interest that night. “First, many say if it is not your time to go, the Flame itself will call you back to it. You will find yourself in utter darkness, and all you must do is look for the light.”
Thrak blinked. “But how would I find this light if I am in a place of darkness?”
“Well,” thought Frank, again surprised at Thrak’s question, “It takes a healer to help guide you to it. That is what I do.”
Frank had never heard Thrak so interested in something that wasn’t edible, so he continued. “Others say that your life flashes before you.” He looked at Thrak who now seemed confused. Frank thought a bit before continuing, “You think about all the things you’ve done and that has happened to you, and you see pictures of it in your mind, Thrak.”
Thrak had digested his words for a long while. “But I did not ssssssee any of that,” he said. His eyes blinked in the way Frank had come to know meant he was disappointed.
“Well, maybe you will, the next time you die, Thrak.”
That night, Thrak had thought about dying again, and he decided that he was sure Frank would be right.
But, as fate would have it, when Gaelon’s spell, and the black hand of death closed around him, he did in fact see a picture in his mind. And it was in fact from his life. Thrak, eyes rolled back into his scaly head, body going limp, saw for the first time that he could remember a scene from his life before he came to live in Celn lands. What a wondrous thing, he thought as he died, again, that Frank had been right after all.
Somewhere he felt his body falling, and he wasn’t sure how, but he felt his clawed feet land softly in the damp mud. He was standing in the green canopy of the giant mangrove trees of his swamp, the sun was bright above them, sending lucky streaks through the few areas that leaves and branches hadn’t grown to capture the light.
He heard the sounds of voices, and somehow he knew without understanding them that they were the first voices of men he had ever heard. They were angry, and he detected in his instinctual way that they were fearful as well. Then, he heard a thwang! and felt a thwump! in his chest and suddenly, he was lying on his back, staring into the canopy above. In his view, a feathered arrow stood straight up from his chest. He felt a warm sensation over the top of him. He grew weak.
Two figures walked out of the foliage and stood above him. Neither had a tail and both wore strange armor, made of animal skins and pieces of metal. They held odd weapons that Thrak had never seen before. The first, nearly as white as a cloud, spoke to the second, who was darker, like the color of the wood from the trees that grow in the flooded plains in the central valleys of his isle. The first spoke to the other, and Thrak did not know how, but he could understand his speech.
“This one doesn’t count, My Lord, he is too little. He has not yet seen 3 years of the King’s calendar I dare say!”
“That does not matter Mildrake. What matters is that I get my arrow back. Twelve, a good haul, and less time with the weapon smith! While you are having your arrows trimmed, I’ll be smoking my pipe at His Father’s Moustache in Far Realm, watching Taryn’s Bane!”
The other man, the darker skinned man, laughed. “Today we’ve finally taken the plain that we were sent to clear. The Council of Isle Governors will be most pleased.”
“Aye, they will indeed” said the first. Thrak felt something pulled from his chest, roughly, and then a numbing sensation and he went as cold as night.
“These lizard men give good sport Mildrake,” said the first again. “I’ve killed near a hundred of them and I keep coming back for more. It’s going to be a shame when these isles are colonized.”
The two men laughed. Thrak tried to move but couldn’t. He felt an anger inside of him, bursting to get out.
Then, a third man, covered in heavy plates of some armor like massive scales, arrived and stood over him as well. He looked unhappy and spoke to the other two immediately and briskly, “What is the meaning of this? This creature is not one of the red backs we briefed you on! The tribe that this juvenile belongs to has treaty with the King! If he is found like this, we will have another section of the isle to clear before we can land the colonists living these many months in Silver Shore! Lord Haryk, you told me this would not happen again!”
“My Lord Thaedron,” spoke the first man. “This creature attacked us! You can clearly see his weapon rests upon the ground at his side.”
“That is a stick, Haryk,” said the man in metal plates.
‘These island creatures make good use of their sticks, I have the scars to prove it.”
Thrak could feel himself slipping away then, his eyes were closing and the men were disappearing from his view as though he were falling into a pit slowly. Down, down he spiraled into the black, the emptiness. He heard the first two men laugh and then their voices were gone.
His last image was of the third man’s face, as it came into his view, through the hole of the pit he was sinking into. It was the face of one of the human’s, with it’s bare skin, covered in their metal self made armor that sat atop their heads.
Thrak could feel himself freefalling now, deeper and deeper into the pit. The small light above him grew smaller and smaller. He was helpless to stop it. But then he heard a voice, and soon after another.
The first came from the man in the scaled armor. “I will make this right little warrior. By the Light, you will rise anew!”
The second was here with him, down in this deep and dark hole. And it was far more familiar. “The Light calls you back to us Thrak. Come back to the Light, your time is not done yet, my scaly friend.”