A picture of a dragon with smoke in the background

The Ultimater: Flash Fiction

The dragon scales prickle at my touch before relaxing in recognition. I settle into my wolf-buck saddle handcrafted by the famous artisan elves of Esour. 

I reach for the reins and there’s a moment of pause…a knowing…an imprinted memory that great danger awaits on the shifting horizon.

This, of course, is not the first time we have been on this quest. 

I wait for your signal. You must decide when we set forth. I do not question this. It has always been this way. It is the lore of our kingdom. It is what has brought us this far. While we have a symbiotic relationship, I am under no illusion that I am a mere passenger in this mission. 

The mighty dragon wings extend and beat the air furiously until we’re airborne. Wind ripples through my hair as we swoop over the swaying land-kelp forest. A scattering of huts and stone buildings comes into view and the villagers scurry like ants beneath us. They run after us, cheering us on. And there is music. A relentless drumming driving us onwards.

The dragon’s snout points towards the ragged crystal alps shrouded in ink-black clouds. Beyond the mountains lies the key to saving our King, imprisoned for so long by an evil force – the Ultimater. 

A master of time and mind control, the Ultimater can show her face at any time.

The alps loom closer. The clouds loom closer again, breaking apart, splitting into smaller, swirling masses of smoke. 

The air crackles as the smoky shapes contort. They take the form of chimeras with the heads of a lion and two spitting serpents. They flap their giant bat wings before launching star-shaped blades from their claws.

We duck and weave, avoiding the first wave of stars, but our dragon fire is useless against the creatures made of smoke.

Another wave comes, but your reflexes are slower than usual and half a dozen stars slice my torso.

Blood pours from my wounds but I’m numb to the pain. 

You have to get me close enough to use my diamond-edged sword. You respond immediately and we maneuver into place. 

I arc my sword through the first chimera, vaporising it. Then the next one, and the next. We move in perfect sync. We get to the last one but a string of star-blades peppers me just before my sword cleaves through the chimera.

I feel life fading from me. Just a bit further, I tell myself. If we can just make it to the alps, I can take a moment to regenerate. Just a bit further.

We are almost at the alps, the key is within our grasp, when I recognise the voice of the Ultimater.

She screeches her catchphrase at you. ‘Time’s up!’ 

The unseen villain’s indiscernible threats are the last thing I hear before everything goes black.

***

“One day, I’ll get to finish that level,” the boy grumbles as his mother drags him to the dinner table. 

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Photo by Laith Abushaar on Unsplash

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